Meet Mark Torres
Mark A. Torres is a labor attorney who tirelessly represents thousands of unionized workers throughout the greater New York area. Mark has a law degree from Fordham and a BA in history from NYU. Mark is also the prolific author of obscure historical topics that cry out for justice.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always had an interest in writing. The notion of capturing feelings and information into a cogent written piece has always been appealing to me. In fact, writing is the most important part of my profession as an attorney. Thus, it was only natural for me to want to branch out to write literary works.
You've authored four books so far. What genres do your books fall under?
Above all else, I think of myself as a storyteller. Thus, my passion takes me through various genres. This helps to explain the very diverse body of work I have published to date which includes two fictional crime novels both of which were set to historical backgrounds and time periods. I have also written a labor union related children’s book that aims to teach our youth the value of labor unions. My latest work is my first non-fiction historical piece which covers a part of local history that has never before been told.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My ability to write professionally coupled with a desire to illuminate and entertain readers with important stories.
Of the four, which took the longest to write?
I would have to say that my second novel, Adeline, took the longest to write. This was because of the extensive research I embarked on to tell this story which included the history of the mental health treatment and institutions of New York State and gaining knowledge of human anatomy and forensic pathology from a renowned doctor who has helped to catch serial killers in California!
Did you have to do a lot of research to write your books?
If so, what sources did you use? In my view, research is the most important part of any writing. As an attorney and author, and regardless of the genre, I am always compelled to master the topics that I am writing about. This could not be more evident that in my latest book Long Island Migrant Labor Camps: Dust for Blood. Since there were no primary sources to rely upon for this history, I reviewed hundreds of newspaper articles, studied several rare documentaries, and conducted numerous interviews so that I could competently tell this history.
Can you briefly explain your research process?
As stated above, there is nothing more important than researching the topic you are writing about. While strategies vary depending upon the topic, I can simply suggest that you leave no stone unturned during your research. Keep researching until you become an “expert” in the topic!
Of the four books you've authored, do you have a favorite? Why? Which one was the most difficult?
I love all of my books and they each reflect an important part of myself as I viewed each topic. To be sure, the need to capture the grim history detailed in my new book Long Island Migrant Labor Camps: Dust for Blood was unavoidable and the most difficult to write. I owed it to those who struggled so mightily during that time to preserve the history and share it with the world.
Two of your novels, Long Island Migrant Labor Camps: Dust for Blood and A Stirring in the North Fork are set on Long Island, why did you choose a Long Island setting? Are your other books also set on Long Island?
I have always been drawn to the bucolic setting of the North Fork. Such beauty inspires many thoughts, feelings, and settings. The protagonist in A Stirring in the North Fork is a Long Island resident who returns in the book Adeline, but that book is largely set in Rockland, County, NY. Good Guy Jake is generally set in the New York area.
Are all of your books self-published? If so, why did you decide to go with the self-publishing route?
No. Stirring was self-published and Adeline was published by an independent label named Indie Owl Press, but Good Guy Jake (Hard Ball Press) and Dust for Blood (The History Press) were both published by reputable publishers.
Did you self-publish on your own or hire a company?
I self-published A Stirring in the North Fork. I hired Indie Owl Press to assist and publish Adeline.
If you self-published on your own, how difficult was that? If you used a company, what process did you go through to find the right company?
In all honesty, the process was not very difficult. The only expenditure that I strongly recommend is hiring a really good editor.
Can you provide a short synopsis of your latest book?
It covers the calamitous migratory labor system that gave rise to hundreds of slum-like labor camps that dominated much of Long Island, less than 100 miles from New York City, for more than half a century. The book fully chronicles the dramatic effects upon the inhabitants of those camps, most of whom were Black farmworkers from US southern states, who faced abuse, economic exploitation and were forced to reside in rundown shacks that were occasionally ravished by deadly fires which left the charred bodies of men, women, and children. It also features the heroic efforts of several outspoken critics who protested the deplorable conditions of these camps and fought to improve the lot of migrant workers on Long Island. Lastly, the book details the factors that led to the demise of this era of the labor camps.
What made you decide to write a children's book?
The history of the Labor movement in this country, particularly with young children, is not widely known beyond those directly involved with unions. Thus, I wanted to create a book that appeals to our youth and teaches them the values and importance of labor unions. The book is illustrated and bi-lingual (English and Spanish) and tells a heartwarming story.
How different was the process to write a children's book as compared to writing a novel?
In some ways it was more difficult. I wanted to relay an important message but tell it in a manner that children can relate to and understand.
Do you have plans to write additional novel's or children's books?
Perhaps. I am amassing a library of ideas for potential projects and some of them contain children’s stories.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Maya Angelou who once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you”. So when you have that story, write without fear and keep pushing yourself to improve upon it and your writing ability. Above all else, be sure to research your topic thoroughly so that you can write competently and with confidence. And when you get stuck along the way, which will surely happen, go back to your research and then keep going.
For more information or to purchase Mark's books: