Mark Cooper versus America – Interview with Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock by Lirtle Grafton

Lirtle Grafton: I want to thank both of you for agreeing to sit down with me here in (on?!) the digital version of the nighttime talk show, Lirtle’s Lounge Chair Q&A for the Interwebs. Aaaaand I think I just did! 🙂

J.A.: Thank you for having us. Your virtual chairs are much more comfortable than the last place’s

LH: I have a virtual sofa and ottoman.

J.A.: Is this free water?

LG: Glad you dig the furniture, I was going for retro. And yes, J.A., free water, have all you want. There are even different flavors.

Now then, I’m going to start off with the question everyone probably asks, especially in interviews in this particular context of co-authorship: so, when did you both realize your shared love of many things in the broad BDSM spectrum?

J.A.: That’s a good question, since Lisa’s early books were mostly about torture and nonconsensual activities. So I don’t know what made me think she was interested in BDSM in all its Safe, Sane, and Consensual glory. I think it might have been a mutual interest in violence and angst that drew us together initially. Then it was just a bonus when it turned out she also liked writing about people torturing each other consensually .

During brainstorming for THE GOOD BOY we threw a lot of kinks at each other. That seemed like the part that would either make or break the relationship. I didn’t want to tell her I was (fictionally speaking) into something freaky and have her run for the hills. But Lisa’s down for all of it.

LH: Hell yes. Just like in real life, opening up to a potential partner will either make or break you. Luckily, it made us.

LG: It definitely made you from where I’m sitting. Having read the book, no one would be able to tell two different authors wrote it together, it was very smooth.

Where on the general scale would you put the level of BDSM and the importance of it in the story?

J.A.: Very mild. There’s a little bit of spanking. And there’s definitely exploration of kinks like cross dressing and fisting (which, fisting between college students=maybe not mild. But also not necessarily BDSM). Nothing’s done in a dominant/submissive or sado-masochistic context. I think what little is in there is important—Mark is bold and unafraid to try things. His shamelessness gives Deacon some confidence, and the kinky stuff requires both of them to trust each other in a way that pushes their relationship into something more than sex. But yeah, I feel like I’m gonna have to change my blog header, because between MCVA and our upcoming series, PLAYING THE FOOL, I’m finally starting to explore my vanilla side.

LH: This is definitely a book about two boys discovering if their kinks match up, but I can’t see them ever exploring a formal BDSM relationship. Mostly because I don’t think Mark would ever obey anyone in his life.  ^^^^^^^  LG: totally agree LOL

LG: That’s a really good way of putting it, an exploration, that’s how it felt to me, too.

J.A, I think your vanilla side is quite yummy, so go for it.

If you can separate it at all, who basically created and/or wrote each of Mark and Deacon? And while we’re at it, how about loveable Blake (who is a pretty stand-up guy), and sweet and strong Brandon?

J.A.: In most of our writing, there’s very little separation. For THE GOOD BOY, we alternated scenes because we hadn’t discovered Google Docs yet–but we still went back and played with each other’s scenes, and we talked everything out in advance, no matter who was writing. Now, with Google Docs, we’ll pick up in the middle of each other’s sentences–sometimes I go back and I can’t even remember who wrote what. The brainstorming is all very collaborative as well. But for this book, I have to give Lisa credit for Mark. She was talking about writing an angry Aussie college kid months before we started the book. And while we both wrote Mark and Deacon I think pretty equally, the seed idea for Mark was hers. She needs an outlet for all of her Aussie anger at the U.S. 🙂 

LG: … that is fairly evident, yes. 😉 But it’s still “arse FTW”!

J.A.: Blake is based on a student I tutored while I was in grad school who used to show up for tutoring sessions just so that he could sign in, then pretend to have forgotten something in his dorm, go back for it, and not return. I was e-mailing Lisa one night after this happened, and she joked that he was probably locked in the bathroom. Thus, Blake was born.

