Marc Clark currently resides in Manhattan. He is an award-winning author and writer/producer of over 2,000 commercials and television content as well as the HBO Family Series, “30 X 30 Kids Flicks.” His first book, The Princess Fables received the distinct honor of being named Best Children’s Book at the 2014 Beach Book Festival
NAW- Tell us about your literary journey. How and at what age did you start writing?
My parents tell me that I used to make up stories when I was very little but I don’t remember that. I didn’t really start writing until I went to acting school and they offered classes with playwrights. I was 19 or 20. I found I could write scenes with dialogue that sounded like real people talking. I read books and learned by trial and error how to write plays. I wrote a half dozen plays and then I wrote another half dozen screenplays. The skills it takes to write for the stage and screen isn’t really applicable to a novel. I guess crafting screenplays and constructing plots and stories made me into more of a storyteller. I remember telling younger kids about the plots of some of my screenplays as if they were stories. When my own children were little I would make up stories for them all the time. For my daughter it was usually about a princess or a little girl with special powers to help people and for my son it was usually about a boy going on adventure of some kind.
NAW-Tell us about your book,The Princess Fables. How long did it take to finish the book? Did you plan to publish it when you were compiling stories for your daughter?
I told my daughter stories a lot when she was young but it wasn’t until she was about 16 that I decided to write them down. I was going through a terrible divorce and I didn’t get to see my daughter for almost a year. Writing the fables was a way for me to feel connected to her. Of course, I couldn’t really remember the stories. I did remember that she had a difficult time when she started 1st Grade so I based these stories on her reactions when I went to wake her up to go to school. It took me about a year to write the stories – not the first draft of them, that didn’t take long, but re-writing and re-writing and giving to people like my father who I trust to give me good notes, re-writing some more and passing along to an editor, then re-writing some more. The illustrations came next, which probably took another year. Each of the drawings in the book went through dozens of changes, finding the right moment in the princesses lives to illustrate. Eric is a true artist and the detail he adds takes time and talent. I did want to publish the book but I didn’t have a plan. I had always imagined the book as a cloth bound, old fashioned hard cover. When I priced out a hardcover I realized it would be cost prohibitive. It was a couple of years after the book was finished that I was out for dinner with a friend and telling him about the book and he said, “So publish the damn thing!” So I started the long process of self-publishing, building a website, Twitter and Facebook pages.
NAW- Tell us about your forthcoming book, Royal fables.
The Royal Fables: Stories From the Princes and Princess of the Texas Children’s Hospital came about when my publicist told me that I had to Tweet and Post on Facebook every day. I explained that if I was going to do that we should find something worth talking about, something we could do to help others, something worthwhile. I had previously explained to her that we should make a place on our website so that children could give us ideas on future Princess Fables. It so happened that my publicist is a member the Ready Or Not Foundation that raises money for the Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer Centers. We sent a proposal to the RONF suggesting that children at the hospital enter a contest where they come up with ideas for Prince and Princess stories – we pick 5 of the ideas and I write a story based on their suggestions and then we allow the children to illustrate the fables. We plan on publishing the book in the Fall to raise money for the hospital. I went to the hospital last month to launch the project and got to read to some of the children. It was… inspirational.
NAW- How different is the process of writing for children? Will we be getting more of children books from you in future or do you plan to explore other areas?
Because I’m more of storyteller, I write very much like how I would tell children the stories. Sometimes there are asides, sometime questions or passing along my thoughts on children, parents and teachers. If I feel I’m using a word that might be out of some children’s vocabulary, I’ll explain what it means. I never, ever talk down to children. I try to keep the stories short, the themes universal and the language simple.
We are in the early stages of The Royal Fables which should come out in the Fall. I’ve started on another Princess Fables book that will include some stories about Princes as well. I have an idea for more of a picture book with a single Princess for pre-school and kindergartners. I think I will also write down some ghost stories I used to tell my daughter.
NAW- Do you feel there is a dearth of good quality child fiction books? I mean there is a lot of stuff in the slightly upper age bracket, the young adult section but children writing is not explored much.
I agree that there are more good quality book for Young Adults. One of the reasons we have to work so hard to find an audience for The Princess Fables is because it’s difficult to classify. We feel as though we are filling a void of substantial reading material for ages 6 to 12.
NAW- When you are reading, do you prefer ebooks or printed paper books?
I still prefer holding a book in my hand. There’s a feeling of accomplishment (and sometimes disappointment that the story will be over soon) as you turn each page.
NAW- How do you write, in fits and starts or in one go? Take us through your writing process?
I am attempting to create a consistent writing pattern but I haven’t as yet. I come up with the original ideas for the stories in all sorts of ways. Sometimes when I run. Sometimes from people that I meet. Sometimes when I hear about problems that young girls or boys encounter. I’ve even imagined making up stories for classrooms that I visit. I tend to write the opening of each story first because I’m trying to come up with new and interesting ways to start that don’t sound like, “Once upon a time…” Most of my stories tend to follow a pattern and I have to know it before I sit down to write: A child with a bad habit or problem. A situation where they are challenged by circumstances to change or grow and leave the bad habit behind. An ending that isn’t necessarily “Happily ever after” but shows the strength and contentment that comes from overcoming a bad habit or problem. I write and set it aside. Read it later and re-write. Repeat the process until I’m happy with it then send it along to my dad or other people I trust then re-write from their notes. Finally I send it along to an editor and work her notes until we’re both happy. That’s usually when I move on to working with the illustrator. This time around he said to get him early drafts or maybe even just story ideas so he can get a head start on the process.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I run a small production company, Seven C’s Productions. I Write/Produce and Direct commercials, videos and TV Content. I started Seven C’s Productions in 1995 as a freelance Writer/Producer for HBO and Cinemax. I went on to produce over 2,000 promos, trailers, entertainment news pieces, long form interstitials, marketing tapes and presentations for Food Network, Destination America, Cooking Channel, Lifetime, USA Network and Showtime, winning 2 Gold Mark and a Silver Mark Award for my work.
Over the years I have conducted over 500 entertainment interviews, running the gamut from Kindergarteners to Michael Strahan to Larry David. I shot, produced and directed the HBO Family series “30 X 30 Kid Flicks” and have been entrusted with creating several family videos for the likes of the LeFrak family and the Seinfelds. I launched the TWC on Demand Barker and I created and produced all of the promotion for the first national PPV and Video On Demand platform in China, YOU On Demand.
I also run, cook, travel, swim. I watch a fair amount of movies and tv and will jump at any chance to see live music.