Writer, poet, actor, comedian, wrestler, and possible handyman; Mark is the MacGyver of writing and entertainment. Now give him a script, oil, a picture of Ronald Regan, pork, and let's see what he does with that now.
Sandee: Talk about what you are working on now and in the future?
Mark: Currently I'm working on my new book called "Heir To The Throne." This is the fourth and final book in my Ray Cycle Adventure series. The series involves children from Valparaiso, Indiana who go to another world to battle dragons. It runs in the line in what you would read in the LOTR and Narnia books. They're good books and I toned any of the violence down. I don't believe in excessive violence like books like The Hunger Games, which is about children killing children. I was saddened to see how many kids loved this series which gave out a negative message. I will never stoop down to a level like that in my books. If that's what it takes to see a million books, then I would simply walk away from the industry. I have at least 20-30 more books I want to write in the future. I try for two releases a year. What I'm writing next is a secret for now, but as my fans tell me at signings: My books are worth the wait.
Sandee: What keeps you going as a writer and artist?
Mark: What drives me most as a writer is the enjoyment I feel from creating characters and situations most people never go through in their lives. In my books I'm always asking "What if." I love writing fantasy and sci-fi the most because I'm not restricted to any ideas or characters I develop.
Sandee: You are multi faceted, what are some of your favorite things to work on?
Mark: I write almost any genre. I have written a sci-fi alien invasion book which is selling well in England on kindle called "The Day The Earth Cried." One of my fans told me that this book is sci-fi done right. That brought joy to my heart. I have written four fantasy books. The three Ray Cyle books called: Bunga, Tashla, and Rhysnor. Heir To The Throne will be the fourth and final book. I have written a horror short story book with my brother called "Journey Into The Unknown". Our second one together comes out in October called "The Second Journey Into The Unknown" I have done one poetry book called "The Storm Inside My Head." I have done one family Christmas book called "One Magic Christmas" where children are trying to reunite to stuffed bears that were separated at Christmas in a toy store. Another fantasy book called "The Creator's Game" where a young girl who is playing a video game gets sucked into it and has to play it for real. I currently have eight books in print, number nine coming out in October and number ten early 2015.
Sandee: If you weren’t doing today, what you are, what else or other line of work would you pursue?
Mark: If I wasn't writing today I would go back into acting. I have done nearly 60 stage plays in my life and was an extra in the movie "Moon 44" in the 80's. I also have done radio and television commercials, mostly car commercials for a local car lot. I also used to create haunted houses in Germany in the 80's and star in it as "Dr. Gore." I also was a drummer in a 80's heavy metal band called "Latem."
Sandee: What was it like in Germany being a hard rocker?
Mark: I loved rocking in Germany. Our band played on base a lot while I was a soldier and played for all the big events. We were involved in several band contest throughout Europe trying to gain fame, but circumstances slowed our progress and eventually we fell into similar problems like the Beatles. I did dream of being like Iron Maiden and Motley Crue, but I had fun while it lasted for the three years we were together.
Sandee: What do you think of horror in other country’s? In comparison to what they do in the US?
Mark: Comparing horror in other countries to here. Don't hate me, but horror is better in other countries. I love Asian horror and Italian horror the best. A few weeks ago I was with writer John Russo who wrote Night of the Living Dead and talked horror with him. He was one of the nicest guys I have ever met. I also had pictures taken with Tara Reid, Doug Bradley, Pinhead from Hellraiser, Nancy Allen from Robocop. This August I will be with Robert Englund, Bill Johnson, Leatherface, Traci Lords, Ashley Laurence, The Soska Sisters and some others. November I will be with Kane Hodder. Besides writing, I spend my life going to meet horror stars.
Sandee: Where do you ideas come from for any of your writing?
Mark: All my story ideas come mainly from my dreams and current events I see on the news.
Sandee: What are some of your favorite books and movie?
Mark: My favorite books or authors are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, John Saul, Robin Cook, Michael Palmer. My favorite movies of all time include, The Wizard of Oz, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Poltergeist, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Twister, Independence Day, and Gone With The Wind. My favorite books are the Narnia Books.
Sandee: What authors and directors inspire you?
Mark: I think Steven Speilberg is the best thing that has ever happened in our world. Most of all the movies I watch over and over have his name associated to it. The second one being James Cameron. You have to love The Terminator.
Sandee: When did this all start for you?
