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The Bookie Monster interview with Mark Tufo, zombie author extraordinaire

Mark Tufo
Mark Tufo

Ask and you shall receive! Mark Tufo, one of the most read - and twisted authors - of the horror genre has graced The Bookie Monster with an awesome interview. Being from Boston myself, his writing could suck and I'd still be rooting for him (Boston-Strong baby!), but as we all know...there is no suckage from Tufo! If you have yet to experience his writing, I've provided a listing of some of his books and series at the end of the post, along with links to purchase in the available media. For a full list, visit his Amazon Author Page.

Hey Mark, thanks for taking some time away from writing and agreeing to answer some questions for The Bookie Monster. I know the readers adore your work, and it's no secret that I'm an uber-fan.

Hey Bookie, thank you for allowing me some space on your blog I am truly honored. I read an interview you did and when you were asked ‘if you could give an interview to any author living or dead who would it be?’ and you gave my name. I was pretty much floored. You see but now I’m under a lot of pressure to deliver a really good interview or you’re going to be like ‘Dammit I should have picked Nietzsche.’ Again though humbled. Ask away and I’ll try not to betray your faith in me!

I've gotten the opportunity to talk with your wife, Tracy, on numerous occasions. She is lovely, and you're lucky to have her. You know what they say: behind every great man is a great woman. Or is it behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes? If I were her I think I would sleep with one eye open next to you...you write some messed up stuff! Does she read your work? And if so, does she ask if you should be on some form of psych meds?

I’ve made no secret that without my wife’s help my books would be languishing on a hard drive somewhere. It was her drive that really got my books out there, all I ever really wanted to do was tell a story. We joke in our house, that I am merely ‘the talent’ Tracy does the heavy lifting! Tracy reads every one of my stories, when she first read Tim that was the first glimpse she’d ever had about just how many screws loose I may allegedly have. I was playing on my phone or something while she was reading it and then I got this burning sensation on the side of my face like someone was staring at me. I turned my head and she was just looking at me then she asked ‘What is wrong with you?’ I shrugged my shoulders, might as well ask a cat why it’s an *sshole.’

I'm in love with the Zombie Fallout series. I didn't discover Timothy until a few months ago when one of my reviewers raved about it. Arguably, it's as good if not better than ZF. The crossover of characters is not lost on me but I'm dying to know how you wrote them. Which came first, and when did the idea for the other spawn?

Zombie Fallout definitely came first. I had a publisher that was very interested in the ZF series, I flat out refused. They then came back and asked if I would write a story just for them. I was like ‘Soooo you’re basically saying you will publish whatever I write?’ They said yes. I thought about it for three days, that’s when Timothy was born. I took one of my biggest fears (effen clowns) and ratcheted it up another notch. Something about Tim makes me loathe and love him at the same time. One would think I’d had enough psyche scraping with the first, nope not me, always willing to dive down just a little further. So came Tim 2 and you know what, because I just can’t seem to end a series, I’m hoping to have Tim 3 out this year.

My favorite part of your writing is the witty banter between characters. In ZF, it's the Mike and BT relationship. In Timothy, it's Tim and Hugh. No matter who it is, it's always got me laughing out loud. It hits close to home because it reminds me of me and the hubs...I've been told our bickering banter could sustain a reality TV show. Would random people sitting at a nearby restaurant table be rewarded with that same banter between you and Tracy?

It’s funny how an author develops relationships with his characters. I as well enjoy the banter, they help to lighten up what is invariably a dark scene. I’ll be honest you didn’t mention my two favorite interactions. The first is Mike and Trip (ZF series) and Mike and Drababan (IH series). Trip is liable to say just about anything and Drababan is so dry in his delivery. My wife and I do have spirited conversation, but I am far from boisterous so those people would almost need to be sitting at our table to hear it!

Henry is quite possibly the funniest fictional dog ever. Is he purely your brainchild or is he based on a real stinky pooch?

Henry is a living, breathing stink creating machine. Anybody who visits my website, or fb pages has seen him. I’d love to think he’d save me in a pinch, maybe if enough cookies were involved.

I won't lie...that is exactly how I pictured Henry!

ZF isn't your run of the mill zombie lore. You've injected some real originality with Tommy and his sister. Did you know this was the direction the story was going to move in when you started writing?

No clue, neither Tommy nor Eliza were part of the original vision I had of the series. (Mild Spoiler) Tommy was supposed to die on that Walmart roof; to this day I don’t know why I saved him. Or more likely he saved himself. I write with a general overview and then I let the characters determine how we’re going to get there. It makes the writing process fun because more times than not I’m just as surprised as the reader. I did not even really begin to flesh out Eliza until book 2 because I had no idea who she was!

