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June 8, 2011

Meet Mark Sellers Jr.: Father of John Sellers

Posted by Anonymous
There is no greater tribute to one’s parent than writing a book about them, even if the title of said book is THE OLD MAN AND THE SWAMP: A True Story About My Weird Dad, a Bunch of Snakes, and One Ridiculous Road Trip. John Sellers has written about pop culture in magazines like The Believer and books like PERFECT FROM NOW ON: How Indie Rock Saved My Life, but THE OLD MAN AND THE SWAMP reveals his true journey of snake-searching with his eccentric father. Below, this father has some things to say about his equally eccentric son.
Photo: young John and Mark
Did you read to your son as a child? What did you read?   
Yes! I read to him mostly at night --- adventure, animals and sports books. One of his favorites was THE COMPLETE TALES OF UNCLE REMUS because he liked the silly voice I’d do for Br’er Rabbit. 
Did John have a favorite series/author growing up? 
As a pre-teen, he loved comic strips (especially Peanuts) and would scour books about baseball for hours on end. As he got older, he shifted more into fantasy --- J.R.R. Tolkien being the big one.
Did you have any book or reading rituals in your house?
I’d drive John and his brothers to a used book store every weekend, where he’d load up on comic books, baseball cards and humorous novels. One book in particular that I remember him buying was something called THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT. I have no idea what it was about, but I loved the title!
When did you know that John was going to be a writer? Can you remember what his early writings were like?
When he was 20, he self-published a book of his essays, stories and humor writing. But I had an idea that he’d become a writer before that. His earlier material --- battle stories and other fantasies he wrote for friends --- was written just the way he talked.
Do you read advance copies of his work?
Yes, the last two. Not surprisingly, both discuss me quite a bit!
Do you have a favorite of John’s books?
THE OLD MAN AND THE SWAMP, by far. It concerns a couple of trips he and I took to look for snakes in the Michigan woods and it captures the drama expertly and is hilarious (I’m biased, I know). Also, I liked all of his magazine articles that I’ve read, my favorites being one where he spent a day in NYC paying for things only in pennies and one about the best commodes of NYC.
bookcover.JPGDo you feel that you, or another family member, has directly inspired your son in any way? 
I have in music (his last book, PERFECT FROM NOW ON, was about his musical obsessions). His mother, a retired high school English teacher, has greatly inspired him in writing. But our biggest contribution seems to have been our perhaps foolish decision to allow him to watch TV almost any time he wanted!
Would you ever want to collaborate creatively with your son?
We did in his latest masterpiece, THE OLD MAN AND THE SWAMP, although he wrote the entire book. I taught him everything he needed to know about snakes and walking in the woods; he taught me how to laugh at myself. It was a perfect collaboration!