LH: I love Blake so much. But yeah, we share out the characters.  Brandon, from memory, was just initially a kind of a filler character; his treatment in the fraternity was basically going to give Mark something to react against. But then it turned out that he was this fun, sweet guy in his own right. He definitely became a favourite of ours.

LG: That is so great re: the idea for Blake, as well as for Brandon – I’m glad he got the role he did. I love hearing how you each completed the others’ sentences and scenes with the communication, so cool.

Were there any universities in particular that you used as inspiration for Prescott University? I could see it all in my head: the dingy diner, the statue in the middle of campus, the dorm room, yard party LOL, all of it.  Going back to college by way of this read was great.

J.A.: I base all fictional colleges off CWRU, my alma mater. The diner in MARK COOPER is definitely The Silver Spartan, in my head! I love the statue of Wolford Prescott. That was Lisa’s inclusion, though I think I might have named him Wolford. I don’t remember. But it sounds like something I would do.

LH: You named him. And I brought all the confusion about men in tricorn hats.

J.A.: Yes!

LG: Yay for alma maters, mine is Ohio U – go bobcats! It looks like CWRU is Case Western, yes? Know the area well having grown up in Cleveland. (The answer to the question is yes, btw LOL)

I would imagine writing this also took you both back to when you were 18 or 21 or the like.  Tell us, what were you like back then?  Hmmmmmmmmmm? 😉

JA: Lol, exactly the same as I am now! Except without the chronic backache and the flagging vision in one eye. Hmmm…I guess I was more of a goody two-shoes in college. No drinking or wild parties. Except Halloween senior year. All bets were off that night. I was a theatre major, and I spent most of my time either in rehearsals or locked in a series of grueling physical and intellectual competitions with my friend Chris to determine who was better at life.

LH: I didn’t party much at university either. For starters I didn’t live on campus. Secondly I was only 16 when I started uni — two years under the drinking age. And I can’t stress enough that this was not some child prodigy thing. This was due to a mix up in international school systems early in life.

LG: The way Mark and Deacon go about finding out about each other, learning what they like and what they want, it all felt very honest.  What was the process like in passing those kinds of scenes back and forth between the two of you while writing, how did it work between the two of you? I’m very curious about the whole co-author process.

LH: I think the word “process” gives us too much credit. We basically decide what scenes we need, then one of us writes until she gets bored or distracted or falls asleep, and the other one takes over. It’s not very organised, but it seems to work for us.

J.A.: It’s weird, because we’re not good planners, but we do talk things out ahead of time. But there are always some surprises. It’s not hard to remember how simultaneously confusing and awesome it was to be Mark and Deacon’s ages. And in a book that’s not heavy on external plot, it’s about knowing the characters’ personalities and then throwing various events and situations at them and watching them react.

LG: That’s very true, this book is mostly about character. Even if your process isn’t very “organised” (don’t worry, Lisa, we’ll forgive you for the incorrect spelling ;), it’s obvious by the result of this book that it works, so BRING. IT. ON.

Their banter back and forth, they were consistent in Mark and Deacon’s voices, and they usually told us something about one or both of them. This is especially true as the story goes on and they try to figure out what is going on between them. Is there any small passage that you could share that didn’t make it into the final version of the book, one that would give everyone a bit of that mix of humor and understanding between Mark and Deacon?

JA: Oh man, I don’t know if we have deleted scenes for this. Any other book, and the answer would be yes (just wait until we someday unleash the director’s cut of THE GOOD BOY). But this one, I don’t know…Lisa?

LH: You know, I don’t think we did either. Hey, maybe we’re getting better at this whole writing thing. Or maybe we fluked it.

LG: Nice job, then! LOL  Thanks for playing.

Aight, Lisa, while you’re *grumble grumble* Down Under with those beaches and JA is stuck back here in yonder Northern Hemi, our (I say ‘our’ because I’m here, too!) only solace being the construction of overly anatomically correct snowpeople, what are the odds that we’ll someday get an adventure with Deacon accompanying Mark on a trip back your way? Bonus round: what is your favorite word or phrase that you each learned from the other while writing this book?

