I'm super-excited to be interviewing one of my favourite ever zombie authors, Mark Tufo. Mark is the writer of the Zombie Fallout series, and you can read my review of Zombie Fallout #1 (#5 will be published soon!) HERE
Welcome to The Aussie Zombie, Mark – why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi all, first off Katherine thank you for this opportunity, most folks after dealing with me have generally had enough! I will try unlike my main character to keep this short and not stray too far from the original question. I’m a former Marine, from a blue collar family, most of my life I found myself in the blue collar fields until I went back to school and decided to ’get ahead’ in the white collar world. It didn’t work out quite as well as I had expected. This answer leads directly into your second question.
Why did you decide to write a zombie book?
I wrote Zombie Fallout because I had once again been laid off from my ‘getting ahead’ white collar job. I was driving my wife nuts, I was stressed out, couldn’t sleep and was reading tons! One morning after a marathon reading session, I came downstairs and told my wife that I had read a decent zombie book but that I thought I could do better. Honestly I was kidding, but then she came back with ‘Then why don’t you.’ I also think that she was kidding but if it gave her ten free minutes from me bothering her than it was worth it.
Did you intend Zombie Fallout to become a series when you first started writing?
Zombie Fallout in its original scope and breadth was a one and done book. I had everything planned out exactly how I wanted it to unfold, I was halfway writing that first book when I realized that absolutely was not going to happen. One book quickly became three, so as I was halfway writing what I originally intended as the third book in the trilogy, I knew I would need a 4th, and then a 5th (and yes now a 6th). I’ve had a few readers actually berate me telling me that I was prolonging the story on purpose. That has no validity at all, I had an author friend tell me that I should just keep writing and when the story is done it’s done (but maybe stay away from calling them trilogies).
How did you come up with the idea of the Zombie Queen?
Eliza, is a friggen enigma even to me. When that creepy zombie girl/woman was standing in the field across from Little Turtle she was not Eliza (at least not as we know her now). Her and Tommy/Tomas where NEVER part of the original design. In fact Tommy was supposed to die on the Wal-Mart roof that very first night. I don’t have a clear explanation other than their characters took over and became who and what they are now.
Are the characters in Zombie Fallout based on anyone you know personally?
When I first started Zombie Fallout, I really never expected it to be read by anyone else but me, so I started with familiar names and people. So yes the majority of the people at the beginning are loosely based on real people. You write what you know. But at this point there is no way I could have predicted how any of those characters would have reacted at any given point along the way.
Sell me Zombie Fallout in 25 words or less.
This is more than a zombie book, it is about the bonds of family and friends and what one man will do to protect them.
Which is your favorite book in the Zombie Fallout series? Which was the most fun to write?
Just so you know this is like picking a favorite kid, BUT ZF4 is my favorite. It is the first story I wrote without showing anyone (except my editor) until it was released. ZF1 however was my favorite to write, I had no expectations associated with it, it was written primarily for me.
Zombie Fallout 4 was released at the end of 2011 – do you have a plan for Zombie Fallout 5?
Zombie Fallout 5: Alive in a Dead World, should be available in ebook format by April 1st. (I’m notoriously bad at deadlines though)
How and where do you write? Do you have a specific routine?
It used to be a much more constricted routine. When I was working for ‘the man’ I only wrote on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. When I first started to work for myself, I found that I could concentrate the best in between 10 am and about 4 pm. And now, I don’t know what the switch was but I can pretty much write at any time of the day. Oh and one huge thing! I have to have music cranked! I don’t know why other than maybe it keeps me focused on the task at hand, so when I write late at night I’m usually bebopping with head phones on.
What have been your best and worst experiences as a writer?
I don’t even have to think for a second about the ‘worst’ I had just put ZF1 out on amazon, and I got a couple of good reviews and then ‘bam’ I started to get slammed by the grammar police and other critics. I was starting to get some openly hostile reviews, I’m not kidding when I say I was a key stroke away from pulling the plug on the whole experiment. I was like ‘Who needs this *hit!’ It was an early reader (Rich Baker) that actually pulled me away from that precipice.
As for the best experience…honestly Katherine it is each and every time a reader contacts me. I can think of nothing more satisfying to know that there are folks out there that genuinely enjoy my books.
Who/what is your writing ‘’inspiration’’?
I’ve been a reader forever so it’s hard to give credit to just one person, but Stephen King has been a favorite of mine for so long. And another story that has stuck with me since I was a kid is called The White Mountain trilogy by John Christopher, I’ve always wanted to spin as good a yarn as those authors.
If you could say anything to your readers and fans, what would it be?
Thank you, you folks are the reason I write. I appreciate each and every one of you! (Party at my house!)
Early Bird or Night Owl: Night Owl (mostly)
Mountains or Beach: Mountains!
Sun or Snow: Snow, lots and lots of snow!
Coffee or Beer (homage to Mike Talbot!): Brutal question, if I honestly had to pick one over the other it would have to be coffee.
Cereal or Toast: Cereal (anything peanut butter flavored) (And no I do not like peanut butter on my toast, yes my wife thinks I’m nuts because of that and about a hundred other things)
So its looks like we'll be having a party at Mark's winter mountain retreat late into the night! A massive Thank You to Mark for taking the time for this interview.
If you're a lover of zombie books, or if you've never read a zombie book before and want a great place to start, track down a copy of Zombie Fallout - I'll bet you $5 you'll become as addicted as I am!
Want to learn more about Zombie Fallout or Mark Tufo? Check out the blog.