Friday, August 13, 2021



I want to first take the opportunity to thank Mark Sterling for agreeing to my interview!

I hope that you enjoy the interview as much as I have!  This one is special for me - Mark is the first male author I've interviewed and he is funny as hell ..... and Mark, note to your editor - readers LOVE to 'head-hop'!

Make sure to give Mark a shout-out and FOLLOW him on all his social media!


Mark S. R. Sterling is a semi-retired industrial safety engineer who left full-time employment during the recent surge in unemployment. Now, when not actually gainfully employed, he spends his time trading stock market index options, or traveling and visiting his children in the I-95 Corridor along the US Southeast coast.

Mark’s entertainment is the ocean.  He enjoys the beach, sailing, fishing, scuba diving, and the ever-popular barstool warming in waterfront taverns.  It is in this last activity where he enjoys his all-time favorite pastime of simply meeting people.  You see, while Mark’s stories are fictional, the specific incidents and characters are built from somebody’s real life.

So the next time you are in a waterfront tavern and someone engages you in conversation open up and tell something interesting about your life.  Then, you will be a character in Mark’s next book.

When and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Whoa, that is deep history.  I knew I wanted to be a writer in early grade school.  I wrote my first “book” at like six years old.  I was submitting manuscripts to publishers by the time I was 10.  Of course, none of these were accepted.  All of my early works were Science Fiction.

Life happened, and I gave up writing.  But, one day I became unemployed.  This gave me many hours to sit at my computer and day-trade stock options.  While watching the charts, I returned to creating stories.  And, I once again submitted a story.  To my elation, this was accepted and launched me on a new career.

This was “Undercover With Betty” --

Did you have any influencing writers growing up?

My first favorite authors were the greats like H. G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.  John Norman, with the “Tarnsman of Gor” introduced me to erotica.  If you haven’t guessed it, I’m a male writer.

This background was inspiration for “Zero G-Spot” --

Are any of your characters based on people in real life?

I frequently use actual events and persons in my historical novels.  And, I frequently include autobiographical seasoning to my stories.

My Victorian Lady Detective stories are based on actual events; however, my heroine is fictional. E.g., “Miss Rowan Learns Her Lesson” --

As for autobiographic, checkout “The Naked Sea” -- and “Stranded with Charlotte” --

Where do you draw your book inspirations from?

Ah, I have no idea.  Some stories come to me in a dream.  But, most of my inspiration comes from listening to conversations while sitting on a barstool at a beachside tavern.

For example, when a woman turns to her companion and says, “I’m not wearing underwear,” it sparks a host of plot ideas.

Do you use have a basic outline when starting a new story or do you let the characters lead the way?

I begin with a “notion” and think about it for hours or months.  Once I have a basic plot and an ending, then I begin to write.  Sometimes I will sketch out an outline, but much of what happens on the way to the ending comes from the characters talking to me as I type.

When you are picturing the characters in your book, do you have a cheater photo for inspiration?

No, I don’t usually have a mental image of what my characters look like.  I add very little to the story describing the physical characteristic of the characters.

I only highlight physical features significant to the story.  I leave it to the reader to visualize them.

Many people read as a form of escape and relaxation.  What is your favorite way to sit back and relax?

I don’t actually read much anymore.  I used to be a ravenous reader, but now I watch black & white movies – old Sci-Fi and Noir.

Who are your favorite current authors to read?

I read everything Michael Connelly writes and most everything from Max Allen Collins, but most of what I read is from my fellow aspiring, independent authors.

What are your favorite books by others?

Oddly, other than the inspiration from my youth, I can’t think of a “favorite” book.

Do the locations in the stories have any meaning to you?

Of course!  The setting for a story is a major aspect of the story.  The characters are always influenced by their surroundings.

In my early stories, I had an image of the setting in my mind, but didn’t include anything specific in the story.  Nowadays, I write with a map in my left hand.

Do you write in single or multiple POV?

Most stories are from a single POV, but some have multiple.  I was hammered by my early editor to never head-hop; thus, the changes in POV are seldom and distinct.

What do you find to be your best research tool?

Oh, come on, this is a trick question – Google!

Do you write under a pen name?  Also, do you write under more than one name?

Well, up to this point, I’ve not mentioned that I shifted my writing to erotica.  When I did this, I created a pen name and have kept that life a secret.

For several years, I wrote for a publisher who created yet another name for me.  So, I have three.

What genre do you write and why is this your preference?

I prefer to write Sci-Fi, but my most successful works are Westerns and Victorian.  Additionally, I like to work-in mysteries into the stories.  E.g. – “The Dead Alien” --

The frosting over most of these is what is currently called “power exchange”, but you’d probably call it spanking erotica. E.g. – “Rescuing Diana” --

Tell me something about yourself outside of writing.  Jobs, accomplishments, family, quirky traits....what led to you being you?

Well, I told you how I got started writing; however, life happened and I tabled the desire for many years while I made a living working as an engineer.  In my day, I was quite the computer expert.  I quit regular employment and began working as an independent consultant.

I enjoy scuba diving, and sailing.  For years I had a sailboat and explored the Bahamas and Florida Keys.  I’ve experienced marriage and divorce in my youth, but I have been married now for 39 years.  I’ve two daughters and two granddaughters.

Quirky traits?  IDK, in some respects I think my entire life is one big quirk.  I grew up with six sisters and was educated in a Catholic School with ruler swinging nuns.

If you are a duo writing team, how do you share the writing process?

I no longer write as a duo, but I’ve done it several times in the past.

In my experience, it required the creation of a pretty detailed outline and splitting the tasks based upon skills.

For example, when writing romance, I left the romantic parts to my co-author. E.g. – “Love Under the Violet Crown” --

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Write what you want to write.  Write for yourself because it’s what you want to do.  Don’t try to fit someone else’s expectation, and for sure, don’t write for money.

How do you deal with and process negative book reviews?

If they contain actual constructive criticism, I process it and try to improve my writing.  However, if they simply say they didn’t like it, or some other gripe, I ignore it.

Occasionally, they say something like, “Just too much sex,” and then I smile.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Finding time to write.  Sometimes the characters won’t stop talking in my head, but I can’t write it down.

What do you need in your writer’s space to keep you focused?

I need a window with a view of open space.

What is your naughty indulgence as you are writing?

What?  I don’t think I can speak truthfully here.  But, for a clue, read the first story of  “A Sterling Maid for You” --

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?  And why?

Rene Rose, I first met her several years ago and we’ve crossed paths a few times.  I’ve not seen her in a long while and would like to catch up.

What is your schedule like when you are writing?  Do you have a favorite writing snack or drink?

I usually do my writing work in the morning.  I was speaking the truth when I said my ideas come in a dream, and I need to get them written down before they fade.

I drink coffee and snack on any available junk food.

Do you listen to music when you write – what kind of music is your favorite?

I prefer silence, but I sometimes have the TV on running some old movie.

I like movies made between 1946 and 1952.

However, my favorite music is Classic Rock’n’Roll and that is definitely not for writing.

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing?

Oh, yes, I’ve always had cats and they sometimes like to get involved – either lying on my lap or sitting on the keyboard.

What is your kryptonite as a writer?  What totally puts you off your game?

My grandkids.  God love ‘em, but I can’t do anything productive when they are around.  They want attention all the time.

Have you ever killed off a character that your readers loved?

I don’t think so.  No one has ever said as much.

How do you celebrate after typing THE END?

Oh, nothing much.  A smile and maybe a cold beer.  And, then get started on the editing and review.

So, you see, it is never really THE END.

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