Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mark Zaslove Author Interview

Photo Content from Mark Zaslove

Mark Zaslove – in case you were wondering

Who is this Mark Zaslove fellow and why did he write this book?

Seriously, one can’t be too careful in researching authors in this age of false pretenses and fake appellations. So here goes…a long-standing writer/director/producer, Mark is a live-action and animation entertainment industry veteran, working in both movies and television. He’s done time – scratch that – created content for all the major studios, including Disney, Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing/producing, Mark also won the Humanitas Prize (for writing uplifting human values in television and movies – go figure). He also writes short fiction and right after college (where he studied astrophysics), he served as senior editor on various magazines including a couple for the notorious LFP, Inc.—google it—but from there he went to “Winnie the Pooh,” so his karma is still cool.

Finally, one day, he got fed up with the rigorous structure of scriptwriting and everyone giving him notes and decided: “WTH! Time to stretch my legs, step on the gas and write a novel for the sheer fun of it!” And voila, almost before you could say “Death and Taxes,” the book was done. What’s more, it’s just the first in a series of fast-paced thrillers following the escapades of IRS agent Mark Douglas and his band of merry revenuers as they bring justice to those in great need of same, while collecting your Federal dollars along the way. Hey, for both Marks, it’s a living.


Tell us your latest news.
After years and years of writing scripts for TV and movies, I finally broke out of the prison-structure that is Hollywood to do this novel DEATH AND TAXES! (SFX of CHEERS and APPLAUSE – oops, maybe I haven’t gotten Hollywood completely out of my system.)

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I was always a prose writer before a script writer, but then, well, fell into scripts, so J.D. Salinger (for narrative form), James Joyce’s short stories (for perfect structure), F. Scott Fitzgerald (for enthusiasm) – those are three of my biggest influences; otherwise, it’s just me and my keyboard. And, I read EVERYTHING.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I’m hoping they’re thinking: This is fun! I really like these characters (especially the mangy dog), and I hope I can spend more time with all of them.

Did you learn anything from writing DEATH AND TAXES and what was it?
I learned that I LOVE prose and the freedom that comes with novel-writing. Doing this book (and starting two other novels, a sequel to DEATH AND TAXES called DECLARE THE PENNIES and a serious book) was pure unadulterated Braveheart freeeeeeedom for me.

For those who are unfamiliar with Mark, how would you introduce him?
He’s a bonified hero because he’s loyal, capable, funny and, most importantly, not an idiot. He reacts like a competent, intelligent person would in a given situation, and not a pawn in a writer’s sweaty claw (er, hoof, no, hand…I get my appendages mixed up sometime when I’ve just awoken and haven’t had my coffee yet).

What part of Lila did you enjoy writing the most?
Lila’s based on quite a number of women I’ve known: super-smart, talented and aware of their good looks, but immune to their importance – they think it’s rather funny they have them, but will use them, like any tool, when necessary. Lila came out of all that plus I added this laser-focus and a habit of collecting billionaires for short periods of time because it was just plain easier than dealing with broke actors/musicians. So, she was easy to relate to as I already sorta knew her.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Mark Douglas’ adopted-against-his-will old, mangy, blueberry-vodka swilling ex-Mexican drug-sniffing dog El Repollo (The Cabbage…don’t ask) to Old Yeller. Reppy would teach that “dingy yellow” dog how not to roll over and just let them shoot him. He’d radicalize Old Yeller and take over that ranch at the end instead of getting shot: “No Dogs, No Masters!”

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Originally Fitzgerald and Salinger more than any (not “Catcher in the Rye” but the short stories and Glass novels) and then a bit later Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” had a great influence in setting the bar to shoot for with my serious work.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?

In writing: throw out all the “rules” and try to learn how to write truth instead of what you think you should write.

What book/s would you recommend for others to read?
Of recent books I’ve read, Amor Towles’ “A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel” surprised me with some very lovely writing, though the book lacked a strong overall statement or motivating through-line, kind of a lightweight Collette meets Wodehouse. Haven’t seen competent wordsmithing in a while and it was a pleasure to read.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
I’ve absolutely NEVER wanted to be anyone but myself, but I did have a very, very brief fascination with Bob Fosse – the sheer creativity and talent (and, like, I can’t dance, though I’ve taken lessons) and his destructive but interesting life-style and the women. So, maybe him, just for the fun of it. Of course, it was probably awful being around the guy as he sounded like a pain-in-the-backside, but he would be a nice vacation for me to take.