Mark: I started writing around 12 years of age, I'm 48 now. I have been creating the Ray Cycle Adventure series since then and worked on the first book for about 15 years before I thought I had finally got it right. The other books seemed to fall in place with the first book. Now I'm really excited about how the fourth book is coming along. I can't wait for my fans to read it. I also started doing stage plays as a young child and continued to do so for over 20 years. I had to retire due to health issues with diabetes, heart attack, severe sensory neuropathy, blackouts, and lack of energy. That takes a lot out of you, but I keep writing. It's what I love to do and live for, besides meeting celebs.
Sandee: How much of yourself do you put into your writings?
Mark: I pour a lot of my soul into my characters I write about. I feel every tear they feel, their depression, and their triumphs. This is how I know I have developed great characters to read about. I study people in the world also to learn how people act. This goes a long way in putting characters down on paper.
Sandee: Please tell me about One Magic Christmas. Where in the left field did that come from? (it’s so very different from everything else)
Mark: One Magic Christmas was one of those stories I developed because I believe all good writers, in one form or another, should write a Christmas story. I used to collect teddy bears, now I collect zombies and insects, and I wondered what it would be like if my teddy bears were good friends and went on adventures. That's where it all began. I took it one step further and asked myself if two of them are married and get separated. That's where the magic began. I needed a shop owner like you see in the old day and a back story about how the bears came to be. This one was a hit with the public. I sold two more of the books recently at my last auto signing and it's not Christmas time. That book was different for me, but it still had that fantasy feel to it. I have received several good reviews on that book.
Sandee: Favorite music, art and artists, comic books, comic book heros.
Mark: I love goth metal, Asian pop, and heavy metal. Bands like Cradle of Filth, Leaves Eyes, Nightwish, Tarja, Deathstars occupy my shelf. Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dokken, and Megadeth next to them. I also listen to soundtracks and new age when I write. They include Midnight Syndicate, Yanni, Tangerine Dream and others. Comic books I still love the Archies and anything scary. I love Wonder Woman and The Hulk. I love the movies out on Thor and all the others, but I'm not like the comic book people. I prefer horror. As a matter of fact, I own thousands of DVDs just on horror. I love it! Why don't I write horror? I have a werewolf story outlined called "Full Moon Story that was originally a short story I wrote when I was younger that my brothers are pushing me to write into a novel. I also have a secretive zombie project coming down the line. Last March I was with Lauren Cohan from the Walking Dead and got a picture from her. She was really nice and hopefully will be with her and the cast again next Feb in Chicago.
Sandee: What keeps you so grounded when you have you hand in so many different projects of different styles?
Mark: Writing comes naturally to me. It doesn't matter what genre or project I'm doing. I adapt and carry on. I prefer fantasy and sci-fi writing, but I go where my heart leads me. I don't let myself get restricted to any genre. I guess I enjoy writing about anything and everything. I realize most writers can't do that. I even have written some of the stage plays I have acted in over the years. I would love to turn some of my books into movies and direct them and help write the scripts. One Magic Christmas and The Day The Earth Cried are the ones I want to see in movies. The Day The Earth Cried could be a three day mini series if it is done right.
Sandee: What is a day in the life of you like?
Mark: When I sleep, I get up every day with 1,000 words on my mind. My goal is 1,000 words a day so I can watch movies and listen to music. I also spend a lot of time going to garage sales looking for forgotten treasures, books and DVDs. I write 5 to 6 days a week and spend the others catching up on things that need to get done. I also spend a lot of time on the road either doing signings.
Sandee: What, in life, brings you joy?
Mark: The things I look forward most in life is simply writing my next book, meeting my public, and knowing that I survived another day on Earth. I look forward every day, head held up high, and with my cane, take that next step forward into the unknown, and proving to myself and the world that the next best thing hasn't been written yet. I will have it finished by next year.
Sandee: So what can we look forward to now?
Mark: My brother runs my website at http://markcuscoailes.weebly.com. All my books can be purchased at amazon and barnes&noble.com. Late this year books can be purchased from the website also as soon as it is all set up. My brother have a horror short story book coming out this October. I put good messages in all my books. In Creator's Game it's about a bullied girl who finds herself when she gets sucked into a video game she's playing and has to play it in real time. In my fantasy series and write about strong young people to show them that anything is possible if you just believe in yourself. I hope that people discover the wonderful books I've written and take me as seriously as writers like C. S. Lewis and other famous writers. I hope readers realize that I'm a talented story teller and spread the word about my books. My brother promises to keep my website current or you can friend me on face book @Mark Ailes or like my page @Mark Cusco Ailes or Twitter @ Mark Ailes. I have 3 more auto signings scheduled for 2014. In 2015 Chicagoland will be added to my book tour and possibly The Days of the Dead convention in Chicago in November 2015. I do hope one day to be able to travel across America and the world with all my books.