About Author

Mark Harbinger

Mark Harbinger
  • Genre:

    Literary Fiction Science Fiction Fantasy Horror
  • Country: United States
  • Books: 1
  • Profession: (Retired) Nonprofit Manager, IT System Administrator and Educator, and Attorney
  • Member Since: Dec 2021
  • Profile Views: 4,687
  • Followers: 64
  • VISIT AUTHOR: Website, Goodreads, Amazon,

Mark lives in the Pacific Northwest (US) and enjoys being a father, husband, and proud servant to Murray A. Goodness (the Cat).

Recently, Mark started his writing practice full time and created an imprint, Phoenix T Publishing, for his works. This has included his debut novel, an epic contemporary fantasy called The Be(k)nighted: The Untold Origin of The Precept (2021), as well as a science-fiction/fantasy anthology comic: Wondrous Stories Comics (2021).

Over the past 18 years, Mark's short stories have also been featured in the following competitive, online e-zines: Wild Child, SDO Fantasy, Kenoma Publishing, 101 Words, The Nonconformist Magazine, Secret Attic, and Ripples in Space. In 2019. “The Beast” (a humorous fantasy short) was included in Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 4, Book 2 (2021), from Running Wild Press.

Favorite authors include (not an exhaustive list): John Bradshaw, Octavia E. Butler, Noam Chomsky, Chris Claremont, Philip K. Dick, Stephen R. Donaldson, Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. LeGuin, Frank Herbert, Rumi, Abraham Lincoln, Michael Moore, Audrey Niffenegger, Sharon Olds, Edgar Allan Poe, J. K. Rowling, Carl Sagan, Rod Serling, Tom Simon, Kevin Smith, Aaron Sorkin, Jim Starlin, J. R. R. Tolkien, Andrew Vachss, Yanis Varoufakis, and Voltaire

Mark Harbinger's Books

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The Be(k)nighted: The Untold Origin of The Precept
(6) $4.31 kindleeBook, Paperback,
The Be(k)nighted: The Untold Origin of The Preceptby Mark HarbingerPublish: Sep 04, 2021Fantasy

Mark Harbinger Interview On 27, Apr 2022

"Mark Harbinger grew up in a small town in the midwest, USA. He has always enjoyed writing. Before entering the world of fiction, he learned various other types of writing including journalism, academic, and even legal. he published his debut novel, an epic contemporary fantasy called The Be(k)nighted: The Untold Origin of The Precept in 2021. He enjoys being a father, a husband, and a proud servant to his Cat, Murray A. Goodness."
Where did you grow up and how do you think that has affected your writing?

I grew up in a small town in the midwest, USA. More important than that was when I grew up. This was in the 70s and 80s, long enough ago that the internet and social media hadn't yet atomized society. Even though I was sheltered and naive, my upbringing (or lack thereof, I was a latchkey kid who became completely out of control for a while as a young adult) encouraged an adventurousness in me. So, by the time I was in my mid-twenties I had encountered a wide range of people from many different backgrounds. I believe that is reflected in my writing.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to do it seriously?

I have always enjoyed stories. I started reading American comics at three and was reading what you could call YA novels by seven, and adult novels by nine. I learned many other types of writing before I seriously ventured into writing fiction: journalism, technical, scientific/academic, and even legal.

About two decades ago, in my sparse spare time, I wrote my first novel and several short stories. The novel made it to a Senior Editor before it was rejected by a mid-sized publishing company and all of my short stories were accepted in online magazines. I really enjoyed the experience. So that bolstered my confidence so that—later on, when I could devote more time to it—I would eventually semi-retire and return to a real writing practice.

I did that a few years ago. I've published a novel and a comic anthology since then.

Do you remember the first book you ever wrote?

That would be the aforementioned trunk novel from twenty years ago. A science fiction novella. From time to time, I dig it out and think about revising it and publishing it. I probably won't. Too busy with new things.

How would you describe your experience of being a father?

It's the hardest and most rewarding experience of all.

How did you come up with the idea for your book, The Be(k)nighted?

Schizophrenia runs in my birth family. I don't have it, but I had a ton of second-hand experience dealing with others having it. So, it seemed a natural thing to make my protagonist a person who suffered from it. And I had already decided that I wanted to write an occult fantasy. So, it was set: Doctor Fate (or Strange) as a schizophrenic, right?

Here's the twist: after a while, when it just wasn't working, I realized that I had to unlearn what I thought I knew about schizophrenia and research just like I had never heard of it before. That's when I really realized how heroic those people are who struggle with it. In my mind, they shifted from victims to heroes.

So, now the story stopped becoming about a schizo-affective person with a disease, but was now about a person who struggles with the disorder and how that might affect their ability to deal with the occult fantasy world that I put them into. Then the story had some real blood flowing to it.

