FRANK MUNDO: THE WRITER’S REPUTATION CAN BE RUINED BY PUTTING OUT UNREADY WORKS
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Frank Mundo describes himself as a reader. In fact he is full time writer and a reviewer for some prestigious magazines. We will have a chance to learn something more about his last book Different in the next Q&A interview.
– What is your last book Different about?
– Different is about a 12-year-old boy named Gregory Gourde who wakes up in his bed one morning with an impossible new feature: his head has become a watermelon. We follow Gregory down a rabbit hole of sorts to an elite prep school whose recruits are the most brutally bullied students on the planet in an audacious exploration of what it really means to be different.
– How you decide to write the story?
– The story was inspired by Franz Kafka’s story The Metamorphosis about a young man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning in his bed transformed into a dung beetle. First of all, I love that story! It’s one of my favorites. Second, I always wondered what Gregor Samsa would’ve done if, instead of simply locking himself in his room that day, he was forced to venture out into the world as a dung beetle. The result was Different.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– I think the biggest challenge is making such a strange character and story believable. The very first sentence asks readers to suspend their disbelief without any information. That means everything that follows, despite the unusual circumstances, must ring true to the reader, or no one will want to continue reading.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– Yes, Gregory’s relationship with his mother is somewhat similar to my and my mother’s, and much of their interaction in the early part of the story is based on my and my mother’s relationship in that way. Also, I think – or I hope – Gregory is a lot like many readers who have faced the strange combination of adversity and angst and hormones and magic in the tiny tiny tiny worlds we live in when we’re children going on teens, how enormously important even the smallest decisions seem, and how powerful and meaningful every little event becomes – especially at school. I hope it’s an experience we can all relate to and learn from in one way or another.
– How much time you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– It took about 6 months altogether to write and publish the story – there are also 12 illustrations by artist Keith Draws that also took about 6 months. The story, which is a novella, was based on a very different version of a short story I wrote years ago.
– Your most popular book is The Brubury Tales. What about it?
– The Brubury Tales is also very unusual. It’s a 65-word novel written entirely in rhyming verse. The story itself is a modern take on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales set in Los Angeles just after the 1992 riots. Instead of pilgrims, The Brubury Tales follows 7 security guards on the graveyard shift who agree to have a storytelling competition to determine vacation time. That is, whoever tells the best story receives the best vacation days, the week from Christmas to New Year’s Eve.
The judge of the storytelling competition is the book’s narrator, J.T. Glass, an English major at UCLA who describes the events and some 13 stories (“word for word”) that are told throughout the night. Like Chaucer’s fantastic work, the tales themselves (based on classic stories) are funny, sad, serious, political, romantic, religious, literary, satirical and downright dirty pieces that explore family, love, religion, race, marriage, government, education, sex and most importantly, friendship and our responsibilities to one another.
– Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories was one of your first works. What may be found inside?
– For 14 years, I worked as a graveyard-shift security guard in Los Angeles – much like my character J.T. Glass in The Brubury Tales. This job allowed me to write a lot of stories that ended up being published in magazines and journals across the U.S. The book, Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories, is a collection of twelve of my very best published short stories about J.T. Glass that, together, tell the story of his life. In many of the stories, J.T. is challenged with moral decisions that walk the fine line between humor and tragedy. Some of the stories address J.T.’s childhood, while others deal with his utter misunderstanding of women and his relationships with them.
– Who are you?
– I’m a reader who likes to write stories and poetry.
– What are your writing habits?
– My writing habits have changed tremendously over the years, especially after a couple of heart attacks in 2012 change everything. These days, I only write creative works: stories, fiction and essays, when I feel like it. Otherwise I just end up staring out of the window or wasting time on social media. When I am writing, I need to have at least 2 or 3 hours a day, five days a week, plus 5 hours on one weekend day to edit what I wrote during the week. That’s typically how I work these days – although my wife has to force me to write and, more often, edit my work each day. My latest book, Different, is my first book written after my heart problems in 2012.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– I’m always shocked and amused and humbled with each new sale or review or new email I get about my books. There are 9 million or more books on Amazon alone, so I really appreciate when someone chooses to read my book over so many others. I hope that it’s time well spent for them and that they have something they can take from the work that they remember for a long time. I am definitely planning another book.
– What are you doing to promote by the best possible way your book?
– I’m not a very good marketer. The most effective way I’m come up with to sell books is to do live readings as much as I can – which I can’t really do anymore. When I finished The Brubury Tales I did almost a hundred readings in 2 or 3 years. I think people hearing me read the work live is a better advertisement or marketing piece than I could ever come up with – especially since the person in the audience has already made the effort to come out to the event.
– Who are some indie/small press writers/poets you like?
– In fiction, I like the works of Marion Stein, Candi Sary, David Prybil, Gint Aras, Daniel A. Olivas, Nancy Klann-Moren, Joan Tewkesbury and more. In poetry, I enjoyed works I recently reviewed by Michele Serros, Jeffrey C. Alfier, Gina Ferrara, Melinda Palacio, David J. Delaney, Terry McCarty, Nathan Kross, Laura LME and more.
– You are a full time writer. Please describe one of your days?
– It’s been 8 or 9 years now that the only job I claim on my taxes is writer. It’s an amazing life and a lifetime goal for me to be able to live solely by my writing. The hardest part, like I discussed earlier, is discipline, especially after my heart problems. I have to work on the projects and deadlines that pay the mortgage first, and, sometimes, that means the more creative projects get put on the back burner. I’m very lucky, however, to have a wife who helps me stay focus and finish the work I need to finish every day and still maintain a work-life balance.
– How important is it to have a degree or to complete some Creative Writing courses in order to improve the writing skills?
– It certainly can’t hurt. Personally, I believe writers constantly need to read and continue to study their craft forever. And while a college degree or creative writing courses are elements of that, they are not absolutely necessary to be a successful writer. I just can’t imagine why a writer wouldn’t want to try.
– You are a reviewer for couple of prestigious magazines/newspapers/web sites. What are the most common mistakes that are made by indie/newbie writers?
– I think the excitement of seeing one’s work in print leads to the two most common mistakes made by newbies. The first is rushing to publish or putting out work that does not represent the writer’s very best possible effort. The second mistake is similar, which is publishing every single thing the writer ever writes. Because writers are told that more titles leads to more sales, many writers will be tempted to hit the publish button on every single title they write. This is a huge mistake in my mind. How can everything someone writes be worthy of publication? Sure, this productivity might lead to more sales in the short term, but I believe the writer’s long-term reputation can be ruined by putting out sub-par, unready works or works they don’t stand behind 100%.
Check out more about Frank at his Twitter
Take a look at his books