Mark Allan Gunnells has been writing since he was 10 years old. His first book, A LAYMON KIND OF NIGHT, was published by Sideshow Press in 2009. Since then he has put out seventeen more books. His most recent novel is the time traveling gay romance THE EXCHANGE STUDENT. He lives in Greer, SC, with his partner Craig A. Metcalf.
Getting To Know This Weeks Featured Author
What inspires you to write?
From an early age, I’ve just had this desire to tell stories. To make up worlds and people them with interesting characters. I find this fulfilling and entertaining, and I guess you’d say that’s my greatest inspiration: entertaining myself, and hopefully entertaining others.
Are you plot or character driven?
Definitely character driven. I usually come up with characters before detailed plot, and I feel really developing characters can change the plot. The characters take on a life of their own and tell you what is going to happen next instead of the other way around.
Tell us about the different types of characters you like to write about? Why are these types so appealing to you?
Well, my goal is to write about all different types of characters, but I do tend to put a lot of gay characters in my work. Being a gay man who loves horror, fantasy and sci fi, I feel homosexuals are grossly underrepresented in these genres so I like to try to rectify that.
Are any of your characters like you? And if so, in what ways are your characters like you?
Well, the closest character to me is Mike in my coming of age novel THE SUMMER OF WINTERS. I put a lot of my own childhood into that character, but ultimately he is fiction with just chunks of me. But I put little bits and pieces of myself in almost all my characters, even the villains, because we’re all multifaceted.
Is there a particular genre you prefer to write?
Horror and fantasy are my two favorites, just because of the limitlessness of those genres. I am getting more and more interested in love stories though and want to explore more of those in the future.
Do you have a favourite character from your books?
That’s like asking a parent which is their favorite child. There may be a favorite, but it’s not nice to admit it.
What are your favourite genres to read from?
Horror and fantasy.
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
Joe R. Lansdale is a big favorite, because he writes in so many different genres with ease. He shows real range. King is someone I admire for really delivering great stories and great characters over many years. Neil Gaiman’s work is magical and really sweeps you away.
What are your comfort reads when you are sick or feeling low?
Sometimes it’s nice to go back to those childhood favorites that made me first fall in love with the art of story. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, books like that.
Night or Day?
Night, the day seems all about work and night is full of adventure and fun.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea, I have a cup of hot tea every morning.
Chocolate or Sex?
Can I combine?
Pajama movie night or Cocktails at the bar?
Pajama movie night. I don’t drink, and there’s nothing better than cuddling up with someone you love and enjoying a flick.
Formal or Casual?
Casual all the way.
The Exchange Student
In an alternate 2014, time travel is commonplace, regulated by the government. 17-year-old Trevor Bartley has been selected to be an exchange student to the year 1963 to study the civil rights era. The rules: do nothing that could alter the natural flow of time. But when he meets his host family, he finds himself incredibly drawn to 17-year-old Nick Keaton. In his own time, Trevor would have pursued his feelings without a second thought, but in 1963, when an entire race was subjected to violence and hate, pursuing his feelings openly would be dangerous in the extreme. And that was if Nick were even open to the idea.
Until it becomes clear that he is.
But if things aren’t complicated enough, Trevor soon finds himself caught up in a terrorist plot of murder and political intrigue which could send the natural timeline careening off in dangerous directions, and could have life or death consequences—or worse—for everyone.