Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Mark Rosendorf
Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…
Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?
Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.
Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.
TGG: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers? I understand that you are a Magician and Guidance Counsellor!
MR: Hello to all your readers. My name is Mark Rosendorf and I am the author of The Witches of Vegas series. I’m proud to announce that the first book of the series, The Witches of Vegas, is one of three RONE finalists for the YA category with the result being announced in a ceremony in October. It was also one of Shelf UnBound’s notable Indy books for 2020. The sequel, Journey To New Salem, which came out last
March, is a RONE nominee for next year, it has won InDTale Magazine’s cover of the month.
Along with writing, I am high school guidance counsellor for New York City’s Department of Education’s special education district. I am also
a former professional magician. During my college years, I performed on stage and went table to table at resorts in the Poconos showing off card and coin tricks. For years after college, I performed at birthdays and other such parties.
Although I don’t personally perform anymore, I do teach magic to my students as part of our performing arts program. It is a great tool which teaches teamwork, hand-eye coordination, and builds self-confidence. It’s also an opportunity for my students to feel like “witches” to their peers as they perform miracles on stage and only they know how the tricks are done.
TGG: That is so lovely! I’m glad you are sharing the magic with your students. Speaking of magic, could you tell us about your book series, and what inspired it?
MR: The Witches of Vegas series is about a family of witches, and their vampire mentor, who hide in plain sight as magicians on the Vegas strip. By using their magic, the witches of Vegas become the number one act on the Las Vegas Strip – a great achievement for them, but not so great for the magicians, who can’t possibly keep pace.
Isis Rivera is the adopted 15-year-old daughter of the witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Isis and Zack should be rivals, but when Valeria, a 400-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against the witches’ vampire mentor, and all of humanity arrives, both teens act to bring their families together to stop the evil hag in her tracks. But can the combined power of the witches and the ingenuity of the magicians be enough to stop Valeria from taking over the city…and possibly the world?
While the first book takes place primarily in Vegas and focuses on the main characters and their war with Valeria, the sequel titled “Journey
To New Salem” opens up the Wiccan world as we learn of a fabled village that is a sanctuary for witches to escape persecution. It will be up to The Witches of Vegas to find this village, if it even exists, in order to save one of their own.
As far as inspiration, The Witches of Vegas is actually the beginning of my second writing career. Between 2009 and 2013, I had written four
books and a short story. Along with all the writing is the marketing and promotion involved. Sometimes, that can leave little time left over for the actual writing, or life. Eventually, I decided to quit. I loved the experience, but at that pointI was burnt out, both in creativity and in promoting. I was content with the knowledge that I was a published author, and no one could ever take that away from me. I gave it up with no intentions of ever picking up the pen again.
Then, one night at around 2 a.m., an idea hit me. I started thinking about witches. Imagine if they used their powers to put on a magic show. Most people wouldn’t know the difference; the audience would just see it as amazing magic. For the witches, it would be a perfect way to hide in plain sight, because they could practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted.
I figured these witches would end up in Las Vegas because that’s the magic capital of the world. They’d amaze their audience. Plus, they wouldn’t incur the cost of the typical magic show since they’re using their powers to create the performance. But how would this affect the
rest of the Las Vegas magic community? They’d never be able to keep up; what would happen to them?
Over the next few nights, the characters popped into my head as if they were speaking to me from another reality and telling me their stories. I started asking my characters questions, like why they’re doing the show, what are their motivations? I asked them about their lives… and they answered all my questions. They spoke, and I wrote it all down.
So, is “The Witches of Vegas” a fictional story I wrote? Or is it a true story from another reality where they are telling me about their adventures so I can share them with our world? Either way, I’ve written a new story, in a new genre, and for a new audience. It’s not a continuation of my writing career. In a way, I restarted and became an author all over again. That’s why I call myself a “born again writer”.
TGG: Could you tell us something you’ve learned or something interesting that happened while writing the series?
MR: Something interesting that happened: On a whim, when The Witches of Vegas first came out, I sent a copy to Penn Jillette from the famous “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” magician team. I wasn’t sure if anything would come from it, I couldn’t even be sure if the address I found on him was real, but I figured I had nothing to lose. About a week later, Penn reached out to me through e-mail. He said he loved the concept of the book. Since it’s young adult, he gave it to his teen, Moxie, who is fifteen and a Vegas magician.
Time passed and I hadn’t heard from him…until early March. He told me how Moxie was reluctant to read it since anything from dad is suspect (typical teenager), but eventually Moxie read it and loved it. This was at the point the second book, Journey To New Salem, came out. With Penn’s permission, I sent a signed copy directly to Moxie. The two took a picture with the book and posted it on social media. They both read Journey To New Salem are looking forward to the next book in the series.
TGG: What’s next for you?
MR: I’m happy to announce that the third book in The Witches of Vegas series, titled “Witch’s Gamble,” is in production and will soon have a
release date. I made myself a promise a long time ago that if I could ever come up with an original concept for a time travel story, I’d write it. I believe I have come up with this new and unique concept. It will be a huge part of Witch’s Gamble.
So far, according to the reviews, people loved The Witches of Vegas and Journey To New Salem. People say they love both the characters and
the twists and turns. Well, get ready, because Witch’s Gamble takes the witches’ story to new heights with the biggest twist in the series. Will there be another book in the series? I can confidently say yes as the rough draft for that story is nearly written. Truth be told, I enjoy writing for these characters as much as I hope everyone enjoys reading about them.
TGG: How can we best support you? (Where can we buy your books, and follow you on social media?)
MR: Each instalment of The Witches of Vegas series is available in print, ebook and audio on amazon.com, barnes&noble.com and wherever books and ebooks are sold (this includes Target which now sells both available books in The Witches of Vegas series). The audio is available through amazon and audible.com In fact, the audiobooks are narrated by the famous Jeff Hutchins. He has an amazing voice and has done a tremendous job bringing Isis, Zack, and The Witches of Vegas to life.
For more details on The Witches of Vegas series, which includes video trailers, interviews with the author, purchasing options, and more,
check out my website www.markrosendorf.com
I’m also always available on social media:
The video trailers can also be seen on youtube, simply type in the titles of the books or just Mark Rosendorf where you’ll see the trailers among other fun stuff.
Thank you again for the interview and the opportunity to speak with everyone about The Witches of Vegas series.