Author Spotlight: Mark Roth-Whitworth

  • a writer of science fiction and former computer professional

Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!

Mark Roth-Whitworth is a Philadelphian native who finds himself living in the DC Metro area. He’s been a lab tech, bicycle messenger, library page, then he decided that computers looked like fun.

After a career spent that way, he then, for reasons that shall remain unspoken, started writing while getting ready to retire. As a lifelong speculative fiction (SF) fan, he finds himself, of course, writing mostly SF.

Mark, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Readers, please welcome my Dad! This is his first novel and I’m super excited and proud of him. When he found out I was writing, he was inspired to return to his and take it to the next stage. I’m claiming credit.

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Pet? I have a Lord&Master, and being a Dragon, what is this “pet” thing? Perhaps if my Lord&Master could *talk*….

Well, give your “lord&master” a petting from me. I heard he’s a good kitty. Sometimes.

What do you write? And how did you get started?

I really started when my late wife, who was going to be a writer, pulled me in – she was wonderful on dialog, and scene setting, and characterization, but the stories didn’t go anywhere. Meanwhile, the few times before that I’d tried to write, I knew all that… but it all tended to get a plot-shaped hole through it. Together, we made a great writer.

After she died, I did nothing for a number of years, though I wrote a couple of short stories in ’05 and ’06. Then, in ’15, one of my daughters (wonder which one…) had gotten into writing, and with one thing and another, I really got started.

Told you I was claiming credit!

What do you like to read?

SF and fantasy, though I prefer SF. Really not into military SF. Let me expand on that: I really like people like Doc Smith (if all you know is the Lensman series, you’ve missed a lot: I like the Skylark series) and Ed Hamilton… but my writing is heavily influenced by New Wave (which, speaking as someone who was reading it then, wasn’t just “experimental”, it added character development and growth to sf, which had been heavily plot-driven), and then through cyberpunk (which made computer usage part of everyday life).

While military SF has its place, I’m definitely a fan of seeing things through the lens of people’s humanity.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know.

I think “write what you know” is extremely incomplete. It should continue with “and if you don’t know, research, preferably from primary sources.” For example, if you’ve got a circus in the story, go to one, and catch some of the folks who work there during a break, and ask *them*, not read someone’s piece about someone’s piece about what they think circus people think.

One-hundred percent! Plus, with genre fiction, there’s a decent amount of imagination of new worlds and ways things could be.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Sit down and write.

You don’t have to do it every day… but when you find that you need to sit and write, do it. Doesn’t matter what, or how long, just do it.

Definitely. Sit down more than you might want to, but when you can focus.


Shameless Self-Promotion time!

After many rejections, and two-plus years in the writing, my first published fiction was a short novelette in the Grantville Gazette (#87, Red Makes Friends), the online magazine for Eric Flint’s 1632 universe.

My first published novel is just out: 11,000 Years, from Ring of Fire Press, available as ebook or trade paper from Amazon. I’m told I should say what it is, not what it isn’t… but it’s straight adult science fiction. It’s not Y/A (there are some rather serious adult situations in it), it’s not space fantasy (with something of a hard science background, and a career as a computer programmer and Linux sysadmin, I’ve pushed my speculations. based pm what I know, as far as I can… and a little beyond).

11,000 Years

In 2169, the Terran Confederation starship Hawking, after 16 months in transit, arrives at the nearest classical black hole to Earth, about 2800 light years away. They’re there to do research for six months. However, after about four and a half months, the companion star has a major flare… and they wait just a little too long to start to leave.

The only way out is to slingshot around the event horizon… but they wind up a little closer than they’d planned. When they finally break away, in fifteen minutes by their clocks… it’s 11,000 years from now.

They have to deal with utter and complete ultimate loss of everything and everyone but each other, then repair the ship, and then see if human beings are still around. What they find is a humanity divided into four different branches in a self-directed evolution… and their arrival will involve them in changes that affects the human universe.


Check Mark Roth-Whitworth out across the web!

Website | Amazon | Ring of Fire Press | Goodreads

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