This is partly why I react so strongly against this modern trend to try and turn fiction writing into nothing more than memoir (ie, only cultural minorities can write stories featuring characters form that cultural minority, etc—everyone must stay in their own silo). It it antithetical to the very empathy that fiction writers employ, and which is the key to overcoming societal bias. Also, often people aren't in the best position to tell their own stories, objectively. I mean, I've benefited from white privilege all my life. Am I really the best person to write about it? Of course not. It's like the water in the goldfish bowl. Most of the time, I can't even see it.

I think when we all attempt to write each other's stories—that is when we are doing the best, for our own writing, and for society.

OH, and people always ask about the title—ie, What's up with the parentheses? Beknighted means "to be made a knight." And Benighted means tortured. Both words seem appropriate descriptions of Marshall (the protag). So this was my way of reflecting that.

What is it about your books do you think makes them special and stand out from the rest?

Well, my story is truly unlike anything else that's out there. It's told from multiple POVs (including never being from the protagonist's first-person POV. This was important, as I needed to overcome the unreliable narrator problem). It also incorporates several different genres: occult fantasy, horror, superhero. It's jam-packed with high-concept intrigue, sort of like Dune. It was designed to be a standalone novel, not a series. It's written in a very emotive style (think: Stephen R. Donaldson, my characters go through the ringer). And it is long (423 pages). Heck, even the prologue—which, I should mention is a standalone short-story in its own right—is over fifty pages.

So, it's not the typical debut novel.

If you're looking for a flighty read to knock down between laundry loads, this isn't it. This is a story that takes you on a roller-coaster ride. A real journey with some interesting characters that will stay with you. That was the idea.

What does the word “story” mean to you?

Story is about connection at a deeper level. When I was a young man, I briefly worked at a tent and awning manufacturer. In that factory, when the gigantic pieces of tarp that we used to make the awnings had to be connected to one another, you didn't sew them, you fused them. This was done with a large, white hot pressing machine—two people stood on either side and had to press their buttons (4 buttons total) at the same time and then the press would come down with a huge hissssss, and melt-press the pieces into one on a large table-platform, okay?

Anyway, there was a neat trick you could do with that incredibly dangerous machine. It turned out that it gave off a tremendous amount of invisible electricity when the press was activated and it came hissing down. So, for fun, a third person/bystander could stand off, ten or fifteen feet away from it, holding out a long, fluorescent light bulb in their hand. And then, when the press activated, that light bulb would light up right in the person's hand. Like magic.

Storytelling is like that. When you tell a story, you give off tremendous energy. But, it's invisible to the world. Only when someone is receptive (reading it, or watching it if it's a show or a movie) does maybe some light get generated. And, when it's done well, you can get that same sense of awe and wonder as when the light bulb lights up in your hand.

Do you only plan to write in the fantasy genre?

Not at all. I went back and counted. Between my short stories, and my novel, I've written in something like eleven different sub-genres. Just next month, for example, I have a collection of poetry appearing in a literary journal. I encourage everyone to please feel free and visit www.coffeebeatcafe.com to see what I'm up to, enjoy some rants and quirky essays, and (mostly) to get the links to my many free short stories that are littering the Internet like verbal graffiti. Free Stories! Yay!

I also have a quarterly newsletter where I share even more unique content. You know the drill. I don't do them that often.

Although, here's a thing: If you've read anything I've written and want to discuss it, my website even has a scheduling feature where you can book an appointment for us to chat. I always enjoy that.

Which is the next book you are working on? Is it a series or a stand-alone book?

More short stores, essays, and, yes, some new stories set in the same world as my novel. The wheel turns as it must, so it doesn't fall over.

How has your experience of being associated with AllAuthor been?

AllAuthor is a really nice website. I've really appreciated the author tools and the chance to connect with what other writers are up to. I see myself using AllAuthor much more in the future.

Ask Mark Harbinger a Question

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    • AllAuthor AllAuthor 1 year ago
    • Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
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      • Mark Harbinger Mark Harbinger 1 year ago
      • Ha! Absolutely! Although that can be something as small as a feeling, or as intricate as a full-blown scene (with the names changed to protect the innocent, of course). At its best, I think fiction writing is a process of distilling experiences down into more and more discrete impressions, and then rebuilding those into our works, so that they fit into particular narratives. For example, to take just one emotion: We haven't all been embarrassed in exactly the same way, but we've all been embarrassed. As writers, we can tap into universal experiences. That's why empathy is such a vital skill for writing.
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      • Mark Harbinger Mark Harbinger 1 year ago
      • I try to set aside blocks of time devoted to what I call my writing practice. But, like the hashtag says (ie, #countsaswriting), there are a lot of things that can be done in that space.

        Plus, you have to be receptive when the universe just opens up and plops something useful (an idea, an example, etc) into your lap. Being willing and able to set aside what you're doing at that moment and at least capture the nugget of what that's about—for use later—is helpful, too.
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    • AllAuthor AllAuthor 1 year ago
    • Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?
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