Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Author Massimo Marino


Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.
Thanks for the opportunity to be with you and your readers. I'm Italian, or should I say, Sicilian. Palermo is my home town and I left it in 1986. I now have lived more years abroad than in Italy. Needless to say, I have changed in many and different way than my old friends there.
I lived in Switzerland, France, and the United States. For work, I used to travel some 500,000 air miles a year. I am a scientist as a background, having spent over 17 years in fundamental research. Most of my writing are academic stuff. I worked for many years at CERN, near Geneva-an international lab for particle physics research-then in the US at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In 1995 I moved to the private sector, worked with Apple Inc., and then for the World Economic Forum.
Some say I have acquired a multifaceted personality.
I wrote for many years, though it was academic stuff. Since my teen years I have written novelettes and short stories that ended up in a drawer every time and then lost and destroyed. Very few have ever read those. Daimones, is the first fiction to see the light and that can be read. It is part of a planned trilogy, the "Daimones Trilogy".
Sometimes it was difficult to keep the pace and write everything. I have to say that the first draft was about 125,000 words. The published novel is around 93,000.
There will be a whole sequel in the universe that it is building up after Daimones events and they are the matter for the sequel "Once Humans" and the third volume, with an embryo of a plot but as yet without a title.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Daimones, my first novel, spurred by finding on the net an amazingly long series of inexplicable death of animals. Nothing can be pointed at as cause for these events while most of those facts share common aspects. Intriguing...what if... The thoughts developed into a post-apocalyptic novel with an ongoing mystery and suspense till the end, where all "dots connect", especially with the main character's past.

Do you have a specific writing style?
Have I? I don't know really. I am still in the discovery phase. For the time being I'm collecting readers' reactions to my style and what I hear pleases me. I like a direct, simple, unembellished writings. The readers' imagination has to be part of the story. Lots of details are left to readers. I believe in stimulating with what's written and with what's hidden at the same time. Maybe what's hidden is even more important.

How did you come up with the title?
Daimones is an evocative term in ancient greek. It provides roots to 'gods' and 'demons' at same time. It also means those who shine with inner light. These entities are not good, nor evil. They're beyond those categories, and they are difficult for humankind to understand. It fits the story.

How much of the book is realistic?
Daimones uses real facts about the deaths of scores of animals with an added "what if" to provide an explanation to current and past events. All animal deaths events are taken from journalistic reports and facts happened around the world. The setting is as real as it can be, as well as the descriptions of the scenery. One reader described the novel as "an apocalyptic tour of Geneva."

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes, but I will not divulge any details. Most of what is seen by the main character in the story comes from real experience. Some scenes are inspired by events happened to others in their own lives. The rest, started in my imagination and hopefully grows and ends in the readers'.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose I would like to have Stephen King as mentor. Not because I consider him as having a particularly brilliant prose and lyrics but because he knows how to trigger emotions into the readers, make their imagination work and filling the gaps of what he's not saying. I think King has mastered the art of knowing what not to write in the story so that the reader is guided to become a part of it.

What book are you reading now?
I am reading "Worlds of Wonder - How to write Science Fiction & Fantasy" by Davig Gerrold. Then "Analytics at Work" by Thomas Davenport, but that is for professional reasons, then "The God delusion" by Richard Dawkins, re-reading "Lezioni Americane" by Italo Calvino, and "Le Nozze di Cadmio e Armonia" by Roberto Calasso. My wife says I do not read enough, and she wins by far in comparison…

What are your current projects?
Finish the second volume in the trilogy, "Once Humans", so I know what happens until the last man/woman on Earth leaves this life.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
In my writing? Or an entity in general? I think one of the Daimones took me under his wing years ago and then let me know it was time to write this story.

Do you see writing as a career?
I intend to make readers happy to buy a book of mine, knowing that they will be gifted with good reading moments and able to evade in worlds that start in my imagination and end into theirs. If that turns out they'll be so many so I could do just writing and making readers happy it will be godsend.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, and not because it is a perfect story, those are a myth. Even the parts that have been criticized are acclaimed by other readers, and it has been written as such for their reasons. Various readers have already grasped those.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Writing didn't come as something like 'when I'm older I want to be a pilot'. You wouldn't ask someone "what made you want to be a walker?" or a "food eater". I write, I walk, I sleep, I watch a movie. It is a natural thing. Over a year ago I decided that I wanted to be read. That's different. What made me want to be read? The discovery that I could share the pleasure I had while writing with others. I could gift pleasant reading moment to those venturing in the world I create. I wanted to share good time.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I'm writing the sequel to "Daimones". In the sequel, greed makes surface again, and the blur between good and evil becomes evident. I'm treating the theme that opposites justify each other. We perceive light because we know about darkness. We understand good because we have seen evil, the Ying and Yang, positive and negative which twists continuously and yet, each has the seed of the other.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I am a planter, not a plotter. Which means the story grows independently and I am its first readers. I've watched Daimones in my mind, heard characters discussing and reacting to what happened to them as in a movie. Sometimes I was unable to write as fast as the images flow I witnessed. The story and the characters had a life of their own. The scary part is that it is like driving at night in an unchartered territory, and you can see only as far as your headlights go.
The amazing thing is that you can reach your destination that way, even if sometimes you take a wrong turn. Sometimes the wrong turn is a great twist in the story.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I'm afraid I don't have a favorite author. My favorite is always the one I read at the moment. I grew up reading sci-fi, so all the big names mostly, from Isaac Asimov to Ray Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, to name just a few and then other genres too, Tolkien, Stephen King, Tom Clancy and others. Italian authors, too, like Svevo, Calvino, Sciascia, and also Greek mythology authors, the ones I used to hate at school and that are instead fantastic writers and authors. We live with myths daily, even if we do not realize it.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, not at all. If ever, traveling because of my books haven't started yet J

Who designed the covers?
It is a picture of a Suisse photographer. It fits perfectly with the story and I bought the copyright for my novel.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing - The End --. I didn't want to leave my people, their world, their hopes and their hearts. So, after a little while I wrote "-The beginning -". These are the last words in "Daimones".

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I found that I might survive as the main character did, and discover the same things he did, and become a different man.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
There is no road, for how long and impervious, that can stop a one-step-at-a-time journey. Be persistent and fulfill your dreams. I still have to fulfill never despair. And write, a lot, it is the best way to learn how to write.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Being an Indie writer is difficult. Indie writers have a stigmata, they are considered to be lazy amateurs that do not deserve to be published. So...when you have found an Indie writer who gave you great reading moments, promote the book, write a review, suggest the book to your friends, comment on a blog, send a 'thank you' letter. Help that writer write another book.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Well, not much research, today with online information there is actually too much to sift through. The biggest challenge in bringing "Daimones" to life was deciding not to leave it in the drawer to face the same fate as all the other stories. I joined a beta-readers group online. The reactions were extremely encouraging, with people from all paths of life telling me that the story was good, captivating, the characters real and that I was crazy to only think about leaving the story just for myself. That was a real watershed moment.