J.A.: I like “root” for “fuck.”

LH: Can I just say I’m delighted I got the word “gammin” in there? And I think Deacon Holt versus Australia could be fun!

LG: Good one, J.A., and me too, Lisa! Re:  Deacon in Australia. 🙂

*rubs hands together most evilly*

To aid all of us in preparation for this possibility, I’ve put together an author-character version of something like the Newlywed Game, where each of you are asked questions, give your answers to me (secretly!!) and then you each have to guess what the other will give as their answer to the same question. I’ve got some listed for both of you, but I also came up with some for Mark and Deacon, in case they felt like giving it a whirl. And yes, points DO count! Let’s see how everyone does…


·         Fave sandwich:

Lisa guessed J.A. would say: peanut butter

J.A. actually said: Veggie. NO CHEESE.


J.A. guessed Lisa would say: Turkey. Probably with vegemite or something weird.

Lisa actually said: Vegemite. I’m such a cliché.

LG: Good thinking, Lisa, I think J.A. couldn’t help herself in saying NO CHEESE, though. And no surprise with vegemite. Score: Lisa, you still get half a point, just cuz, and A.J., you’ve got one.

·         Jellybean flavor: popcorn or rootbeer:

Lisa guessed J.A. would say: popcorn.

J.A. actually said: Tough choice! Root beer.


J.A. guessed Lisa would say: Popcorn.

Lisa actually said: popcorn.

LG: Daw! Though this was a toughie, I agree. C’mon, Lisa, gotta rally and catch up. 😉

·         Peanut butter OR peanut butter and jelly – Lisa, I hope you’ve tried PB!!

Lisa guessed J.A. would say: PB and jelly

J.A. actually said: PB&J!!!


J.A. guessed Lisa would say: Peanut butter. Because jelly means something else over there.

Lisa actually said: PB

LG: Right on, excellent. Though for different reasons, I’m sure, I’m with you Lisa, just PB most of the time.

*stage whispers* Why am I doing all of these food questions??

·         Sunrise or sunset, awwwwwwwwwww:

Lisa guessed J.A. would say: sunset

J.A. actually said: Sunset. Sunrises happen too early.


J.A. guessed Lisa would say: Sunset. I don’t think Lisa would be awake for a sunrise unless she absolutely had to be.

Lisa actually said: sunset

LG: Good choice, fo sho. I wish sunsets could be my sunrises, more fun and I’m a night owl, too.

·         Favorite rock out music or song, what gets you pumped up *strikes a pose*:

Lisa guessed J.A. would say: Eye of the Tiger

J.A. actually said: “Eye of the Tiger.”


J.A. guessed Lisa would say: Um…”Eye of the Tiger?”

Lisa actually said: Eye of the Tiger. It’s our theme song.

LG: No doubts there! And thanks to both of you for the earworms that will be generated from your answers. Yeah. Thanks. :p Ok, who cares about points. You two know each other very well and I thank you for simply agreeing to play along. Let’s see what we can learn about our two guys…


Mark and Deacon:

·         Fave Sandwich:

Deacon guessed Mark would say: Um, I don’t know what they eat over there. Crocodile burgers?

Mark actually said: A nice steak sandwich with BBQ sauce and beetroot. Why can’t you get beetroot on sandwiches here?


Mark guessed Deacon would say: That disgusting cheese spray stuff.

Deacon actually said: PB & J

LG: Result: yeah, zero points, fellas. That’s ok, though, food is a tough category. Let’s move on…

·         Dream vacation spot:

Deacon guessed Mark would say:  Somewhere in Australia, probably? He’s always talking about this one place…Okay, I was listening to him, I swear, but I can’t keep track of places in Australia because they all sound like either Dr. Seuss names or courses in Wave Race. “Bundaberg” and “Rainbow Beach” and “Dolphin Park” and what have you.

Mark actually said: Vanuatu. I want to live in Australia, and holiday in Vanuatu.


