An Interview with Gay Author Mark Zubro
February 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of popular and prolific mystery writer Mark Zubro’s award-winning first novel, A Simple Suburban Murder. Since that time, he has authored more than two-dozen books. While Zubro mainly works in the mystery genre, he has recently expanded his repertoire to include science fiction with the 2013 publication of Alien Quest, the first in a new series, a book he describes as “twenty-three years in the making.” Zubro’s Pawn of Satan, one of his Paul Turner mysteries, has been named as a finalist in the “Gay Mystery” category for the prestigious Lambda Literary Award (to be presented in New York City in June 2014).
As a writer specializing in the fiction genre, such as mystery and science fiction, I was wondering if you also read popular fiction for your own enjoyment?
I read huge numbers of mysteries and alternate those with an eclectic mix, but especially history, most notably about the American Civil War and the French Revolution.
Is there one mystery writer that you would cite as the greatest influence on your work?
The most influential mystery writer is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. His work taught me several important things: the absolutely vital notion that the sleuth involved must follow the logic of the evidence; that humanizing the sleuth was key; that the story is paramount; and that a clever twist at the end is always a plus.
Is there one science fiction writer that you would cite as the greatest influence on your work?
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy is still my favorite science fiction epic. It’s just brilliant in its sweep and imaginative constructs.
Do you have an all-time favorite author, regardless of genre?
J.R.R. Tolkien. I used to read The Hobbit and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year. Now it’s every two or three years. It’s just a masterful work of world creation and a triumph of imagination.
You have two ongoing mystery series – those featuring Tom Mason and Scott Carpenter and those involving Paul Turner. How do you decide which mysteries are a better fit for Tom and Scott versus Paul?
The Tom Mason ones are the trickiest. They’re in the “amateur sleuth” sub genre of mysteries. The problem for them is always what I call the “Jessica Fletcher” syndrome. In all reality, if the police didn’t show Jessica the door, the “too interested” person is always high on the suspect list. So, the key is figuring a way to get Tom and Scott involved without the story turning into a cliché or becoming unrealistic. They have to have some personal connection to the case or some plausible reason so they have some motivation for getting involved. The Paul Turner books are easier in the sense that since he’s a police detective, he has a logical reason to be involved built in.
If there were movie versions made of your books, who would you like to see as Tom and Scott?
I think Chris Hemsworth as Tom and Brad Pitt as Scott.
Who would you like to see as Paul?
Ryan Gosling or Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Do you have any advice for would-be gay mystery writers?
1. Read – a lot – gay and lesbian mysteries, non-gay and lesbian mysteries, and a huge mix of fiction and nonfiction. Then read some more.
2. Write – keep writing consistently. Then write some more.
3. Don’t give up. It’s one of the most discouraging professions in terms of sitting by oneself and slaving away and getting little feedback, and with few realistic notions that you’ll ever make a living from all that work.
by Gregg Shapiro