Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh
Available for Purchase at
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Mario Kai Lipinski here today. Welcome, Mario!
I’m very happy to be featured on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and grateful for getting the chance to present my upcoming book ‘Symbols.’
Let me begin with an admission: I really suck at self-adulation, so I won’t even try. Then again, you will find a lot of me in the answers to the interview questions, and that’s what you can also expect to find in ‘Symbols.’
We made it through the advertising part, and without any further ado: enjoy the interview.
How much of yourself goes into a character?
My characters are mostly made up of parts that are not me. In my writing, I live out traits that I don’t have or that I don’t want to have. The people in my stories are athletes, very confident, or party lions. I’m nothing like that. On the other hand, they are bullies, devious, and mean. I’m nothing like that either and give my best to keep it this way.
Yet there are always details of my life and personality shaping my characters. One of my basic beliefs is wonderfully summarized in the Wiccan rede: An it harm none, do what ye will. Most of my main chars share this conviction with me. Another example is strong family bonds. I’m very close to my parents and my sister, and so are most of my characters.
Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?
The strongest case against me creating Gary Stu’s in my books is that I don’t want to be any of my characters. At least not in the beginning of the stories. 🙂
There are always parts of me (or anti-parts of me) in the characters, but I strive to balance the good and the bad. Of course, fictional characters exhibit a tendency to be extreme in one way or another. And I think that’s a necessity because most readers would fall asleep after reading three pages of my actual life and thoughts. In my opinion, the tight line doesn’t run between my experiences and a Gary Stu, but between believable and yet edgy characters inspired by me (or by anti-me).
Still I have a confession to make: The Gary-Stuest aspect in my stories is the theme of the outcast getting the handsome guy. That’s actual wishful thinking on my side. But what the heck? It’s fun to write and hopefully as fun to read.
Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?
In ‘real’ life, I’m a mathematician. It doesn’t get more—researchy—than playing around with abstract structures that don’t exist for real.
The way I write is the polar opposite of that: If you don’t know it, wing it and only look up the most basic stuff.
For example, I must admit that my knowledge about the US school and college system mainly stems from books, movies, and series. Strangely enough that’s sufficient to present a halfway plausible story most of the time. And sometimes it fails miserably. So just bear with an ignorant German if a detail is off.
Since I’m not much of a researcher when it comes to stories, I’d never dabble with writing a historic novel where accurate facts are paramount. On the other hand, I enjoy world building in fantasy and sci-fi stories. I have at least three different concepts for faster-than-light travel in my head, and probably even more magical systems floating around there.
To boil this down to a credo: don’t just write what you know, write what you can imagine.
Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?
Only partly. In my childhood and teenager years, I mostly read fantasy and sci-fi books. I’m still very fond of the Taran series by Lloyd Alexander and the Dune series by Frank Herbert. When it comes to gay romance, I’m a late starter. My gateway drug was the Last Herald-Mage series by Mercedes Lackey, the first books I bought for my then brand-new kindle. It was a revelation: there were actually books out there with meaningful gay romance plots. A wide selection of contemporary MM books followed.
In fact, I have written a gay sci-fi/romance book (part of MLR’s Storming Love: Meteor Strikes series), and there’s an unfinished gay fantasy story lingering on my hard disk. So, my early reading years had an influence on my writing, but I can’t say they set me on a fixed road.
Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?
I never actually had to stop writing. Some scenes I wrote brought me to tears—e.g., in “Perception” the death of a mama dog was very hard for me to finish, but I just went on putting down words. Though I never had to abandon a scene, I write emotional ones the slowest. It takes me quite a time to formulate the inner thoughts and dialogues, expressing the correct level of feelings. I partly blame not being a native speaker for that. It’s difficult for me to assess whether a given word is appropriate and not too strong or too weak. In addition, I write and edit at the same time. I put down some words, change them, change them again, and go on. This method is the sluggishest way to write, but it’s the only one that truly works for me.
Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?
I’m an incurable romantic, so I’m a definite sucker for HEA.
Love overcomes anything. Love survives anything. Love lasts forever.
