Mark Rafidi

Mark Rafidi

Q&A with Author Mark Rafidi

What inspired you to be a writer?

I've always had a fascination with language. When I find there is an urge to be creative, it’s more natural to express myself in words, than in any other form. When it comes to being a writer, it's not so much a calling, but rather a need to write a story that's been in my head for some time.  

What prompted you to write 'Salt Runs Through'?

The start of Salt Runs Through was bouncing around internally for a few years. I knew it was important, and that I should write it, but I was procrastinating. 

Then two things happened. 

I was listening to an interview with Trent Dalton after reading Boy Swallows Universe. He was discussing the semi-autobiographical nature of his novel. For some reason, I didn’t piece together that I could use my own experiences in this novel. In an offhand way, Trent gave me permission to mine my own experiences, and I knew that my childhood would play an integral part in driving the plot in this novel.

I bumped into a former school student at a café one afternoon. We caught up over a coffee and he grilled me about what I was doing, and if I was still writing. I was all but finished with writing then and wanted to spend my free time surfing and fishing. For the next half an hour, he gave me a serve and demanded I get back into writing. That stuck with me. So, I parked myself in front of my laptop and wrote. I kept at it every day, and months later, in the middle of summer, I completed it.

Do you have any more books in the pipeline?

I'm working collaboratively with Paul O'Sullivan on a picture book aimed at older audiences called The Photographer. I wrote a first draft a decade ago and Paul has been illustrating it for the past seven years. He’s done an incredible job. We both cannot wait until it comes out next year.

What is your professional background?

I work full time as a secondary English teacher in NSW and have done so for the past 25 years. I’ve published numerous journal articles and have been fortunate to have had three books published. Salt Runs Through will be my fourth. 

I have majors in Creative Writing and Literature through my Bachelor of Arts degree and have my Doctorate in Creative Arts which also focused on creative writing.

Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring writers?

Writing and drafting is hard work. There’s no getting around spending a good portion of your life typing. If you're going to commit hours each day, then you want to make sure it's a story worth telling.

Know the market and your audience. Read extensively into the genre or category or market you want to write for. Know what titles are being sold, the word length your manuscript needs to be, etc.

Consistency is essential once you've committed yourself to writing. I set an achievable word length I need to meet every day. I don't leave the keyboard until I’ve got it, and soon enough the rhythm of doing that becomes habitual.

Finally, thoroughly edit your manuscript prior to submission. Get objective help and advice from an editor and from readers who are going to tell you the truth.

Who/what inspires you?

Inspiration comes from everywhere and everyone. The relationships I’m in, the people around me, my past, my environment, nature, God, music, books that I’ve read. There is a setting or a character, a piece of dialogue, part of a plot, everywhere I look.

What are your hobbies, interests and favourite books??

I love to read. I find that the more literature I read (as opposed to popular fiction), the more I see artistry. Stephen King said: ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.’

Another love is surfing. Not just surfing history and autobiographies, but the evolution of the surfboard too. There’s nothing like getting out and surfing itself. I do it as often as I can. There is something hypnotic and healing and completely wonderful about dancing with waves.  

How can readers contact you?

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