Thank you, Mark. I feel like Barbie being invited into her "Dream House". So this is what the Mark Tufo Blog looks like. Sweet.
1. Why a writer? Why Zombies?
I have loved writing all my life. I was the kid in English class who would whisper "Yes!" when the teacher would assign a lengthy creative writing project.
As far as zombies, I actually did not intend to enter that genre. I had a project titled Dakota that was more the direction I thought that I was going to take as a writer. However, a college teacher read a zombie short that I did for fun in her class. She pulled me up and told me that it was amazing and why wasn't I doing more of it. I kind of had that mindset that Romero had done all that needed doing. This was just prior to the "Indie explosion". Then I readMonster Island by David Wellington. I figured that I would give it a go. I have always loved the zombie since seeing the original Dawn of the Dead at the theaters when I was fourteen. Writing something in this genre is a fantasy-turned-real for me.
2. What similarities are there between you and your main character?
I have a lot in common with "Steve" from the DEAD series. As far as Zomblog, I might have a little more of me in Meredith than Sam. However, I think that I tap into a lot of different facets of myself when I write. At some point, I end up tearing away and going way outside of myself and project either attributes that I hate, or ones I admire and wish I possessed more of to make a character his own individual self.
3. You do editing and writing and publishing. Which is your favorite and why? Do you edit your own work?
Writing is by far the most fun. It allows me to get away from everything for that period in time. Whether the words are flying fast and furious, or if I am puzzling through a certain scene...it is where I love to be.
Editing is the "job" aspect. I only enjoy it because it is exacting. I have OCD and so it gets fed well when I edit. I always feel like I have to learn more. It is like baseball in that perfection is so hard to achieve, so you strive for it if you want to be considered one of the best. I hate being second, so that makes me work all that much harder.
I do edit my work as well as all of the anthologies and titles that May December Publications releases each year. However, I am blessed with some exceptional beta readers that act as an even finer grate on the sieve. I like to return to past titles about every year or so with fresh eyes. Plus, I usually have learned a new mechanics rule or two. Like I said...always chasing perfection.
As far as publishing...I let Denise handle the nuts and bolts of that. She fields all the queries and forwards them to me. Plus, when we put out an anthology, she strips all of the author info from them before forwarding them to me. That keeps the process fair. I am as human as the next guy and would probably tend to give a nod to a friend's story during the acceptance phase. I have a real problem with that aspect of this business and want to give every writer that takes the time to send me a story a fair shot. This way, some newbie trying to break in to the scene has as much shot as a talented name like a Mark Tufo. (Obligatory butt kiss...the next one costs ya $5.)
4. You have been doing an awful lot of book signings. How do you find the time and what’s the best part and what’s the worst part?
The time is hard to find, actually. But it is nice to get out and see a live body pick up your book and act all excited. The best part is meeting a total stranger who thinks your work is special. So far, the biggest thrill was a mother who brought in her sons. Apparently neither were much into reading until they picked up a copy of one of my books (Zomblog). They begged their mom to get them the next book. When they came to my signing forZomblog: Snoe, they acted towards me like I would if I managed to meet Stephen King.
The worst part is when you sit at the table...alone...for what seems like an eternity. People just walk by and glance at you, smile politely and hurry away. It can be a real ego buster.
5. What are you working on right now? What do readers have to look forward to in 2013?
Well, the 5th book in the DEAD series--Dead: Siege & Survial--comes out on December 15th. I am returning to the Dakota story and will have the second book ready by this summer. Plus my "That Ghoul Ava" series will have its first novel-length release this March. I have two books left before officially and finally retiring the Zomblog series. The 6th DEAD book has to be ready by May 30th, and then I start on the Special Edition material for the second group of three books in the DEAD series that seperates them into the three story lines: Steve, The Geeks, and Vignettes. In between, I will chip away at the next group of Grimm's fairy tales for my Gruesomely Grimm mash-up series.
Of course that is all a moot point if the Mayans were right.
6. The more interviews I do I am noticing a trend from some sort of teaching background to author, do you think it is a natural progression?
I think it is fairly common. I was a GED tutor for five years. taught guitar for three. Not quite the same as a serious teacher, but there is some common ground. Perhaps it is chemical...there has to be a spark and the desire to pursue a goal that might have lousy pay, little to know benefits, and if you are lucky, you strike a chord with one person.
7. What type of music do you play and have you thought about publishing any of it via createspace?
I played mostly covers of 80s rock. No surprise, a lot of KISS made its way into the rotation. Of course there were some originals along the way, but playing was always just about being on stage for me. There is a rush about having a couple of hundred people go crazy when you hit that last chord in a song. Even more fun is when somebody comes up to you away from the gig and says "I saw you the other day and you f--ing rock, dude!" I have some stuff on CD, a few concerts, some studio work...but I always saw that as a release more than a serious calling. Now I just play Rocksmith (Guitar Hero with a REAL guitar for the uninformed). It isn't the same when a computer generated crowd cheers...and nobody lifts their top...but it serves its purpose.
8. You have a huge background from submarine sonar man to music teacher, which is your favorite and why?
Being a submarine sonar man during the Reagan era was a rush. Playing hide-and-seek with the Soviets...football at the North Pole...those were great times. Teaching filled an entirely different need. Seeing somebody finally pull off playing their first song was pretty cool. But dragging tape on a Soviet without him knowing you were there had a special thriil.
9. Was it hard to write Zomblog: The Final Entry? Did you feel like you were leaving a friend?
Actually, it was pretty exciting. I had no idea at the time that emails from fans of the series were going to send me back. I thought I was ready to move on and focus solely on the DEAD series. When I finally decided to return, I decided to pick up the story twenty years after the first zombie had popped in to send the world in a tailspin. I am actually more apprehensive about how I will cope when that 12th and final DEAD book lands.
10. What do you have in the works that the readers can look forward to?
Well, I am dipping my toes in the Audio Book realm. Two titles, Dakota and That Ghoul Ava: Her First Adventures are currently in production. I am hoping that we will be finalizing our deal and buying a house by summer where I will build my own recording studio. As far as writing...after Dead: Siege & Survival comes out on December 15th, I will be diving in to book six...exploring Ava and Dakota, and hopefully, this will be the year that I put the finishing touches on Uncivil War, a story about a full-scale, modern day race war that destroys this country.
11. What is the one thing you wish someone would ask you and the answer?
What would it take for you to sign a contract that will start the process of converting your books to film?
To that my answer is simple. A pen.
Thanks so much, Mark. It is an honor to be invited.
Todd (TW) Brown is the author of the DEAD series and the Zomblog series. He is also the editor for May December Publications with numerous anthologies to his credit as well as the full length works of authors such as Mark Tufo, John O' Brien, Chantal Boudreau, Robert Dean, and Bennie Newsome.
Todd is graciously offering a free copy of The Dead Compendium via smashwords to anyone that comments on this post today!