This book is dark, and I’m afraid not at all so out there. I’d expect a brooding author to go with it, but I found him one of the funniest (not in a belly-laugh sort of way, but still funny) and most interesting guest I’ve had. Go ahead and see for yourself.
The story is Ain’t No Messiah (Tales of the Blessed and Broken Book 1) by Mark Tullius, a Psychological Suspense released February 5th.
From the day he was born, Joshua has found himself the recipient of death-defying miracles. His earliest memories include his own father proclaiming him the second coming of Christ. However, Joshua has wrestled with serious doubts about the validity of this claim all his life. How could he not, having survived a childhood filled with physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his earthly father.
Now, one way or another, Joshua is going to show the world who he really is.
“A compelling, if sometimes-lurid, picture of a faith gone wrong.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Ain’t No Messiah is a beautifully-written book about one man’s effort to find himself – and maybe even a bit of happiness – in a world bitter enough to greet even a supposed Messiah with abuse and scapegoating.” ~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader
Sometimes he’d take the blame, but most times he put it square on my back. One Sunday night, after a long day stewing over an almost empty church, Father grabbed my hand and yanked me along.
“You haven’t given the people the purity they deserve,” he said. “You’ve haven’t repented and begged God to cleanse your soul.”
Father opened the basement door and told the few homeless men to take my room. He shoved me down the stairs into the darkness. From the top of the stairs, he yelled, “I don’t hear no prayer!”
So I prayed. I said The Lord’s Prayer and a Hail Mary and some of the ones Father had written himself.
“Blessed God, I ask you to take your sword and slice off the infectious sins clinging to my mind and heart. Chop off the wickedness and rotten core of my body. Give me peace and purity. Make me perfection so that I can deliver your spirit.”
Father carried down the hard, wooden kneeler. He expected me to use it, but when he went upstairs I’d sit on my butt and act like I was suffering. It’s strange how your eyes adjust to the dark. That first night, I could hardly make out the stairs or walls. By the second night I saw spiders spinning webs and a whole line of ants devouring something the homeless guys had dropped. I couldn’t make out the demons, but I knew they were there.
Chatting with the Author
Mark Tullius is the author of Unlocking the Cage: Exploring the Motivations of MMA Fighters and dark fiction which includes Ain’t No Messiah, Twisted Reunion, 25 Perfect Days: Plus 5 More, Brightside, and the Try Not to Die series. An Ivy League graduate, Mark lists Chuck Palahniuk and Stephen King as the authors who most influence his own writing. He attests that attending Tom Spanbauer’s Dangerous Writing workshop marked the turning point in his career. In addition to his writing, Mark is the host of the podcast Vicious Whispers.
Mark resides in Southern California with his wife and two children.
Hi Mark, and thank you for being here.
What is something unique or quirky about you?
The cover of a novel I may someday finish is tattooed across my entire back. Each of the characters in the book and tattoo were created with the help of my family, and I spent most of those 80 hours in the tattoo chair doing actual writing. Perhaps those pain-filled writing sessions have something to do with my novels being full of profanity, death, and darkness.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you.
As a stay-at-home-dad of ten years, many might assume I live a pretty dull life. And they would be correct. Except for the time I got beat up by a UFC Heavyweight Champ for five minutes. And when I boxed with a broken hand. And the thousands of times I’ve been submitted in jiu jitsu.
The days of striking are behind me and my body is trying to make me give up grappling, but I’ll always have the stories. Until my memory goes thanks to the traumatic brain injuries.
What are some of your pet peeves?
I’ve always had a hard time determining my pet peeves, but only because I’m not sure what level of annoyance we’re talking about. I’d say I have tons of them. Answering this reminded me of my top three. Punctuation. Grammar. Rules.
Where were you born or grew up at?
I was born in Rosemead, California, a small city about 30 minutes east of Los Angeles.
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Death is often on my mind, which is why my writing tends to get a little dark. When I do my daily breathing exercises, I try to break my record for holding my breath by pretending it’s the last breath I’ll ever take. Nearly every time I imagine those last moments being surrounded by my family, sung to by my children, such a peaceful and fulfilling way to go.
But then there was the one time where things got a little crazy and I imagined I was partying my ass off in Vegas buried in a mountain of coke and surrounded by a dozen women. But that was the time my buddy slipped me some Ecstasy, so I don’t think that one should count.
Who is your hero and why?
It’s hard to say who my hero is, but that’s because my mouth’s full. Never should have tried answering this question while scarfing down a tub of peanut butter. There’s too much in my mouth to swallow so I’m just letting it melt. It might take a while and I don’t have anything to wash it down with. Told you it was a bad idea.
If you’re okay with me simply typing out who my hero is, then that’s a different story. But it also has a sad and disappointing ending, seeing how I can’t remember how to spell the hero’s name and he means so much to me that I would never risk misspelling it.
My wife would say to check my email contact list and my daughter would tell me to Google it, but neither one of them is here right now, and I’m ready for the next question.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
But my name would be even cooler.
Not sure what it is, but it would have to be awesome. I mean, I’m the ruler of the entire world. All these people having to do what I say when I say.
My son’s favorite name is King of the Evil, but I don’t want to bite off him, plus I’m not discriminating on Good or Evil. I’m controlling everyone.
And King isn’t strong enough. Ruler is okay but makes me think of schools and nuns and punishment. But punishment for wrong doing wouldn’t be bad. And not listening to me would be doing wrong.
For my title I’d like to work in Supreme or Ultimate, maybe even Almighty, because, like I said, we’re talking the world. There’ll be no one to mess with me.
Okay, we’ll figure out the name thing later. First step is getting appointed. Remember you can count on me to be the kind of leader the world needs.
What are you passionate about these days?
I try not to be too passionate about anything outside my family, my writing, and my hobbies. I used to be passionate about certain laws, social issues, and things good grown-ups try to improve, but it brought too much anger along with it. Now I see things through a filter and use my writing to work out the things I’d like to change.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
For the last 31 years, Cannabis has been one of the tools I’ve used to help me unwind and relax. I also use yoga, breathing exercises, jiu jitsu, and playing guitar, often in conjunction with the first tool.
How to find time to write as a parent?
It isn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be when I signed up for the job. I carry manuscripts and my trusted notebook nearly everywhere I go so I can take advantage of any time that arises.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less.
Determined. Crude. Caring. Reliable. Nonconformist.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Believing in myself as a writer has been a very difficult process. As a perfectionist I’ve struggled with calling myself an author. Although I’d written close to a hundred short stories before I published my first novel, Brightside, it was the book’s favorable reviews that gave me confidence in accepting the role as a writer.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I don’t have a favorite movie although Gladiator, Braveheart, and 7 are in my top ten.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
One of the most common responses I’ve had from readers is that Brightside needs to be made into a movie or television series. Now that the early reviews are coming in from Ain’t No Messiah, I’m beginning to hear the same thing. 25 Perfect Days: Plus 5 More would make for a great Sci-Fi series, and Twisted Reunion would be fit for a vehicle like American Horror Story. I’m currently developing an animated 3-minute clip for Try Not to Die: In Brightside and will be searching for the right agent who can help bring my work to people who love a good story but would rather not read.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
The only literary pilgrimage I went on was combined with my mixed martial arts project, so I didn’t feel like such a nerd. When I was working on my book Unlocking the Cage, I visited Maine as one of the 23 states I interviewed fighters. My first morning there I went on a guided Stephen King tour. King is one of my biggest influences so it was a real treat seeing the areas that sparked his stories and learning more about who he is as a person.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A big cuddly teddy bear. With blood dripping down its razor-sharp teeth.
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