Born in 1971, Mark Oetjens grew up in suburban Chicago, where, as a child, he was was diagnosed with Dystonia, a debilitating neuromuscular disorder. There is no cure for Dystonia, however through surgeries and rehabilitation Mr. Oetjens was able to walk, with only a slight limp, by the time he began high school.
Mark Oetjens received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Anthropology, both from Northern Illinois University. Later, in adulthood, a brain tumor, which was completely unrelated to his Dystonia, threatened to disable him a second time. Thanks to radiation therapy and Mr. Oetjens’ strength and will, the tumor has disappeared.
Currently, Mr. Oetjens resides in Phoenix, AZ and is busy promoting his latest science fiction book release, The Staff of Rahgorra. You can learn more about Mark Oetjens at his website: www.conquerpublishing.com.
Please tell us a bit about your book: The Staff of Rahgorra - characters, plot, etc.
The Staff of Rahgorra is a science fiction action-adventure. Thrull, a crime lord, wants to rule the galaxy. He knows the key to his plan is to find the mythical weapon known as the Staff of Rahgorra. Cam and his apprentice Kayo, agents of the Galactic Security Bureau, are determined to find the Staff first and avoid the war that Thrull threatens. Along the way Cam seeks the help of some interesting and questionable characters.
If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?
Definitely Koren Osric. Koren is one of Thrull’s admirals. His look came about from a random scribble on a piece of paper. I’d like to meet him just to see that scribble actually fleshed out, to see how he moves and how his face looks and how he eats.
If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?
When you write you can have your characters do anything. Personally, I’m a scaredy-cat at heart. If say, a firefight or a space battle broke out, I’d be the first one hiding under a table curled up in the fetal position.
Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc that help set your “writing mood”?
I can’t just sit in my apartment and write. Believe me, I’ve tied. I have to have some kind of activity going on around me. I actually like writing at fast food restaurants. There’s always something happening. Plus, I’m a big people-watcher.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez.
Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?
James Clavell’s Shogun had a huge influence on me. I’ve read Shogun so many times I’ve worn out two different copies. I’ve read most of Clavell’s other fiction too. I like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels. I also read a lot of Clive Cussler. Ironically, I don’t read a lot of science fiction.
If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I think I’d like to meet Jack London. He lived what he wrote. I mean, so did Hemingway and Twain, but London had adventures. Besides, I’ve always wanted to see Alaska.
Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:
Please share with us a favorite memory.
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. My grandparents used to own a cabin on a small lake in extreme northern Wisconsin. Every summer growing up my family would spend a couple weeks at the cabin just fishing and swimming and having fun.
Please describe a perfect meal – including menu and those present.
Hot dogs, Chicago-style hot dogs, with my dad and my brothers. Two dogs for each of us with a big side of fries and a large Coke.
What are some of your favorite ways to relax?
Either spending time with my family, especially my nieces Kaylee and Lauren, or being with my friends, barbecuing or watching sports at the local bar.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
My first instinct is to say Paris. What writer wouldn’t want to live in Paris? But the more I think about it the more I think I’d like to live in Asia. Tokyo, Hong Kong, New Delhi, even the Middle East all have so much to offer culturally, religiously and artistically.
If you could only read books by one author, who would it be? *I know, this is an inconceivable thought, lol.
Ooh, that’s a tough one. If I had to choose just one author, I’d think it would be Michael Crichton. I haven’t read a lot of his work, but what I have read seems to be right on the verge of being possible, which is really intriguing. Plus his work covers so much territory. I don’t think I’d ever get bored.
Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.
Ideally The Staff of Rahgorra will take off and become a best-seller. That dream still hasn’t happened, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My other big dream is to fall in love and raise a family. Unfortunately, that one hasn’t happened yet either.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
My guilty pleasures are food, in general, and chocolate, in particular. It’s a wonder I don’t weigh 300 pounds.
If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t let anything stop you.