Interview time today. I’m hosting an interview for the book tour for YA fantasy novel “School of Deaths”. My questions are bolded, and the author’s responses are in regular font. Enjoy the interview!
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
Finding the time to get everything done, when you work another job, is a huge challenge. Marketing, editing, and drafting all take immense amounts of time. For me, marketing has been the most challenging of those three, but of all three the hardest issue remains finding the time.
Can you give us a short synopsis of School of Deaths?
Susan Sarnio, a thirteen-year-old girl in suburban Maryland, can’t stop losing weight. Her parents fear an eating disorder, but the truth reveals itself when a man in a hood appears at Suzie’s doorstep with a scythe: Suzie is a Death.
Suzie is forced to spend one year at the College of Deaths, where she’ll train to become a full Reaper, bringing souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. At the end of her year, if she passes a test, she can return home. Once at the College, Suzie realizes something is wrong. She is the first female Death at the College in a million years, and she suspects her sudden presence is no accident. She struggles to fight an overwhelming amount of sexism from both classmates and teachers, while also trying to unravel the reason she’s been brought there.
Suzie makes friends with her two housemates, and grows as a Death. She learns to use a scythe, and participates in Reaping souls. She also learns that long ago, souls were reaped by Dragons. Now, the College fears all contact with Dragons, but could the Dragons be responsible for her entrance there? A race of strange beings called Elementals serve the Deaths, yet the Elementals also struggle for respect, much the way Suzie does.
Can Suzie survive her year, and will her curiosity help her, or will it lead her down a more dangerous path?
What inspired you to write this book?
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.
How many hours per day do you spend writing?
It really depends on the time of year. During the summers, I can spend 40 hours a week on writing. During the school year, particularly before a major production in the drama department, I sometimes go several weeks without writing at all. Generally I try to spend at least a few hours every week working on my writing.
Name your top five favorite books.
Lord of the Rings, Pillars of the Earth, Harry Potter, Good Omens, His Dark Materials
What are you working on now?
I am currently editing “Sword of Deaths,” the second novel of “The Scythe Wielder’s Secret,” which releases this spring, following the print release of “School of Deaths” this winter. I have also started work on the third and final volume in the series.
About The Book
Author: Christopher Mannino
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
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.
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.
Watch the trailer here
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AeszKiTz0k
All purchase links can be found at http://www.christophermannino.com/school-of-deaths.html#.U81VLPldWSo
There is a tour-wide giveaway for free ebook copies of the book. Participate by filling in the form below: you can participate by either commenting on one of the blogs participating, or tweeting about the book.
There is also a tour-wide giveaway for an Amazon gift card, value $20. All you need to do to participate is sign up for the author’s newsletter, and fill in the form below.