Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mark Edward Langley

Mark Edward Langley was instilled with a love for the American West by his father at a young age. After visiting it throughout adulthood, his connection to the land became irrevocable. After spending almost thirty years working for someone else, he retired and began to focus on writing.

Langley's latest Arthur Nakai mystery is Death Waits in the Dark.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I like the titles of my novels to be something that catches the prospective readers eye and gives them a glimpse into what the story is about. For example, Path of the Dead; Death Waits in the Dark, When Silence Screams. All are tell-tale as to the story’s direction. They help grab the readers attention and put them in the frame of mind to understand the story before they even read the inside flap.

What's in a name?

The protagonists name in my series is Arthur Nakai. I wanted it to be a strong name befitting a man with his background. And there was no real ulterior motive or clever design to it. It was simply the first name of a Navajo friend of mine that I worked with and my favorite Native American flute player, R. Carlos Nakai. But when it came to creating a location for Arthur and his wife to live, I envisioned White Mesa, New Mexico. My readers love that 98% of the locations are real in my books, but the other 2% are there so I can have as much creative license as possible. The fictional area where Arthur’s home and business—White Mesa Outfitters—is located is just north of one of my favorite places, Farmington, New Mexico. I love that area, and it’s close to Shiprock, Kirtland and Bloomfield and all the other locations in my books. When a reader reads my books, I can take them on a journey down the roads I have driven and to the places I have been … they only have to figure out which is which.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

I think he would see how I have developed over the course of them and be amazed. He would love the stories, the eclectic and memorable mix of characters, the graphic descriptions of the beautiful New Mexican landscape and get lost in the case needing to be solved.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Oh, I definitely find it harder to write beginnings rather than the endings. In my first book, Path of the Dead, I changed the beginning numerous times until I finally found my voice and the story took flight. Then, about seven chapters in, I wrote the ending. At that point I knew where I was heading; I just had to get there. In Death Waits in the Dark, I changed the beginning three times before settling on the scene-setting opening paragraph. And in When Silence Screams, my book due out this August, I struggled with how it should open. Should be with what turned out to be the better placed second chapter or should it be the different, more unnerving, chapter it became? I went with the later and the whole narrative began to take shape and drive the story into a whole new, terrifying direction.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

When a writer creates their characters, I believe they must draw from within. They always say, “Write what you know.” And what better person do you know than yourself. You draw from personal experience, that way you feel all the emotions concerning what you are writing about; you let your characters react as they should based on what your reactions may have been as well as what drives them to think and act as they do. If a writer can’t pull from his or her past, there is no feeling to their writing … just words strung together.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I would have to say movies and TV by far; sometimes music—certain songs that evoke certain emotions or memories—and current events that are concerning to the Navajo people. I don’t beat the reader over the head with what I believe; I share several viewpoints and give them the freedom to make up their own mind.
Visit Mark Edward Langley's website.

My Book, The Movie: Death Waits in the Dark.

Coffee with a Canine: Mark Edward Langley & Lady Cora.

The Page 69 Test: Death Waits in the Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue