Recently, we interviewed author Mark Howen about his new book: “Requiem For The Rooster”. Mark Howen is a writer and author who has recently completed his first novel. He has a strong connection to his roots in Colorado and the Western United States, but has also lived in other places such as Washington. Throughout his life, Mark has faced the common challenge of balancing his dreams and passions with the practicalities of making a living, and he openly acknowledges this struggle.
Despite these challenges, Mark has never given up on his dream of writing and has continued to explore his craft. He believes that the act of creation is the essence of all art, and is dedicated to the pursuit of his art. In his writing, Mark is passionate about exploring the human experience and the complexities of life, and hopes that his work will resonate with readers and inspire them to reflect on their own lives.
Overall, Mark Howen is an inspiring figure who demonstrates the importance of perseverance, passion, and humility in the pursuit of one’s dreams. His dedication to the craft of writing and his commitment to exploring the human experience make him a compelling voice in the world of literature.
1.If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
A: Empathetic Progressive Traditionalist
2. “The true principle of art is not to portray but to evoke,” says Jerzy Kosinski. How do you balance between the portrait and elicit in your stories ?
A: I would agree with Mr. Kosinski, that the artist must strive to pull out of their subject that which the artist is aﬀected by. Yet, in writing I find the need for a balance in order to share what it is that is aﬀecting me. A portrait can be interpreted in endless ways, depending on who is observing, at what time, in what place, in what frame of mind they are in. It is a constant struggle to find equilibrium in my writing, but that is the nature of growth.
3. You have mentioned that when it comes to needs and dreams, needs always take precedence. How do you manage to work on your books with the societal expectations?
A: Good question. The traditionalist in me says my first priority to to protect my family. So I go to work and do all the other things I need to do to contribute to my family’s well being. My progressive nature reminds me that my health in body and soul must also be nurtured. I find walking in the woods and climbing the mountains helps in both ways, and opens my brain to thoughts that must be written down. When I was young and single I chose other art forms to fill my soul, like acting. Now that I’m older, my children adults, I find my time to write can be limited but manageable when planned out. I’m an early morning guy.
4. A quest for ideas is a way to be aware not just of your surroundings but of yourself. Do you agree with this?
A: Absolutely! When hiking, especially when you get older like myself, you have to monitor your body, making adjustments as you go, seeking a certain rhythm that can get you there, and back. Your surroundings constantly aﬀect your rhythm, whether you’re going up or down, if it’s hot or cold, rocky or muddy, it all plays a part. Ideas are born the same way. They come from what is aﬀecting you at the moment, even if it is something from the past. You have to ask yourself, why am I thinking that? Then go explore that trail.
5. Your books dwell on the dilemma between personal troubles and public issues and show how personal troubles are not just personal but are outcomes of larger institutions. Is there any other reason you highlight big institutions?
A: Obviously, we fundamentally choose what is going to be our problem, with or without public issues. But, in a society, an individual cannot avoid being pulled into the larger picture and still be able to function within that greater society. I was fortunate to have lived in a very small town during the 70’s where the majority of residents were living there for the same reason I was. To escape the hectic, hypocritical world and all its problems. However, the world found us, as well as the personal need to challenge myself. Institutions are important to any civilization, but they have a tendency to not be run very well. The biggest culprit, I see, is our own government. And that is indeed unfortunate, because we all are aﬀected by what they decide to do or not do. What is frustrating, government and large institutions have the power to do so much good, yet tend to bend more towards personal interests and power, not towards what is needed and good.
6. In contemporary times, Internet usage is a must to accumulate information and ideas, but don’t you think it also leads to an overabundance of information?
A: Yes, I do. The internet has been invaluable to me for research, but it’s also been a hinderance when trying to focus on my task. We all go down too many ‘rabbit holes’. In addition, it’s made us lazy, and our libraries suﬀer for it. But on the grander scheme, it seems to be stiﬂing the creativeness of people who fear their work will be severely criticized by people who seem to prey on anyone attempting something unique. This topic tends to show my age, I’m afraid. We’ve taken the mystery out of so much of life, and replaced it with, too often today, all out lies.
7. At what point in your life’s journey did you realize that writing was your passion?
A: I’ve always been a late bloomer on matters of anything important. I didn’t become a father until I was forty. Throughout my journey, tasting various forms of expression, I seemed to have at least a small knack at writing. It wasn’t until my older daughter—when she was around fourteen, I believe—wrote her first book, and then had the courage to submit it for publishing. I was so impressed. It inspired me. Why can’t I do that? I had an idea, I researched some information, and then just started writing. I was in my early sixties, and it did take me a couple of years, but the process was exhilarating. I learned a lot, but still have more to learn. Is it my passion? Living is my passion. My family is my passion. Wring is a part of all that, so I guess it is too.
8. These days, books are characterized more by their romanticism and fanaticism, which ultimately makes them good coﬀee table books. How to write beyond this mindset
A: I skipped this question so as to come back after some thought. I thinks I actually answered this question in another question. However, this goes back to what the writer wants to write about. What they want out of writing in itself. But, if a writer want s more, then they need to find a diﬀerent voice— not run with the crowd. I don’t this you can approach writing always hoping to write the next great American Novel, or world novel, even. It takes courage to be yourself and even more to share that. But that is what you must do if you want to go to the great beyond.
9. Your characters are not just functional but also represented as dysfunctional. Do you think dysfunctionality is important to becoming a survivor? According to you, what is a “survivor”?
A: Everyone, every day, every where is a survivor. That is life. And we all experience some form of dysfunctionality as we attempt to wade through the chaos that is thrown at us on a daily basis. How well we survive is reliant on how functional we appear in the process, because we live in a society that judges our performance. We strive for perfection in our functionality, but because we fail so often we may be deemed dysfunctional in our attempts. We simply can’t help ourselves to be dysfunctional in our attempts at survival. I’m feeling pretty dysfunctional answering this question.
10. What are your future plans? Are you going to work on other ideas and stories? Would you like to share it with us?
A: I am currently working on a prequel to my first book. I believe it will be more of a novella. I’m exploring the lives of Mason Worthy’s father and uncle, and how their stories helped mold the lives of their family. There is also room to see where the Worthy family goes from after Requiem For The Rooster. I also have had a play stuck in my head for twenty years now that can’t seem to take shape.
11. In your latest book, ” Requiem for the Rooster,” you have quoted that “the answers lie within the constitution of the family.” Would you like to elaborate on this ?
A: Of course, this statement has to consider the functionality of the family in question, and that narrows down to opinion. But, if you consider what is truly and fairly just, for all people involved, you should be able to live by that constitution whether its your family or your country. Starting with the idea of the family, a country should be governed as such. Of course, considering the dysfunctionality of so many families it’s no wonder our country is stuck in the same boat.
12. Faith and family are so integral to one’s life that if you lose one, you lose everything. How do you get strength and weakness from your family ?
A: That’s fairly simple, and not. Love requires both. To surrender can be looked at as a weakness. But, when one shows patience, empathy, cooperation, and sacrifice, one is actually showing strength.
13. There is a critical understanding, which can also be seen as a commentary on your first book, ” Digging Up the Family Tree.” What we tried to find outside our family , actually already inside our homes—all the ideas, creativity, and innovation. Have you ever experienced this realization?
A: The wording of that statement was confusing, but what I think you are asking ties in directly to my thoughts on the family. What I realized, more than anything, was that children are our greatest teachers. Because of my daughters, I became the man I needed to be. The person I needed to be. All it took was awareness.
14. In your book ” Requiem for the Rooster,” you emphasize environmental concerns. Why do you choose to focus your attention on this ?
A: This is our world. We don’t have another. This business of seeking other habitual planets is interesting and may have clues to our survival, but, we need to put our resources into saving what we have, and we’re not doing a very good job at it. That pisses me oﬀ. There seems to be this selfish sentiment that, “Hey, I don’t need to worry about this. Why should I worry? Things will work out, they always do, right?” My book isn’t going to change the world. It’s, at best, just another attempt to shed some truth to the problems that honestly exist. Fictional? For the most part. But not entirely. We need to wake up.
15. William Gaddis has said that “Power doesn’t corrupt people; people corrupt power.” You have rightly focused on the criticality of power. Do you think there is an invisibility of political issues in fiction books?
A: That’s a very true statement that Gaddis makes. It’s because power is so addictive. If you think about it, there are are very few stories, past and present, that don’t oﬀer some commentary on the political issues of the time—any time. Some can simply brush them oﬀ as fiction or science fiction, but the underlying truths are there in print, and they are meant to be there.
16. One of the amazing things about your stories are your characters. In your second book, “Requiem for the Rooster,” you have chosen Kat and Paige as environmentalists and journalists, which have given visibility to women in public domains. What was the reason behind choosing a woman’s character over a man’s?
A; I have two daughters. I also have a strong, intelligent wife. I have always found women to be far more intelligent, caring, durable, tenacious, and creative, than I have found other men to be. That is why I appreciate women more than men. That, does not weaken my status as a man. I find more strength from their equality.
17. In your first book titled “Digging Up the Family Tree,” you talk about the roots of the family. These days, family roles have been attacked by calling them conservative and orthodox in their ideas. Could you elaborate with personal examples?
A: Hmm. I’m wondering where you’re going with this question. I’ve seen where family roles have been challenged when they strive to integrate traditional ideas. I find those attacking progressive ideas are more or less fearful of anything that threatens their ideas, and they are the ones that are stuck in a conservative or orthodox ideal of what the family should be. There is overwhelming evidence that families can thrive under many scenarios, and today it just seems more normal and, in most cases, healthy. I’m seventy years old. I come from a traditional type family, and it was what I strived for myself. But I have know numerous people in diﬀerent family structures and the bottom line comes down to if there is a healthy, happy, encouraging environment for grow and love. It comes down to acceptance of others choices.
18. It is believed that novel angles are embedded in their titles. What is the significance behind your novel’s title, “Requiem for the Rooster”?
A: Of course, my usage of the title, “Requiem for the Rooster,” carries with it various meanings that can be related to in the story. The rooster symbolizes a new morning, and he does this with his call. My story is a call for needed help in a country controlled by hypocrisy and greed. The rooster is a sign of ambition and masculinity, which can be looked at both positively and negatively. He is the protecter of the ﬂock, but how he accomplishes his task must be regulated to prevent the abuse of his state. The stand that these people must make is in a word a requiem, not only for the powers of the country but for their own souls as well. “We are all the rooster.”
19. Novels are the emblem of shaping relationships, sometimes authors too feel connected with their creations, their created characters. Would you like to share any of the characters from your works that inspire you?
A: I would find it difficult not to connect to all my characters. After all, I created them. Even those that I despise come from within me. My fears, hates, anger, even my own hypocrisy must be faced and exposed. Of course, those that inspire me are my heroes, and there are many; perhaps too many. But, that just illustrates the truth that it takes more than one person to save the day. It takes a village. The sisters, Kat and Paige, I have planted big hopes and dreams on their actions; maybe enough for another story.
20. You know that in the growing world, people are so alienated from reality, their people, and their surroundings, but what is dangerous is that people are getting alienated from themselves. Do you feel alienated in this world ?
A: Yes and no. Now that I’m older, I feel more in touch with who I am. I owe that to being more in touch with my surroundings and the people I interact with. I am not a computer whiz, or up on the latest ‘thing’—though my daughters attempt to help me there—so yes, I sometimes feel out of touch with the world. But, I’ve lived a life that has allowed me to wear many hats, in many diﬀerent places, and I am comfortable with where I am in my life, even if I don’t agree with a lot of that which surrounds me.
21 . Capitalism has evils in its origins, which are largely based on exploitation, as you rightly highlight in your book, ” Requiem for the Rooster.” According to your observations, what are the key reasons behind this exploitation?
A: As with all government ideologies, none of them totally work in any pure form. Yet, certain aspects within these beliefs do work to some degree for some of the people involved. However, that is where the trouble starts. At some point in the evolution of a particular system, truths are exposed that show where the cracks are. Capitalism is no diﬀerent. In theory it makes sense, especially within a democracy, but the numerous layers of the system eventually leave too many unable to compete, let alone even participate. The big Players within the system see opportunities of exploitation when there are large numbers of lesser advantaged just trying to tread water. They see these people as potential equity, because if they are not that they are a liability. The problem then is passed down—or over—to the government, which also sees them as liabilities, but are asked to help them at least tread water. The government doesn’t like that either, obviously, because we have been in this battle of what to do with our society for a long time, and no one seems to want to cooperate. As a whole, Capitalism isn’t set up to understand the greater value in the long run is to recognize everyone as an asset—as in strength.
22. In the race to become developed, civilized, and have a scientific temper, humans are neglecting the natural way of living, which is leading to disconnection with our own intuitions and connection with false realities. Do you agree with this ?
A; Oh yeah. In a lot of ways, the internet has been a double edged sword. It has such great potential and serves such a greater purpose, but it brings with it a reliance that has become addictive and stiﬂing. I found a truer inner peace with my life when I lived in a small mountain town in Colorado during the seventies. I had no television, no phone, only one small movie house, and all this wondrous environment surrounding me. People where real, and honest—I mean I never had to lock my front door. I worked hard and played hard but lived well with very little. That is still a part of me today, and that is why I can appreciate what I have now. Too many haven’t experienced that, or have forgotten, which is very sad.
23. In your bio, you have referred to yourself as simply a “westerner.” Have you ever felt that these westerners have shown bias and a lack of understanding of non-western societies and people ?
A: My reference of westerner is meaning my geographic experience of living in only some western states. On the greater stage of our country and those across the waters, I have to admit that there still seems to be a divide in understanding others cultures. It’s so evident right here in our own country. The prejudices that exist everywhere—even in other countries—because of the lack of acceptance of others beliefs. Sadly, this is the main reason I have grown disgruntled with the institutions of religion. None of them are open to acceptance of others.
