Local author, Mark Cotton shares much with Buddy Griffin. Both relocated to find new horizons, new opportunities. Both share success in their old and new endeavors.

Local author, Mark Cotton shares much with Buddy Griffin. Both relocated to find new horizons, new opportunities. Both share success in their old and new endeavors. But the closest tie between the two is that Buddy Griffin sprang from the rich, creative mind of Mark Cotton. The Buddy Griffin novels, Two Bits Four Bits and Twice the Heist, are satisfying reads in the tradition of the great detective novels of the past.

Cotton says he is driven by the urge to create. Painting was his first creative outlet from his teens through his 30’s, and painting still satisfies. However, painting limits the artist to a fixed location determined as much by the tools and canvas as by the subject’s location. He enjoys the same artistic satisfaction from the writing process which can be done anywhere he can use a laptop or tablet.

Mark grew up in Hobbs, New Mexico and spent most of his adult life there so the area was a good place to set his novels. Mark knew the places and spaces well, and that knowledge adds authenticity to the stories. Robert Parker’s detective series featuring protagonist Spencer was the inspiration for Cotton’s protagonist, Buddy Griffin, a seasoned, not too jaded, retired Austin homicide detective.

Griffin is drawn back into his hometown of Elmore, Texas in Two Bit Four Bits. Old connections and new intrigues keep Griffin in Elmore. What was to be a short stay to close out his parent’s estate and reconnect with high school friends becomes a complicated endeavor when his high school sweetheart’s banker husband turns up dead the night of the class reunion. What’s a homicide detective to do? Chase the clues and replant roots deep enough to keep him in Elmore, open a detective agency, and be ready to be called for the next big crime—that’s the second book, Twice the Heist.

Like Griffin, Cotton relocated through the lure of family, but the beauty of the lake, not intrigues, have kept him here. He and his wife leased a condo on the Grand Glaize arm one year and loved it so much, they bought a unit in the same complex. Mark, Cindy, and two cats are now full-time residents.

Mark says he is driven to write, but not every day. “There are long dry spells,” he says. When he writes, he likes to work from a very loose outline of plot developments. That way he always knows where he is going, but lets the characters influence the route to some extent. “The lure of creating a complete new world within my mind,” says Cotton, “becomes the payoff.”

When asked what part of the process he finds least enjoyable, Cotton quickly says it is the publishing aspects of the writer’s life. In fact, that is the chief reason for self-publishing, according to Cotton. “Literary agents and editors are the gatekeepers of the publishing world,” Mark explains. Through self-publishing, he can concentrate on the joy of creating the story and not spin his wheels with endless query letters. Mark recommends both Amazon and smashwords.com as self-publishing platforms.

Although Cotton contemplates a third Buddy Griffin novel, he continues to write in other genres and feed his creative urges by composing electronic “soundscapes” which for his own pleasure. He has also produced one screen play, but to date, has no plans to pitch it to producers.

Lake of the Ozarks is home to talented people, and more migrate here every year. Mark Cotton is one who found good water to nourish his talents.