Mark Kaplan

Author Website

What are the titles of the urban fiction books you have had published?


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing my whole life. In middle school I’d scratch out poems, crumple them up and toss them into my desk. It wasn’t until someone on the school magazine saw this, and nabbed one of my poems for the magazine, that I thought anyone could be interested in my stuff. I’ve written plays, screenplays, and am currently in development of a series of picture books, “Monsters Do Ugly Things”. Down is my second novel, and the first one to deal with what it’s like on the streets for many inner-city kids these days. I grew up in New York, and have spent fourteen years teaching in inner-city public schools both back in NYC (with a stint as a Dean at a Brooklyn high school), and in Los Angeles. DOWN has allowed me to combine my writing life with my teaching life.

Do you have a special routine when you write?

I have two small kids, a full-time job, and a marriage to attend to, so whenever I can dig out some time for writing, I get to it.

Tell us more about your last book, and what are you working on now?

DOWN tells the story of Leon Mendoza, who starts the school year with an ankle monitor and an upcoming court date. He’s determined to stay out of trouble. But how can he with the pending charges against him, his P.O. breathing down his neck, a father in jail, a mother in deep depression, and even his home boys pressuring him to quietly take the rap?

He gets some help from an attractive school girl, the support of a few teachers and a part-time job. But it’s hard to believe that will be enough to keep him on the outside.

Who’s your favorite character from your books? Why?

I like most of my characters, even the most unlikeable. One who comes to mind now is Khajag, from A Thousand Beauties. Although he’s not a major character, he really came out as a piece. A big personality, he controls the little universe of his extended family and his small jeweler’s shop with an iron hand. There’s just something so very real about Khajag. It’s funny, but I don’t really think I would like him as a person, although I love him as a character.
Tell Us Your Top Ten Favorite Books that You’ve Read

Far too many, in too many different genres.

What do you say to critics of street fiction?

Street fiction is now an established genre. If you’re going to be a critic of its form, assess it on its ow terms, as you would a biography, horror, or even a piece of magical realism. There’s a wealth of brilliance out there, who are speaking to those who have been traditionally disenfranchised. Street Fiction is a doorway to the world of books for many people. You better recognize!

Why should librarians purchase street fiction for their collections?

If they want many of our struggling readers and non-readers to use their services to improve their lives, then they’d better offer them something they want to read.

What advice do you have for new authors who hope to publish their urban fiction books?

I read that Stephen King completed four novels before he published “Carrie”. Think about that. Four, full-length novels. No interest. So he wrote a fifth. The only advice I can give is, write, promote yourself, and see what happens.

Any final words for fans of your books?

Thank you! More are coming!

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