Mark Rosendorf Interview
Mark Rosendorf author bio:
Hello to everyone reading. My name is Mark Rosendorf and I’m happy to be here. By day, I am a New York City high school guidance counselor for students with special needs. I am also a former professional magician and now I teach magic to my students. However, at night, I sit in front of my computer and type away as the creative juices flow from my brain to my fingers. My main work is the award-winning Witches of Vegas series which consists of two books and a third on the way. It is a young adult fantasy series that has taken the reading world by storm.
An interview with science fiction & fantasy author Mark Rosendorf
About (Who, why, when, where, what)
Tell us something about your books, including your genre and your characters and/or themes.
The Witches of Vegas series revolves around a family of witches, and their vampire mentor, who practice their witchcraft out in the open and in plain sight…as stage magicians on the Vegas strip. It is great for them, it’s great for their audiences, but its not so great for the Las Vegas magicians who couldn’t possibly keep up with their show.
Isis Rivera is adopted teenage daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the fifteen-year-old nephew and assistant to the last real magician left in Vegas, “The Amazing Herb Galloway.” By all rights, Isis and Zack should be rivals. But when a threat from the witches’ mentor’s long past returns with a grudge and a threat to all of humanity, it will be up to Isis and Zack to bring their families together.
The Witches of Vegas is a story with many twists and turns. The same can be said for the sequel, Journey To New Salem, where we get to see more of the world of The Witches of Vegas. The third book, Witch’s Gamble, will be coming out real soon and takes the witches into completely different adventure…through time. The time travel aspect will be in a completely new and unique way.
All the books in The Witches of Vegas series are available in print, digital, and audio. Let me also share that the audiobooks are done by the amazing Jeffrey Lynn Hutchins.
What are you currently working on?
Now that the third book in The Witches of Vegas series is set to come out, I’m not about to stop. I am working on the fourth book of the series while jotting ideas down for the fifth. So long as readers are enjoying the lives of Isis, Zack, and The Witches of Vegas, and I can still offer great quality stories, their adventures will continue on.
- The third book of the series, titled Witch’s Gamble, has a release date…and it’s Valentine’s Day. It comes out on Feb. 14th 2022
- A script is in the works (I’m working with a script writer) for The Witches of Vegas. So fingers crossed on that.
What inspires you to write?
I would say my characters inspire me. Isis Rivera and Zack Galloway are two types of low-key people I think we’d all want as our best friends growing up. Teens will connect with them while adults will connect with their parental figures. And wait until you meet their nemesis, Valeria, four-hundred-year-old vampire who also has the Wiccan gift.
When and why did you get into writing fantasy?
As a magician, I’ve always delved into a bit of “fantasy” every time I performed. Now I teach magic to my students, and they perform on stage. It takes a lot of practice to perform these tricks smoothly and make them look like miracles on stage. One sleepless night—around 2 am—it occurred to me that we put in so many hours of practice, but to the audience, it might as well be witchcraft.
Suddenly, the idea hit me for the story. Wow, what a great hiding place for witches, posing as magicians on stage. My mind went into overdrive. Of course, it would have to take place in Vegas, but who would the characters in the story be? What would the story be about? The ideas just hit me like a bullet to the brain. I grabbed a notepad, a pen, and a flashlight and wrote, all the while trying hard not to wake my wife who was inches away from me. The story for the first book came together that night.
Who are your favorite fantasy writers/ fantasy authors?
I love authors who blur the line between fantasy and science fiction. Douglas Adams comes to mind. I also very much enjoyed both the Lord of the Rings series and The Hunger Games series, all of which I thought were better than the movies.
Who are some of your all-time favourite fantasy characters? And why do you think they became your favourites?
I love superheroes with supernatural abilities. That’s probably due to growing up on comic books. Superman, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, the X-Men, all favorites of mine.
Do you follow any fantasy entertainment outside of books? (Video Games, Boardgames, Comics etc)
I’ve read comic books all my life, and still do. I was also a huge video game player. Link from The Legends of Zelda series was one of my favorite characters to control. I also watch a lot of sci-fi and fantasy on TV and I’m an avid movie goer. Yes, I will admit it, I’m a regular each year at New York’s Comic Con.
