Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to author Mark Damaroyd. I am Lori (Lototy) and I want to thank you for taking the time to give us the inside scoop on your book Pursuit to Paradise. It is not often we get to talk to someone half a world away.
I am always excited to read romance written by men, and feel there is usually a much stronger element of honesty and emotion in the characters. What do you feel are the biggest differences in men vs. women when it comes to writing romance?
First of all, Lori thanks so much for the kind invitation, and greetings from Thailand.
I guess the simple answer is, men happen to be shy, modest and retiring creatures. Ahem! No? Okay, truthfully then, a lot depends on where I am in life when writing romance. If I’m happy and secure, it’ll reflect in the characters. If I hit a bad spot, it’ll feature in how my story develops. Creating a super, sexy hero isn’t something I bother too much about. He has to be believable and interesting, but may not always become irresistible to readers. My heroes invariably need to have a special lady in their lives otherwise they feel they’ve missed out. My heroines always display emotion and affection, but have the capability to demonstrate strength and determination. Most importantly, I strive to convey what feelings really lurk beneath the surface, and how they impact on the plot.
I have also noticed that romance written by men is usually much more subtle in the physical aspects of the relationships, whereas most readers probably would assume the opposite. Where do you think you fit into this perception, and do you find it easier to write a love scene as opposed to an action scene?
Deciding how much detailed sex to include in ‘Pursuit” happened to be difficult, mainly because the story features the sex movie industry. I firmly believe that sometimes leaving a little to the readers’ imagination whets the appetite. Graphic sex is uncalled for if you have easily identifiable needs, desires and intentions incorporated in the characters. Writing a love scene with a vivid description of movements often has me performing gymnastics on the floor in front of my computer, in order to discover how best to portray the various positions. This demands huge effort, but makes for healthy exercise! If my Thai wife happens to be in the room, she thinks I’ve gone crazy.
Overall, I prefer writing action scenes where I enjoy moving characters around in the world I’ve created for them.
Most writers have had some very interesting day jobs to support their “habit”. What did you do with your days before your characters took control?
I spent many years in sales and marketing – mainly consumer goods and the holiday and leisure industry. My career took me around the world before retiring a couple of years ago.
On the whole, I think people here in the U.S. are not nearly as well travelled as Europeans, so moving to the other side of the globe is an experience most of us will never have. Can you tell us, is it the ancient culture, beautiful vistas, or fascinating people that made you want to make your home in Thailand?
A combination of all these, really. The fascinating people – particularly the beautiful women – has to be number one reason I decided to settle here. After several vacations, the laidback lifestyle, carefree attitude and climate fitted the bill superbly. These charming people smile through adversity, smile when times are good – and smile at me and the many thousands of westerners who’ve settled here.
What would you consider to be the biggest difference in the personalities and traits of the Thai people compared to Westerners?
Although the country is developing rapidly, old traditions remain. The vast majority of Thais are Buddhists, living by the simple teaching to love everybody and take care of each other. It’s their unswerving belief that worrying about tomorrow achieves nothing. If you need help, someone will give it. If you’re hungry, someone will feed you. This kind of attitude makes the people radiant and content.
In Pursuit to Paradise Nataya and Kanita are best friends, but have completely different personalities. Nataya is much more forward thinking and Kanita seems to be more of a traditionalist. Was this a concept that you intended from the beginning, and do you think many young women in Thailand today are leaving their traditional beliefs behind?
When I set out to write the story, Nataya was going to be the forward-thinking leading lady. Kanita only appeared briefly as a means to reintroduce Nataya to Ben, the hero. Then I felt compelled to involve both girls equally. My reasoning being, yes, let’s have two girls with different personalities and see how Ben reacts. From that point, Kanita, with her deprived background and traditional beliefs, became one of the major characters.
Many young women in Thailand are breaking with tradition – particularly in the affluent districts of Bangkok and the popular holiday resort areas. Elsewhere in the country, breaking with tradition is often frowned upon, with countless thousands of girls continuing to live simple lives in the provinces.
Ben’s character has a lot of changes going on in his life in a very short amount of time, and he tends to get a little overwhelmed by his heart and his head. In my opinion this makes his character seem much more real, and less like the conquering hero. When developing his personality was this a consideration you gave much thought to, or did Ben make his own way from the beginning?
Ben is hotheaded – I created him that way. He’s also fearful of failure in business and relationships. When he finds himself in a bit of a predicament, his snap reaction hurtles him into an adventure beggaring belief. I must admit there’s a bit of myself in him.
This story also deals with the adult film industry, and Nataya is at the heart of it all. She enjoys her freedom and makes no apologies. I was especially impressed with how she dealt with Ben’s affections. Was using this type of occupation a hard decision, or did you think it made her character stronger?
It wasn’t a difficult decision, mainly because Nataya also comes from a disadvantaged area and knows all about the hardships often endured. She was lucky to receive a good level of education, making it possible to work in the business district of Bangkok – a city where moneymaking opportunities spring up. The adult movie proposition seemed a good way to secure her future lifestyle – and add some spice to the plot. Despite her newfound wealth, she remains compassionate, caring deeply for family and friends.
Ben’s personality really drives him towards Kanita. He seems to need to be needed, and she does that for him. Was it hard to set her up this way without making her look weak and helpless?
Not at all, Kanita is a simple village girl with a very unhappy childhood. She is aware that many similar girls seek security with foreign men. Ben’s gentle nature and her loneliness become magnets.
Ben’s ex turns a little psycho on him, and it makes an interesting twist in the story. Was it as fun to write the crazy episodes as it was to read, and have you ever considered doing something along the lines of a thriller or suspense novel?
Oh very much so. I wanted a strong subplot to carry the story forward. The outrageous characters and the scheming hopefully bring drama to the romance. I have written a couple of action thrillers – so far still collecting dust on the shelf. I’d love to update them, or start a new action adventure.
Interracial most often means black and white in writing today, but with Mark you get a whole new twist on the theme. His leading ladies are as beautiful and delicate as they are feisty and strong, and the men are just all out fun to read. I really enjoyed Pursuit of Paradise and look forward to much, much more. Thank you for taking a little coffee break with us today!
It’s been my pleasure, Lori. And thanks for being so kind toward ‘Pursuit to Paradise’.