The Hardest Part: Dario Ciriello on Black Easter

I’ve got a fairly decent-sized section of my “favorites” bookshelf dedicated to Dario Ciriello, who since 2009 has edited and published Panverse Publishing. His fantastic 2009 anthology Panverse One was a direct inspiration to starting Bull Spec, and after three outstanding volumes in that all-original-novella series (and another anthology, Eight Against Reality) and his best-selling memoir of a year living in Greece (Aegean Dream) he edited and published novels by Bonnie Randall, Doug Sharp, and T.L. Morganfield, as well as his own international thriller Sutherland’s Rules, a kind of mad-cap drug smuggling misadventure ranging from California to London to Afghanistan and points between, and! his collection Free Verse and Other Stories. He’s one of my favorite people in the world, and I’m pleased as punch to be able to tell you a little about his new supernatural thriller Black Easter, before he tells you a bit about the hard parts of writing it.

Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award winner Ken Liu calls Black Easter “a perfectly paced tale of terror and love that you cannot put down” which, as far as blurbs go, is indeed pretty neat. It’s also got some dark, original wrinkles on the realm we know as “hell” as well as a pair of trios — a black magician, a seer, and an SS officer from 1944, and an expat family from San Francisco renting an old house on the same small Greek island where the first trio carried out their own ritual suicides 70 years prior — that end up battling both over the same set of physical bodies as well as quite possibly the fates of both human- and demon-kind. There’s less rollicking misadventure (as in Sutherland’s Rules, where a hashish-fueled plot twist is never too far off-page) but plenty of the same tightly plotted, high-stakes action that keeps those pages turning, and more-than-meets-the-eye characters that don’t act as mere two-dimensional plot devices.

I’m absolutely certain that Dario got some of the ideas for this book from his time actually living as a San Francisco expat in Greece; I had no idea just how hard this novel was for him to finish. In fact, there were three “hardest parts”. Here’s Dario to tell you all about them:

IMG_2546[1] Front cover (1)

— Essay by Dario Ciriello —

Every project we undertake has its own distinct challenges, and writing a book is no exception to this. Black Easter – my fourth book and second novel – had not one but three hardest parts. It was a tough book to write. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hardest Part: Dario Ciriello on Sutherland’s Rules

I can’t quite place how I digitally ran into Dario Ciriello back in 2009. Probably it was that I had a silly idea that I would be a writer, thinking that the mess I was working on was looking like it would be a novella, and looking around to see who published at that length. Enter Panverse One, edited by Ciriello, which blew me away. An all-novella anthology (the first of three, so far, all excellent) with fantastic, varied stories, a beautiful cover, and a well-produced physical book, introducing me to a world of small press, print-on-demand publishing that I had no idea even existed. “Wait, wait… one dedicated person with the drive to do something like this can actually do something like this?” It’s not exaggerating to say that Bull Spec would not exist without the inspiration provided by Panverse One — and Ciriello was just getting started. After taking a brief hiatus after Panverse Three in 2011, Panverse Publishing returned to fiction with three novels in 2013, one of them Ciriello’s own Sutherland’s Rules, a non-fantasy, non-sf (*), high-stakes, high-fun, crime adventure novel set across California, London, and Afghanistan. It’s the second of Ciriello’s books I’ve read and immensely enjoyed (the other being his non-fictional memoir of moving to Skopelos Island in Greece, Aegean Dream) and I’m hoping for many more. Here, Dario writes about the hard part of getting one of the characters from Sutherland’s Rules right, down to her motivations, before being able to write her to the fullest.

(*) OK, OK. There might be some hallucinogenic trips into branching parallel universes.

Sutherland's Rules

By Dario Ciriello:

The hardest part of writing my recent novel, Sutherland’s Rules, was understanding Carol, my female protagonist.

I’ve written female protagonists—and they’re all strong—before, and not had much trouble with them. I like strong women. In fact, I’m married to one.

Carol, though, was a real challenge. Carol is an attractive  professional dancer in her early fifties, now the owner of a dance school; she’s also bisexual and a partner in an open marriage, and the latter made it especially challenging when writing in her viewpoint. Read the rest of this entry »