What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving! I love cooking the full spread and going face-first into it when it’s done. And I’ve had very funny times (often drunkenly) cooking the meal for and with friends – “A little sherry for the bird, a little sherry for me, a little more sherry for the bird…heck, why’s that bird getting so much sherry? Give me that sherry!” – and every year I can’t wait for it to come around. And it’s a four-day holiday, so I can almost take it off (as a writer I work seven days a week, usually).

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
Boy, I have almost no regrets, so going back isn’t something I contemplate. For personal reasons, I might go back to my 30’s (which were dang fun and involved Ferraris, 101 different single-malt scotches and some great island vacations), but also there are some hardships my son had to go through that I might go back and rectify, which the knowledge I’ve learned in hindsight could have accomplished. Still, my son’s the best thing ever in my life, so maybe tampering with the space-time paradox wouldn’t be for the best. I kinda like where I am now!

What were you doing at midnight last night?
Sleeping: I like getting up early and getting to work; by noon I’ve either written an 11-minutes cartoon script, ten pages of a live-action movie script or five pages of a novel (or a few of the above), and then I can do busywork and train and stuff for the rest of the day. Though on New Moon Saturday nights I go up to the mountains and do astrophotography, which, at midnight, I’m just getting some good shots and am up till dawn.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
There were some dang great concerts in the 60’s that I wish I could have seen, so probably then. I would have liked to have caught the Velvets, and the Stones, Peter Green’s version of Fleetwood Mac, Love Sculpture, Taste, Janis, really early Zep (before they got too bombastic), Otis Redding, Otis Rush, and the list goes on….

Where can readers find you? is my hang-out-able site, on FaceBook (I can even chat on FB):, on Twitter:, Instagram:, and non-Starbucks coffee shops (though I like to roast my own) all over West Los Angeles (and will go out for a drink if you’re paying).

1. A dog’s head on a stick. A collie, I think—the cloud of iridescent blowflies made it difficult to tell. Fido was impaled in the front yard like a decomposing totem pole, right next to the burnt-out shell of a Cadillac-green 1978 Camaro GTO, about five yards upwind of the rusted kissing gate.

2. Wooly Bob is anything but wooly. He’s egg-bald on top and shaves his eyebrows for effect. He’s like a plastic man, all smooth and otherworldly. He says he does it for the “chicks,” who he claims “like ’em shaved.” I think he’s just weird, but he’s one of my boys, so what can I say?

3. Rising to his feet like some aging mammoth, Harry pulled up his two companions as he stood. One, an extremely cute brunette with a silly, apologetic smile, dressed in a silver-spangled short skirt that barely came down far enough down to keep her warm, a black leotard with a revealing scoop in front, and a black matador’s jacket. The other, dressed in white tie and tails, complete with top hat. Christ, the circus had come to town.

And that’s how I met Devon Pontac. She was born-and-bred Boise, with the Great Zibaldo being her ticket out of the desolation that was Idaho. The name came from a mother with a yearning for fine butter and no other vision in life than to have her daughter grow up and be...special. But in a good way. Devon a good way. But that came later; at the moment, I held the wrist of a magician in one hand and wasn’t completely sure of what to do.

4. Lila was a helluva looker and even more a helluvan auditor. I’m talking one of those librarian-with-the-glint-in-her-eyes kinda sexy, all gray business suits, with a hint of lace, thick hair pulled back, perfectly polished nails trimmed short, and a man’s wristwatch that looked like it cost more than my car. Thousand-watt smile. Short in that fun-at-the-beach, yellow-polka-dot bikini way. And nuclear-physicist smart.

Lila had every tax-code, federal and state, brailed in her brain and could calculate faster freehand than I could on my laptop. I once saw her, called as an expert witness, tear a shyster CEO into itty-bitty corporate pieces, knowing more about the inner workings of his multibillion dollar company than his own accountants. When the poor moron’s lawyer tried to lay a little pressure on her, she cited chapter, verse, and line of the lawyer’s past six years’ income taxes—including his so-called deductibles for his “secretary,” the tax shelter he’d sheltered from everyone, his wife included—and promptly booked him for an audit and payback schedule. The judge would have said something but was too smart—everyone refuses to declare this or that, even judges. No, Lila could look like a sex kitten, and she went through men like a chipmunk through pistachios, but deep in her dollar-green soul, she was God’s own bookkeeper and the backbone of our department. 

5. Devon found a bigger cage off in the corner with a bigger dog in it. Or what was left of a bigger dog. Old, with bronchitis—the pile of fur and bones gave a death rattle cough—only six teeth, crazy jibbity-jibbity eyes, mange over the back half of its skeletal body, and a yellow-brown crust on its muzzle that looked like regurgitated liver. Its own liver. Devon fell in love immediately.

