About a year ago, the word leaked out that Mark Tufo was looking for an editor. I threw my hat in the ring just on the off chance. Eventually, he sent me a sample to use as an audition edit. (Writers, take note...you want to see if an editor that you are considering has the chops, send a sample. Put in a few nasty tricks and then compare the two. Think of it as the job interview.) I got the job and now have the pleasure of reading everything before it hits the public. It has led to some other jobs along the way because of Mark's referral (John O' Brien being one if I can just keep name dropping).
Some of you may not know this, but Zombie Fallout 7 is available RIGHT NOW!
|Get it HERE!|
Mark has put his faith and confidence in my ability. I try to reward that faith by continuing to improve in my editing skills. Seriously, there are so many rules...and it is an organic and continuous learning process. And as soon as I think I understand a rule, I find something new.
Anyways, this is not about me, this is a chance to spend some time with your favorite zombie author. (Yeah, of course I want it to be me, but let's face it, Mark has legions of fans...I am nothing if not a realist.) But, as a bonus, the rarely heard from (and I am sure the more important cog in the mechanism if you ask Mark) Tracy Tufo joins in as well. (I asked for a picture of BOTH, but she is going with the hidden identity thing like my favorite band, KISS.)
|Mark Tufo...and his other love.|
I am going to make the leap that most people who read this know who you are, Mark, so that is why the first question is for Tracy. Anybody who pursues the writing path as a career is a bit “touched” and can be a real challenge to accommodate (just ask my wife) so share some of Mark’s idiosyncrasies and how you deal with him?
You mean like him jumping out of bed at 3:00am looking for a pen and paper in the dark because he just had an idea? Or the post-partum blues when he sends his latest book to you for editing? Or when we are having a conversation and all the sudden with no warning the subject changes and you realize you are in the middle of a fiction book? Yeay, I go to Tracyville. Nice place, beaches, coffee and no crazy allowed.
Okay, Mark, this is your chance to mount any sort of pitiful and meaningless defence. However, what I would also like to know is, do you do anything special when you finish a book it is finally released?
I really have no defense, I’ve found that I live constantly with one foot in my ‘other’ worlds, how in the hell she deals with it is an utter mystery to me. And you ask if I do anything special when I complete a book? Well I have a major dose of anxiety immediately flowing into angst and then round it out with some blues. Then I drink.
For the both of you…describe a “typical” day in the Tufo home.
Loud. Three kids along with their boy/girl friends. Two dogs a cat and numerous family members within a few mile radius.Typical Italian family everyone talking over each other.One of the boys chasing the dogs around getting them riled up, the cat meowing because she is not getting the attention. Yeah, Loud.
Me turning up my music louder and louder so I can write during the maelstrom.
Mark, you have that “everybody’s favorite crazy uncle” look, so what led you to write horror?
I’ve been drawn to horror for a long time. I’ve always loved to read and I think my brother was back at my folks house and he was reading a SK book and he let me borrow it, must have been about 10 and I’ll tell you I was hooked. The feelings that man could evoke were just mind-boggling to me.
So, it is time to take a peek behind the curtain if you will indulge me. Let’s start with the Mark Tufo…err…I mean the Michael Talbot character. How much of you is in Talbot?
I started off as the template for Mike just in the basics. I’d really like to think I’d do some of the stuff he does and not just hide behind my couch if the shit ever hit the fan. That’s the beauty of fiction though, I can get Mike into all sorts of trouble while I eat a frozen pizza for lunch!
You have let this one character span several different alternate realities and now we are treated to Michael a century or so later. What was the real impetus to bring Lycan Fallout? Was it part of the plan all along, or did the “Tal-bots (my new term for Michael Talbot fans…feel free to make it into your next shirt) demand it and so you returned with this just being the best and easiest way to resume his story?
Lycan Fallout came about completely unintentionally. Tracy and I were going to get coffee and she asked if I ever thought about writing a story with werewolves. I had the whole story mapped out in the 15 minutes it took to get the brew. I figured I could create a whole new world and the idea intrigued the hell out of me.
So, since we are digging a bit, what is Durgan’s story? He is too prevalent not to have been inspired by somebody real.
I’ve never ‘known’ Durgan. I’ve known an amalgamation of Durgan. He’s kind of every asshole I’ve ever met all wrapped up into one big package.
The car crash scene has made more appearances than anything in the Talbot mythology. Is there something deeper to that story that you can and will share?
The car crash is real, it was not nearly as horrific as I’ve written it to be. But it was the first time as a teen I thought that I might not be as invincible as I once thought. So in a sense it was a death of a kind.
Talbot is all about his wife and family in the Fallout books, but he is kind of a man-whore in the others—The Spirit Clearing and Indian Hill—if there is (as I suspect) a lot of Tufo-Talbot connections, does Tracy ever slap you on the back of the head when she reads some of his female foibles?
At first I really had to convince Tracy that I was writing fiction, these were not true events. She gets it now, the only time she’s really questioned our marriage was after reading the Tim series.
Some of your critics have tossed around words like misogynistic, and I think one review said something like “racist” which I did not see at all in these books. Does that sort of thing ever bother you?
I’m not sure what the hell they’re talking about, I give EVERYONE shit. Male, female, white, black whatever, I don’t discriminate. Folks are going to see what they want to see I can’t stop them from that. I love women, I love people of all colors. I don’t see the person for the skin only what lies within. There are assholes of every race and creed, shit Durgan is white and I can’t think of a bigger jerk. I’ve learned in the anonymous world of the web folks will say just about anything, if I let it bother me then I’m in the wrong profession. Still though, some people need to get a life.
Since we have touched on it, do you think that society as a whole has actually become too over-sensitive? I am not saying that the old Bugs Bunny cartoons did not do a bit of stereotyping that might be inappropriate today, but does it seem like we have reached a point where there is too much finger pointing? Or do writers (and comedians and reality show contestants) just need to change for a kinder and gentler world?
I think people really are overly-sensitive. Now I’m not saying go out there and bash everyone, but come on, a joke is a joke there’s no reason to get everyone’s panties all in a bunch.
Tracy, can you share some of your secrets to promotion for all of the spouses that are there working to push their writer husband or wife to the forefront?
My background is in Real Estate. I use a lot of the same ways I use to sell houses to get his books out there. I also follow a couple of blogs and get news letters from KDP, Kobo and Nook. If something strikes me as being worth a try, I try it.
Can Tracy write stories…and will there ever be (like with Stephen and Tabitha King) a book by Tracy Tufo?
I have a hard time writing the grocery list.
Tracy, what is the hardest part about being married to a writer?
Hard?!Nothing hard about it. (he paid me to say that) I actually find it entertaining. I never know what world I’m going to end up in or where the day will begin. Definitely not boring.
Any parting words of advice?
If you plan on writing hire an editor! In fact look up the guys that’s hosting this interview he’s awesome! (He didn’t even pay me for that plug.) Thank you Todd for allowing me some time to play in your sandbox.
Other contacts/social media sites: