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Overwhelmed by the Darkness

Mark TulliusTwisted Reunion is a collection of short horror stories. Did you know that you were going to publish them all in a collection or was that a decision made later?

I have always been a fan of short stories, with Stephen King’s collections at the top of my list. I was amazed by how much story he could tell in so few pages, how much I could care about a character. When I began writing, short stories were where I started, finding some success in selling (and giving) them to small magazines. My focus shifted to producing novels, but every once in a while I would allow myself a treat and knock out another story. Once I realized I had enough for a full collection, I began the daunting, yet enjoyable, process of rewriting all the stories, making sure they were something I’d be proud of.

One of my favorite stories is Woodshop Math. What is your favorite story from the collection?

I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed “Woodshop.” That story was a lot of fun to write, a little nod to Stephen King’s Carrie. One of the stories that always puts a smile on my face is “Surviving the Holidays,” but if I had to pick one I’d say “Book of Revelation.” Being so heavily influenced and inspired by King, I really enjoyed writing this homage that has “The Stand,” one of my favorite books, as a sort of character.

Why write horror stories? Why not write about rainbows and sunshine?

I must confess I’m no longer much of a fan of reading or watching horror. Most of the time, I’m a fun-loving, stay-at-home dad who likes to keep things peaceful and playful. But I do have my dark side, the part of my brain that won’t turn off, dirty and disturbing, usually best left unsaid. Writing these short stories satisfies that voice, and helps me deal with fears of death, disease, and all that fun stuff we pretend won’t ever happen to us or our loved ones. I’ve tried writing about rainbows and sunshine, but these stories always take a little turn, like in “Every Precious Second.” I love bringing cute little puppies, darling little boys, and sweet old ladies into my stories, but I have a very hard time keeping them alive. Perhaps we need to be overwhelmed by the darkness before we can truly appreciate the light.

Are there any stories that you left out of the collection for any reason; maybe because they were a little too twisted?

There were quite a few stories that didn’t make the cut for Twisted. Some were strong enough but too similar in subject matter while others were just too tame. And there were a couple that will never see the light of day because they are just too brutal, like “Bound to Suffer,” which incorporated Viagra, a naked man, rope to bind him to the bottom of a truck’s lift gate, and a very angry husband. This one was too painful to make it through.

Your book, 25 Perfect Days, was named IndieReader’s Best Indie Books of 2013, you have a sociology degree from Brown University, and you competed in Mixed Martial Arts. This creates the perfect recipe for you to write a book like Unlocking the Cage. What is that book about and what was your inspiration for writing it?

When I found myself fighting after college, I was often asked why I was doing it. I was never able to come up with an honest answer, so I decided to go on quite a journey, traveling to 25 states and talking with over 400 fighters, attempting to discover who they are and why they fight. Although I often struggled with having to give up so much of my time to the project because it took away from my fiction, it was by far the best thing I’ve ever done. Self-reflection, becoming physical, pushing limits, and learning new skills, has me more motivated and inspired than ever before. I can’t wait to present these powerful stories to the public and show them what MMA fighters are all about.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

This collection is composed of all the stories in Each Dawn I Die, Every One’s Lethal, and Repackaged Presents, plus two bonus stories.

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Twisted Reunion

Twisted Reunion5 StarsEven though this was way out of my normal reading gene I loved it! I did find myself rooting for ‘The doctor of death’ Mainly in ‘Each Dawn I Die.’ Vic was a player who purposely went after young naive virgins and then broadcasted their humiliation on his website. They had to face the shame of their mistake while he profited from it and moved on to the next naive virgin. That is until an angry encounter with an old lady that turned his life into his living hell he could not escape from, literally. He got exactly what he deserved. Not all are about ‘The doctor of death’, but they each have a very clear message that none of us can escape death.

In ‘Wrongside Tavern’ at first I was confused as to what Hank did, but as I continued to read the story I started to understand what he did. He had no real remorse for the human lives that were taken by accidents he was involved in. I had to admit that I literally laughed out loud when he tried to run from the girl and fell over a wagon. In the end though the victims got their justice even if it took them dying first to get it.

I was drawn in by each story and the twisted endings. I especially enjoyed ‘Woodshop Math’. At first I thought ‘Oh great another weak girl’, but Sam impressed me. I am glad I kept reading and didn’t miss out on this. She didn’t resort to revenge on the bullies that tormented her, but she gave those jerks what they deserved and the fact that she did it to protect her best friend Tyler not caring about what she would face was very touching. It not only showed her strength, but how deep their connection went. Mark Tullius did a great job with this one in my opinion. This was very well done.

Those were just a few stories that are apart of this collection. There are many more that are just as entertaining as these three. For instantes there’s one about an artist who paints death in all its gory details. There’s many more like this and it’s hard to just chose one or two to write about. They all have to do with death on some level or another. It’s not always those that deserve it that get it either.

This is a fantastic and thought provoking collection of short stories that surprised me at every turn. Mostly dark horror stories, but all of the stories are a vehicle for Mark Tullius to showcase his skill at writing and bringing his imagination to life.  I look forward to reading more from Mark Tullius.

Buy Now From Amazon.comPages: 236 | ISBN: 9781938475184

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