In case you didn’t notice the table of contents, this would appear to be a Mark Murray special issue. It certainly wasn’t intended to be that way, but as an editor with a deadline, you sometimes have to take what’s available, and all too often I find that what’s available are stories from Mark.
Mark Murray joined the Dargon Project in June of 1995, and had his first story printed before the year was out. In the three years since then, we’ve printed 25 issues, and Mark has appearred in an amazing 17 of them, also setting a record of eight consecutive appearances. In fact, there are only two writers who have had more stories printed in DargonZine.
Mark has done this through two major story arcs. His longstanding Raphael and Megan storyline began as a idea about a man whose lover was cursed; in Mark’s words: “an old enemy of his using his love as a way to torture him”. In a lighter vein, Mark introduced two children, Matthew and Ben, whose adventures continue in this issue’s installment of his “Friendships of Stone” series. Then, after having covered serious, sad, religious, morbid, and comedy, Mark tries his hand at a love story with this issue’s “Mute’s Song”.
Before discovering DargonZine, Mark had sent a few of his stories out to some of the “famous” magazines, as any aspiring writer might. The rejection letters he received only discouraged him and, he says, “My writing dwindled to a slow crawl. Then I found DargonZine and my writing started climbing.” DargonZine’s purpose, unlike those “famous” magazines, is to grow aspiring writers by giving them a supportive environment, encouraging them to write, providing constructive feedback from other writers, and giving them exposure to a “real” readership. The volume and improving quality of Mark’s writing are a great illustration of what the Dargon Project is ultimately meant to do: grow writers.
In return, Mark has given back to the group. He is one of the major researchers and contributors to the collection of maps that are available on the DargonZine Web site. From the start, he has been passionate about making it easier for new writers to get up to speed on the milieu and the restrictions of writing in Dargon, and he volunteered to take ownership of our nascent mentoring program. And about a year from now he will begin the preparations for hosting the Year 2000 Dargon Writers’ Summit. So not only has Mark been a prolific writer, but he has served as a model for other writers by developing his sense of ownership and taking his share of responsibility for the project’s success.
But we all know that enough is enough, and although you can be sure that there’s much more coming, I promise that there’ll be no Mark Murray in our next issue! DargonZine 11-10, the last issue of the year, will feature three stories from the people who are benefitting from Mark’s mentoring program: three brand-new Dargon writers! So watch for our Dargon debutant issue, coming in mid-December!