Refossileer Spotlight, Day 3 — Mark Orr

Mark Orr made a big splash on his first visit to the Lake with “What’s Your Beef?”, a decided fan-favorite. He joins us again with “Music Hath Charms,” an AU semi-sequel in which nasty little Bert Granchi faces another well-deserved comeuppance.


But what about those who cling to only a very narrow sub-genre, and utterly reject every other form of music? What if our subject, or our patient, can only abide something called Death Metal?” Ottermole smiled. — “Music Hath Charms” by Mark Orr


* What inspired your piece in The Refossiling?

MO: I was reading an ARC of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin that I picked up in a library sale. In it, Levitin described the development of musical tastes pretty much as I had Dr. Ottermole outline it in the story. I simply applied his theory to Little Nikki’s stunted range of musical preference(s), and voila! Dr. Ottermole, BTW, was inspired in part by the title character of Thomas Burke’s classic 1949 suspense story, “The Hands of Mr. Ottermole”.

* Favorite seafood dish or delicacy and why?

MO: Shrimp & grits. I prefer the Charleston, SC version rather than New Orleans style S&G, which tends to be a tad spicy for my tastes. Best I’ve found was at the Low Country Bistro on South Market Street in Charleston. Add in a bowl of she-crab soup, and be ready for gustatory heaven!

* Where can readers and fans find more of your work?

MO: Belfire Press has my first novel, Smarter Than the Average Werewolf, available even as we speak. It can also be found on Amazon. Kindly to purchase many copies.

* Share your best, or worst, body-of-water-related memory/experience!

MO: One of the stops on a Caribbean cruise She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and I went on a few years ago, I think it was on Grand Cayman, we rode a facsimile pirate ship around the harbor and a few miles out to sea. The passengers got as much rum punch as they could drink for free. Good stuff, good times. I would retire today to live on a cruise ship, if I could afford it.

* Who are your main creative influences, literary/artistic or otherwise?

MO: Raymond Chandler, no doubt, along with other hardboiled writers. Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, Ross MacDonald, Rex Stout. I keep a small print of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks above my desk. It’s my favorite painting. I learned to write dialogue by listening to thousands of old time radios shows, which were mostly dialogue. The dialogue in the fictional Captain America radio show on Marvel’s Agent Carter is nothing like what real radio programs of the period were like, BTW.

* Current music and why?

MO: My wife and I took up ballroom dancing a few years ago. I like music with a good melody that informs the rhythm so I can clearly demonstrate why the ladies at the club we go to call me the Smooth Operator. 🙂 Regardless of beat, I need a good melody to really find the heart of the song. That means there’s damn little current music I find worth dancing to, since nobody seems to know how to write a melody anymore. Pre-disco rock & roll is my favorite, but there’s a lot of great Latin music that gets my feet moving. I also like classical and opera, but rarely for dancing, other than waltzes.

* What’re you working on, what is your process/routine like?

MO: I’ve come to a point in the sequel to Smarter Than the Average Werewolf, which is called Dead Women in Love, where I need to make some hard decisions. I’ve put it aside for the moment and gotten back to working on research for my comprehensive history of the horror genre through 1980. I’ve lately discovering some terrific forgotten gems. 🙂 Ooh, this is gonna be good! My process is to let things percolate in my brain until I’m ready to write them down, then type furiously for as long as I can tolerate.

* What’s the weirdest object you own? Backstory!

MO: At some point while at the University of Tennessee in the early 80s, somebody gave me a kid’s bank more or less in the shape of Topo Gigio wearing a UT football player’s uniform, complete with an orange helmet with his big ol’ mouse ears sticking out of the top. Must have been a custom job. Peyton Manning never wore a helmet like that. All I can say is, Go Big Orange!

* Most useless advice you’ve ever seriously given or been given?

MO: “Don’t ever start smoking!” told to me when I was twelve. By the time I was old enough to smoke, I’d been told not to so much, I couldn’t wait to see what the big deal was. Took me decades to shake the habit. I wish somebody had forced me to smoke so much at twelve that I got sick of it and never wanted to when I got older.

* What kind of question do you always wish these questionnaires would ask, and how would you answer it?

MO: You just asked it, and I just answered it.

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