The North Fork is one of the most beautiful places Long Island has to offer, and it’s where one of the region’s loyal summer residents, Teamsters Local 810 union attorney Mark Torres, began his journey toward authorhood.
Torres penned the first installment of his suspense series featuring the adventures of attorney-turned-detective Savoy Graves in 2015 after being inspired by the spookiness of a field near the Slaves Burying Ground in Orient under the light of a full moon. In the ensuing months, he wrote his debut novel, “A Stirring in the North Fork,” which takes the reader on a ride through the North Fork — and even Shelter Island — to uncover the killer in a case that had been put on ice for decades.
“Southold township — Greenport, Peconic, Orient, Laurel — ‘A Stirring in the North Fork’ is sort of a breakdown of what the North Fork is to the average reader who has never been there,” Torres said. “It’s like a makeshift tour guide and it was important — very important — to me that I got locations right. My best feedback early on was from people who live and spend a lot of time there saying I did.”
Torres returned to the fork of the fictional crime to promote his second novel, “Adeline,” at the Greenporter Hotel August 1. While “Adeline” features the familiar ride over from New London on the Cross Sound Ferry, it largely takes place up — and off — the Island, though readers will certainly recognize a litany of familiar towns from the novel, which finds Savoy and wife, Lola, investigating the 1970s murder of a young woman whose parents place her in a psychiatric facility in a misguided attempt to protect her from the world.
“Adeline took almost two years to write,” Torres said. “There was a lot more research involved, especially getting the medical jargon down. The premise is that it’s a murder made to look like a suicide, and I wanted the reader to understand, anatomically, how it could be proven or disproven — that it was, or wasn’t, a suicide.”
I caught up with the 51-year-old author to find out more. Torres’ wife, Migdalia, and three children, Isabella, 23; Jake, 12; and Olivia, 11; all helped him complete “Adeline,” with Olivia creating the front cover-art featuring the book’s most prominent mascot: the cardinal.
What was your inspiration for “Adeline?”
To create a compelling sequel to my debut novel. “Adeline” delves into the mental asylums of the past, along with introducing the tempest group; an omnipresent and dangerous secret society. These elements added a sense of terror that was not necessarily present in my first book.
Tell me about the time you spent doing research for this book.
Along with internet and documentary research, I also connected with a medical examiner to learn and understand human anatomy for autopsies, and that industry. I also visited abandoned mental asylums in New York to capture the “feel” of these facilities. I spoke with law enforcement officials for a better understanding of criminality.
How did you improve as an author from your debut novel, “A Stirring in the North Fork?”
My descriptive writing has vastly improved (“more show, less tell”). Also, my research enabled me to write more succinctly, competently, and confidently.
What are some of the locations you used in “Adeline?”
Much of the book is set in Westchester and Rockland counties. However, the lead characters live on or come from Long Island.
What made you want to write crime novels?
I have always been moved by stories that make me scream for justice. Crime novels best satisfy that interest.
Tell me a little bit about Savoy Graves. How are readers responding to him?
Savoy Graves is beloved by readers. His humble nature is matched by his unwavering pursuit for the truth. In this book, his wife Lola joins him in the case and they each ground each other while offering witty and comedic dialogue.
Talk a bit about your writing process.
I consider myself a situational and opportunistic writer. I work from home, while waiting for my daughter during art class, and any other time I can. It could be for hours, or in shorter spurts.
Are you self-published? If so, how important is promotion to success?
“Stirring” was self-published. “Adeline” is published by Indie Owl Press. “Good Guy Jake: Buen Chico Jake” [his children’s Christmas novel] was published by Hard Ball Press. I enjoy promoting my work. “Stirring” was purchased by readers on all seven continents within a year of its release. That was done entirely through social media. I hope to replicate that feat with “Adeline.”