You know I always get excited when I meet a fellow scientist who's also a fiction writer, but this time I have one more thing to be excited about: today's guest is Italian, writes in English, and has lived on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Massimo Marino was born and raised in Sicily, got his PhD in physics and worked for 10 years at CERN and 8 at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab in California. His debut novel Daimones received the 2012 PRG Reviewer's Choice Award in science fiction, was awarded with the Hall of Fame - Best Science Fiction by Quality Reads UK, is a 2014 National Indie Excellence® Awards finalist.
The sequel to Daimones, Once Humans, is a 2014 Readers Favorite Book Award finalist, like my Chimeras, which is how I came across Massimo's amazing work. Together with the third volume The Rise of the Phoenix, Massimo's Daimones Trilogy is a post-apocalyptic story where one of the dominant races in the galaxy culls the human race for inscrutable reasons.
Please welcome Massimo Marino to the blog today.
EEG: I usually start discussing the science: you spent many years working at CERN. How did you enjoy working there? Has that experience resurfaced (in one form or the other) in your stories?
MM: CERN is one of the ultimate destinations for physicist and researchers. It’s the kind of place where it’s common to sip a coffee in the morning in the same hall as three or four Nobel Prizes in Physics. My time spent in fundamental research is the most rewarding, almost close to writing :)
CERN appears in the first novel, “Daimones”, as one of the locations explored by the survivors, and has a role in the plot that the discerning reader will be able to discover.
The international environment that one breathes every day at CERN gives me lots of material for developing characters; the diversity in human types is so large that I have material to describe aliens’ minds and their twisted logic as well ;) Some of those physicist ‘live’ on a different sensorial dimension.
My scientific background helps in creating future technology and envision alien scientific breakthroughs that have a solid scientific ground and are within what could become reality in due time. I don’t like much the kind of science fiction where fantasy and lack of scientific rigour voids a story of all its value and potential. Readers' belief is to be challenged, not ignored or ridiculed.
EEG: How long have you been writing fiction?
MM: Probably since I’ve been able to hold a pencil in my toddler's hands. My dad and older brother were into science fiction. I grew up, when allowed to read those books, with the greatest names in the genre. Concerning the seed for writing, the fault lies on the “Astounding Stories” covers. For years I could only lurk at those pictures and imagine what stories might arise from them or lead to that conclusions. The next step of putting them on paper was little enough for a child to exercise his imagination and hone his skills.
EEG: How does science inspire and/or shape your writing?
MM: A lot. All I conceive and invent — as technology — is a possible consequence from the extrapolation of our current scientific knowledge. In addition, I happen to befriend other scientists in different branches. When in doubt, I ask them. For example, in “Once Humans” — finalist at the 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Science Fiction — I have (induced) brain tumors as part of the plot. I entertained lots of discussions with an oncologist friend of mine, and she has provided me with some leading edge papers on the subject.
EEG: What about the fact that you've lived in so many different countries -- how does that affect your writing?
MM: It has changed and affected me as a person, thus as a writer as well. Accepting diversity, embracing cultural shocks — rather than rejecting them — learning languages, traditions (even culinary), allows to open your heart and mind. And these last are like umbrellas: they work at their best when they’re open.
EEG: Have you considered writing any other fiction genre besides science fiction?
MM: I did, as an exercise in style. There’s a collection of short stories, crime dramas and horror little tales, that have encountered the favour of the readers. Some discovered me through those.
EEG: What are you currently working on?
MM: I’m writing my fourth novel. The galaxy that resulted from the events described in the “Daimones Trilogy” is in turmoil: different, competing forces are in place, and the relative peace enjoys only an unstable equilibrium. The novel — per se — is not a fourth book in the trilogy, but readers of the trilogy will find themselves in a familiar ground.
It will be a YA sci-fi tale, and the themes I explore in it are Law and Order, repression for security, racial tensions, and love between two young members of different races. It’s about the reasons of the heart vs the diktats of the brain. The struggle between what you *feel* you must do, and what you *must* do because of how you feel.
EEG: Do you ever write in Italian?
MM: No, I don't. My stories and dialogues are born in English. In fact, I had "Daimones" professionally translated and the Italian edition should be release in September.
EEG: That's exciting! Thank you for being with us today, Massimo.
You can find out more about Massimo on his webpage, his Amazon Author page, on Facebook and on Twitter.