Do Tell: Mark SaFranko

I’m fascinated by the contemporary writing process. How do people today decide to type their thoughts into existence? Do they still write by hand? Where do they sit? What inspires them to keep putting words to paper?

I’ve been thinking about this particularly of late, as I myself have been at a dead-end in terms of “literary” ambition. I just can’t seem to muster the desire to read nor write.

It’s with this all buzzing around my brain that I came across Mark SaFranko in an in-depth 3AM magazine interview. Aside from his eye-catching book titles, it was his frank tone and subtle style that drew me to his work.


Mark’s a self-taught writer, with names like Bukowski or Thompson thrown about to describe him. I just purchased his wider known work Hating Olivia (although his latest two novels were The Suicide and No Strings) and have since been keen to get an insight into how he thinks.


Then, I shot him a quick e-mail to hear how he works. His answers below to serve as creative inspiration for the coming year, for all of us to write and to read more.

Who are you writing for?

Myself. I simply love the physical feeling of words splashing onto paper, or music into a tape recorder, or paint onto canvas. Artistic creation, even if it’s not particularly good, is the only thing that’s ever made me feel that I’ve accomplished something.

What do you write about?

Anything. But people mostly. Myself. Characters. I’m most interested in individual human beings and the mystery of what’s inside of them, and not politics or social movements, or anything that reaches beyond the individual.

When do you often write?

I start in the morning and hope to get several hours in every day. And I go seven days a week without fail. Sometimes, when I can, I work on holidays as well. Every day of the year.

Where do you write?

Anywhere I can. My favorite spots are on top of the bed or on the couch, with my feet up. I try to make myself as comfortable as possible. Sometimes I write with the television on. Sometimes listening to instrumental music. In all conditions, really.

Why do you write?

I’m long past trying to figure that out, but it became a compulsion quite early in my life. Once I started, I was hooked and there was no turning back.

How do you write?

Many years ago I wrote in long hand, then moved to the typewriter, now of course the computer. Writing for several daily newspapers made me think of the typewriter as an extension of my hands and it also molded my style, for better or worse. I used to outline comprehensively when I was younger, now I only use broad outlines and let matters go where they want to go.

I love the lucidity and honesty of Mark’s answers. Why not put your feet up and read one of Mark’s books after ordering it on Amazon? A new collection of stories, Incident On Tenth Avenue, will appear in France on January 25.

Lastly, a heads-up that I plan to use the above 5 W interview structure as an open, on-going dialogue with the independent writing community.