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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

May 12, 2022

Mark interviews D. E. Cunningham, a middle-grade fantasy author, about his life as a storyteller and his new novel Marco Swift and the Mirror of Souls.

Prior to the main content, Mark shares a recent comment, a personal update, and a word about this episode's sponsor.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

During their chat, Mark and David talk about:

  • The inspiration behind writing Marco Swift and the Mirror of Souls
  • Writing a musical comedy for stage when in college, and making short VHS movies, improv and parodies with his friends when he was in high school
  • Being able to bang out 1000 words an hour, but without proper structure and plotting
  • Discovering Brandon Sanderson's DIY writing class on YouTube
  • How dramatically different the later drafts of the novel became after David learned more about the craft
  • David's desire to make the heart of the Marco Swift story about children facing trauma and learning to not blame themselves
  • Inspiration from Mister Roger's and his own passion for ensuring that every child knew they were loved and they are capable of loving
  • Going through depression and being semi-suicidal when he was younger
  • Writing this first novel while working on his MFA for Film Production
  • Hiring an editor through Reedsy
  • Work David had done writing a couple of episodes and outlines for a few different television shows as well as voicing the main character for one series
  • Spending a year and a half querying 122 agents
  • The one agent who asked to read the book who told David it was "good not great"
  • Hiring a second editor to address the feedback this agent had offered to David
  • Trading skills with an artist/designer to get a professional looking cover for his self-published book
  • The 99% Perspiration/1% Inspiration principal
  • Realities of television and movie adaptations
  • The coolest things about self-publishing a book
  • David deciding to do the audiobook himself because he already had voice-acting experience
  • Advice David would offer to his younger self
  • And more...

After the interview Mark reflects on David's life-long passion for storytelling, being cognizant of his target audience, and his determination and persistence as a writer.


Links of Interest:


D. E. Cunningham is a middle-grade fantasy author who currently resides in Virginia Beach with his wonderful wife and three fun-loving boys. His search for truth, goodness, and beauty have driven him to write larger-than-life adventures for a new generation of readers. When not writing, he can be found voicing cartoon characters, producing animated children’s shows, and exploring the wilderness with his family.


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0