Monday, February 25, 2013

Meet A Rocker of the Written Word: Dario Ciriello: Author, Editor and Indie Publisher

You know what's awesomesauce? I'll tell you. Dario Ciriello is awesomesauce. Not just because he published my novella Fork You in Panverse One. ( ) but because he's doing some pretty brave and amazing things.

One of the brave and amazing things that he does is guide the helm of a ship called Panverse Publishing. He's making a go of being an independent publisher at a time when the publishing world is in constant flux and its future uncertain. Well, at least the future of publishing in its current, mainstream form is uncertain. In my (humble, very far away from the center of things so take this for what its worth, opinion) independant publishers like Panverse Publishing represent the future of the publishing industry.

These are risky times, but they are also wildly hopeful times. From chaos comes order, change, new beginnings and that is the bet Dario is brave and amazing enough to make with Panverse. As an author who has been published by Panverse I am excited for my editor, publisher and friend. The story-loving world needs folks like Dario who has an eye for fresh, unique storytelling that is also high in quality. I've been blown away by what I've seen in Panverse and I'm honored that my name gets to be included on the list of folks who've had their work published there.

Okay, so enough Squee-fest from me. Meet Dario and squee for yourself. (Yes, I know. Shut up.)

The Interview

Q) When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

A) I was a late developer. I didn’t really feel the call until the mid-90s, in my early 40s. I’d written a few things before that, particularly a dark one-page piece written when I was eight or nine which could have been penned by a young Poe or Lovecraft. In my teens I discovered the Conan the Barbarian books and tried to channel Robert E. Howard. The results were predictably awful. But in the mid-90s something finally clicked, and I began, slowly, hesitantly to succumb to my Muse’s call.

Q) How did your love of the written word expand into the desire to become an editor and publisher?

A) I always loved novellas—a format particularly suited to SFF stories—and was disgusted at the dearth of venues among the SFF magazines. This led me to start Panverse Publishing, which originally only published SFF novella anthologies. (And of course you and I met when you sent me your own hilarious novella, delightful “Fork You”, for “Panverse One”).

Q) Best/worst piece of writing advice you've ever received?

A) The best may have been Gardner Dozois’s advice to, “be audacious.” The worst may be “show, don’t tell”—not because it’s wrong, but because the distinction and definitions between the two are very, very relative, a minefield of qualifiers and exceptions.

Q) What's on your desk right now?

A) I’m working on copyediting the upcoming Panverse novel, “Divinity and the Python” by Bonnie Randall, an extraordinary and powerful supernatural quasi-romance where the chief characters are an old morgue and a night club.

At the same time, I’ve just started outlining and character work on my own second novel, which is going to be dark and scary and (I hope) quite unusual.

Q) What has surprised you about publishing?

A) How extraordinarily hard it is to sell books.

Q) Sentence fragments or semi-colons?

A) Yeah, both; love ’em. Colons too: they rock.

Q) What were you doing before I started pelting you with questions?

A) Smoking, drinking, and cussing.

Q) Snowballs or mud pies?

A) Snowballs, every time.

Q) What does Panverse offer readers and writers that can't be found anywhere else? (Aside from awesome you, and my novella “Fork You” in “Panverse One”, I mean.)

A) I’d like to think that Panverse stands out for stories that are about something, that take risks, that aren’t formulaic. I also believe we have some of the flat-out best cover art in the business, indie or traditional.

Q) What principle guides you the most strongly as an editor?

A) At the risk of sounding pretentious, Truth. Both in my own writing and in selecting a manuscript, I want a story that feels true to life, that isn’t breathed on and crafted to the kind of cookie-cutter conformity found in so much genre fiction. A story with quirks, with theme, with characters that feel like real people.

Q) Bunk beds or water bed?

 A) Bunk beds! I love bunk beds!! Especially when they’re in a Wagon-Lits first-class sleeper compartment rumbling through snow-covered Alpine passes in the small hours of a freezing December night.

Q) What can you tell us about your community of support?

A) I’m very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive wife and some terrific friends. Without those, I’d have given up long ago.

Q) What are your thoughts on social media as it pertains to writing and publishing?

A) It’s a necessary evil.

Q) Favorite monster?

A) (laughs). That’s a great question! It would have to be the traditional Dracula, accompanied of course by a cohort of sexy, voluptuous, and very hungry lady vampires.

Q) You've written both fiction and non-fiction (I am referring of course to the newly released “Sutherland's Rules” and “Aegean Dream”). What are some of the key differences you've experienced in the process (aside from the obvious)?

A) Aside from the obvious, actually, not much. (Laughs). The upside of fiction is that you can tweak and change it to your will. The downside is the need to invent everything from (more or less) whole cloth. In my nonfiction book, “Aegean Dream,” a true memoir of our year on the tiny Greek island of Sk√≥pelos (the actual “Mamma Mia!” island), I was very fortunate to have a true story which already contained all the elements of a novel. If it hadn’t, or the subject matter had been drier, it would probably have been much harder to write.

Q) Favorite flavors of the moment? (Here, I am referring to food.)

A) I’ve been cooking a lot with chorizo lately. It’s especially awesome (teamed with rice and onions and small cubes of good cheddar) in roasted stuffed red peppers.

Q) Team sports or exercise?

A) I hate team sports—actually, sports, period. I do exercise, and like to walk and hike.

Q) If you could collaborate on a project with anyone living, dead or imaginary, who would you pick?

A) A writing project? It would have to be Mark Twain. He’d be impossible and wouldn’t want me near him, but I think we might have some synergy. But if you mean any project, I think I’d like to work with Queen Victoria and Benjamin D’Israeli on World domination.

Q) Grill or campfire?

 A) Ooh, both. I love grilling, but I’m serious wilderness backpacker, too. Most years I take a 4 or 5 day solo trip up into the High Sierras, where I stagger about at 10,000 feet and clear my head and heart from the dross of what we laughably call civilization.

Q) Tell us about your current and upcoming creative projects.

A) Right now all my energy is devoted to promoting Panverse Publishing and our authors. As well as “Divinity and the Python” (mentioned above), there’s “Channel Zilch,” a wild SF caper; “The Bone Flower Throne,” an Aztec Fantasy novel; “The Sparrow in Winter,” a Dark Ages Romance; and a nonfiction/self-help book titled, “No Wonder You Feel Like Crap!”.

 As if that weren’t enough, there’s my own work. “Sutherland’s Rules,” a caper-thriller about two old friends in their sixties risking life and liberty on an insane and highly illegal adventure, came out a couple of weeks ago and is starting to get a lot of great reviews. It takes a lot of work to get a book noticed, so I’m going to take this opportunity to ask your readers to go check it out and read the free excerpt as soon as you leave the Spotty Blog!

 Upcoming also is my own WIP, which I work on first thing every morning for a couple of hours, is that it features parallel storylines—one starting in the 1920s and a contemporary one—ritual magic of the nastiest sort, and a long-dead and very disturbed Nazi colonel who’d once been given a sinecure command on a small Greek island just to keep him out of the way.

Somewhere in between all this, I find time to eat, sleep, work out, and have a life.

*You can also check out Panverse Publishing's facebook page here:

*You can follow them on Twitter as @Panverse


  1. Thanks so much for the chance to be on the Spotty Blog, Reggie--that was so much fun! :)

  2. Loved this interview. Especially the comments on Mark Twain. Just imagine.


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