What’s going on in the next few months? Anything on the Horizon?
UPDATE: Witches of Vegas won the YA Award
October 9th at 9 pm est is the prestigious RONE (Recognition OF Novel Excellence) awards ceremony. I’m happy to announce that The Witches of Vegas is in the finals for the Young Adult category. To get there, a book must receive a five-star review in InDTale Magazine, then it has to get the Crowned Heart nomination. After that, all nominees are up in a public fan vote with the top three in each category moving onto the finals where a group of professional reviewers determine the winners.
So everyone keep your fingers crossed for me, if all goes well, The Witches of Vegas is a RONE award winner. Also, I should also have a release date for Witch’s Gamble very soon.
What kind of books did you read that contributed to your upbringing, as far as fantasy and science-fiction?
I was a huge fan of HG Wells and Stephen Baxter. The Time Machine was a personal favorite of mine, as was Baxter’s direct sequel titled Time Ships. Robert Heimlich’s works also inspired me as a writer.
Was your upbringing pretty geeky?
Oh, it most definitely was. I was into comic books, video games, and I wasn’t good at sports. Keep in mind, I grew up in the eighties where being considered a “nerd” didn’t have the status symbol it does today. Back then, you were the biggest pariah in the school. My high school was a melting pot of different cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds. There wasn’t a lot of racial divide in my school or my community…but if you walked around with glasses and braces, and loved shows such as Star Trek and Doctor Who, you were a primary target for every bully who existed.
Why should anyone read your book?
The Witches of Vegas series is for anyone who likes witches, vampires, and stage magic. As a former magician, I put a lot of my stage experience into this work, which includes throughout the story offering a few of the backstage secrets to magic.
There’s also the characters which anyone could relate to. Isis and Zack aren’t the popular teens in Vegas, they’re not the cool kids or the athletes of their world. They’re the everyday teens that most of us were. Isis was in an abusive foster family that tried to kill her when her Wiccan power manifested. She was saved by The Witches of Vegas who took her in. Now, at fifteen, she’s a good hearted but emotional girl with a supernatural power that is controlled by emotions, which is a scary combination. Zack, meanwhile, may spend his nights as a magician on stage, but during the day he is either invisible or outright bullied in his high school. When Isis and Zack meet, it’s not a natural thing for either to hang around someone of the opposite gender. It’s awkward on both ends, and I think that’s an experience we’ve all had growing up.
Do you have a writing process, do you plan or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
Let me share a secret about myself: my best ideas hit me while I’m in the shower. Unfortunately, those ideas are like lightning, one bright flash, then it’s gone. That’s why I keep a notepad outside my shower taped to the wall along with a pencil. So once the ideas hit, I can scribble them down so they’re not lost forever.
My writing process involves going through my notes and handwriting a chapter. At that point, I’m not worrying about grammar or style, just content (just like with this interview 😊). Then I type out my first draft based on the written version. This is when I’m focused both on content and sentence structure. So far, that concept has worked for me.
How has your writing process changed since you first started writing?
There’s no doubt my writing has improved since my first book, The Rasner Effect, was published. My process and style hasn’t changed, but my quality, both creatively and grammar-wise, improves with each experience.
How long does it normally take you to write a fantasy novel, and what proportion of the time is spent doing what?
Each book usually takes around a year from coming up with the concept to approving the final draft with my publisher. However, The Witches of Vegas series have taken a few months less because the ideas from the beginning just flowed. The characters are fun to write and they practically come up with the story themselves.
Have your previous vocations influenced your writing?
Absolutely. I’m a high school guidance counselor which has certainly influenced my writing for both Isis and Zack. Plus, as a former magician who still teaches magic that influenced a series revolving around magicians in every way possible. Prior to becoming a guidance counselor, I worked in the hotel industry. Now I’m writing about families who live and perform in resort hotels. Essentially, I’ve lived through and experienced every aspect of these books (minus the witchcraft, of course).
