Mark Couhig book signing
When: First Friday Art Walk, Friday, July 3
Where: Hart’s Fine Books, 161 W. Washington St.
More information: markcouhig.com
Featuring: A taste of New Mexico and Louisiana in the form of green chile shrimp remoulade and wine will be available throughout the book signing.
Someone close to Mark Couhig once planted a seed in his mind.
Through the course of five years that seed grew and evolved into a 240-page novel exploring a disbelief in the death penalty and instead the concept that if somebody dear to you is hurt, it’s not the government’s responsibility but your own.
“I thought that’s a really interesting concept,” Couhig said. “What would happen if you took that concept to its logical conclusions? That’s precisely what this book is about.”
To do this, Couhig constructs a layered plot centered on revenge with his first novel, “The Face of His Brother,” released June 1.
“I’ve published millions of words, but this is the first book,” he said.
Born in New Orleans, Couhig spent most of his life in south Louisiana, another 15 years in New Mexico and for the past six years he and his wife, Linda, have lived in Sequim.
Both Couhig’s personal life experience and long career in the writing industry are reflected in his book. Always involved in writing in “one form or another,” from reporter, editor to publisher, Couhig has had a lifelong relationship with words.
“I love words,” he said. “That’s why I got into writing and still sort of have to do it.”
Using words as his medium, Couhig paints the picture of a tight-knit family from Clinton, La., in a heated hunt for one man.
Pulling from his own understanding of the vast differences between New Mexico and Louisiana cultures, Couhig builds a dynamic setting for this novel and with thoughtful character development he tackles the age-old questions of good and evil.
“It is ambiguous and returns to the basic questions of good and bad,” he said. “Questions like who is evil, what is evil and what is redemption.”
Although the book confronts a variety of serious questions, Couhig maintains a sense of humor – a reaction to his own love of laughter.
“This is a personal preference, but I really like to laugh,” Couhig said. “To me there are parts in this book that make me laugh out loud.”
As his first novel, Couhig wrote it for “anybody who enjoys a read primarily designed to entertain,” he said. Yet, he assures he was mindful to maintain an “interesting structure and a shocking ending.”
“I think if there’s one good thing about this book, it’s that everybody who reads this thinks I’m saying something different,” Couhig said. “And I really enjoy that because there’s an old saying that, ‘You write the book but everybody else reads a different book’ because they’re going to insert into it what they think is being said.”
The completion of “The Face of His Brother” may be a milestone in Couhig’s writing career, but it’s only the beginning as he already has two other novels in the making.
“They’re all very different styles,” he said. “One is a big spectacular mess right now.”
Because innately he is an “undisciplined writer,” Couhig said when working on future books he aims to be more rigid about setting aside time to work.
“I love deadlines,” he said. “Or more accurately, I need deadlines.”
Despite the challenges of writing a novel, Couhig thrived on the collaborative aspect of the process.
“The most fun was doing a draft and sending it out to friends and advisors,” he said. “I had some great help.”
Reach Alana Linderoth at email@example.com.