Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes fellow MuseItUp YA fantasy author Christopher Mannino and his first book School of Deaths.
First, a bit about Christopher:
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.
Why did you pick to write books for YA?
I am a teacher, and have worked with teens and other kids most of my professional life. I spend more time with kids than I do with adults. It seemed a natural place to start my writing career.
What types of books do you like to read?
Nearly anything, though fantasy and historical fiction tend to be my favorites.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
Theatre is my other great passion. I love to work on shows, teach theatre, and perform. I also have a great passion for traveling, and travel helped inspire this novel.
Tell us about School of Deaths and how the story came to be.
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.
Here's a peek at School of Deaths:
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.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
School of Deaths is my first published novel. The print book will be released this winter.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I am currently working on a sequel for School of Deaths, told from three points of view, which expands greatly on the world introduced in the first novel. Sword of Death is scheduled for release in the spring of 2014.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Never give up.
Anything else you want readers to know?
It’s great to sometimes combine my two passions, theatre and writing. The book trailer for School of Deaths features students I’ve taught and was filmed by a former student.
Where can readers find you and your books?
School of Deaths:
Muse It Up
Barnes & Noble