Do you involve other people in your writing, as collaborators or editors? How do you make this work?
My publishing company, The Wild Rose Press, provides me with an editor named Dianne Rich. I have worked with her since The Witches of Vegas and continue to work with her through each of the books in the series. It seems like she knows my characters as well as I do. The Witches of Vegas wouldn’t be as successful without her input. I also work with another editor before submitting to the publication…and my wife always serves as the first proofread.
As far as writing goes, what do you use? Software, Apps, Hardware etc?
Microsoft word. Prior to that, a notebook. I know there’s great new technology for writers today, but I’m a bit of an old school type. Not with most things, but with my writing.
Do you do a lot of research for each book? If so how do you conduct your research?
Honestly, my entire life has been research for The Witches of Vegas series. I know the hotel industry and the stage, I would guess, far better than any other fantasy writer out there. Working twenty years as a guidance counselor has certainly given me plenty of knowledge on the psychological profile of the teenage mind. It allows me to write characters who will act and react as the typical teen would.
How do you overcome blank writing spells?
Honestly, I take a break until the idea hits me. Prior to The Witches of Vegas, my break lasted seven years. I honestly thought I was done with writing altogether. Then this idea hit me and I had to write it, I knew I was the perfect person to write it. Now I write for a new audience, a new genre, and a new story. It’s why I call myself a born-again writer.
Do you prefer to write in silence and or have some sort of sound in the background?
I’m a believer in the phrase “silence is golden.” It’s not that I can’t write when there’s music or a television playing in the background, but if something comes on that I like, I can get easily distracted. Before I know it, I just finished watching the last episode of Stranger Things, but I only managed to get three sentences on paper.
Publishing (formatting, cover design, formats, marketing)
Describe the road you took to publishing your first novel? And how that has changed.
The first book is always the hardest. Knowing nothing, I simply wrote a query and sent sample chapters to every single publisher I could find. Then I waited. Being an unknown author, I received around one hundred rejections, many of which were given with my work unread. But I kept pushing myself saying “all I need is one yes.” When I first started this process, most of the queries had to be snail mailed to the publishers.
Today, I find it much easier because everything is online (saves a ton on stamps) but more importantly, I have a resume to offer. I’ve had success in my writing that I can use to sell myself to both a publisher and to an audience of readers.
Will your next book be traditional or indie published?
The Wild Rose Press has published the last three editions of The Witches of Vegas series. Since I’m not done telling their stories, The Witches of Vegas will continue with The Wild Rose Press. Once their story is finished (which will be up to my readers to decide), well, who knows? I do have some ideas on other stories, but I haven’t had any thoughts on how I’ll put them out there.
Would you recommend self-publishing to aspiring authors, or would you suggest a more traditional path?
I’ve never self-published, I’ve only taken the traditional path. But I will say there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The advantage of self-publishing is you don’t have to wait for publication and all the profit on the books is yours. The advantage of traditional publishing, besides the fact that they handle the costs and legwork of getting the book out there, is that they make sure your work is professionally edited. I’ve run into many self-published books that could have used an editor because a lot of mistakes were missed. That’s the best part of a traditional publisher, they work with you in making your story the best it can be, you’re not on your own.
What sort of input do you give to formatting, cover design, marketing?
With The Wild Rose Press, I am asked what I envision the cover. I describe what I’m seeing in my head, and the company’s artists create it as close to it as possible. I can say that all of my covers from The Wild Rose Press have been magical. They were able to take exactly what I described and create it even better than how I imagined it. In fact, the cover to Journey To New Salem won InDTale Magazine’s Cover of the month when it came out.
Marketing is so important nowadays, what’s your best advice to fellow authors?
The best advice I can offer is to build your following. I have close to a thousand followers on Twitter and another thousand on Facebook. I also have a mailing list that constantly grows. The bigger your following, the more interest there is in your work when it comes out.