Mark guessed Deacon would say: The MIT Museum. I found a pamphlet on his dorm floor. What a nerd.

Deacon actually said: Upstate New York.

LG: Result: ok, you each get half a point. Deacon, you were close enough in geographical sense, and Mark, you get half because Upstate is a nerd-worthy answer. Believe me, I know, used to live there.

·         Rocky road ice cream or rainbow sherbet!

Deacon guessed Mark would say: Mark’s got “rocky road” written all over him.

Mark actually said: At least we agree on something, right? 


Mark guessed Deacon would say: Rocky Road.

Deacon actually said: Rocky Road. C’mon–chocolate!

LG: Excellent! C’mon chocolate, is right. Score: you each have 1.5 – let’s see what happens…

·         Polar bear or black bear, as in which one would you prefer to encounter and be confident in your escape from said bear:

Deacon guessed Mark would say: Polar bear.

Mark actually said: Polar bear. Because apparently you have to be somewhere even colder than Pennsylvania for this to happen. And I am never going to be anywhere colder than Pennsylvania. Also, the Bundy Rum bear is a Polar Bear, so that’s how I imagine all polar bears.


Mark guessed Deacon would say: Black bear. He has no fear of them. Not even sensible fear.

Deacon actually said: Black bear. If I’m seeing a polar bear, that means I’ll have to run across ice and snow to get away. Besides, aren’t polar bears’ habitats melting? They’re probably pissed off as all fuck.

LG: Nice, Deacon. But you’re probably right. All tied up at 2.5 – and Mark, I wouldn’t count those chickens just yet!

·         Boxers or satin knickers – wearing for and/or ripping from one another:

Deacon guessed Mark would say: Satin knickers. God, I hope he said satin knickers. For him, I mean.

Mark actually said: I like it when he wears boxers. But we both like it when I wear satin knickers.


Mark guessed Deacon would say: Satin.

Deacon actually said: Uh, I’ll stick with boxers for me. But I pick the knickers for ripping from Mark.

LG: You were each going to get a point for merely answering this one, so you each get five bonus points for doing so well with it. Cheers.  Score:  still tied at 7.5

·         Favorite movie to watch together:

Deacon guessed Mark would say: Amelie. He told me he loved Amelie.

Mark actually said: Die Hard. So we can either pretend that I lied to Deke when I said I really loved this, and we can pretend I’m not a girl, okay?


Mark guessed Deacon would say: Amelie.

Deacon actually said: Amelie.

LG: You’re both forcing my hand, I can’t help it… awwwwwwwwwwwww! And that means we end up with a tied score of 8.5 – Sorry, Mark, you both get the point because… yeah, we know. 😉

Great job, you two, thanks so much for playing! Now go get some ice cream and watch the movie, that’s your reward for tying it up.

Back to bidness:

LG: What do you each of you have coming up in the next few months, what are you working on now, what crazy idears have you tossed back and for the between each other that are making demands on your time?

J.A.: So we’ve got WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS coming out from Riptide March 24th. We’re really excited about that one.  Southern gothic creepy violent romantic suspense. And we’ve got the PLAYING THE FOOL series, about an FBI agent and a con man who team up to solve Shakespearean mysteries, which starts releasing late this year. Lisa, what else are we working on?


LH: We have a list. It’s crazy. It’s our ambition to work through the list.


J.A.: It’s a long list.


when all the world sleeps coverLG:  1) I’m so looking forward to When the World Sleeps, and 2) ambition is good. *thumbs up*

And please tell everyone how they can find out more about your stuff:




Twitter: @jarockauthor




Twitter @lisahenryonline


Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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6 thoughts on “Mark Cooper versus America – Interview with Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock by Lirtle Grafton

  1. LOL at the quiz portion for both the authors and characters. Love that you two have so much fun together and get on so well.

  2. Another great interview with mad questions honeybunch!! I thought Lisa and JA would give some loopy answers, and they sure did!! Loved it. If I win a gift card, can you put the money in the Eric/TJ fund please guys?? Thanks. 🙂

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