Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This Week's Featured Author: Mark Tedesco

Mark Tedesco
Mark Tedesco is a published author and history teacher in Los Angeles. He was born in California but lived for many years in Europe. There he developed a unique perspective which is apparent in his teaching and writing.
Mark's current work is a work of historical fiction on the forth century soldiers John and Paul. Mark enjoys drawing the reader into the historical genre especially of the ancient world. I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome is this work which Tedesco considers to be his greatest.

Besides writing, Mark's passions run the gamut from archeology to sports and fitness. His colleagues consider to him to be somewhat of a Renaissance man. He enjoys imparting to his students his thirst for life and happiness. This thirst, or quest, is apparent in every work Mark devotes himself to.

We ask Mark some questions:

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I would travel to the ancient world, to Rome, Greece and Egypt. If I could avoid getting the Plague or dying in battle, I would enjoy the grandeur and drama of ancient civilizations and travel to see the wonders of that world. I would wander the streets of Rome and gaze up at the temples and painted statues and walk through the bazaars of Alexandria while listening to the many languages of visitors and residents. Yes, the ancient world would be where I would time travel.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?

Writing comes as naturally to me as eating a meal. It wells up inside of me and most of what I write is already completed in my head. I do not know how that happens but it manifests itself as the need and desire to write it down. Other times, there is nothing welling up; I cannot force it. It is the waft of inspiration that blows through or remains calm.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

Since being published, the most rewarding experience is meeting and getting to know people that I would never come across in my daily life. From transgendered persons to Catholic priests, from male to female, gay and straight, from academics to bodybuilders; all these people and more have come across my path in the wake of “I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome” being published. This book has made my world larger.

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

A true author is an artist and writes out of his/her need to write. It is a passion which is its own reward. Commercial success is icing on the cake, but if it becomes the motivating factor, the creative core becomes stale. Commercial success does not equal greatness and I hope that aspiring authors write something great.

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is....

One book I wish I had written is a historical novel on the daughter of Cleopatra, whose name was Cleopatra Selene. Some years ago I became fascinated with her life. I began doing the research of the time she lived in Alexandria with her mother, her subsequent move to Rome and living in the house of Octavia, Mark Anthony’s wife, and then her marriage and crowning as queen. It was as if Cleopatra’s dream for her son was realized instead in her daughter.

But when I sat down to write the book I realized, though interested in the person’s history, I felt no inspiration. I cannot “force” the writing process. It either unfolds naturally or it doesn’t happen at all. I left this project and, since then, others have taken up the task and several novels have appeared about Cleopatra Selene.

But still, sometimes when I picture her as a child in Alexandria, or as a young woman and object of curiosity in Rome, I think of what an interesting tale I could have woven…

How long do you generally let a story idea ‘marinate’ in your brain before you start the book?

I have no control over how long I let a story “marinate” in my brain before actually writing it. It usually happens one of two ways: either a scene in the book is played out in my head and I simply write it down, or the first lines come to my head and when I start writing the rest flows. If it is a historical novel, this happens towards the end of my research; if it is poetry or prose based on my experience, it happens unexpectedly. It is a process that I have little control over, which would prevent me from working as a writer for a T.V. show or writing on demand. I am fine with that.

Something your readers would never guess about you

Weightlifting is my hobby and I love to lift alone or with friends. The gym is part of my daily routine and I love to set fitness goals or just let off steam by physical exercise. Also, at least twice a week I am asked if I am in the military or am a police officer; I am neither but rumors still spread. A coworker stopped me in the bathroom once to inquire: “I heard you fought in Desert Storm!?” I laughed.

Who or what inspired your last book?

When I was visiting a friend in Rome nearly ten years ago, he told me the story of John and Paul, two soldiers who lived under the reign of Constantine. When he told me the last recorded words that John said to Paul, I wondered about what type of life they lived up to that point that enabled them to have such a bond with one another and a conviction about the meaning of their lives. This started me on a quest to find out more about these two soldiers. After that, the book wrote itself.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?

My favorite scene in the book is the conversation between Constantina (daughter of Emperor Constantine), John and Paul on their journey to Rome after she is rescued by the two soldiers from a kidnapping attempt. Sitting in front of glowing coals, their conversation grows more intimate as Constantina inquires about the relationship between the two men. She perceives it is one of loyalty and firm commitment but also that it is something more. John attempts to put it into words, comparing it with others who always perceive a space between themselves and the other person, whereas between John and Paul “there is not this space”. When he looks over to Paul for conversation, the tears in his eyes confirm his consensus.

The most difficult scene for me to write was the scene towards the end of the story when Fulvia, the sister of John, is brought some tragic news. Without giving the plot away, the writing of this scene took a toll on my emotionally and tears were rolling down my face as I typed the words.

Describe your book in five words.

Loyalty, honor, love, faith, commitment.

Mark's Book - I am John I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome

The events surrounding the lives of John and Paul are seen through the eyes of John, a 4th century soldier serving in the Roman Empire under Constantine. He finds himself imprisoned for reasons he does not fully comprehend. He then reflects back on all the events that have led him to this point.

Events in the Empire are changing as Constantine tries to consolidate his power. In the struggle Constantina, the daughter of Constantine, is kidnapped by his rival Lucinius.

John and Paul volunteer for the mission of rescuing her and so set out for the north.The harrowing circumstances of her rescue are recounted, and the precarious journey
back to Rome by the two soldiers and the daughter of the Emperor.


"Adventure, intrigue, faith, commitment, love and hate and everything between! Mark Tedesco has done it again, fashioning what is arguably his best work yet! He entices you on a phenomenal journey into the fascinating lives of two 4th century Roman soldiers, John and Paul, in a tale of loyalty and love that grabs you by the throat from the very first sentence and holds you spellbound, gasping for air as you're swept from chapter to chapter with barely a moment to breathe. An unbelievable marriage of fact and fiction that will leave you applauding or appalled but never bored or indifferent. A must read!" -Tony McEwing, Fox News

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