Let’s get the logistics out of the way – what is your name, where are you from and what is the title of your short story in the upcoming Running Wild Press Anthology?
Tone Milazzo. ‘Milazzo’ being a town in Sicily where Odysseus blinded the cyclops. If you have a cyclops that needs blinding let me know.
I’m from San Diego. My father was stationed here briefly in WWII and longed to return. So he relocated his family here from New York in ‘75. Moving was the extent of his plan. He didn’t have a job lined up or anything. We lived in a tent in a campground for six months before he found a job. I wrote The Ginger Jar.
What started you on the path to writing?
As a reader I was frustrated with how cliché the fantasy genre had become. Every book in the store read like; A white, male orphan, with a destiny, guided by his magic mentor, picks up the magic weapon, learns to fight, and faces the elemental evil.
If I couldn’t find a book that I wanted to read I had to write it myself. Inverting these tropes I came up with a story about an African-American boy from a functioning home, who’s been cursed to fall apart, is exploited by occult con-men, until he defeats one of them, takes his wand, learns to do magic, and faces the spiritual consequences of his father’s actions. That’s my first novel, Picking Up the Ghost.
How did you come up with the title of your short story, The Ginger Jar? Where did the idea come from?
I’ll answer those in reverse order. Picking Up the Ghost wasn’t what you’d call a hit. It’s still trying to find it’s audience. But it’s hard to market a book that was published 7 years ago. But I figure a follow up short story about the main character, Cinque Williams… That might reach new readers.
I love weaving references into my work. Maybe I’m trying to convince everyone that I’m as clever as I think I am. I don’t know. The villain of this piece is a genie. So I looked around for literary references and found one in the Oz books. Jinnicky the Red Jinn, red skinned slaver with heavily pierced ears, he lived in a ginger jar instead of a lamp. The Ginger jar became the titular name of the ruined hotel where my genie set up shop
If you could give a quick log line for your story in Running Wild Press Anthology – what would it be?
A young urban shaman is trapped in a ruined hotel by a genie that grants wishes to those willing to become his addicts.
What has been one of the most rewarding experiences of your writing career? One of the biggest challenges?
Getting traditionally published. Even though it wasn’t a big seller and it’s a small press. I realize the odds of a first novel being published out of the gate are pretty slim. Especially someone who’s never been published before, no short stories or anything.
Writing subsequent novels on spec has been very difficult. It’s hard to get over the feeling that I’m wasting my time. It took me at least two years to start working on my second novel, a psychic espionage thriller called The Faith Machine. It’s been finished for another two years and hasn’t found a publisher. On the one hand there’s nothing I’d rather to for a living than write my stories. But I have to wonder is that dream ever going to be practical.
If someone was new to your work, what work should they start with? Why? OR Do you have a preferred medium or genre that you like to write in? Short Story, blogs, flash fiction, novel writing, freelance writing? Is your writing comedic, dramatic, thriller etc.
Picking Up the Ghost is my only other published work. I’ll recommend it here, but I won’t resort to leaving myself 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
What are you reading right now?
14by Peter Clines. I’m only about 20 pages in, but it’s right up my alley. Contemporary setting with a bit of speculative weirdness. I just finished an epic fantasy that I won’t name. It’s very popular, a Hugo winner, but I just couldn’t get into it. I think I exhausted my capacity for epic fantasy about halfway through the tenth Wheel of Time novel. The real world is richer than any fictional world and I don’t have the patience to read pages of fake history, politics, and ecology instead.
What is your writing process – are you a pantser or a plotter?
Plotter. I have twelve pages of notes for Picking Up the Ghost. I thought that was thorough. For The Faith Machine I had a 77 page outline, one page per scene. I stuck to it too, only adding a few scenes here and there after feedback from my beta readers. For my next book I’m trying something new. I’m writing about 50,000 words of backstory using the pantser method. I’ll probably outline another 50,000 words worth of the actual story and use bits of the backstory for flashbacks and such.
What has been most successful for you in marketing your work? Are you doing anything different for 2018 that you haven’t done before?
I can’t say I’ve had any successes in marketing. I’m especially down on paid advertising. It’s not worth the money for a thin profit margin like on a book.
Apparently I cut a good podcast, so I’m thinking about starting my own. Not interviews, more of an improvised storytelling exercise. We’ll see.
What are you working on next and what is the best way for people to connect with you?
Alejandro’s Ocean,a post time travel novel. The hero returns to his home time and place after saving the past, present, and future from a chronological catastrophe to find another version of himself living his life with his job, home, and wife. What if there’s no place in the world for the hero after he saves it?
I’m also working on a graphic novel called Dead Woman. The elevator pitch for that is, “Seven Samurai, but instead of swordsmen the heros are undead woman; a ghost, a vampire, a zombies, etc.”
More About Tone Milazzo
I’m the author of Picking Up the Ghost and the upcoming E.S.P. and espionage novel The Faith Machine.
When the first hunter told the story about the one who got away stories are what make us human. Stories have always been my primary interest. Because stories lead to understanding. Fiction, religion, biographies, gossip, gaming and history it all goes into the slow cooker and out comes ideas.
To those ends I’ve been around, professionally speaking. Marine, taxi driver, teacher, scientist and coder. This breath of experience has given me a little knowledge about a lot of things, good and bad.
And a good story reaches beyond the scope of its words.