Interview with Author Mark Rosendorf – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Mark Rosendorf

Mark Rosendorf is a high school guidance counselor in the New York City Department of Education’s Special Education district. He is also a former professional magician. Mark shares his knowledge of magic with his students as part of the

school’s Performing Arts program. He uses stage magic to help teach teamwork and build confidence in his students.

Mark is also credited with published novels in various genres including The Rasner Effect series and Status Quo. He eventually decided on an early retirement from writing. When asked why, Mark’s usual answer was because he lost his favorite pen. Then, one night, at two a.m., a new and unique story shot into his brain like a lightning bolt, screaming for him to write it.

Suddenly, despite the decision to never write again, Mark found himself spending several nights taking notes on the characters and their stories. That is how The Witches of Vegas was born and is now on these pages. This is Mark’s first young adult novel

Tell me more about your latest book, The Witches of Vegas

The Witches of Vegas revolves around a family of witches and their five-hundred-year-old vampire mentor who, in order to actively practice their power without being discovered or persecuted, become magicians on the Vegas strip.

The Witches of Vegas is told through the eyes Isis Rivera and Zack Galloway. Isis Rivera is the adopted teenage daughter of The Witches of Vegas. She was nine years old when she discovered she had a connection to the Earth’s energy. Her foster family and their neighbors mistook it as a sign she was possessed by the devil. They tortured her, then tried to burn her alive in a misguided attempt to free her soul. 

The charismatic leader of the coven, Sebastian Santell, along with his wife and her sister, Selena and Sacha Quinn, rescued Isis just in time and took her in. It was Sebastian’s idea to take their power to Las Vegas and audition as a magic act. They became the number one show in Las Vegas.

Fifteen-year-old Zack Galloway is our other “reluctant hero.” His parents were killed in a car crash when he was six. He has been raised by his uncle, Herb Galloway, since then. Herb, one of the prominent magicians on the strip, trained Zack in the art of magic and made him part of his show. Although Zack was practically invisible in school, while on stage he was coolest kid in the room.

“The Amazing Herb Galloway show” had a huge following, selling out every night…until The Witches of Vegas came to town. The struggle to compete drained their funds over the years. Now, barely able to get an audience, Herb and Zack are one near-empty auditorium away from losing their theater and their home. Zack owes his uncle everything. He would do anything necessary to keep the man who raised him from joining the Las Vegas homeless.

Neither Isis nor Zack are the evil ones in this story…the evil is an ancient wiccan vampire with a grudge against humanity. She is coming. Although they are supposed to be rivals, Isis and Zack need to bring their families together if they hope to save the world. In fact, it may already be too late.  

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

The most challenging aspect of writing The Witches of Vegas was the fact that it was the first time I had written in years. After writing The Rasner Effect series and a science fiction story titled “Status Quo,” I stopped writing. I felt burned out, plus my life changed. I met a wonderful woman who would later become my wife. As years went by, the books I had written fell further and further behind the times. In my first book, The Rasner Effect, the tech nerd of the story used a blackberry because it was the top piece of technology at the time.

Writing felt like it was a long distance in my rearview mirror, and I was sure I’d never get back to it again. I considered myself officially retired from writing. Sure, I still had ideas for great stories, but I was no longer motivated to put pen to paper. Then, one night at around 2 a.m., a thought hit me. I started thinking about witches. Imagine if they used their powers to put on a magic show. Most people wouldn’t know the difference, they’d just see it as amazing magic. For the witches, it would be a perfect way to hide in plain sight, because they could practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted.

I figured these witches would end up in Las Vegas because that’s the magic capital of the world. They’d amaze their audience. Plus, they wouldn’t incur the cost of the typical magic show since they’re using their powers to create the performance. But, how would this affect the rest of the Las Vegas magic community? They’d never be able to keep up; what would happen to them?

Over the next few nights, the characters popped into my head as if they were speaking to me from another reality, telling me their stories. I started asking my characters questions, like why they’re doing the show, what are their motivations? I asked them about their lives…and they answered all my questions. They spoke and I wrote it all down.

So, is The Witches of Vegas a fictional story I wrote? Or is it a true story from another reality where they are telling me about their adventures so I can share it with the world? Either way, I’m back in the writing business with a new world, a new genre, and for a new audience. That’s why I call myself a “born again writer.”

Where can Witches and their vampire mentor practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted?

By using their magic, the Witches of Vegas become the number one act performing on the Las Vegas Strip – a great achievement for them, but not so much for the magicians—who can’t possibly keep pace.

Isis Rivera is the adopted fifteen-year old daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Although they should be rivals, when Valeria, a four-hundred-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against humanity arrives in Sin-City, both teens act to bring their families together to stop the evil hag in her tracks.

But can the combined witches’ powers and the ingenuity of the magicians be enough to stop Valeria from taking over the city and possibly the world?

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

Getting published is never easy. Once my book is ready, I do as any other author does, I follow publisher’s submissions policies. They all want a cover letter telling them about the book and they all want a synopsis of the book (which is a short essay which summarizes your story from beginning to end). Some may ask for sample chapters.

I know I will receive many rejections from publishers, that’s just how that game works: Most will reject, some will ask to see the entire manuscript. Of the ones that ask to see the entire manuscript, although the hopes will be high, most will reject even at that point. But that’s okay, because all an author needs is one publisher to say “Yes, I want to take a chance on your manuscript and make it a book.” In this sense, it’s a lot like looking for a job. You apply at every reputable company, put your best foot forward and hope for the best.

As an author, do you prefer the traditional book or online version? Why?

As an author in the writing world, I understand how ebooks are becoming the new norm. It is far easier for people to buy a book for one to five dollars, store it and then read it on a device. It’s cheaper, more convenient and takes up a lot less space on the bookshelf.

Personally, I still prefer the traditional printed book. As a reader, I like to hold a book in my hand. It gives me a more intimate relationship with the story I’m reading. Also, as an author, I like the printed book because as much as I like to autograph someone’s copy of my book, I can’t sign their kindle. I once tried and almost got punched out for it.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

My advice is to get ready for a long, frustrating, and exhausting process, and that’s after the book is written. Whether you’re looking for a traditional publisher or you want to self-publish, you have a lot of work ahead of you. But, remember, nothing in life worth doing is easy. When you finally see your book in print, when you look at your cover for the first time, all that hard work is well worth it.

One thing to keep in mind: when your book finally becomes real, understand that’s not the goal…that’s the starting line. It doesn’t mean you won your race, it means you are now entering the race, a race that never ends because there are always people out there that haven’t read your book yet and you want them to know about it.

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