A “Much Too Long” Biographical Write-Up About Mark Leslie Lefebvre, divided into three parts: WRITER / BOOKSELLER / BOOK NERD
It started with stick figure cartoons when he was really young, but Mark’s passion for writing really began in public school when he would turn ANY opportunity for creative writing assignments and homework into epic tales and adventures. He started to get “serious” about being a storyteller and hammered out his first “novel” on an Underwood typewriter when he was 13 years old. That novel, an epic fantasy adventure (inspired by D&D characters) was epicly forgettable, but a good exercise and learning experience. Since then Mark has written hundreds of thousands more words and has been writing (and continually learning how to be a better writer) for more than three decades.
Mark’s first published story was a short YA humor tale that was released in 1992, the year he graduated from Carleton University. From that point on, most of Mark’s writing fell into the “Twilight Zone” camp of unsettling and speculative fiction – most closely associated with horror, but also including elements of science fiction and fantasy.
His first published horror story “Phantom Mitch” appeared in Wicked Mystic magazine in October of 1993 and received honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasty & Horror #7 (Datlow & Windling). Since then, Mark has had dozens of speculative stories published in various magazines and anthologies including Stardust (edited by Julie E. Czerneda), Bound for Evil (edited by Tom English), Bluffs (edited by Lawrence Steven) and Fear of the Dark (edited by Maria Cavicchiolo & Jason Rolfe), 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush (edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge) and Fiction River: Sparks (edited by Rebecca Moesta).
In 2004, Mark collected some of his previously published works in One Hand Screaming, which he self-published almost ten years before all the cool kids started to get in on that game. He continues to write short fiction for various markets and has released many of them in smaller digital and print chapbooks such as Active Reader: And Other Cautionary Tales from the Book World, Bumps in the Night, and Tricky Treats.
In 2014, Mark published his first novel, Evasion, a thriller often described as “Die-Hard in an office in Toronto.” The thriller takes place in a loosely hidden Kobo office in Liberty Village in Toronto (where Mark worked when the novel was written). That same year, Atomic Fez released Mark’s horror novel I, Death a novel that had its origins in an online real-time story that Mark had rolled out in 2006 about a teenager convinced he had a curse where everybody he befriended died in some tragic fashion. The book was re-released by Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2016. In 2016, ten years after he began to write the book as part of NaNoWriMo in 2006 (as documented in the “Reality Show” series from The Writing Show Podcast series “Getting Published with Mark Leslie“), Mark released the thriller A Canadian Werewolf in New York, which spotlights a day in the life of a man trying to live a normal life while suffering from a werewolf curse in one of the world’s largest cities.
In 2006, Mark edited North of Infinity II, an anthology of speculative stories for Mosaic Press. In 2009 Mark edited Campus Chills, a themed anthology featuring horror tales set on colleges & universities across Canada. In 2012, Mark edited Tesseracts 16: Parnassus Unbound, and in 2017, two of the volumes he edited for WMG Publishing in the Fiction River anthology series were released: Fiction River: Editor’s Choice (May) and Fiction River: Feel the Fear (Oct). He continues to edit in the Fiction River series for WMG Publishing and also teaches at the WMG Business Master Class in Publishing on the Oregon Coast.
Mark’s first non-fiction “true ghost stories” book out from Dundurn Press entitled Haunted Hamilton: The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle & Other Steeltown Shivers came out in 2012 and was nominated for a Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award for Nonfiction. He has continued to follow that first book up with an average of one book a year focusing on explorations into the paranormal, with Spooky Sudbury: True Tales of the Eerie & Unexplained, co-authored with Jenny Jelen (2013), Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores & Libraries (2014), Creepy Capital: Ghost Stories of Ottawa and the National Capital Region, (2016), Haunted Hospitals: Eerie Tales About Hospitals, Sanatoriums, and Other Institutions, co-authored with Rhonda Parrish (2017), and Macabre Montreal, co-authored with Shayna Krishnasamy (Feb 2018).
From 1992 until 2006 Mark worked for Indigo Books and Music, Inc. (previously known as Chapters; and prior to that known as Coles) in various roles and regions. He started as a part-time bookseller at Coles on Sparks Street in Ottawa, then worked within The Book Company stores at Carlingwood Mall and Bank & Slater. He moved to Hamilton in 1997 and worked at Chapters in Ancaster as a Product Manager. In 1999 he took the role of Database Quality Manager for Chapters Online in Toronto and spent 7 years learning the ins and outs of metadata, industry standards and SQL relational database systems.
In August of 2006, Mark’s bookselling career took an academic twist as he moved on to become the Book Operations Manager working at Titles – McMaster University’s bookstore, which turned 75 years old the year he joined.
In September of 2006, after 5 wonder years at McMaster and successfully implementing an Espresso Book Machine into the Titles bookstore (under the “Titles on Demand” logo) Mark moved on to new challenges which included consulting work within the book industry, where he also regularly haunted the University of Toronto Bookstore, assisting them with their growing Espresso Book Machine and Print on Demand business.
In October 2011 Mark followed a passion that began as he toiled in the POD realm and became Director of Self Publishing & Author Relations for Kobo, a global ebook retailer that originated in and still operates its head office out of Toronto, ON Canada. He was the driving force behind the creation of Kobo Writing Life, a DIY portal for authors and small publishers to get their works published to Kobo’s global catalog. Mark worked with some of Kobo’s most talented developers, UX and QA folks (along with an excellent team of business folks that he hand-selected) to ensure Kobo Writing Life was regarded by authors as the most intuitive and attractive direct retailer interfaces. What made KWL unique and celebrated was its focus the author, and that was the part of the role that Mark loved best, interacting with, soliciting feedback from and connecting with authors around the world.
Mark is a past-president of Canadian Booksellers Association and sat on the board of directors for BookNet Canada from 2008 until 2014. As an active member of the book industry (both as a bookseller and writer), Mark continues to speak at conferences, conventions and workshops about books, writing, publishing, the use of Print-on-Demand technology, such as the Espresso Book Machine – (McMaster’s campus bookstore was the second location in Canada to acquire this technology) – and the continued growth of eBook and digital audiobook publishing and as well as the world-wide growth of self-publishing and the myriad of possibilities that exist and continue to open up for authors and publishers.
Mark’s favorite writing quote:
“If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire is not to write.” – Hugh Prather in Notes to Myself