Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Bookish Conversation with Mark McCullough, author of 'Vienna's Will'

Mark McCullough is the author of the true story, VIENNA’S WILL. He began writing his story over twenty years ago and was encouraged by family and friends to complete the book. “Since its release, I have bonded with others who have had similar experiences and have found that the concept of perhaps helping someone else is not only an amazing feeling, it has helped with my own growth and understanding of what is truly important as well.”

Mark worked in the pool and spa industry for eighteen years then turned to his true passion of helping others. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys spending time with his dog and going to the movies or the local pizza joint with his daughter, Vienna.

For More Information

Title: Vienna’s Will
Author: Mark McCullough
Publisher: Createspace
Pages: 254
Genre: Memoir

New author, Mark McCullough, shares his inspirational journey through chronic depression and addiction in VIENNA’S WILL ( After struggling for years to control the negative thoughts that he attempted to quiet with drugs and alcohol, Mark’s life changes when he finds the unconditional love of a little girl and her mother.

In April of 1992, Mark McCullough’s distraught parents delivered their twenty-five-year-old son to Butner Federal Prison after he committed a bank robbery. The court had arranged for the prison to complete a psychiatric evaluation of the troubled young man. Mark had intended for the crime to result in his death.

The author explores a lifetime battle with depression that was a result of sexual abuse by men he trusted and cared for as a child. At ten years old, Mark was obsessed with playing baseball and greatly admired his coach, who treated him like a son. The young boy’s first experience with betrayal came one afternoon when the coach molested him. Mark held the secret of the abuse inside, and it fed his depression for years to come. Later, when Mark was attending a Catholic high school, a priest befriended him and soon revealed his true intentions for forming the relationship.

The anguish of abuse and depression that Mark suffered drove him deeper into a life of drug and alcohol dependency. When Mark moved to Boston to attend college, he dropped out of school after attending one class. Thereafter, Mark spent his time seeking his next high and a place to sleep at night. He sold drugs to support his habit, until one day a friend persuaded him to return home before his addiction killed him.

After returning home, the drug use continued and Mark became suicidal. The plan he conceived that was supposed to lead to his death landed him in prison instead. During the time that Mark spent in prison, he faced anxiety and violence, but he also found companionship, as well as support from the psychiatrist responsible for his evaluation.

Mark continued to struggle with his addiction and depression for several years after his release from prison. Then he met the woman who would become his wife and her then four-year-old daughter, Vienna. Mark credits them with changing his life. The love of his daughter, Vienna, pulled Mark from the darkness and renewed his gratitude for his life and his family.

Mark’s decision to share his story of addiction, abuse, and mental illness came after many years of keeping secrets from his family and loved ones. “Some of the experiences I speak of in the book, some of the things I thought would stay hidden within me forever, needed to be spoken about and explained to people in my life who care about me and love me.”

The author hopes that VIENNA’S WILL will shed light on sexual abuse, addiction, and depression and help other people to face these issues in their lives and in the lives of others. Mark says, “So much of what happens in the book has, in some way, affected a great deal of people in our society, but they feel resistant to express it or discuss it. Whether it’s them personally, a friend, a family member, or even a coworker, if the book inspires them to help themselves or others, it will have served its true purpose.”

In VIENNA’S WILL, Mark reveals that the love and support of his family, especially from his daughter, Vienna, has been a powerful catalyst in his recovery and his decision to embrace life after so many years of enduring emotional hardship. The author states that he often “smiles at the thought of a child and her unconditional love being strong enough to overcome all the events of the past.”

For More Information

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing? 

I work in the Pool and Spa industry and I spend as much time as I can with our large array of animals.

When did you start writing? 

I started when I was 28 as a way to vent and express the things I struggled to convey verbally.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life? 

Just making the commitment to actually follow through with it. I had written a lot through the years but actually have your own book in your hands was something I wasn’t sure I would ever accomplish.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why? 

Cape May, NJ. It’s always been a source of great pleasure and inspiration for me.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do? 

I would spend it at the park with my dogs and my daughter, Vienna. With our current schedules, there never seems to be enough family time.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet? 

Ireland. My mother always dreamed of going there so doing research for a story there would be amazing.

Back to your present book, VIENNA’S WILL, how did you publish it? 

I self-published through Createspace. They were great to work with and the whole process was seamless.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research? 

No. It’s a memoir, so all I had to do is go back into my past and re-visit events and moments both good and bad that had occurred.

Why was writing VIENNA’S WILL so important to you? 

I got very sick a few years ago and it became very important to me to share my past with my loved ones. I wanted them to better understand me and the person I had become. I also became inspired to not only change my outlook and viewpoint on life, but also hopefully help others to do so as well.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is? 

I think I’m like a lot of others that get their best ideas through using their imagination. We are all capable of creativity and originality if we leave ourselves open to it.

Any final words? 

I strongly encourage everyone with a painful past to write it all down. You will be amazed at how it starts to lose its power over you with each page you write and how much stronger you will feel as a person.

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