Interview by Tara Lennart
A few weeks ago, we introduced you to Mark Safranko’s new French book « Odd Jobs » (13e Note). This week, let’s talk about Mark again, but with a book only published in America : NO STRINGS (what the hell are French editors doing?). Here is a writer walking away from beaten tracks.
Your style in NO STRINGS is very different from what we are used to from your Max Zajack saga.
They aren’t my only styles. In my case, the story or material determines the style. And since pretty much everything in life interests me, I find myself resorting to different styles. Of course a writer never gets too far away from who really he is, so it’s always possible to find him beneath the veneer of a voice or style.
Which one do you prefer?
I don’t have a preferred style. I have a psychic need to counter the autobiographical or confessional style with a more refracted or less direct voice. I get bored doing one or another exclusively, so it’s probably a need for balance that drives me to use different voices or styles.
So NO STRINGS is about a man who ends up in a real nightmare of a situation. Was this inspired by anything in particular?
I’m always intrigued by people who are forced into desperate situations – probably because I’ve often felt that way myself. Being in a close relationship – like marriage – that has gone sour can make a person feel desperate. When a man or woman is forced into a corner like a trapped rat, it makes for fascinating behavior. There’s a part of me in Richard Marzten and vice versa. So it wasn’t difficult to be inspired to write the story.
How did you come up with this character?
I spend lots of time thinking about character. And there are thousands inside me. One day I’m this guy, the next I’m another, the day after that I’m another. I think a writer – a decent one – has to be able to inhabit many different skins. And yet there is hopefully something universal in all of them, something that makes us all human.
Do you think everything has a price? That, for example, a bit of simple adultery can have an unsuspected karmic cost?
Oh, yes. I think everything in life does have its price. That’s evident to me from simple observation. And I don’t know that adultery is ever simple. I think that we try to rationalize it as simple, but that in reality it’s complicated, as most everything in life is. Just the fact that you have to live a lie makes it complicated. When you are not being yourself, life becomes very complex.
Do you think that in every human being lies a psycho who could turn up if one feels caught in a dirty trap?
Absolutely. We all have a dark side. Jung, for one, spent his life studying it, trying to shed light on the shadows of the human psyche. Given the proper soil, every one of us is capable of something criminal. The character of Noah Cross points it out in the movie Chinatown. Extraordinary stress, the wrong gene pool, a certain susceptibility – the right combination can set the monster loose.
What are you working on at the moment? Which kind of story are you preparing?
Well, I’ve got another Max Zajack book finished and another on the drawing board. Most recently I’ve written a psychological mystery about 9/11, a novel about a housepainter who commits a crime and his flight across the country to escape the consequences, another about a ghostwriter for an advice columnist, and a novel about the life of a female violin prodigy. Hopefully some of them will see publication.