Bookpleasures.com is honored to have as our guest, Mark
Mark is a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and the author of the award-winning book, LOST ON EARTH: Nomads of the New World.
He was the first recipient of the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Jesse Laventhol Award for Deadline Writing and has covered national and international news for the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal. Fritz covered the unification of Germany, collapse of the Soviet Union, and wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Chechnya, Liberia, Bosnia, Mauritania, Mali, and Lower Manhattan.
He has written extensively about the medical establishment's fleecing of the elderly, the role of propaganda in wartime strategy, the uselessness of laws based on emotions, the generational conflicts triggered by the aging population, the epic routes taken by massive amounts of immigrants, the impact of changing demographics on the environment, and the genetic engineering of the food we eat.
Good day Mark and thanks for participating in our interview
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
I read the
classics as a kid, almost obsessively. My teen-age mook wanted to
be a novelist. After a stretch of working on the Dodge Truck
Assembly Line,I enrolled at Wayne State University, where all the
profs were just adjuncts whose real jobs were at the Detroit Free
Press and the Detroit News. They kinda adopted
How did it feel to win the Pulitzer Prize? Did anything change after you won this prestigious award?
Well, I was working for the
Associated Press. The dirty little secret about the Pulitzer's was
that the AP kicked everyone's ass every year. The awards are a
joke, and if the New York Times doesn't get their quota every
year, they throw a hissy fit. In 1995, when I was drafted to cover
Rwanda because the East Africa Bureau was too chickenshit to cover
a genocide in their own back yard, the Pulitzer board had no
choice but to recognize the AP for the first time since the
Vietnam War and give this pretty subjective award to just the dude
what showed up and did a decent job. Allah knows, it wasn't the
best shit I wrote that year. I was West Africa bureau chief, and I
had my hands full with 23 countries. So, the Pulitzer is basically
a bullshit award.
I notice you have experienced quite an interesting array of situations. Which one would you say was the most satisfying one to cover and why?
Probably the story about the impact of
parental grief on public policy. The story is a staple of
journalism textbooks; Parents who lose a child because of some
freak circumstance force lawmakers to pass laws that overlaps with
existing laws. Megan's :Law? Total redundant bullshit. Check out
www.mark-fritz.com for a litany of public policy based on
What helps you focus when you write and do you find it easy reading back your own work?
You research and report to exhaustion,
then the story is easy. The angle emerges organically. Unless you
work at a rag like the Wall Street Journal, where layers of
editors hallucinate about what they think the angle should be.
Bottom line: Work your ass off reporting, and the writing comes
What served as the primary inspiration for LOST ON EARTH: Nomads of the New World and could you tell our audience a little about the book?
covered every tumultuous event in the wake of the Cold War, and
the thing that struck me is that one out of every 100 was forcibly
displace on the planet. I took a dozen folk I covered and just
told their stories in the context of, what essentially was, global
migration of historic note, and a concerted backlash to stop
What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read your book?
PERMANENT DEADLINE? It's labeled fiction, but it's
all true. Every page is lively entertainment or riveting horror.
It's my attempt to honor Joe Heller and use my experiences to
write the Catch-22 of the 21st
What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?
with editors and agents who haven't lived and worked in the shit
and think they know better. The exec ed at the AP, the head honcho
at ICM--they're dilettantes who can only pretend to understand the
forces that move the world, Us grunts have a word for them:
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing? Do you have a specific writing style?
I come from a working-class family
from Detroit, and I did well enough as a journalist to get thrown
into a shark tank with trust-fund, overly entitled, Ivy League
polyglots whose arrogance was their Achilles Heal. I like the
taut, muscular writing of a Joan Didion or the fearless,
no-holds-barred reporting of an Art Kent or Cami McCormick. Do I
have a writing style? I dunno. I just know when to get out of the
way of the dramatic facts of the story and just say what happened.
You take a clown like Joshua Hammer, who finds his first mass
murder in Rwanda, and his story is all about how it affects him.
That's the sort of shit some paint-by-numbers English major would
Many writers want to be published, but not everyone is cut out for a writer's life. What are some signs that perhaps someone is not cut out to be a writer and should try to do something else for a living?
Everyone feels they have a special life, a special story, a book in them. This is kind of an American thing, I think. Truth is, most writers can't write their way out of a wet paper bag. And that includes best-sellers.
Where can our readers find out more about you and your writings?
Pick a topic and google it and my name. But, beware: A guy with the same name as I has passed himself as author of my shit. Hell, I had a "colleague" at the Associated Press who got a Penguin book deal by claiming to have won my Pulitzer. Which is a bullshit award, anyway.
What is next for Mark Fritz?
Dude, I have more non-fiction and
non-fiction fiction stories to tell than years I have left to
live. I have three books on sked to be finished by February 2015.
I have lived more lives and seen more stuff than anybody should be
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors
Thanks, Norm. Good questions. I truly aim to tell the truth and misbehave. I have not even scratched the surface of the hypocrisy I intend to tattoo on the foreheads of so many poseurs in my ex-profession.