Interview with Author Mark H. Newhouse
My guest today is Mark H. Newhouse. Hello! Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age! It’s such a pleasure to see you here again.
Hello! Thank you for inviting me to share my latest crazy mystery with your friends!
Oh, of course! It's an honor.
Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
The Case of the Crazy Chickenscratches – you read that
right – is the third award-winning mystery in a series that has been honored
with a Silver Medal in the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards; a Bronze Medal in the
Readers Favorite Awards; and 1st Place in the Royal Palm Literary
Awards of the Florida Writers Association. The series is about a teenage boy, who faces
incredible dangers and a brave teenage girl, as they help Jasper Doofinch, his
lawyer uncle, solve ‘insane’ cases in Monstrovia, a secret sector of the United
States, where humans are rare and anything can happen. In The Case of the Crazy
Chickenscratches, Brodie has to prove Mr. Chickenscratch isn’t crazy, or is he,
because he turned his house into a zoo. At the same time, he must solve a
problem many children face that could change his life. This book is very
special to me and I’m proud that it was an award-winner in the Florida Writers
The book has just been released on Kindle, Amazon and
This series was
inspired by my love of Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason courtroom mysteries but
began as a play I wrote for my sixth grade students on Long Island. I love all
mysteries, but wanted to add a lot of humor and a man turning his house into a
zoo and upsetting his neighbors, including some very strange characters. This lets me
teach about the law while kids laugh.
I think this series
would make great films or television shows, and see Jasper Doofinch portrayed by
Danny DeVito because he has that gruffness, but also the softness my lawyer
character has. There’s a lot of humor too.
I still love printed
books, but have nothing against ebooks.
I’m about to read a
Stephen King short story collection. I like his short works better than his
novels. I need a change from my more serious reads lately, which were research
for my most difficult book, about the Holocaust.
For my mysteries, I
look for plot ideas and usually outline the ending first. It becomes the
‘target’ to which I aim the rest of the story.
I’m almost done with
the first draft of Book 4 in my Jasper Doofinch comical mystery series. It’s
called The Case of the Killer Knights, and begins when a dragon is accused of
almost killing a knight in a hit-and-run accident. It’s really a funny book and
I think kids will love it.
I’m also finishing work on an adult historic fiction
novel, The Devil’s Bookkeepers, about the ghetto in Poland, from which my
parents were among the few survivors. It is the hardest book I’ve ever done,
but I think the most important because it deals with hate in a story of love
and friendship under terrible conditions. Everyone who has read the early
drafts says it is very moving and a ‘must-read’. For me, it was a ‘must-write’.
I know what you mean...it's interesting where the muse takes us, right?
Is there anything you'd like to add? Any advice for new writers?
The greatest joy I get
from this crazy and challenging task of writing books is when I hear a child
laughing at my stories, or when someone writes that I made a difference in their
lives. My advice is to write not to get published and make a lot of money—few
authors do—but because you are passionate about your subject or story. I hope
my readers recognize the love I put into my creations. Thank you for your
support and kind reviews.
Brodie is back in this award-winning sequel to the award-winning Welcome
to Monstrovia! This is the Perry Mason for kids of all ages today. His
clients are monsters and giant-killers, but the laws purely American.
Great way to introduce a love of law to your children.
must make a very difficult decision while uncovering the hilarious
secret of the crazy Chickenscratches. Is a man who turns his house into a
zoo really crazy? Find out in this laugh-filled mystery you won't be
able to put down.
Here is an excerpt.
“Uncle, there’s an
incredible racket coming from the waiting room,” I tell my uncle who appears to
be lost in thought. “Do you think it’s those crazy Chickenscratches?”
“Oh, not now! I have too much on my brain to be
Just then the door bursts open and a bunch of strange
‘creatures’ come charging into the office. “Are you Doofinch the lawyer?” A
large creature that looks like a snowman roars in my uncle’s face.
“Of course, it’s him,” a bat-like creature says as he
circles the desk and swoops down over me. He lands on the floor and transforms
into a man in a long black cape.
I feel a chill. It’s Dracula, I think, backing behind my
uncle’s desk. I can’t take my eyes off his huge fangs. Is that blood on them?
“Can’t you read the plaque on his wall?” A gigundo bear-like
animal with brown fur asks and lets out a gigantic yawn.
“No, I cannot,” Dracula replies. “I’m from Transylvania
and ve don’t read English nor Monsterlish.”
Definitely Dracula, I’m thinking, or a ‘blood relative’?
“It’s hot in here,” the Snowman says. “I’m melting away!
Let’s get this over with.”
“I need my beauty sleep,” a rat-thing says and lets out a
“What about me?” A young woman in a crystal blue gown
asks and immediately falls asleep on her feet.
“Is that Sleeping Beauty?” I ask my uncle.
“She has a lovely neck,” the vampire says, gazing
longingly at the girl’s slender throat.
