20 Questions with Mark Spivak
Mark Spivak is an award-winning author, specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the Food Editor for Palm Beach Illustrated; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on www.palmbeachillustrated.com. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. From 1999-2011 Spivak hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.
Spivak is the author of two non-fiction books: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). Friend of the Devil is his first novel. He is currently working on a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq.
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- Are you a morning writer or a night writer?
Almost always mornings—I get up around 4-4:30 a.m. and work obsessively throughout the day, although I do take breaks for errands, working out, etc.
- Do you outline or are you a pantster?
A pantser, unfortunately. I try to let the story tell itself. This is great when it works, not so terrific when it blows up in your face.
- Which comes first – plot or character?
For me, what comes first is the kernel of the idea, which I tend to live with for a period of time until I’m convinced it’s a story I can go forward on. Every story is different, and it’s possible to be intrigued with plot, character, or some idea that just refuses to go away.
- Noise or quiet when working on your manuscript?
Generally quiet. I work at home, so I have a better chance of controlling my environment. My wife reads between five and eight books each week, so she’s not generally talkative for most of the day.
- Favorite TV show?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, although I admit to being a political junkie. Some of the reality shows are intriguing, specifically Survivor and The Amazing Race.
- Favorite type of music?
I grew up during the Sixties, so I still listed to a great deal of classic rock. I’m also a big fan of jazz—the style doesn’t matter as much as the execution.
- Favorite craft besides writing?
Difficult question, because I’m obsessive and single-tracked. I don’t have another craft that I engage in. I always wanted to be a painter, but I can’t draw.
- Do you play a musical instrument?
- Single or married?
- Children or no?
Children via marriage, and grandchildren as well.
Not at the present time. We said goo-bye to our dog about four years ago, and haven’t gotten another one. We enjoy traveling, and value the luxury of being able to pick up and go.
- Favorite place to write?
I spend most of the day in a corner of a couch, in the living room of our condo
- Favorite restaurant?
Another tough question, because I’ve been a food writer/restaurant critic for about 15 years, and have done a lot of traveling. My all-time favorite is probably a place called Combarro in Madrid. It’s a fish and shellfish restaurant specializing in seafood from Galicia.
- Do you work outside the home?
I think you’re asking if I have another job, and the answer is no. I had a number of careers over the years, mostly in the restaurant business and the wine trade. I’ve been a full-time writer for the past five or six years.
- What was the name of the last movie you saw?
I can’t remember the last time I was in a movie theater. I do watch older movies on TV from time to time, but they’re mostly spy thrillers—just junk to give my brain a rest.
- Favorite outdoor activity?
- Pet peeve?
People who take short cuts.
- Your goal in life?
My goal was to become a writer, but it’s one of those goals that you never actually reach. Every story is a new beginning.
- Your most exciting moment?
Publication of my first novel, Friend of the Devil
- The love of your life?
My wife, Carolann.