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Biography: Mark Howell


Mark Howell
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I was born in Wales 60 years ago and attended Cheltenham College. (Dreadful experience: see "If..." by Lindsay Anderson.) Like many of the youngest members of Welsh families (see "How Green Was My Valley"), in 1964 I snuck away to America behind my mother's back. Dallas was one of the first places I went to. I also went everywhere else in the U.S., masquerading as one of the Rolling Stones. Then I went back to Britain to get an MA in American literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. (Dreadful experience ... No wonder so many Trinity boys sided with the KGB.) When I returned to the States the choice was either Vietnam or Haight Ashbury so I went to Montreal and became editor of a scurrilous U.S. tabloid called National Bulletin. During the Nixon years, I worked a a paperback editor in London, with Laurence James at New English Library and Sonny Mehta (now president of Knopf) at Granada. When I went to New York I became senior editor at Pyramid Books, part of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, publishing original paperbacks such as "I Was a House Dick" (about a hotel detective) plus seminal books on the Sixties' counterculture. My wife and I dropped out in the 1970s to live on lettuce in Vermont, where I stayed 10 years and raised my two boys in a land as beautiful as Wales and as cold as Russia. Then it was off to Toronto (south of Vermont on the map) to become editorial director of Gold Eagle books, a men's adventure division at Harlequin, where for 10 years I hired former soldiers of fortune to write popular counterterrorist fiction ("Able Team" led to "The A-Team" on television ... 100 million Gold Eagle books sold, no kidding!). I made Laurence James a rich man by hiring him to pump out volume after volume in the "Deathlands" series. I ended up in Key West where I have been living wildly ever since. A TV series in the early 1990s called "Key West" featured a local island newspaper whose editor was black and blind ("Please help me. I'm blind and I think I may be black"). Well, I am that man and Solares Hill is that paper. I am not blind, nor am I black, but Solares Hill is one of the freest newspapers in the United States. Here we are on a two-by-four mile island in the Caribbean without any of the coldness of mainland America (I don't mean the weather, I mean the return of "social standing," lost since the Fifties, with all the stress it implies, these vast lawns so you have to drive to your own house, here in Key West the houses are right next to hedges that are right next to the sidewalk that is right next to the street, so we all know each other real well.

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Mark wrote:

I mean the return of "social standing," lost since the Fifties, with all the stress it implies, these vast lawns so you have to drive to your own house, here in Key West the houses are right next to hedges that are right next to the sidewalk that is right next to the street, so we all know each other real well.

Ernest Hemingway, who was born in Oak Park, IL and lived and wrote several of his novels in Key West, once remarked: "Oak Park is a place of broad lawns and narrow minds."

Welcome, Mark!

Edited by Tim Gratz
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