“Hey, Drac, stay on track,” the large bear growls
angrily. “I need my six months of sleep or you know what I’m like.”
“Ve all need our sleep. That is vy ve are here,” Drac
says, aiming his eyes at my uncle.
A chorus of rabbits, a bear, and an old man with a long
twisty beard nod their heads.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” my uncle says, standing up behind
his desk. “Why don’t you tell me what this is all about? I’ll be happy to help
resolve this matter for you if I can.”
That’s my uncle, afraid of nothing, not even this
“I don’t have much time,” the snowman says. “Drac, you do
the talking. Beauty is finally asleep...otherwise she’d be nagging, nagging and
“Princesses!” the bear grumbles. “You can never please
The others nod their heads. Some look like they’re
sleeping on their feet too.
“Yes, sir, please do the talking?” Uncle Jasper says and
signals me to start my feather recorder.
“Since you insist, I shall be honored to be your
spokesman,” Dracula says with a flourish of his cape. “I only hope I can finish
before I need a drink?”
I shiver when he says that. The rabbits don’t look too
want you to start a law suit for us.” Dracula’s eyes narrow.
all of you?” Uncle Jasper looks like he’s counting heads.
just want them to leave. But I am a little curious as to what this is all
about… until the vampire shows his long pointy fangs, lashes out his tongue and
hisses, “I get very thirsty ven my sleep is disturbed.” His eyes focus on
Sleeping Beauty’s neck again and then back on my uncle.
hoping this is one case my uncle turns down.
be happy to hear your problem,” he says, and reaches for the bottom drawer of
I scream, but it’s too late. The desk lets out its usual “Skreeee” sound, like
a wounded pig, and all of our new spooky ‘clients’ jump awake. They looked
almost angelic asleep. Now they look angry, ferocious and maybe hungry?
Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/bMQWyk
“Inventive and surprisingly coherent mix of monsters, mystery, courtroom drama, and real-life family dynamics.” - Kirkus Reviews
“Kids and parents will love this magical kingdom, and might learn something about real life from the monsters who live there.” - Jenny Ferns, Amazon
“Highly Recommended--funny, dramatic, entertaining, and educational. Brody learns how to deal with some real life struggles through his encounters with these magical creatures. Most importantly, Brody--and the reader--learn a lot about love.” - Paula Feuerstein, Amazon
“I have not read many children's books, but I bought this because the name intrigued me. I especially enjoyed the talking monsters and animals. I did not read Welcome to Monstrovia, but found Brodie here interesting, funny, brave and smart. The courtroom scene held my attention. I highly recommend this book for middle school children. It will entertain them while showing a glimpse of the real world.” - Roco, Amazon
Wow! It looks quite a ride!
Readers, don't forget to explore the whole series...
Thanks, Mark! We'll be sure to check out this middle-grade fantasy mystery!
Mark is a multi-award-winning
teacher and author. Born in Germany to
Holocaust survivors, he loved teaching in Central Islip, New York, and as an
adjunct professor of education at SUNY Old Westbury. He was named Teacher of
the Year by the New York State Reading Assoc., 1989, among other honors, and
maintains contact with more than 900 of his former sixth grade students on
His award-winning books include: Welcome to Monstrovia, a legal mystery for
Medal, Benjamin Franklin Book
Awards; Bronze Medal, Readers’ Favorite Book Competition, and 1st Prize
manuscript, Florida Writers’ Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. Its sequel, The Case of the Disastrous Dragon, is a Top Ten Children’s Book,
P&E Readers Poll, Silver Medal,
Royal Palm Literary Awards of the Florida Writers Association. The Case of the Crazy Chickenscratches, Book
3, won 3rd Prize in the Florida Writers Association competition.
Other books include: The
Rockhound Science Mysteries, Learning Magazine’s
Teachers’ Choice Award;
The Midnight Diet Club, about
bullying, First Prize, Florida Writers Association. His stories have been
honored in various contests, including Writers Digest, and appear in such
anthologies as FWA’s Collections, Tales 2 Inspire and Journeys . Currently, he
is finishing Family Secrets, about a
boy who becomes a detective to learn how his family was killed in the
the founder/leader of Writers 4 Kids, Editor-in-Chief for The Story Shop,
Holiday Helpings and Critter Capers, story collections, and
founder/first president of
Writers League of The Villages. Host/co-producer
of Authors’ Beat, a podcast, he also writes the “Writing Bug” monthly column
for Village Neighbors magazine and is the Florida Writers Association Youth
Writers chairperson and youth conference co-chair.
Mark’s BA and MA are from Queens
College, New York. Eager to help
children stop bullying, love reading and writing, he enjoys visiting schools
and libraries and created and chairs the Central Florida Book & Author
Expo, hosting more than 90 authors this year. He may be contacted at www.newhousecreativegroup.com, where he offers free anti-bullying materials.