Meghan: Hi, Mark. Welcome to Meghan’s House of books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Mark Tufo: Hi. First off, thank you for having me on your page, I truly appreciate it. My name is Mark Tufo. I’ve been writing professionally now for about ten years and have over 40 full length books to my credit. I am also allowed to feed three spoiled bull dogs.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
Mark Tufo: Damn my life is already like an open book this might be tough. Okay first off, contrary to popular belief I like cats. Let’s see, Jaws pretty much screwed with my ability to enjoy the ocean. Reading IT killed any love I may have had for clowns. I have OCD and ADD which means that I need to finish everything if I’m not being distracted by shiny things. I think that’s five!
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
Mark Tufo: Another tough one, as a kid I went to the library a LOT, but maybe the first book the stuck with me was IT.
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Mark Tufo: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames, kind of throws the whole fantasy genre on its ear.
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Mark Tufo: I really liked The Host by Stephanie Meyer.
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
Mark Tufo: I decided to write as a way to alleviate the stress of being laid off, I was reading a bunch and seemed a natural progression. I’ve always loved to write ever since grade school, never thought I’d be doing it professionally though.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Mark Tufo: I generally write while I’m parachuting, so it’s about a three minute window where I’m typing furiously, or my office.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Mark Tufo: Well coffee is involved but that’s probably a standard, I also have very loud music on. Sounds strange but it drowns out the rest of the world.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Mark Tufo: It’s the editing, writing to me is by far the easiest aspect of this entire endeavor it’s once the book is completed that the real work begins.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Mark Tufo: It’s funny, commercially it is one of my least successful books but I am particularly proud of The Spirit Clearing.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Mark Tufo: I couldn’t even begin to list all of the authors that have inspired me. I grew up and remain a huge Stephen King fan so there’s influence there and Susanna Clarke is also someone that writes an incredible tale, I just wish she was a little more prolific.
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Mark Tufo: Suspense is a key element, the need to read that next page, to see what’s going to happen but it’s the characters that matter the most, if you don’t care if they live or die then you aren’t vested in the story and at that point it doesn’t matter what they’re doing.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Mark Tufo: Whether a reader loves or hates a character I think depends on how relatable the character is. Most of my characters are every person types, they are imperfect, they have flaws, aspects we all have.
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Mark Tufo: Many mistakenly believe Michael Talbot and myself are interchangeable but that guy is nuts.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
Mark Tufo: Being an author you’d think I’d know better but yeah an off-putting cover can set the tone.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
Mark Tufo: I’ve learned that my grasp of the English language is rudimentary at best and without a great editor I’m pretty sure I’d be asking people if they wanted fries with that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just at this age I should have probably moved on.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
Mark Tufo: Really any time a character I care for dies, it’s a difficult process, you’d think it would get easier, if anything it’s tougher. I wonder if George R.R. Martin offers any courses?
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Mark Tufo: I think it is the blend of sarcasm and humor, people seem to like laughing one page and hiding under their covers the next.
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?
Mark Tufo: To me I think the cover is more important, as for the title I like for it to give an idea of what readers can expect in the pages. Also without giving everything away. Although how brilliant was John Dies at the End as a title?
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Mark Tufo: I don’t write many shorts, usually just for special occasions or freebies around the holidays. Sure there’s a satisfaction when completing one but for me I find it to be more fulfilling to write a full length book, something you have time to develop characters with and really flesh the story out. Shorts always seem rushed to me.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Mark Tufo: My books… well I like to write what I read, I’ve got a zombies series, werewolves, vampires, paranormal, young adult, science fiction, I’m sure eventually I’ll get around to a historical romance. My target audience, the planet I guess. I mean who doesn’t want a world-wide audience? As for a take away, my hope would be that the few hours they spent with my stories they found fun and entertaining, if that’s the case it’s a win.
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
Mark Tufo: I have a propensity to go darker in my stories than intended, can’t write three quarters of a book in PG format to then all of a sudden hit a hard R. I’ve also offed characters that I’ve had to back track and re-write. I don’t know why I keep killing people! I might need help.
Meghan: What is in your “trunk”? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be book related.)
Mark Tufo: I am attempting to build a life size R2D2, I am a person that works well when directions are present, this project has none and I find myself frozen in indecision a bunch!
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Mark Tufo: Well the hope is that the statute of limitations will expire soon and the future won’t entail jail. Oh wait that’s probably not what you were talking about. Um in terms of books, I’ll be releasing ZF13 and 14, A Shrouded World 5 and 6 (a project with my friend John O’Brien), then another collaboration, The Bleed, with Chris Philbrook and David Moody. Then there’s a few shorts that ended up in some anthologies, I’m also currently working on my first fantasy. I think for now that might be it. ☺
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Mark Tufo: I’m all over the place on Facebook. I also have two fan pages, a website, or if you want to reach out by email.
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?
Mark Tufo: I’d like to thank all of the fans and readers that have supported me over the last ten years. I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to do what I love. Without you, well I’m just some weird guy tapping away at a keyboard, Now that I think of that I guess that’s still true but now I get paid to do it!
Mark Tufo was born in Boston Massachusetts. He attended UMASS Amherst where he obtained a BA and later joined the US Marine Corp. He was stationed in Parris Island SC, Twenty Nine Palms CA, and Kaneohe Bay Hawaii. After his tour he went into the Human Resources field with a worldwide financial institution and has gone back to college at CTU to complete his masters.
He has wrote the first installment of the Indian Hill trilogy in college, it sat in his garage until July 2009 when he published it on Kindle. He has since written the Zombie Fallout series and is working on a new zombie book.
He lives in Maine with his wife, three kids and two English bulldogs.
Visit him at his website, blog, or Facebook Author Page for news on his next two installments of the Indian Hill trilogy and upcoming installments of the Zombie Fallout series.