The second piece of advice I can offer is timing. I have an amazing video trailer for the third book, but I am waiting for presales to begin before releasing it. If a cover or a trailer is released too early, your fan base will be excited about it, but the longer they wait for the book’s availability, the longer that excitement wanes and they move onto another book that is available. So, as the old adage goes, “get ‘em while they’re hot.”
Advice on making an impact in today busy Scifi and Fantasy markets.
Unfortunately, there is no textbook technique of making an impact. If there was, we’d all be doing it. All we can do it keep plugging our work, build the fan base, and hope success finds us.
It can help, however, to think outside the box when it comes to marketing. Let me share a story of a bold move that brought me some success – I took a chance and sent a copy of The Witches of Vegas to Penn Jillette (from the famous magician duo Penn & Teller). I knew there was a chance I’d never hear from him, but it was a low risk as all I’d lose is copy of the book and postage. As it turned out, he did write to me and told me he gave the book to his fifteen year old daughter who is a magician as well. His daughter loved it. I sent them the second book autographed directly to his fifteen-year-old. They took a photo with the book and posted it on Twitter to Penn’s 1.7 million followers. Needless to say, my sales numbers grew that night. They are looking forward to the third in the series.
Do you read digital, paperback or hardback or do you listen to audiobooks?
I’m going to be honest, I totally understand the importance of digital books, in fact, most of my sales are digital books. However, I personally like an actual book in my hand. I like to flip pages as opposed to swiping a screen. Also, as an author, I love signing one of my books. I tried to sign someone’s kindle and he almost punched me in the face.
What are some difficulties you’ve experienced in your writing career; how do you handle book critiques/criticism?
I take reviews with a grain of salt, both the good ones and the bad ones. I have tons of reviews on amazon, goodreads and other platforms. Most are full of praise. Some are five stars saying how much they love Isis, Zack, and The Witches of Vegas. . A few are one stars that call it complete dreck. Oh well, you can’t please everybody, right? But when a bad review gets me down, I remember the famous line from Pirates of the Caribbean and I apply it to being an author –
Norrington: You are without a doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.
Captain Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.
Change “pirate” to “author” and the line still works just as well.
What are the best experiences in your writing career?
The Penn Jillette story is certainly one of my best experiences, it’s amazing what a nice guy he is, we still exchange e-mails to this day. I also LOVE being contacted by fans of my work. When I receive an e-mail from someone who said they read The Witches of Vegas and ask me questions (they’re usually about what to expect from the next book), I always consider it among the best experiences of my writing career. And it never gets old. So, if you read my work and you like or have questions, please leave a review, but also shoot me an e-mail. I can be contacted through my website and I answer every email I get. Even the critical ones.
What are some encouraging words you’d give to another author/writer?
If you’re starting off as a new and unpublished writer, get ready for a long road. It’s a lot of hard work, and that’s all after the book is written. Is all that work truly worth it? When you finally get to see your cover and hold that first copy of your book in your hands…YES, it is so worth it. Just remember: getting your book published is not the finish line, it’s the invitation to participate in the race. Now the REAL work begins.
Get in touch
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MarkRosendorf
The Witches of Vegas: https://amzn.to/39tfGck
Journey To New Salem: https://amzn.to/3NkEW38
The Witches of Vegas: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54251394-the-witches-of-vegas
Journey To New Salem: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57184042-journey-to-new-salem
Video trailers –
The Witches of Vegas – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BQVKZXYVKs&t=26s&ab_channel=MarkRosendorf
Journey to New Salem – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZGfNKJZCSU&t=3s&ab_channel=MarkRosendorf
Any final words for the readers? (Anything, open platform)
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time out of their schedules to read this interview. I hope I helped some aspiring writers out there by sharing my experience and gave readers a new series to check out. I appreciate every single sale and I can just about guarantee you won’t be disappointed. You’ll enjoy meeting Isis, Zack, and The Witches of Vegas.
If you do read and enjoy The Witches of Vegas, reviews are always appreciated. Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter at @Markrosendorf and contact me through my website, www.markrosendorf.com