“That’s the one! Isn’t he a lover?” The dilapidated canine began a long, drawn-out series of coughs punctuated with a sneeze that rocked the room. “Aw, he likes me!”

6. Rodney T. Gloucester dearly loved a clean collar and a sharp crease in his pants. I knew this because the Fed wonk, Daniel “Tightass” Juarez, had shown me surveillance photos of Rodney from all times of day and night ad nauseam. Clean collar. Creased pants. Period. Even shorts, bathing suits, and from one fuzzy telephoto-lensed pic, underwear.

7. “Juju Klondike? What the hell kind of a name is Juju Klondike?”

“He’s a killer eunuch,” Juarez explained, tight-lipped and nervy.

I squeegeed my ear with a forefinger. “Come again?”

“No cash and prizes. Without the family jewels. Joey and the twins are missing. The wedding tackle has gone the way of the buffalo. He’s crotchless in the crotch; nuthin’ from nuthin’ leaves nuthin’.”

Juarez looked unstoppable at that moment, rolling freely with the verbal dice.


“Captain Winkey and his two first mates have gone AWOL.”

I held my hands up. “Okay, okay—enough with the euphemisms. I get the picture.”

8. The funeral looked like a Forbes Who’s Who of billionaires. Lila never slummed when she could go first class. Acres and acres of black Armani, Missoni, and Zenga dotted the immaculately kept lawn like a Milan fashion show for the dead. The kind of limos that weren’t rented following the hearse in Blue Angel formation perfection. Dialects from around the world all murmuring to each other in ritual and sadness. Lila shining-starred even in death.

9. Winky’s Snack’n’Dine smelled like the 1950s on a crew-cut summer day, complete with Studebaker leather interiors, liquid-blue barbershop combs, and tighty-whitey, nut-hugger Fruit-of-the-Looms. Juarez sat at the booth like a bear shitting in the woods, sucking a malted through a straw with the vigor of a middle-aged hooker at a Shriners after-convention party. There was a banana royale in mid-consume and an order of steak fries submerged in Heinz strategically resting on the table. He motioned to me with a spoon, still doing the bottom-of-the-glass on the malted.

10. Aroon Kumaar Vijah Smith—fingers steepled before his horse-long, reenactment-of- the-Battle-of-Plassey face, eyes peering over the top like hyenas on a sweltering Serengeti day—sat in sway in his chair, waiting for me to contend with his query. His tie fiercely glowed Orange Crush, which distracted me from the question: “How will you contrive a union between the Mongolian syndicate and your two criminal siblings without losing the reins of control? You have forewarned the Gloucesters. Will they not go to ground?”

Death and Taxes follows Mark Douglas, an ex-Marine turned IRS agent, who, along with auditing the weird and the profane, also spearheads weekend raids with his locked-and-loaded gang of government-sanctioned revenuers, merrily gathering back taxes in the form of cash, money order, or more often than not, the debtor’s most prized possessions.

Things turn ugly when Mark’s much-loved boss and dear friend Lila is tortured and killed over what she finds in a routine set of 1040 forms. Mark follows a trail dotted with plutonium-enriched cows, a Saudi sheik with jewel-encrusted body parts, a doddering, drug sniffing, gun-swallowing dog named The Cabbage, a self-righteous magician with a flair for safecracking, a billionaire Texan with a fetish for spicy barbecue sauce and even spicier women, and an FBI field agent whose nickname is “Tightass.” All of which lead to more and bloodier murders – and more danger for Mark.

Enlisting his IRS pals – Harry Salt, a 30-year vet with a quantum physical ability to drink more than humanly possible; Wooly Bob, who’s egg-bald on top with shaved eyebrows to match; Miguel, an inexperienced newbie with a company-issued bullhorn and a penchant for getting kicked in the jumblies – Mark hunts down the eunuch hit man Juju Klondike and the deadly Mongolian mob that hired him as only an angry IRS agent can. There will be no refunds for any of them when April 15th comes around. There will only be Death and Taxes.

You can purchase Death and Taxes at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MARK ZASLOVE for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive a Copy of Death and Taxes (Tales of a Badass IRS Agent, #1) by Mark David Zaslove. 


  1. I spend my free time walking and reading.

  2. I look after my Mum 24/7 but when I do have a moment I read, sing and potter about in the garden.

  3. I spend my free time with my family and also reading.

  4. I still play pokemongo so I do tons of walking on my two days off (plus I do walk to work and play then as well) I read, and i garden

  5. I spend my free time reading and entering book contests.

  6. I enjoy playing Euchre online.

  7. I like to spend my free time reading.

  8. I spend my free time walking the dogs and doing yard work.