Character Interview: Markus

More than a daring, multi-racial romance set in a racist South Africa in 1976 on the cusp of abandoning apartheid the tension is palpable in this character-driven novel. The Zebra Affaire by Mark Fine grips your soul and won’t let go. Never mind zebras, think lions, raw and roar. The Zebra Affaire, a thrilling fusion of romance and suspense, is a gripping love story of the no-no kind. It’s filled with tension as Elsa and Stanwell struggle to avoid the grasp of a cruel racist regime.

Hello again, Mark.  Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to stop by again.  I believe this is your character Markus who’s with you today?

::Both gentlemen nod, and I grin::  By any chance to you have a nickname, Markus?

  • [I was born] Mark Jeremy Fine, [but people call me]  “Markus” as a single word. Apparently folk prefer multi-syllables in a given name; “Mark” by itself doesn’t seem to satisfy.

::Chuckles gently::  In this part of the world, it’s just the opposite.  However, since that helps keep the two of you gentlemen separate, I’ll use that one for you Markus.  Thank you.

I know that Mark mentioned this is a fictionalized memoir in his interview.  How fictionalized did he make it?  Are you still human, or did he shift it more into the fantasy or science fiction realm?

  • [Not that far from reality.  I am human, but]  I have an affinity with the animal kingdom. I admire their pragmatism and common sense. We humans tend to complicate things.

Does that mean you were “born” the same place as Mark was, Markus?

  • Johannesburg, South Africa

I take that as a yes.

  • But I spent the majority of my childhood in boarding schools hundreds of miles away from home. To this day I feel somewhat deprived of my birthright, and miss the meals, the small things, with my family that I never shared.  [They did] not intend to be unkind.

That’s hard, I’m sure.  I’ve heard others mention about being raised through the boarding school system.  Do you have anything you remember about your family?

  • My father:  Extraordinary, decent, wise, brilliant, accomplished, a true gentleman.
    My mother: Beautiful, intelligent, restless, adventurous, always seeking something else.
  • A vivacious flock of talented sisters.

With that much information, and Mark’s interview the other day, I’m willing to go out on a limb here.  Because of the times you have experienced and witnessed, can you define yourself as a good person or a bad person, or just someone getting by the best they can?

  • This is a moving target based on one’s station in life. I was a narcissistic brat in my youth, now I am far more generous of spirit…and contentedly so.

Can you describe what your personality is like now, then?  Since this is who you have become.

  • Earnest, sensible and surprisingly creative, even a myriad-minded “ideas man”.

Do you ever feel yourself overwhelmed, or do you manage to stay on top of the rising tide of ideas?

  • Very much so, on the major things [I stay on top]!  [An example to consider is when I was] coping with the loss of my wife to breast cancer and the privilege of raising my two wonderful sons on my own—these I handled very well.

Which industry do you work in, Markus?

  • Retired record executive; now author. [I like this], very much.

With your admittance to having been a narcissist in the past, do you work well with now that you’ve grown and changed?

  • Certainly, I really do believe in collaborations, and thrive in a team. But I admit a period of adjustment was needed from the solitary experience of writing, to the social period of meeting my readers. Now I must say I appreciate Book Club gatherings and meeting with fellow authors. My family and friends appear to enjoy my company as well; I certainly enjoy theirs!

Do you have anyone who you feel causes harm to others and should be stopped?

  • Anyone, or any entity, that appoints themselves as “Thought Police” with the purpose of stifling our freedoms of speech and expression. After living in an authoritarian South Africa, I know what it is like to live without these crucial freedoms, and how detrimental it can be to a society.

If one of these people gave you a complement, how would you answer it?

  • I’d be delighted. And I would enjoy a shared conversation and exchange of ideas.

How about anyone who you would side with in an argument?

  • Those that are not cowered by Political Correctness, or any form of censorship and peer pressure.

You were just insulted by one of these outspoken folks, what would your response be?

  • That is the essence of freedom of speech, so I would welcome the debate.

That takes its own brand of courage to do that.  I think I’d willingly join your fight club Markus (and Mark) over that one.

If you could order the future to fit your desires, what would it look like?

  • For the august media and press to once again regain their courage, and act independent of political graft, big money, and political correctness—and do their duty as truth tellers. I miss true journalists of the ilk of Ben Bradlee (Washington Post) and Tim Russert (Meet the Press). The current crop of note takes and tweeters are nothing more than shills for special interests and partisan political tribes. I remember the courage it took in apartheid South Africa by some in the media to shine a light on the nation’s rotten core. Alas, I don’t see that courage displayed anymore. But I hope I’m wrong.

That’s a pretty stiff bill to meet.  There are a few, though you have to wade through a host of chaff to find the gems.  And, sadly, they don’t manage to shine as bright as they should.  While we are talking about dreams and possibilities, here’s one that is a bit off the wall,  but fun to think about.  If you could be anything in the world, what would you choose?  And, to make it even more fun, tells us why you chose that answer.

  • Bowhead Whale—its average life expectancy is over 200 years!

Just the life expectancy, not the fact that they get to swim their entire life?  ::Markus stayed silent on that one.::  Didn’t mean for the cat to catch your tongue on that one.  So, you would be a whale if you could be anything in the world.  What about if you could only change one thing about yourself.  What would that be?

  • See more the funny side of life, and learn to laugh a lot.

Do you have anyone in your life to help you work on this change?

  • I’m most fortunate to have a “most significant other” in my life.

Do you have any big, dark secrets you are willing to share?

  • It is so secret that even I have no idea what it is…

Touche!  Fair answer to a nosy question.  One last comment from you, to end on a positive note.  What is your crowning moment so far in your life?

  • My greatest source of pride is witnessing the accomplishments and decency of both of my sons. It bodes well for the future.

That is a wonderful accomplishment, indeed Mark.

Thank you both for stopping by today, and I hope it was thoroughly enjoyable for you both.

If you would like to learn more about Mark (or his character Markus), then head over to Mark’s website.  You can also connect with him on this blog and stay up-to-date that way.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Zebra Affaire, the image above will take you to Mark’s site where you can pick up your own copy today.


If you enjoyed the character interview, and wish for me to host one for you, please stop by my offered services page, and send me a submission.

Next week, when we come back, we’ll be talking with Marcia Martins.  See you then!





4 thoughts on “Character Interview: Markus

  1. Reblogged this on Mark Fine | Ruminations and commented:
    This was a hoot to do! I wasn’t exactly excellent at maintaining a separation between the character “Markus” from my novel ‘The Zebra Affaire’…and my true self. But it did lead to the expression of bolder opinions–whether they be mine or Markus, that’s for the reader to decide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes, when you’re doing a memoir style story, getting the separation is harder than with the straight fiction. At least with the fiction, it’s someone entirely different. (Though, I’ll admit, I’m not sure it’s the saner route – we keep arguing with ourselves, and losing.)


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