Mark Rosendorf lives in New York and is author of The Rasner Effect series.
Welcome to the blog, Mark. Please tell us more about yourself.
Hi Susan and thank you for the opportunity. My Name is Mark Rosendorf and I’m 36 years old from Queens, New York. I’m in my tenth year as a guidance counselor for the New York City department of education’s special education district. I work in a school for students classified either “emotionally disturbed” or “learning disabled.” As a child, I read a lot and my dream was to someday become a published author.
In January, 2009, the dream was realized with the release of The Rasner Effect, a suspense/thriller that has received many positive reviews and was nominated for various awards. In February, 2010, Without Hesitation: The Rasner Effect II came out. In January, 2011, the trilogy concluded with Rasner’s Revenge: The Rasner Effect III. I’ve also written a short story that was published as part of the L&L Dreamspell anthology, “Cat in a Dreamspell.“
In the first book, The Rasner Effect, you introduce readers to Rick Rasner. Tell us a little about his background.
Rick Rasner is an intense, but emotionally unbalanced, character. His actions paint him as evil. He’d disagree.
Rick was once a psychotic killer and member of the rogue mercenary group, The Duke Organization. He is captured by the military and used as the guinea pig for a social experiment. A prototype chip is put in his head that suppresses his emotions through intense pain. Hypnosis is used to induce amnesia and he is returned to society, under supervision, to see if he can become a productive citizen.
The experiment appears successful as seven years later Rick becomes a therapist at the “dreaded” Brookhill Children’s Psychiatric Residence in Brookhill, Pennsylvania. Rick finds great frustration in this facility as he must deal with a cruel and bullying director who attacks both him and the patients of the facility. The entire story, however, changes when The Duke Organization tracks Rick down at the Brookhill facility in order to bring him back into the “family.”
How did you decide to write books about such a violent person?
One thing about psychotic people is that they don’t see themselves as psychotic. They see themselves as being in the right while everyone else just doesn’t understand. My goal with The Rasner Effect, and the series as a whole, was to create this story from the psychotic killer’s point of view. Rick Rasner has a different code of ethics that make sense to him.
This is how the real world works as well. The same situation is completely different depending on who is telling the story. From Rick’s point of view, he’s the sympathetic character of the story. From the reader’s point of view, they’re not sure who to root for and against.
Having read your books, I totally agree. I was torn.How much of your background as a high school guidance counselor influenced these books?
Quite a bit. Many of the personalities of Duke Organization members are taken directly from abnormal behaviors of emotionally disturbed people. This includes characters that display obsessive compulsiveness, oppositional defiance, schizophrenia, anti-social behaviors and other abnormal behaviors. The children in the Brookhill residence, meanwhile, have severe anger issues along with other behavioral issues that are common with emotionally disturbed teenagers.
By the third book, readers may empathize with Rasner’s situation. How did you pull that off?
Rick is a complex character. The morals and ethics he was brought up on as a Duke Organization trainee differs from most of societies, yet he has such conviction for them, it’s hard not to root for him to succeed. I believe that, deep down, many of us would love to be Rick Rasner. He’s above the law and deals with his problems in the most extreme ways. But he’s also the type who abducted a young girl from the Brookhill facility because his sympathies demanded he give her a better life.
Speaking of that young girl, let’s talk about Clara Blue’s role in the books. What is her purpose?
Clara is one of the many lives influenced by “The Rasner Effect.” Clara is a troubled young girl who has been ruined by the system. While under the influence of the microchip and amnesia, Rick is unable to help Clara due to the brutality of the Brookhill residence. Once he becomes his old self, however, he still feels a need to help Clara.
Clara, meanwhile, sees Rick as the only parental figure she’s ever had. She wants to please him since, from her point of view, he’s a hero. While the world left her to suffer in an institution, he freed her. Where every authority figure in her life buried Clara, Rick taught her how to defend herself. His influence guides her every decision from the moment they meet.
Many of my readers have insisted that Clara Blue is the real star of The Rasner Effect series, and it would be hard to argue.
Yes, perhaps there will be a spin-off starring Clara.
And then there's Scarberry, a mercenary who has made two attempts on Rasner’s life before Rasner’s Revenge. In the third book, they appear to end up on the same side for a time. Can you explain his presence and role without spoilers?
Jake Scarberry is the opposite side of the Rick Rasner coin. While he, too, is a mercenary, he was the one hired by the military to take down The Duke Organization. Thinking he killed Rick, he expected to be proclaimed a hero. Instead, he lost everything, was tossed into the witness protection program and forced to keep his mouth shut. Reduced to humbling jobs such as cleaning frat houses for insolent college students, Jake is pulled back into the hunt for the man he thought he had killed once before.
Mark, you and I have the same publisher Texas-based, L&L Dreamspell. Please tell us about your experience with them.
I have a great appreciation to L&L Dreamspell as they gave me and The Rasner Effect a chance where most publishers turned their nose up to my blank resume. Working with them has been a great learning experience. They’ve educated me on many aspects of the book world, including how busy publishers can be. I also learned a lot about marketing and writing, both from the L&L publishers, Lisa and Linda, as well as many of the Dreamspell authors.
How do you promote the books?
I find online is the best way to promote. I live in New York City, where there are next to zero small bookstores. There’s plenty of Barnes and Noble and Borders, but they have a “no thanks” policy when it comes to working with local independent authors. Each of the Rasner Effect books had launch parties, all of which took place in local libraries. Although the majority of my marketing has been online (interviews, live chats, etc), I have also held live signings in Florida, Long Island and New Jersey.
Are you working on another book at this time?
Yes, I am currently working on a science-fiction novel that I intend to market as a young adult novel. I feel it’s an original concept which should capture much of The Rasner Effect’s magic, especially character-wise. As the manuscript is finalized, I’ll share details on the plot, but I will say that while the characters are as complex as Rick Rasner and The Duke Organization, they’re a lot less psychotic.
I also have another project in the planning stages based on the requests of Rasner Effect readers. It has been mentioned numerous times in the Rasner series that Rick, along with the rest of the Duke Organization, was taken in and trained from a young age by Jennifer Duke’s father. They formed The Duke Organization after Rick and Jen killed Jen’s father and took over the group.
Readers have contacted me many times asking about the story behind Rick and the rest of the Duke Organization’s origin. What was Rick like as a child? How was he recruited by Jen’s father? How did he become such an intense and violent character? Soon, a Rasner prequel will be written and it elaborates on these details.
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
The Rasner Effect has a page on Facebook; there’s also the official Rasner Effect website, http://www.markrosendorf.com/
Mark, it's always fun to chat with you. Congratulations on a great series. I look forward to more great writing from you.