Monday’s Friend: Christopher Mannino

Today I am pleased to welcome back to the blog fellow MIU author Christopher Mannino, to talk about the inspiration for his novel SCHOOL OF DEATHS.

WHAT INSPIRED ME TO WRITE MY BOOK
By Christopher Mannino

The 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. After misjudging the time it’d take to get there, I became stranded. The tourist office was closed, and I couldn’t find a hostel. I walked from pub to pub asking if I could sleep above their bar.

The next morning, having slept none, since I’d found a room over a noisy pub, I crept to Barras Nose before dawn. Barras Nose is a stone peninsula, or rocky outcropping jutting into the Celtic Sea, just north of Tintagel. Tintagel itself is a small island with castle ruins on its cliffs. Some believe it to be the birthplace of King Arthur.  When I reached Barras Nose, the winds howled so fiercely that I had to crawl on all fours to keep from being blown into the ocean below. Then dawn broke.  No other humans were in sight. I struggled to keep my balance, but watched the sun rise on the ruins of the ancient castle, listening to the thunder of waves pounding the fifty foot cliffs I clung to. Wind battered me with ferocity, and I imagined a character being buffeted by winds, completely alone. I envisioned  Suzie, alone in a world of men, buffeted by sexism.

CoverSchoolofDeaths (2)EXCERPT:

She looked around. They stood in an alley, with gleams of starlight visible above them. Flies buzzed over a trash can, overflowing with pizza boxes. A cool breeze blew candy wrappers across the pavement, to graffiti-covered walls. Behind her, a cement building rose, with barred windows. In front of them, a larger street met the alley, with part of a neon sign glowing around the corner. It smelled like urine.

She heard shouts in Spanish from a dilapidated cement building with iron bars. More shouts and someone pleading. Then a gunshot and the shouts moved away from them.

A young girl staggered into the alley. Suzie was about to speak, but Frank shook his head.

The girl fell onto her face, a pool of blood leaking out from under her. In the distance, Suzie heard another gunshot.

“We have to help her,” said Suzie.

“It’s too late,” said Frank.

The girl lay motionless. Time seemed to stop. Suzie had never witnessed someone’s death. Who was this girl? Who had shot her?

Even as the questions started to form in her mind, the girl sat up and stared at them. Suzie started to move, but Frank grabbed her arm, holding her.

“Where am I?” said the girl.

She was sitting up, but she was also laying face first on the ground. The sitting girl looked at Billy with terrified eyes and struggled to her feet. Suzie realized they were each wearing black robes; even with their training badges, they must look frightening. Billy still held the scythe.

“Is this a joke?” said the girl. “I’m not dead—”

“You are,” said Billy.

The standing girl had no gunshot wound in her chest. Her dress seemed to shine as she moved a step away. She never looked down at her own body, or the blood continuing to run.

“Who are you three?” asked the girl.

“We’re in training,” said Billy. Suzie admired how calm his voice was. He was cool and collected, while she wanted to yell.

The girl took another step back and tripped on something. She tried to get up again but Billy held up a hand.

“Please,” he said. “Allow me.”

He raised the scythe and let it fall. The girl screamed, and Suzie screamed as well.

withscytheedited (2)ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.

Mannino is currently working on a sequel to “School of Deaths” as well as an adult science fiction novel.

BLURB:

Thrust into a world of men, 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.

Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who subjugate a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons.

As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn’t an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she’s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.

SCHOOL OF DEATHS has an awesome book trailer! Watch it here:

 

Learn more about Christopher and his books here:

AUTHOR SITE: http://www.christophermannino.com/

AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K2GC12M

MUSE IT UP: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/now-available-in-ebook/school-of-deaths-detail

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1 comment so far

  1. Joan Curtis on

    Great interview. How interesting about your experience being surrounded by howling winds and stranded in a strange place. I read School of Deaths and I could just imagine the place where you found yourself alone. You described it beautifully in the book. Thank you Sara Jayne and Chris.


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