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Jan 29, 2014

Chatting to multi Award Winning Author_Massimo Marino: #Interview and #Giveaway

Posted by Wendy Ewurum  |  at  11:44 AM

Ladies and gentlemen help me welcome a wonderful writer, scientist and blogger. And I am very proud to also say, member of my fabulous Tour Host Team. One of the things I love about having starting the touring company is the amount of diversely talented people I am coming across, more now than in all my three years of blogging. Massimo happens to  be one of those blessing. Let's check out what he has to say.

Before we get into your writing Massimo, I am very curious about your background., it fascinates me You are a scientist who has worked for different, very high profile organizations including research lab (CERN), in Geneva, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Apple in the states. Tell us what that experience was like and how you thing it’s helped shape the rest of your life….
Hello, Wendy. Thank you for hosting me and hello to your readers, here. Indeed it has been a fascinating journey. Fundamental research is all about fantasy, expertise, vision, and perseverance. All traits that are equally most important with writing, I have to say. I have been fortunate to experience research at the edge of it on both sides of the Atlantic, with world renowned scientific institutions, and met many fine people in all those years. Those were rewarding years under many aspects. 

Apple is a one kind of a company, built as a reflect of the ego of its visionary, Steve Jobs. He was charismatic and we know what happened to Apple when he wasn’t there, ousted by the managing board. Apple almost disappeared as many other computer companies. From the outside Apple is all about innovation, invention, and risking to walk uncharted territories to pursue a dream. All nice and dandy, but the reality from the inside is very different. Apple is all about innovation, invention, and a total aversion to risk. What seems to be the result of a creativity burst, cutting corners, and luck, is instead what comes after years of research, maniacal attention to details, visiting all technology and business corners until they shine, and then marketing everything as if it was the result of a touch of magic :)

Are you able to share with us what kind of problems, or issues would you have worked on finding solutions for, or what kind discoveries were made?
In those years at the laboratories, I worked with groups who dealt with leading technology for the new generation of particle detectors. I worked both on actual prototypes and on their simulation on computer environments. The need for CERN (and participating labs like the Lawrence Berkeley) is to be able to work in extreme levels of radiation; imagine, the electronics has to be able to work at conditions that for all human understanding ARE those of the BIG BANG. So, radiation hardness is at the highest standards ever imaginable. Electronic speed and chip computational speed are also a side-requirement. Then precision alignment of the particles and anti-particles in the accelerators’ beams, and high sensitivity and resolution to distinguish each and every particle generated by the collisions between matter and anti-matter at the core of each main detector in the LHC (the largest ring particle accelerator in the world). The research conducted and the technology exploits required by experiments such as those at CERN have two main crucial side effect, besides the advances in electronics and engineering. The first, is the hadron therapy, curing cancer with the technology and expertise that is born and evolves to support research with particle accelerators. The other is medical imagery, 3D and of the highest possible resolution, in color as well (a recent technology transfer) that allow curing the most malicious cancers in ways that are not possible with chemio therapy or radiation therapies, and the other is allowing doctors to faster, less intrusive, and more efficient diagnosis with superior visual devices.

The discoveries in fundamental research are of the kind that seem to be of zero effect on everyday life, but are beams of knowledge that are a boon for writing sci-fi because give you hint of what the future might hold for us, but the technology and engineering challenges required to conduct those research always have a fallout on our life, maybe not immediately but a steady flow of innovation goes from fundamental research to industry. Another example, using optic fibers for communication. They were first studied and used to achieve faster speeds at the experiments. Cracking those nuts gave us internet on fibers in our homes, today.

For example, people say it is impossible for another civilization to visit ours anytime, even if they are there they could never reach us because of the distance. Well, science says it is possible, the Einstein-Rosen Bridge is a possibility, it requires an enormous amount of energy but a special kind of black hole, a Kerr one, could provide that kind energy, so it is “only" matter of finding the technology solutions. In Sci-Fi, technology issues are solved :) 

What were the biggest highlights of your working career?
There has been always little moments of success, of good results, of confirmations of the good work, but things I will always remember is seeing scientists of nations at war working together with the highest level of respect and support. British with Argentinians, and Iraqis and Iranians with their American counterparts, or with Russians and Chinese. At places like CERN, the LBL, and I suspect at other main laboratories in the world, there’s only one nation: Science.

