"To Hell with Dante" is a collection of cynical afterlife stories, ranging from comedic genius to dark surrealism. To help kick off this fine anthology, I'll be conducting interviews with many of the contributors. Today I'm interviewing Bruno Lombardi, the excellent author who contributed the stories "A Company of Deaths" and "Rendezvous." Thank you for being here, Bruno.
BRUNO LOMBARDI: Thanks for having me!
MTI: We've done this before, but for readers who didn't catch our previous interview, why not tell them a little about yourself?
BL: I’m a civil servant by day for the Canadian government and a writer by night. I recently got engaged to the most awesome woman in the world and we’re hoping to ‘pull the trigger’, so to speak, in late 2015 or early 2016.
MTI: You have the unique distinction of having two separate stories in To Hell with Dante. First off, tell us a little bit about "A Company of Deaths." What's the general idea behind it?
BL: The general idea behind it is that Death – that’s the guy with the pointy farming implement -- is doing his usual thing on Earth’s first interstellar spaceship when he runs into a unique problem – and one that requires an unorthodox solution.
MTI: And how about "Rendezvous." What's that one about?
BL: I decided that if I go with a comedy for one story, I might as well go for dark in the other. It involves a rogue angel and the entity – one that turns out to be very familiar - tapped to bring the angel in for justice.
MTI: Do either of these stories hold any special significance, perhaps seeking to provoke some thoughts about the afterlife, or were they just a lot of fun fiction?
BL: A bit from column A and a bit from column B, to be honest. There was the comedic aspect of "A Company of Deaths" that I enjoy putting in many of my works and the flexing of one’s creative muscles when you try something completely different in "Rendezvous" but there was a bit of exploration of some common themes of the afterlife. What, exactly, would it be like to be ‘Death’? What happens if you’re supposed to be the ‘good guy’ but you’re forced to sit idly by while evil occurs? What are the unintended consequences of doing good – or evil, for that matter?
MTI: Okay, on a totally unrelated note, if you could meet and talk with any one deceased person, who would it be?
BL: Oh – just one? That’s a tough out! If just one, I’ll say Ray Bradbury. I inherited a massive collection of his works from my sister when I was a kid and it influenced me to this day. I think I’ll love to meet him and, aside from the usual questions all writers get asked (“Where do you get your ideas?”) I’ll tell him “Thanks” as well.
MTI: Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
BL: So much! I think I may have a bit of ADD when it comes to story ideas! At the moment there’s a novel called “The Coin” that’s about three quarters completed and which I hope to finish by spring 2015. I also have, in no particular order, a steampunk story, a story about a domestic couple – that just happen to be a superhero/supervillain duo, a dragon story, a ghost story, a story involving a support group for all the ‘Last Man on Earth’, and even a zombie story.
MTI: Other than your piece appearing in To Hell with Dante, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?
BL: Quite a few are appearing in other anthologies by Martinus Publishing in 2015.
MTI: Speaking about your other works, you have stories that appear in several other Martinus Publishing anthologies. Why not tell us about a couple of your favorite ones?
BL: Three in particular I like, for a variety of different reasons.
‘A Thursday Night at Doctor What’s Time and Relative Dimensional Space Bar and Grill’ in the Temporal Element anthology is on the list for two reasons; one, it’s my first published story and two, it, in the words of one reader, ‘broke my homage-meter’ on every single story involving time travel you may have heard or read. I had a blast writing it.
‘The Road Was Lit with Moon and Star’ in the Altered America anthology is on the list because it explores an interesting ‘what if’; what if Apollo 11 crashed on impact and Neil Armstrong never took that first step? I’m a big space enthusiast and I was a bit surprised to discover how few stories there are out there based on such a premise.
The third is ‘Gold Fever’ in theQuests, Curses and Vengeance anthology. It’s a short but creepy horror story set during the Klondike Gold Rush. I always wanted to try my hand at straight up horror and that story was the result.
MTI: You also have a novel out there, Snake Oil. Here's your chance to pitch that to the people. Tell them why it's a must read!
BL: It’s a fantastic story and one that everyone should read!
The basic premise is quite simple: aliens show up on Earth in the near future. But these aliens are not here to destroy us or bring us into the Federation or to enlighten us or any of that nonsense. Instead they’re here to…sell us their crap!
Basically – what if humanity’s first contact with aliens turns out to be the used car salesmen of the galaxy?
MTI: Writers are often voracious readers. Have you run across any good literature lately that you'd like to recommend? You know, other than your own great work.
BL: A good friend of mine gave me a copy of ‘Under Heaven’ by Guy Gavriel Kay as a present. It is a staggeringly amazing and beautiful book. It’s, literally, every type of book in one: historical, speculative fiction, love story, war story, intrigue – it has it all.
MTI: Other than writing, what would you call your favorite hobby or pastime?
BL: I’ve had an off-again, on-again fascination with photography. It’s now back into its on-again phase.
MTI: Once again, you have the attention of potential readers. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with them, or possibly a sales pitch to encourage them to read more of your writing?
BL: Neil Gaiman said it best and I’ll repeat his words here:
“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
Words to live by, indeed.
MTI: Thank you again for a fantastic interview, Bruno! Those who want to check out his latest pair of published stories can pick up "ToHell with Dante."