#YourNextBeachRead is a way to introduce you to a new author and their works in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.
Today’s featured author is Mark Newhouse, author of The Devil’s Bookkeepers series.
What’s your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
My name is Mark H. Newhouse and I was born in Germany to Holocaust surivors who came to America when I was a baby after losing their parents and most of their relatives in the Lodz ghetto and Auschwitz. I lived most of my life in Queens and Long Island, New York and now live in Florida.
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
I began writing when I was five years old. My parents were struggling to survive as new immigrants, and in a bad marriage, and without grandparents, I found pen and paper were great ways to solve problems. The pen was a magic wand where I could make my life whatever I wanted.
Who are some of your influences?
I loved reading Sherlock Holmes, Edgar Allen Poe and watched every episode of Perry Mason, as well as reading every Perry Mason legal mystery. I also read every Sherlock Holmes book. The Perry Mason books and shows made me want to become a lawyer, which gave me a goal, and inspired me to write funny legal mysteries for children with a lawyer for monsters and fictional characters and his nephew who gets into lots of trouble. I want kids to laugh while they learn about the law and set goals for themselves.
What is your book about?
The Devil’s Bookkeepers 1: The Noose, is a suspenseful story of friendship, love and heart-wrenching decisions that brings to life the horrifying true events that took place in the ghetto in Poland my parents were among the few to survive. A 5-star Readers’ Favorite, it is like Twelve Angry Men, a favorite movie, where the characters suffer under the still-hotly debated policies of the ghetto leader, who enforced Nazi laws as the noose tightened around them and their loved ones. As uncertainty becomes terror, readers report they can’t put it down. Book 2, currently a Finalist in the Florida Writers Association competition, continues this gripping story, unfortunately, based on true events that never should have happened.
Where did you get the idea?
My parents never discussed what they suffered, or how they survived the Holocaust. After Mom died, I discovered a seven-hundred-page monster book she had given me years earlier. I was going to donate it when I saw it was autographed to Mom. I was surprised to learn that it was The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, translated and edited by Lucjan Dobroszycki, (Yale University Press, 1984). I didn’t know a record of their ghetto existed. These anonymous writers risked their lives working in the same building as the Nazi Administration. Miraculously, these documents were recovered after the war from various hiding places by the only surviving author. I hope my characters and plot bring this little-known history to life for my children and future generations.
How long did it take you to finish it?
Once the bug hit, I wrote 500 pages in about a month, but it took two years to edit and have it read by beta readers. I wasn’t sure I was going to publish it until I received amazing reviews and the helpful members of a critique group urged me to share it. I’m glad it is getting 5 star reviews and readers are sharing it with others, a great reward to any writer. It was a lot of work, but when people care about the fate of the characters you created, it’s worth it.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
I’ve written award-winning children‘s mysteries Welcome to Monstrovia; The Case of the Disastrous Dragon and The Case of the Crazy Chickenscratches, all award-winning mysteries featuring a boy sent to live with his strange uncle, who faces incredible dangers while solving fantasy cases in a secret sector of the United States, home to monsters and fictional characters. I love writing these funny mysteries that introduce fascinating issues about law and human relationships within plots full of surprises. One mother wrote, “Now we may have a lawyer in the family.” That’s great praise.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
Miriam, a young and resourceful wife who can be stubborn and has secrets, is modeled after my Mom, who though 5 feet tall and sickly, survived Auschwitz and the Lodz ghetto when so many did not. She was the gutsiest person I ever knew. My favorite character, the young playboy, Singer, evolves into the kind of courageous character I hope I might be if faced by these awful life-death situations. He’s my ‘mystery man,’ who physically, I modeled after my father, always a mystery to me. Do we ever know for sure how we will react under desperate situations?
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I think the scene where Ostrowski, the narrator, learns a secret that threatens everything he believes and hoped for, but truthfully, both Devil’s Bookkeepers novels are filled with scenes that I think touch the heart and soul and create such a sense of involvement that people tell me they can’t put it down. I guess that’s what every author hopes for.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
The best advice I ever got is the same for life: do it, not for the money or fame, but because you have a passion for what you’re doing. If you care, your readers will too.
What’s the worst?
Write what is popular now, what people are reading. The problem is by the time you finish writing for the fad; the fad is over.
Where can we buy your book?
The Devil’s Bookkeepers 1 and 2, and all of my books, are available on Kindle/Amazon and from newhousecreativegroup.com, where you can order signed copies or ask about discounts for group orders and learn about our latest books and news. I love hearing from readers and, of course, appreciate reviews of my books.
Mark H. Newhouse is a multiple award-winner for his adult and children’s writing. His children’s mysteries include Welcome to Monstrovia; The Case of the Disastrous Dragon; The Case of the Crazy Chickenscratches, The Rockhound Science Mysteries, and more. His latest adult series, The Devil’s Bookkeepers, suspenseful novels about the Holocaust ghetto his parents were among the few to survive, are 5 Star Readers’ Favorites (2x) that readers report they can’t put down. A tribute to his parents and the relatives he lost in the Holocaust, he hopes it will help people see the horrifying impact of prejudice and genocide, so we may say, “Never again to anyone.”
He is proud of being named New York State Reading Association Elementary/Secondary Teacher of the Year, 1989, and served as an adjunct professor of Education at SUNY Old Westbury; as well as on Newsday’s educational advisory board. He was founding president of Writers League and leads Writers 4 Kids, a critique club dedicated to creating books to help children. Professional memberships include The Authors Guild; SCBWI; and IBPA. His greatest joy is working with youth, teachers, parents and other writers, and he is state Chairperson of the Florida Writers Association Youth Program, (FWAY), Youth Conference Chairperson, and on the FWA Board of Directors.
Please contact him and get updates, contests, and more, at newhousecreativegroup.com, Thank you for your support and kind reviews. His current project is The Devil’s Bookkeepers 3: The Noose Closes, the finale to his trilogy that closely follows the suspenseful events that occurred in the ghetto his parents were among the few to survive.