That’s the way I want things to be. Of course, my rational part insists that reality is different, that even true love might not stand a chance against the hardships of life. But dreams are an indispensable part of what we are. Dreams make the human existence worthwhile. That’s why my naive heart will always prefer to dream and demand its HEA… and I’m glad it does.
Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?
I can’t say that there is one single influence. My approach to writing (and many other things in life) is eclectic. I study a lot of resources and pick out the things that work for me. However, one book from which I adopted a lot of ideas was ‘Immediate Fiction’ by Jerry Cleaver. The greatest strength of this book is that all concepts presented therein are explicitly labeled as optional. I tend to act like a petulant child if someone tells me it’s their way or the highway, and Jerry never did.
That petulant child also brought me to writing in the first place. I loved all the MM books I read, but there was always a little voice nagging me that the stories were a little off, that I would have written them differently. And so I did. In this sense, every MM author I read has influenced me.
How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?
Ebooks have almost completely replaced paper books in my life. Most of the fictional stuff I read is in electronic form. The only place where I regularly work with traditional books is at university, but ebooks are also gaining ground there.
Yet I believe that ebooks will never totally oust traditional books. There will always be people who prefer the sensory experience of reading, the touch, the smell, the weight.
On the other hand, I like the additional convenience of ebooks, the portability, the fact that the e-reader remembers the last page I read (because I never do and always lose my bookmarks).
In my opinion, ebooks and traditional books will coexist. Moreover, I’m very curious what new features future ebook generations will bring.
How do you choose your covers?
My selection process can only be described as intuitive. I don’t have any fixed criteria. I look at the cover and my guts tell me whether it’s perfect or not. There are some design elements which consistently work better for me than others: soft colors, not too many picture elements, or an interesting font. Yet there will always be a cover in primary colors, brimming with different items, and a blunt font that catches my eye.
Some good friends of mine hoard pre-made covers and write the stories inspired by them. For me, the cover comes after the story and reflects the finished book. But each to their own. 🙂
Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?
I think that’s the answer that most authors give, but my favorite story is my first one: ‘Opposites attract.’
It’s full of errors, ignores most of the ‘rules’ of writing, and doesn’t have much conflict, yet it was the most fun to write. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ is also true when it comes to stories. I didn’t think at all and just wrote, a state of flow I never came close to after Opposites. It’s this lightness of creation which makes that story so dear to me.
It’s still available on the Nifty Archive and Gay Authors under the pen name of Hasimir Fenrig. But don’t hold it against me… 😉
What’s next for you as an author?
Two of my novels are Young Adult stories evolving around the gentle giant trope, yet many of my plot bunnies want to explore this setting further. By the way, is anyone interested in a gay version of ‘The Blue Lagoon – The Awakening’? 🙂
On the other hand, I’d like to broaden my writing perspective. I’m a middle-aged German man, so there are plenty of ‘adult’ topics I could cover. One of my plot ideas centers around a man diagnosed with a fatal disease who rids himself of all social inhibitions. It’d be interesting for me to delve into this adventure because I’m a very restrained person in real life. There are also some darker stories whirling around in my head. Stories dealing with torture and violence, things I despise and condemn from the bottom of my heart but which hold a certain fascination of evil for me.
You see I got lots of ideas, but I’m not working on a specific project right now. The cliché of “The story finds the author, not the other way round.” actually isn’t one.
Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.
Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?
Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.
Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.
Mario Kai Lipinski lives in Herne, Germany.
He is a spare-time author, and his evil day job, teaching mathematics at university level, isn’t that evil after all. Granted, on some days he wants to strangle his students, but it only takes a coffee or two and he remembers how much he loves them. He loves nerdy science stuff too. Does it show in his books? Of course it does.
English is not his native language, and he frequently gets asked why he writes in English. The answer has two parts. Firstly, he has slightly masochistic tendencies. Secondly, most books he reads are in English. So it feels only natural to write in this language too. English is beautiful—until it isn’t. Never, absolutely never, get him started on comma rules.
One reader described his books as “sexually explicit Disney movies.” That hits the nail on the head. Mario is into romance with a capital R and loves his cheesy. He is so good at channeling his inner teenager that sometimes he doubts he even has an inner adult.