Our featured author for episode 122 of the horror addicts podcast is Dario Ciriello. Dario recently answered a few questions for us about his work:
When did you start writing?
When I was eight or so! I actually have my first short story, a one-page effort called “The Anti”, written on my Dad’s typewriter (he was a journalist, so I had a model right there). It’s a fraught little piece, full of foreboding and strange events. Though the editor in me sees a few issues, I was clearly already channeling Poe and Conrad. But I only really became semi-serious about my writing in the early oughts and published my first book, Aegean Dream, in 2011.
What do you like to write about?
Ordinary people faced with strange and challenging situations. I started off writing straight-up Science Fiction short stories, which I’ve always loved; but in recent years I’ve moved towards suspense novels. Still, I can’t do “straight” reality: my work is always going to have an element of the fantastic or supernatural, because that’s really how I see life—the known is always shadowed and underpinned by strangeness and the unknown.
Who are some of your influences?
I’ve always been a style and language junkie, so really terrific prose artists who also know how to keep a reader turning pages—authors like John LeCarre, Fritz Leiber, Roger Zelazny, PD James, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Joseph Conrad, Robert Graves—have always been favourites; and though his excesses are many, Lovecraft does hold a special place in my heart. I’m also a terrific fan of Stephen King, whom I consider one of the all-round best authors of our time in every way. He really gets character, and is incredibly good at psychological depth and getting under the reader’s skin. There aren’t many authors who can hold my attention for 60 pages, never mind 600 or more.
Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?
Nonfiction is in many ways easier for me, as no invention is really required. My first book, Aegean Dream, a nonfiction travel memoir, is my longest work, yet it was the fastest to write—the first draft reeled itself off in just three months or so. But there’s a whole added dimension of satisfaction and achievement to crafting a long work of fiction in which you spin characters and sometimes entire worlds from whole cloth.
Can you tell us a little about Panverse publishing?
I founded Panverse in 2009 to edit and publish a series of original Science Fiction novella anthologies—novellas are my favourite story length for SF, and yet the one there are fewest markets for. In 2011, after publishing three annual anthologies (Panverse One, Two, and Three), I published my own first book, Aegean Dream, and it did very well. I expanded the company and in 2013-2014 began to publish novels by other authors, as well as my own thriller/suspense novel, Sutherland’s Rules. But the workload was horrifying and my own writing was suffering. So at the end of 2014 I returned the rights to our authors, and kept Panverse as an indie publisher/imprint solely for my own work.
What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?
The exploration of the subconscious and the more shadowed, ancient parts of our psyche. I like psychological rather than graphic, in-your-face horror full of gore and shock images. Getting back to King’s work, I find the novels Gerald’s Game and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon infinitely more scary (and interesting) than, say, Carrie, Cell, or Salem’s Lot. I do find the idea of possession—and there’s a strong element of that in my forthcoming novel, Black Easter—genuinely terrifying. We’re an ancient race, and parts of our wiring go back to pre-rational days. We’re hardcoded for correspondences and symbolism, for instance, at a level we can’t easily access consciously…but we sense it. At some level we know that the everyday world is just a construct, an agreed model, a fiction of sorts, and that there’s an awful lot of what’s out there that goes unseen, and for very good reasons. The best horror fiction and film taps into those pre- and subconscious levels where we’re aware of the hidden and occult realms, and it scares the shit out of us. And I do believe that there is such a thing as real, true evil in the world.
What will you be reading for episode 122 of the podcast?
I’ll be reading an excerpt from my new novel, Black Easter, which releases on December 5. What’s it about? Well, there’s black magic, human sacrifice, a severely traumatized Nazi colonel, love, sex, possession, an idyllic island in the sun-drenched Aegean, and a whole new theory of Hell. It’s Mamma Mia meets The Exorcist, with a side of Inglorious Basterds.
Where can you we find you online?
Thanks for asking, and I do love to hear from readers. I’m in quite a few places, including:
My author blog: www.dariospeaks.wordpress.com
My indie press: www.panversepublishing.com
Amazon page: http://viewauthor.at/DarioCiriello (no “www”)
You also can pre-order some of my books at:
And finally, I write a monthly Thursday guest post for the Indie Author Series over at Janice Hardy’s excellent Fiction University (blog.janicehardy.com)