Monday’s Friend: Christopher Mannino

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow MuseItUp author Christopher Mannino to the blog.

SJT:  When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

CM:  I was a lonely child in elementary school. I probably had more friends in the fiction I read than in real life. During my summer I would stay up for hours reading book after book, sometimes devouring multiple books in a single day. One of my earliest dreams was to become a writer, and transform my love of reading into a means to share dreams and ideas.

SJT:  Who would you cite as your influences?

CM:  My biggest influences would be J.R.R. Tolkien, JK Rowling, Philip Pullman, and Terry Pratchett.

SJT:  What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

CM:  Another writer I knew once told me “What do you call a writer who never gives up? Answer: published.” To put it simply, writing takes an enormous amount of perseverance and patience. Never stop writing, never lose faith in yourself, and never be afraid to dream big.

SJT:  When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?

CM:  I am in between these two extremes. I start with an idea. I have an entire notebook filled with ideas and scenarios for about 20 novels in multiple genres. Just last week I came up with a new idea for a novel, yet at the moment have other works in progress so I added the idea to my notebook and set it aside for now. Once it’s time to develop an idea, I start by sketching out on pencil and paper, exactly where I want my book to go. I then use a word document to create a rough outline of about three pages or so. Once that amount of planning is done, I free write, and let the novels take its own course, adjusting my plan as I go, and letting the characters develop in their own ways.

CoverSchoolofDeathsThe idea for SCHOOL OF DEATHS emerged when I was finishing my graduate degree at Oxford University. I spent four months abroad, far from everyone I knew. Every week, I traveled somewhere I had never been before. I would climb castle ruins in Wales and visit cathedrals in England. One of my favorite trips was to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. I crept to the cliff face of Barras Nose, a stony peninsula jutting into the North Sea and overlooking the ruins of Tintagel, which some believe to be the birthplace of King Arthur. It was dawn, there were no other people in sight, and I had to struggle against the wind, fighting to keep my balance so I didn’t crash into the ocean. I imagined being buffeted by winds, alone, and what that would do to a character, and came up with the character of Suzie, alone in a world of men, buffeted by sexism.

SJT:  Tell us about your new release.

CM: Here’s the blurb for SCHOOL OF DEATHS:

Can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death?

Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail.

Caught in the middle of a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths, Suzie must uncover the reason she’s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.

SCHOOL OF DEATHS, a YA Fantasy novel, will be released by MuseitUp Publishing as an ebook on May 2nd.

SJT:  You write books for adults as well as for teenagers. Is there a difference between the teenage fiction market and the adult fiction market?

CM:  I do plan to write adult books in the future, and yes there is a difference between teenage markets and adult. For me, writing for adults is actually more challenging. I spend almost every day with teenagers, as I am a high school theatre teacher. At times, I forget how to interact with other adults, since I am so used to interacting with teens. Aside from obvious content differences, the biggest challenge is writing a book that will appeal to teenagers or to any audience. Once your audience is in mind, you know who the book should be marketed towards.

SJT:  What are you working on right now?

CM:  At the moment, I am working on a sequel to SCHOOL OF DEATHS titled SSWORD OF DEATHS.

SJT:  Thanks for talking to me, Christopher, and good luck with the new book!


Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.

Find Christopher online at the following links:


Buy Links:

MuseitUp Publishing
Barnes and Noble



1 comment so far

  1. Matthew Peters on

    Thank you, Sara, and Chris, for this great interview. I loved hearing how the idea for School of Deaths emerged and I really appreciated this advice to new writers:

    “Another writer I knew once told me ‘What do you call a writer who never gives up? Answer: published.’ To put it simply, writing takes an enormous amount of perseverance and patience. Never stop writing, never lose faith in yourself, and never be afraid to dream big.”

    I think so much of what we need to keep in mind and to keep telling ourselves as writers is summed up very nicely.

    All the best to you both.

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