Thursday, October 22, 2020

Robert Masello

Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, television writer, and bestselling author of many novels and nonfiction books. His historical thrillers with a supernatural bent have been published in seventeen languages and include The Night Crossing, The Jekyll Revelation, The Romanov Cross, The Medusa Amulet, Blood and Ice, and the Amazon Charts bestseller The Einstein Prophecy.

Masello's new novel is The Haunting of H. G. Wells.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

For once, I got a title that works well with the book. (Picking titles is my nightmare.) The hero of the book is, of course, H.G. Wells, arguably the founder of sci-fi, and the author of such classics as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds. The book is set during the First World War, and Wells is sent to the Western Front, by Winston Churchill no less, to investigate rumors of a brigade of angels descending from Heaven to repel the German troops. Such a story actually did make its way into the public consciousness. While at the Front, Wells is drawn into a world that even he could not have imagined, a world whose denizens come back to haunt him upon his return to London.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Oddly enough, I think my teenage self would be totally onboard with it. I say this because my older brother just sent me a packet of stories and poems that I wrote as a kid, and which my late mother had preserved. Reading them over now, I was astonished (and a bit appalled) that my artistic career and aims seem not to have advanced a jot. Even then, I was writing short stories based on history, and colored with a supernatural or highly speculative twist. Geez, I was the same guy then as I am now. I had hoped for more improvement.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings are scary, but fun. The whole world is open to you, and the characters are just taking on shape. You’re just starting to hear them talk. But I have been known to junk whole first and second chapters when the book felt like it just wasn’t starting off on the wrong foot. As for endings, the good ones have a sense of inevitability about them. I don’t know my endings when I start a book, but I do have a vague sense of who will be living, who will be dead, and where the climax might take place. With this one, for instance, I knew that the ending would have to take place in London, and somehow involve an iconic English landmark. I alighted on St. Paul’s Cathedral, for various plot reasons.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Since many of my main characters are real people, and from earlier eras, they’re pretty foreign. But it does not escape my attention that I write many books whose protagonists are famous writers – such as Bram Stoker (in The Night Crossing) and Robert Louis Stevenson (in The Jekyll Revelation) and now H.G. Wells. I can certainly identify with, and I think convey with some authenticity, the struggles involved in the writing process. Wells was astoundingly prolific all the way through his life (he died in 1946). I so envy him that. It appears that he never had to wait for inspiration or for the Muse to arrive. I, on the other hand, am always waiting around for a good idea to occur to me, or for the Muse to knock on my door. Something tells me that she long ago lost my address.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

No one can entirely avoid the influence of movies and TV on what they write today. I do know that whenever I start writing a book set in a certain time and place, I seek out all the movies I can find that share the setting. I just want to get that landscape, and the look of the streets, the clothes people wore, the carriages they drove in, etc., into my head and visual imagination, so that as I’m writing, I can see my own scenes come to life more easily. Movies like those made by the Merchant Ivory company, for example, were especially useful, as they strove for accuracy in every detail. God bless ‘em!
Visit Robert Masello's website.

The Page 69 Test: Blood and Ice.

The Page 69 Test: The Medusa Amulet.

The Page 69 Test: The Einstein Prophecy.

My Book, The Movie: The Einstein Prophecy.

The Page 69 Test: The Night Crossing.

--Marshal Zeringue