School of Deaths - Christopher Mannino
To start with, I absolutely adored this book. Not only was the main character a wonderful and well written (did I mention STRONG) young woman, but the plot is wonderfully thought out and well paced.
I completely fell for Suzie, empathized with her struggle, and appreciated her growth throughout the book. Not knowing who to trust is enough to drive anyone insane, but she handles it wonderfully and learns to trust her own instincts throughout her journey.
I enjoyed reading about grim reapers as it was a nice and refreshing take on the paranormal genre for me. I particularly love that the author chooses to break one of the common rules of young adult literature. And that's all I can say without giving away too much of the plot.
Great work. Highly recommended. I'm anxious to read more.
Some Bio Information
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 completing The Scythe Wielder's Secret series and is working on several adult novels.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
Ideas for new novels come all the time, at the least likely moments. Generally when I have an idea for a totally new book, I jot it down in a journal where I keep book ideas- I currently have about twenty novel ideas, spanning many genres, planned.
Once I move from an idea to drafting, I start by creating sort of a “visual outline.” This is basically a set of images or specific pictures that I see happening at various points in the novel. I don’t always know exactly how they’ll connect at this stage.
I draft mostly on the spot. As a full-time teacher, this usually happens during the summer months. Each summer I try to draft one new novel. I usually start at the beginning, and write until I reach the end. Then, during free time in the school year, I start to re-read and edit, before sending it to the publisher for the professional editing stages to begin.
2. What inspired you to write this book?
In 2011, I spent my final semester of graduate school studying abroad at Oxford. As part of my experience in England, I decided to travel at least once a week to somewhere I’d never visited before. On one such trip, I became stranded in Tintagel, a castle ruin and supposed birthplace of King Arthur. Tintagel lies on the northern coast of Cornwall, in a poor, rural part of the country. I had no car, and the next bus didn’t come for another day. I walked pub to pub, asking to rent a room for the night, so I’d have a place to sleep. One pub said yes, but it turned out to be a noisy place.
The next morning, having slept little, I climbed out to Barras Nose, a promontory of sheer rock cliffs with few paths, overlooking the castle ruins down the coast. It was before dawn, there were no people anywhere in sight, and no railings at the sides of the fifty foot cliffs. Fierce winds blew from every direction, and I had to crawl on all fours across the rocks, to watch the dawn from the edge. I feared I might get blown into the sea. I imagined a character, completely alone in a foreign environment, attacked fiercely from every direction. This eventually became the character of Susan Sarnio. In the initial draft, Susan was actually a boy, but I changed the character to a girl, the only girl, to increase her isolation.
3. Who is your favorite fictional character?
Probably “Wesley” from “The Princess Bride”
4. Describe Suzie in three words.
persistent, curious, resilient
5. How would you describe your writing style?
This is honestly a tough question, as just in the three books in this series, my style has evolved and grown. I feel that describing visual and imaginative imagery tends to be my biggest strength.
6. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who?
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
Just like other writers, I’d love to come to a point where I could write full-time, and fully share all the stories I want to tell. On a note more personal to me, as a theatre person, it’d be wonderful to be involved with creating a stage adaptation of one of my novels. I think I’d enjoy that process even more than if a book was made into a movie.