Marcus Calvert talks about Akron’s arts presence, the importance of being unique, and of course, monsters
by Mary Menzemer
When I asked Marcus Calvert, Akron local and author of science fiction, why he moved to Akron, he responded, “Akron’s a decent place for a writer to hang one’s hat and find himself.”
Originally from Detroit, Calvert initially settled in Ohio while attending John Carroll University as a political science major. After a brief stint at Northern Illinois University, he moved back to Ohio with the intention of living close to Cleveland. Instead, he discovered that Akron was actually a pretty cool place for creatives to live and work.
“Akron’s got a strong art presence,” he wrote via email, “which makes it easier to be a writer. Even if it didn’t, and you want to write sci-fi for a living, be where the geeks are. Akron’s got its fair share, as do the surrounding towns and cities.”
Calvert written well over 100 short stories organized into anthologies and three novels. These were all self-published by FastPencil. The stories in each anthology have little in common with each other except for the wild imagination it took to produce them.
“like, what if a rabbi and demon hunt monsters together?” Calvert says. “Or, a murder mystery where the main suspect is innocent but his imaginary friend isn’t?”
In his newest novel, “Murder Sauce,” and his upcoming March 2016 novel, “Frag Code,” the villainous protagonist Benjamin Cly is the main character. Calvert’s version of his protagonist is an aberration from typical heroes of stories in the sense that Cly is actually a villain cajoled into fighting other villains. But there’s more to that, of course–SPOILER ALERT!
In Calvert’s words, “Cly’s primary goals are to survive, create a viable crime-fighting business, and make a ton of money doing it. Saving the world’s just good for business.”
There is no catharsis or redemption. If you are into unapologetic, witty anti-heros like Sherlock Holmes or Holden Caulfield, Benjamin Cly just may be your next fixation.
An African-American man, Calvert says being unusual is more important than just skin color in establishing one’s image.
“Picture this: You walk into a room at a comic expo or something, right? You see a black guy in his forties with cover art for ‘Murder Sauce’ behind him. He’s wearing what looks to be a cowboy hat and a plaid shirt. Wouldn’t you be a little curious? Then this guy gives you a truly unique pitch. You’ll remember him, won’t you?” he says.
He gives this advice to writers: “So, you’re a woman? Someone of color? In a wheelchair? Walking around with three eyes? Use your uniqueness. Catch the public’s eye, lure them over, and give them a winning pitch of your books.”
Despite the ongoing technological disruption in the literary business, Calvert says there are a couple of old fashioned paths to success that will never change with the times.
“Readers determine your success. They’re the lifeblood of your dreams. Treat ‘em right and keep them entertained. Do it well enough and the literary universe should like you just fine in time.”
Check out Calvert’s website and read some sample chapters and stories at talesunlimited.net.
Mary Menzemer once used her telekinetic powers to move Mount Everest two and a half inches.