Author Interview: ‘Exit 999’ by Mark Dossett

About the Book:

Writer and DirectorMark Dossett of the award winning indie horror film The Torment Of Laurie Ann Cullomoffers up his first short story. 

Unemployed 35 year old Shelton Lang is on his way to the Appalachian Mountains but a traffic jam on Virginia’s I-64 has different plans in store for him. While taking a detour through the small farming town of Gordonsville, he offers to lend a helping hand to an elderly woman.

But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished…..

Shelton soon finds himself trapped on her three acre corn field plantation.

He is then offered a way out by an evil presence but only if he completes a senseless task.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’m a filmmaker at heart and have been since I was 15 making home movies on a big Panasonic camera that you loaded VHS tapes into to record on. I was never a book reader. After my first indie film The Torment Of Laurie Ann Cullom got picked up by TERROR FILMS for distribution I met other filmmakers who were turning to writing as a way to get their stories out there without having to worry about trying to finance their next project. If film financing was easy everyone would be making films….not just youtube videos.

The beauty of writing is that anyone can do it… for free. You don’t have to worry about people leaving your project because they got a better paying gig last night. You don’t need insurance to blow up a building or sink a cruise ship with 3,000 people on it. You never have to worry about feeding your cast… because they don’t exist. You can get any location and prop you can dream of…for free. So it’s kinda like having an unlimited budget for any idea you can come up with. Essentially every filmmaker’s dream.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I write on my desktop using google dox. So it would be at my desk and late at night. I’m a night owl.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere…getting gas, waiting in the self checkout line at Walmart, cutting the grass. The ideas are usually just a quick scene. If I can then keep it going for a few days in my head then that is when I start to write it. Honestly… I can come up with tons of ideas in one day but they never flesh out. Ideas are easy but coming up with ones that can hold water for 200 plus pages is the hard part.

Stephen King tells a story about waiting outside an airport bathroom for his wife. He noticed that there were a bunch of other guys standing around waiting for their wives or girlfriends. He then started thinking…what if they don’t come out. What if they start sending in security, the police and then the national guard but no one ever comes out. He said he got about 200 pages into that idea and realized he still had no clue what was going on in that bathroom and scrapped the book idea. That happens to me…a lot!

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Actually it’s a little of both. The opening scene is always easy and usually I think I have the ending figured out before I start but once I sit down and start typing…that all goes out the window. I am what you call a pantser not a plotter. 

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Horror/suspense. It all goes back to movies. I would much rather watch a bad horror movie vs watching a bad drama. At least you can have a laugh making fun of the cheesy props and makeup or vfx. You can’t have that fun while watching a bad drama. So in other words I can spot my own cheesiness in writing horror or suspense. Drama bores me. Why… there is always a love story..even if it’s the B story. I hate those. I will never have two characters fall in love. I would much rather have them hate each other…it’s more entertaining for me. 

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Well…EXIT 999 is my first and only short story I have written and the lead character Shelton is me. From the Jeep Cherokee XJ he is driving down to the locations.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I do not read at all. The only book I am considering buying is Quentin Tarantino’s  Once Upon A Time In Hollywood..the novel. 

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Nothing at present.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

How about… what is my favorite movie and why? I would hands down say JAWS. But not for the reason most people think. The movie is about Sheriff  Brody and his fear of the water and monsters. He moved to Amity Island to escape the city and raise his family in a quiet safe place. Away from all the horrors of city muggings and murders. But it turns out he brought them right to a monster that is waiting just offshore. In the end he not only kills the shark but ends up overcoming his fear of the water. Great character arc and a movie that I will watch anytime it’s on.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

The best personal advice I can give is from a hard lesson I learned after finishing my first film. I spent so much time making sure the main character Laurie was likeable vs having her in more cat and mouse games with the stalker. I overdid it with the phone conversations.

You can have people like your character in one paragraph simply by having them do, say or think something that we can all relate to. A good character is one you care about or the very least can identify with. 

Tony Soprano from the tv show THE SOPRANOS is one of the best characters ever written. He was a mob boss that constantly cheated on his wife and murder anyone who got in his way but yet everyone loved the guy. Women and men.

One of the biggest reasons was his love of animals. Something everyone can relate to. The scene where he built a ramp for the ducks so they could get in and out his backyard swimming pool was so simple and brilliant. 

Stephen King calls it the GIVE A SHIT FACTOR. If no one gives a shit about your character nothing else matters.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

I am only on Goodreads:

www.goodreads.com/author/show/21939594.Mark_Dossett

About the Author:

With his vibrant imagination, dedication to his artistic soul and utter disdain for the phrase “you can’t do that” there isn’t much that Mark Dossett hasn’t set out to do as an artist. Self taught in the arts of music production, cinematography, cinematic lighting, sound, editing, screenwriting, directing and acting, he can now add self published author to the list.

After 10 years as a music producer creating remixes in Orlando and Houston he set his sights on filmmaking. His first independent feature length film The Torment Of Laurie Ann Cullom won the Best Actress Award at the Orlando Freak Show Film Festival in 2013 and was picked up for worldwide distribution by Terror Films. Mark has since gone on to act and direct in a handful of other films. 

In October of 2021 he created Pistolero Publishing and self published his first horror suspense short story Exit 999.

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