Mark is a successful affiliate marketer with several businesses boasting millions of dollars annually. He has created a fulfilling life, which he shares with his beautiful fiancé and a worldwide circle of friends. Certainly, this was not always the case. In this gripping tale, Van Stratum brings a once in a lifetime read of his experience growing up with one arm in a little town where he developed an anger at the world, hostility towards authority, and a criminal mindset. One day, after a violent robbery by rival drug dealers, he realized the path he’d chosen was only getting worse, he decided to change. Mark then learns an incredible skill set that enables him to get the most desired women in his bed. He offers very insightful lessons about dating, one-night stands, relationships, and personal growth. It’s where this journey takes you that will grip your heart. This story teaches that your behavior is both the cause of your problems and your success. It will make you believe, it’s never too late to change. Based on a True Story.
Mark van Stratum has agreed take the readers of ItsWriteNow.com through the roaming and roving true life expedition documented in his book ‘Drug of Choice’. Mark, thanks for stopping by to guide us through the odyssey you faced within the pages of ‘Drug of Choice’. I know I’m quite excited to hear about how this book unfolded in today’s interview and I was hoping that you might be able to kick us off by taking us back to those first steps in the peregrination within these pages. How did it all start?
Funny story. I went back to my old hometown to go to a concert. I met a few people from my past, and they talked to me like I was still the same person. As if I was a violent, drug-using criminal. But that’s not who I am. I didn’t recognise myself in the way they perceived me at all. I tried to explain to them how much I’ve changed and how I’ve done it. I told them that the way I was behaving in my teens and early twenties was only the result of a bad childhood, not because I was a bad person. I decided to change my life because I didn’t feel good about it at all. But they gave me a questionable look and took everything out of context. I heard from someone that he was convinced that I was actually a big time gangster in another country. He only saw my recent wealth and didn’t understand that I completely changed my mindset and behaviour, that I let go of all the anger and frustration and built a positive group of friends and just worked my ass off. He didn’t even believe me. It was ridiculous. At the same time, in my current life I sometimes try to explain to people where I came from and the things I used to do. Most of the times they don’t believe me – they think I’m joking, or they just don’t get it at all. Which was fine by me – I don’t like talking about it anyway. But it was just interesting to me that most people can’t even imagine it. The people from my past can’t imagine what my life looks like now. And the people from my current life don’t even believe me when I tell them where I came from. When I told my publisher, Jesse Krieger, about this, he told me that my story would make a great book. That’s why I started to write. After I sent my first draft to an author friend I know, he called be back the next day and told me he read it in one go, cover to cover. He came up with the logline: The Inspiring True Story Of The One-Armed Criminal Who Mastered Love And Made Millions. I worked on the book for almost a year after that.
I have to admit that the logline alone does pique the interest. And they always say that truth is often stranger than fiction. As this book is taken from your life, did you find that you had enough material to work with, or did you need to inject some additional aspects from outside the scope of your own ventures to make sure there was enough there?
The book is 100% based on my own life. It’s 34 years of research. I’ve used my expertise in dating science, Internet marketing, business, and my experiences dropping drug addiction.
Did you feel any sense of reward or perhaps recompense working through all of these fields of your past expertise during the process of writing this book?
I’ve come to see everything in perspective. It always felt unfair that so many bad things had to happen to me when I was a child. But now that my whole life is on paper, I see it all makes sense, it was for a reason. I have come to realise that things I learned in my darkest days actually came in handy in my career as a dating coach, and later as an affiliate marketer.
Now that you see everything in perspective do you feel like that there has been a great learning or takeaway that has illuminated itself for you that you hope the readers also recognise?
I really just wanted to do my best to make a cool story to read and at the same time inspire people to make the right choices. I want to show people that you aren’t defined by your past. And you should never let others tell you what you can or can’t do. Not your parents, not your teachers, not bullies in school… no one!
Not being defined by your past is a wonderful set of wise words to embrace. And I’m so glad to hear that you’ve left all of those negative voices in the past. I’d now like to take a few final minutes in today’s interview to shift from your past to the sometimes-surprising silliness of the quick fire question round. Let’s simply start with: If they made a movie from your book who would you choose to play the main characters?
I don’t want to rule anyone out :P
Good suggestion, let’s not eliminate some great talent too early. What is your favourite quote?
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes, which can be made, in a narrow field. – Niels Bohr
*Laughs* That often is so true. Now, this next question in my question set is generally a fairly straightforward question, but I’m still going to ask it in your case because I’m intrigued about your answer. Are you left or right handed?
I am originally right handed. But because I lost right arm in an accident when I was five, I’m left handed now ;)
Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
Haha, probably not :P
*Laughs* That honesty is not a bad asset on a quiz team. At least you know your weaknesses. What is your zodiac sign?
What is your favourite ocean?
Did you find pirates there, I would love to know. Are you introvert or extrovert?
I can be both.
Have you ever danced in the rain?
All the time.
To me it feels like the rain hitting the ground is a wonderful form of applause from nature congratulating you those wonderful dance movies. So I’m glad to hear that you’re always indulging. And finally, for the win. Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
If you change your behavior, you’ll change your results.
Wise words, they are. Mark, thank you so much for sharing some snippets of your safari through life so far today, and I hope that readers take the opportunity to pick up ‘Drug of Choice’.