Joseph P. Macolino - Thrilling Fantasy Filled with Twists, Turns and Philosophy

Joseph P. Macolino - Thrilling Fantasy Filled with Twists, Turns and Philosophy
Joe Macolino

Husband, father, and seeker of truth, Joseph Macolino has a passion for nature, philosophy, and all things fantasy. A true believer in human potential, he dreams of a future human society where people can truly cooperate and voluntarily exchange ideas, goods, and services. When he’s not writing Evorath, he’s likely outside gardening, spending time watching a show with his family, or reading a book on philosophy. Considering himself a lifelong student of humanity, Joseph enjoys meeting new people and being exposed to new perspectives. He believes each person’s unique gifts can help contribute to stronger communities and hopes his work encourages others to embrace their gifts. Evorath introduces a rich world full of magic, adventure, and diverse characters trying to find their place in the world.  As our Author of the Day, he tells us about his book, The Birth of Death.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Birth of Death is about.

It’s a twist on the classic fantasy battle of good vs. evil. But instead of the knight and shining armor, it’s flawed, broken people who must put aside their own struggles as their world is threatened by a terrifying new evil. Will they be able to work together to keep this new villain at bay? Only time will tell.

What inspired you to write this book? Was there anything in particular that made you want to write this?

I had built the world of Evorath over the course of many years. And eventually I decided I had to start writing stories in that world. As I started writing the first story, I decided that wasn’t where I needed to start. Instead, I needed to lay a bit more background. I needed to flesh out the villain of Yezurkstal and the impact he had on society at the time. That’s where the seed was planted and the story began.

The Birth of Death introduces readers to the world of Evorath. Can you describe the process of world-building for Evorath and how you developed its unique lore, magic system, and cultures?

I could write an entire book on this! And I suspect one day I will. But, at it’s most basic form, I started building the world because I was a nerd and didn’t have any friends in real life. I got into online roleplaying and made friends there. And in writing stories with these people, I found I really enjoyed the process. So, I started staying up at night writing down ideas for my world. How was it like earth, how was it different? I went down a rabbit hole and dove deep into mythology. I tapped into my love of history and started obsessively reading books on philosophy. I used these real-world examples to really flesh out every aspect of Evorath. How does language work? There’s a goddess, Evorath, but how do different religions form? How do different philosophical schools emerge and how does all of this change over time. I mapped out an ancient timeline to track big milestones -first meeting of elves and dwarves for instance. And I figured out when the major powers settled and the circumstances around them. It’s really a neverending process.

The characters in your book, such as Lieutenant Artimus Atyrmirid and Mage Savannah Sylvanas, face personal and external challenges. How do you approach character development in a fantasy setting?

I always say that Evorath is equal parts plot-driven and equal-parts character-driven. That’s number one. And I think the biggest reason I write that way is not to do with writing, but to do with my favorite TV franchise, Star Trek. Those stories were always as much about the growth of the characters as they were about the events that were happening. So, how do I approach character development? I prioritize. I even write in the 3rd person limited perspective to show not what I’m thinking, but what the characters are thinking and feeling. And, as the story progresses and they face new challenges that they overcome, these heroes are able to expand their understanding and their skills.

The novel explores themes of good versus evil, and the power of individual strengths. How do these themes resonate with you personally, and why do you believe they are important to explore in fiction?

In the real world, I don’t believe people are really good or evil. Or more precise, I believe the vast majority of people are neither good nor evil. Though perhaps some slip so far into depravity they may seem irredeemable, I even have hope that’s untrue. Regardless, I think it’s important to explore these concepts in fiction in realistic ways. But more important, I want people to recognize that we all have strengths and weaknesses. And it’s better for us to join hands and use our strengths for mutual benefit. Ultimately, the only real evil is the act of removing free will. Theft, murder, rape, any crime you can think of…what is it if not a violation of free will?

The book received praise for its imaginative world-building and fast-paced adventure. Did you encounter any specific challenges while writing The Birth of Death, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge was writing Yezurkstal’s perspective, which got even harder in book 2. When I say I’m well read, I mean I spent more time in a couple years of college reading than most people probably spend in an entire decades (or two). And a lot of that was reading nonfiction, specifically philosophy and history. I didn’t let my own bias or fear stop me either, so I studied a lot of the dictators and tyrants, namely reading books like Mein Kampf. This helped inspire the character of Yezurkstal. But writing from that twisted, dark perspective was difficult at times. And in large part, was why it took so long to write book 2.

In addition to writing, you're passionate about nature, philosophy, and fantasy. How do these interests influence your storytelling, and do you draw inspiration from real-world experiences or philosophical concepts when crafting your narratives?

I believe humans can be better. Blame a childhood of Star Trek and Catholic school if you will, but I just don’t believe humanity is living up to its potential. We live in a violent and unforgiving world. The horrors that people justify and the systems we live in seem designed to break our spirits and force us to live in fear and hopelessness. I hope Evorath can offer an escape from that, but also a blueprint on how we can do better. I just dream of a world where people can mind their own business and not try to harm those who disagree with them. I think there’s an alternative system of voluntary cooperation with a focus on peace and love of our neighbor that we should all embrace.

The Birth of Death is the first installment in the Evorath trilogy. Can you provide any hints or teasers about what readers can expect from future books in the series?

You’ll see a lot more of Yezurkstal’s perspective in book 2. You’ll also seem significant changes taking place in the characters. There is a time gap between each book in the trilogy, so even between books you might find some characters have developed new personality traits or adopted new attitudes. You’ll also find no shortage of epic battles, the introduction of necromancy, and continued political upheaval. But most important in my eyes, you’ll see new friendships form, relationships develop, and communities grow stronger.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

When I decided The Birth of Death would be my first novel, I took the time to map out a couple dozen books. And over the years, I’ve added to that list -I think I’m at 36 currently. But basically, I start by consulting my timeline of books and taking the basic summary I’ve put together for it. If it’s the first in a series, I then create a brand new character document where I put all the characters I’ll use. Note that I have a master document that includes most of the main characters throughout the timeline I have planned, but I can tell you that it’s still changing and each time I get ready to start a new series, I will inevitably want to introduce more (both primary and secondary characters). After I have all their details bios ready, I add some details on how they develop through each story in the series. And then, I just start writing based on the plot points. I’m in that intersection of pantsing and plotting. But I’d say I’m more of a pantser because I let me character’s personalities and backgrounds drive the action.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on my next series, Legends of Evorath. It takes place 60 years after the events of the Evorath trilogy (all three books are currently out, not just this first one). I’ve actually already finished book 1, which is going through Developmental Editing currently. And I’m about 2/3 (at least) through book 2 of this series.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

I am trying to be active on X, Facebook, Instagram, and even planning to do more personal sharing on TikTok (though that’s a work in progress). But of course, you can visit my website as well. And don’t forget Goodreads and Amazon, where you can follow me to stay up to date on book releases.

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