Please welcome today's guest author J.C. Marino! J.C. is the author of Dante's Journey and is currently working on Everything but the Face and Air.
EJ: When did you begin writing?
JC: I have to confess, I really don’t remember when I started writing. As long as I can remember, I was always trying to tell a story… either in drawings, verbally or writing. I still remember being 19 years old and bugging my roommate (in the military) to read this story or that one that I’d just finished. It wasn’t until I moved to LA that I actually took classes in it and realized that writing is as much a “craft” as it is an “art”. So, officially, I would say that I started writing in 1990 (when I moved to LA). But that was screenplays. Luckily, I had a day job, or else I’d be on the street corner with a cup in my hand. Around the year 2000, I switched to novels. I figured if no one was going to read my stories, I might as well write the ones I want. With screenplays, the writer is stuck with all these limitations. A screenplay written on spec by an unknown writer needs to be about 110 pages long and structured a very particular way (even if it hurts the story you’re trying to tell). Plus, a screenplay isn’t self-contained. It’s part of an ensemble. You need a director, producer, editor, actors, etc, to make it work. A screenplay is only a blueprint for a movie. With novels, the writer gets the last say in everything… the characters, the story, the theme, etc. Plus, it’s a self-contained story. You can make it as long as you want and add the subplots needed for the story.
EJ: What brought you to the paranormal genre?
JC: This particular story (Dante’s Journey) is set in the afterlife, but I wouldn’t say it was the paranormal aspect that attracted me. Growing up, I was more of a movie buff than a reader. I would watch anything listed as science fiction. Two movies I loved were “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “The Thing” (the originals – not the remakes). TV show-wise, “Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone” were big with me (again, the originals – not the remakes). It wasn’t until I got hooked on “Combat!” that I realized it wasn’t so much the scifi aspect that I found fascinating, but the human condition. Outsmarting Nazis in WWII or outsmarting aliens on Mars… there’s really not much of a difference, writing-wise. That’s just setting. It’s the human reactions and interactions where the real writing comes in.
Don’t get me wrong, the paranormal aspect of this story is fascinating. Dante’s Journey is about the human condition. It just happens to be set in Hell. The main character’s (Joe Dante) journey is internal and spiritual. But it’s personified by the external setting of Hell (Hell being the original Dante’s Inferno).
EJ: If you could be any paranormal or have any one supernatural talent, what would it be? Why?
JC: Hmmm… I would love to heal people with one touch. Why? I guess it would make me feel better to ease other people’s pain.
But, I would also like the ability to change my shape and look like anyone I want. Why? Well, I’d need it to get in and out of places in order to heal people anonymously. I mean, what good is a superpower without a secret identity? Plus, come on… what guy wouldn’t want to go out on a Saturday night wearing Brad Pitt’s face?
I never said I wouldn’t use my powers for fun.
EJ: Tell us why readers will enjoy your new release.
JC: A previous reviewer of the book pretty much hit the nail on the head… the book spends as much time on Joe’s internal spiritual journey as it does on his outer journey through Hell.
In fact, Joe’s inner journey mirrors his outer one, but in the opposite direction. The deeper he goes into Hell, the worse it gets, yet the more he’s forced to look inward to ultimately question his place in regard to God. I think it’s a very unique book as it doesn’t rely on swords, sorcery or magic, but rather the human condition within the extraordinary situation of one man finding himself in Hell. I think the reader will see certain aspects of themselves in Joe (or even some of the other characters) and question their own place in the world, as well as their possible place in this particular afterlife. A basic belief in most world religions (most certainly Christianity) is that no one is perfect. Joe doesn’t realize this at the beginning of his journey. I want the reader to look at the Inferno and say “Heck, I could end up in THAT ring.”
Plus, it’s a fun book. It’s light enough to keep the reader smiling, yet heavy enough to keep them thinking, guessing, and even philosophizing.
EJ: If your book(s) were being made into a movie, who would you cast for the leading roles? Why?
JC: I don’t believe that there’s a novelist out there that doesn’t ask this question and think of certain people when writing these characters.
Dante’s Journey is an epic-level adventure, so I could spend ten-plus pages on who would play what character. Some characters are in the novel only for a chapter, but his/her appearance is key to Joe Dante’s story.
I always thought that Matt Damon would make an excellent Joe Dante. It’s funny but it took me a long time to write Dante’s Journey. When I first started the book, I wrote it with Bruce Willis in mind. But the evolution of the story and characters made me reevaluate who would be better. Matt Damon is physically correct for the role. He’s originally from the Boston area. And he’s a great actor. He can be action-oriented, deep, or both. And Joe’s character requires that.
As for Virgil, even though I describe him as a younger man, I have to go with Johnny Depp. The man’s middle name is “Mystery”. That’s what would be needed for Virgil.
As for the Angel… I originally thought of Robert DeNiro. But now… I have to go back with Bruce Willis. The Angel is tough… funny… and a soldier. I can’t think of a role where Bruce Willis wasn’t at least two of those three.
Thank you J.C. for joining us here at From the Shadows! To learn more about J.C. Marino and his books, please visit his website.
Now for the giveaway!
** Dante's Journey Giveaway! **
To enter leave a comment on this post with your email address. This giveaway is for US mailing addresses only (sorry! J.C.'s Goodreads First Reads giveaway is international). You do not have to be a follower to enter (though I always appreciate a follow!). Giveaway ends Friday August 6th at Midnight EST.