At what point did you realize you were a writer too and are there unpublished stories written preceding Diamones?
In retrospective, when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My dad received Astounding Stories at home, but I couldn’t read them. Only remained to me were the covers, and they triggered my imagination. I wrote little stories about those magazines’ covers. I’ve always imagined, had visions, and put them on paper. What I lacked was the need to be read, the will to share my stories with others. I didn’t find reasons to have others walk in my stories and see my world. I don’t know what happened when I decided to publish what I wrote. Curiosity, maybe.
Yes, there are unpublished stories, child stories, teen-ager stories, and young adult ones that are now in some recess of the memory. I have to say that there are three stories that made me cringe when I saw very similar sci-fi movies come out in the past and recent years. The plots were amazingly close to mine. Maybe I should have started publishing way earlier :D 

At some point there must have been a dissonance of some sort between what you were doing and what you wanted to do (which is writing), can you tell us about how you came to choose writing over your career which was obviously not by any means average?
In a sense it was a disillusion and a wake-up call. I was at the point of been presented with two roads, one to renounce to my principle, renounce to do what I believed was right and ethical, the other was to join the full extent of the political corporate mentality. I was presented with a difficult scenario, step aside and join the bandwagon, or stay on some broken rail tracks, waiving at the train freight to stop because the accident was imminent, and risk to be crushed. Pardon the metaphor, but you can read Daimones to learn how it went ;) The debut is also what might have been the main cause to decide that

Your Debut novel, the first of the  Daimones series, received the 2012 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award in Science Fiction. Was this your first go at writing a fictional novel?
It was the first go to writing a full length novel, yes. And it was the first go at working on a story long after it was finished, to reach a level of language polish and continuity that aren’t necessary if the writer writes only for one reader, himself ;)
The competition was furious, even with authors who had their novels on well known best sellers lists and had hundred of thousands sales under their belts. It was a special achievement, it said more things about my writing than any possible number of interviews and radio host presences.

This year, in January 2014, there has been a confirmation as the Daimones series, with “Once Humans”, Vol.2, has received the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award as Best Science Fiction Series. 

To notice and remark, though, is that these awards—also the 2013 Hall of Fame - Best Sci-Fi from the UK Quality Read Book Club, are attributed by readers. The groups, or clubs, only go as far as the nomination goes. Then there’s about a month for readers to cast their votes. It is remarkable for a writer that has only been read since late 2011.

The story grew beyond my expectations. I didn’t think I had started to write a trilogy—or a pentalogy, or more, who knows ;) —as the story, the characters, the timelines evolved as I was writing them. In a sense, I was the first readers and kept writing to discover what was going to happen. The story found me, and at first I didn’t recognize it had an infrastructure that was much more complex than I—at first—believed.

From "Daimones" to "Once Humans”, and then on to “The Rise of the Phoenix”, the dimension of the story, and the lives of the characters, go from local and intimate—in “Daimones”—to engulfing the entire planet and dealing with others’ passions and drives in “Once Humans”, to our galaxy, other races, and other civilizations in “The Rise of the Phoenix.” The way the last scene played in my mind surprised me, as a character that I had forgotten wasn’t in the mind of the others in the story, and as one of them say… “It isn’t over.”

I hadn’t planned for that to happen.

Tell us about this series which has been described as: a “story that will leave readers with bone-chilling concerns”.
It starts with a simple “what if”. What if the entire population on Earth was no more but there is nothing, in the immediate, to point to as a cause. What if it was the Last Day. What gives a meaning to your life? Many suggest to live every day as if it were the last one. Sure, our priorities would change, but I find the suggestion has a flaw and might lead some to extreme choices. After all, if this were your last day, tomorrow would no more be ‘your’ problem, “who cares then.”
What instead if today was the last day of 99.99% of the population? Then, tomorrow would be ‘your’ big problem; and the day after tomorrow, and the next one, and the next one...

What would keep you going? What would keep you from committing suicide? What values would give meaning to your life when everybody else is no more? This is the situation faced by Dan Amenta in “Daimones” Vol.1 of the “Daimones Trilogy.”

There’s a prologue in “Daimones” that is from real life events. Those were the trigger for all to start. 

One reviewer said your books “explores some difficult themes”. What are these themes?
A bit of the above, as the characters try to understand what happens around them and give voice to their fears and frustrations, but I believe what some reviewers (and readers) point at in “Daimones” is the change in what’s moral and ethical in their new words. The survivors face death and oblivion, and a theme of polyamory relationships comes forward in the story, as well as artificial procreation and reproduction. Mankind has faced the first many times in our history, when communities dwindle and survival drives most actions and decisions.

What do you enjoy hearing most from your reviewers about their reading experience?
I like a lot when readers tell me “Daimones” is a different read, different from all the First Contact themed stories or the Post-Apocalypse ones they have encountered already. I like that people say it is an original book, and a different voice and story.

Your series has won award for two years running, what does it mean to you as a person?
My characters are very happy, of course. I’m not a commercially successful writer, I do not sell hundred thousands books every year, or tens of thousands every month. I only sell in the hundreds per month and success is measured with much higher numbers. My stories have been read (at least bought) a bit more than 5,000 times and over 90% of readers appreciate my work, both in Amazon and Goodreads where the majority of reviews and readers’ feedbacks appear. I caress the dream that if one million readers were to buy my stories there would still be 90% of them to spend good time with my novels. The awards tell me that among my readers I’m very successful, and that is rewarding and motivating.