When I read a book I cast the characters in my head. If you were to cast the ZF characters in Hollywood, who would you envision playing each of them?

I’ve had so many people throw out so many great suggestions and to be honest I’ve loved all of them. I would love to see Cloris Leachman portray Mrs. Deneaux. Colin Ferguson, he played the Sheriff on Eureka, I think would make a great Mike. As for the others, hell I’d just be happy to see it on film. Wouldn’t much mind who played who. Although I did talk to Henry (the wonder Bulldog) and he said he would like Uga (the University of Georgia’s mascot) to portray him.

'Mark Tufo' is definitely a staple of the zombie genre. Yet you continue to self-publish. I can only guess that publishers have attempted to woo you in the past. What's the driving force in your decision to self-publish?

Funny you should ask this, when I finished the first Indian Hill book I shopped that to every publishing address I could find. And I got rejection letters from all of them. It was the missus that said let’s put it up on amazon. I was like ‘Sure why not, it’ll be cool to have a book available.’ Never once did I think we’d sell. And I wasn’t so far off, we sold three copies in seven months (two were to family members). I then wrote, IH2, then most of IH3 before switching to Zombie Fallout. By this time I wasn’t writing with the hopes of generating income, I was writing because I had stories I wanted to tell. We didn’t even bother shopping ZF we just put it up. It was right after ZF3 hit and I was writing the 4th installment that we really started to see sales. At this point we did start to generate interest from publishers. A part of me, was like ‘Where were you guys when I was knocking?’ At this point it became a business decision. I could not for the life of me figure out after I had spent my money on art work, on editing, on marketing and all the time I spent corresponding with readers why I should now share with them. It was like they wanted all the reward without having to take any of the risk. See this is where I just generally don’t play well with others.

Do you have that wish-list of specific publishers that you would consider working with? What would it take?

I think TOR would be the one I would love to finally come ask. I’ve just read so many great stories from their publishing house, I would consider it an honor to be included with them. To be honest it would have to be a life altering number. I don’t have a specific in mind but the kind where I wouldn’t be living pay check to pay check anymore.

I recently watched Joss Whedon's speech for Equality Now, which was great...and totally hilarious that he gets asked the same question from every journalist and tries to come up with new answers for it. Is there a question that you keep getting asked over and over again in interviews? (Sweet Jesus let it not be one of the ones I've asked you!)

I get a LOT of interview requests from folks that want to write or have written (which is fine) but they all want to know ‘How I did it’, like there’s a magic pill or something. I mean besides a ton of man hours and hard work I don’t have a secret I’m hiding. As far as I know there is no easy pass. You would be amazed at how many people think this is a get-rich-quick scheme. (I love your questions by the way!)

Dippy K, a Goodreads reader, would like to know: How did the Talbots' end up in California with Tim if they were heading to Maine?

I took an Author liberty and threw them in there. I thought it would be fun to have them show up in the midst of the sh*t storm. Two different stories though with no real connection.

What's next from Timothy? Care to give readers a taste of what's to come with an exerpt?

Oh Tim-Tim, he’ll be back I can’t imagine that not happening, so many more dusty dark areas of my brain to explore. Let’s just say he’s not so happy with his current state as he tries to fit back into the dregs of society. I haven’t started it yet, but I’ve got most of it ‘written’ out in my head.

Thanks again for taking the time out for us. P.S. Should Tracy ever stop replying to my e-mails, I'm telling the police you're their number one suspect!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you doing this interview with me. And let’s get ONE thing straight, if anyone goes disappearing it will be me and you should maybe let the cops know about Tracy!

The below is only a small sampling of titles by Mark Tufo. For a full list, click here.

Zombie Fallout Series
1: Zombie Fallout - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
2: A Plague Upon Your Family - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
3: The End… - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
3.5: Dr. Hugh Mann - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
4: The End Has Come and Gone - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
5: Alive in a Dead World - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
6: ‘Til Death Do Us Part - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
7: For the Fallen - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook

Indian Hill Series
1: Encounters - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
2: Reckoning - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
3: Conquest - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
4: From the Ashes !!NEW!! - EBook

Timothy Series
Timothy 1 - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook
Tim 2 - EBook - Paperback - Audiobook

Book of Riley Series
The Book of Riley 1 - EBook - Audiobook
The Book of Riley 2 - EBook - Audiobook
The Book of Riley 3 - EBook - Audiobook
The Book of Riley 4 - EBook