24. History has shown that western theorists and writers have always tried to analyse things on the basis of their colonial understanding, which leads to the categorization of countries not on the basis of their indigenous nature but according to western standards as “developed,” “developing,” and “undeveloped.” Do you think this categorization is merely an example of the exercising power of western consciousness ?
A: Actually, it may be more than a mere example. It may be the main problem with western consciousness. We place ourselves so highly above the rest of the world. How, and why can we do that? We are not ranked superior in most, if even any, of the categories that determine the level of development. And yes, we are the standard that rates development throughout the world, are we not? It makes no sense, and reeks of arrogance.
25. Your work has highlighted the greyish layers of the political nature of governmental policies and administrative infrastructure, about which normally people are not aware, or do you think they are consciously kept from this awareness ?
A: Having lived through fourteen administrations, I’ve been witness to various layers of awareness. In the Fifties and early Sixties a lot was not shared with the public—most likely for our own good, but also for reasons of security. When television started broadcasting the events of Vietnam, the riots here on our own streets, the assassinations of our leaders, and actions of the counter culture, it became more and more difficult to ignore the truths. As we have evolved further into the information age, nothing is secret or sacred, and it seems now truth can be buried right in front of our eyes with the use of non-truths or lies. ‘If you say it, it is true—whether it is or not.’ Lying has become the new tactic of control.
26. Thoughts only become ideas when they are hegemonic in nature. Do you think your ideas are shaped by your writings, or have your writings shaped your ideas ?
A: My ideas come from my experiences in life. When writing my thoughts down, my ideas take a more formal form of meaning. To visit those thoughts, written down to read and read again, I find reinforcement in my beliefs.
27. In the contemporary world, everyone wants to write, explore, and share whatever they feel like, but writing is increasingly becoming a tool of mere presentation rather than realization. Do you think this presentation of writing is a violation of the criticality of writing .
A: Art comes in many forms, right? An integral part of any art form is the audience/ reader/ viewer/ listener. There has to be room for various forms of communication for the simple fact that you want and need someone to appreciate it and there are many diﬀerent reasons that someone may desire a certain type of writing. What is it that rings a person’s bell? Some critics may disagree with me. They may fear a loss of serious writing is at hand. But, there are wonderful stories out there that need to be told, and sometimes they may not be told as well as some may like. How can you honestly violate art? That question has been challenged throughout the ages. When the Impressionists came, the expressionists, and of course the surrealists, they were all thought of as violators.
28. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
A: How my mind was able to construct something into a relative coherent form. And of course, that I was able to finish them.
29. Do you have other writers in the family?
A: Yes, my oldest daughter is a writer, in fact, she’s the one that inspired me to give it a shot.
30. Being human, our origins in understanding human nature begin with the socialization of our family; there are few things that we internalize until our last breath. Do you think learning and unlearning are important parts of our journey?
A: Of course. Living is the process of learning. It is fundamental to unlearn certain behaviors in order to learn new ones, especially if they are better choices. It can go the opposite way, as well. That dives deeper into the socialization of someone. Basically, living is about making mistakes, and hopefully living through them. We hope we don’t repeat those mistakes, and if we practice at something we are actually unlearning behaviors that made us fail.
31. Activists and protesters these days have been targeted for violations of country laws and decency. Would you like to suggest a few suggestions to the activists outside on how to fight against the oppressive ideas?
A: That a tough call. This is all nothing new. Protest was pretty big while I was growing up. What pisses me oﬀ the most today was how much hasn’t changed and what did change seems forgotten. My contemporaries are now the leaders of this country. I’m not impressed, for the most part. I can blame myself—I wasn’t a big protester back in the day. Just a simple dude trying to cope with adolescent and getting through the day. I was aware of it all, but it didn’t aﬀect me—or so I thought. Looking back, I am more impressed with the protest that occurred. Today, I see many dire issues we face that need awareness and soon. But, my self-indulged contemporaries in government and big business (to use the go to stamp for ‘them’) seem more concerned about their jobs and their portfolios than the need for a safer, healthier, sustainable world. The only way to win the fight is to prove the benefits monetarily. And the only way they might listen is to regulate and limit their powers by bringing them down to our level. I want true Public Servants.
32. What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book? What are common traps for new authors?
A: Just begin. Take something you know a little about. Find out more about it. Write it down. Or, just write about anything. I have finally started reading some books about writing, and they honestly can help. Unfortunately, that’s how I work. I could say, ‘it’s a guy thing,’ but that would be a copout. I need to fail on my own, knowing I gave it a shot, but then learning from that failure, or attempt, and move forward. Learning by doing. I’m better than I was, and will be better the next time. I just need to find my voice, my style, my uniqueness . Don’t give up. Finish the book.
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