A NYT best seller is made rather than written. Remember what happened to JK Rowling attempt at writing with a pseudonym. She sold less books than my stories did, received less reviews and she had a marketing support from his own publisher even. Then they revealed the unknown mystery thriller male author was actually JK Rowling and the book, the very same book and the same story, started to sell in the million.
Talent is cheap, the difference between a commercially successful author and another rests on being visible or not. It is not enough to write a great book but at least that is enough to find great readers. :)

Do you think awards have an impact on you books’ commercial relevance?
Certainly, it had an effect because the awards tell readers that they can give my story a chance and have good reading times together.

The awards you have won would indicate that your books were very well received. Were you in anyway expecting this, especially for the debut?
No, not at all. Even the nominations came unexpected, as the first praises from readers in Amazon and Goodreads. But I worked hard to give readers a good story. It would have been naif to publish the story as soon as it was written. Many fall into that trap, thinking they’ve written a best seller, a masterpiece. A good story is written and re-written many times before the first reader has a chance to venture into that vision.

A lot of readers I come across always mention that they are not really sci-fi readers, what do you think it is that makes those readers pick up your book?
I believe sci-fi is seen as opposite to literary fiction. All action, laser beams, weird stories that aren’t believable, situations where only a ‘geek’ reader could find his turf. I believe that’s unfair for many sci-fi stories. Characters can be complex, themes can touch deep within, feelings that pour from the pages and stir up inside. Sci-fi can be all this, allow to explore a man’s soul in extreme situations, with societies that present the same characters as ours but pushed to limits beyond imagination. This is always rewarding for me, when readers who do not read sci-fi write a review—or even send personal notes—saying that a new reading realms has opened for them, and they had been pleasantly surprised from the Daimones, the sci-fi world, and the lives and minds of the people who live in that world.

What can your readers expect from you in the next twelve months?
To see “The Rise of the Phoenix” fulfill their expectations and more :)

Massimo, would you be willing to sponsor my blog with a set of your eBooks please….for my readers.

Certainly. I will share with you Smashwords coupons: 
The first coupon to get "Daimones" free for 2 days, 
then at 50% discount for 4 days, 
finally with a 25% discount for a week period (for all those late comers)

I'm Italian, and because even in Italy that means everything and nothing at all, I should say, I am Sicilian. I was born in Palermo, and as it happened with countless Sicilians, I left it, back in 1986. I lived more years abroad than in my home country, and I have changed in many and different ways than my old friends there. It is always a pleasure to go back, but it is now 6 long years since my last visit. Saudade? Maybe, a little.
I lived in Switzerland, France, and the United States. I am a scientist as a background, and have spent over 17 years in fundamental research. Most of my writing are then academic stuff, and I always wonder at how much Google is able to find about everyone. I am sure one has to Google oneself so not to forget too much...

I worked for many years at CERN—an international lab for particle physics research near Geneva, Switzerland—then in the US at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Fantastic moments and memories from those years. In 2005 I moved to the private sector, worked with Apple Inc., and then for the World Economic Forum.

I wrote since I was a kid, short stories and novellas, but never had anyone read it. It was a personal thing. Then, work and life took their toll and I stopped. Slightly over a year ago, for various reasons, I started again with some burning inside that needed to come out. On the first weekend I got over 15000 words, then subscribed to for peer review, lurked a year keeping on writing and getting feedback.

On September 2012 my debut novel, "Daimones", saw the light. It received the 2012 PRG Reviewer's Choice Award in Science Fiction. Last February it was awarded with the Hall of Fame - Best Science Fiction by Quality Reads UK, and received over 64% of the 1600+ readers votes. To the day, Daimones has sold over 4,000 copies. Both novels are available as digital and printed editions.

The sequel, "Once Humans", was published last July and has sold more than 1,000 copies since. I'm writing Vol.3, "The Rise of the Phoenix”. Its Prelude (chapters 1-4) has been published last November and readers can have a taste of what’s coming in the trilogy.

In January 2014, the “Daimones Trilogy” won the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award as Best Science Fiction Series.

The novels have been optioned by an Independent Audiobook Publisher in the US, Sci-Fi Publishing LCC, and both Daimones and Once Humans are now available as audiobook, too. (From, Amazon and iTunes).

Press Releases:

Connect with Massimo:

Twitter: @Massim0Marin0
Amazon: Massimo Marino

Amazon smart-links

Please remember Marino is sharing Smashwords coupons: 
The first coupon to get "Daimones" free for 2 days, 
then at 50% discount for 4 days, 
finally with a 25% discount for a week period (for all those late comers)


About the Author

Most know me as the author to Fabulosity Reads and in actual fact, that is the previous name of this blog. I have since then moved my books to a Wordpress self-hosted blog so that I can have a place to show a different side of me which I am equally passionate about and that is marketing and personal development. I hope you will love being here, watching me grow as I share and learn. My highest hope is that we will grown and learn together in all disciplines affecting our lives. I'd LUUURRRVE to hear from you, so don't be shy...


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