Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Author Interview: Frank Campisano IV
New Jersey native Frank Campisano IV is an independent author and cinema student at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina. He has previously published works for a number of publications, notably Teen Ink Magazine, Comicbloc.com, and xEasyCorex.net. In his free time, Campisano writes lyrics, poetry, editorials, short stories, and screenplays.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
It’s a bit of both, honestly. Major plot beats are outlined and different elements of the plot are built up and foreshadowed in order to maximize payoff, but there’s not always a clear, micromanaged path from point A to point B. That’s where the characters and settings tend to come to life and tell the story their way.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Definitely! Anyone who tells you otherwise is just being modest! There is one character who steadily rises to prominence in Project NOVA, whose identity I won’t spoil, that took actions to change his or her fate in the story. Now, obviously the characters aren’t autonomous, but as I was writing the scene, it occurred to me that there was no way this character wasn’t going to intervene, and that changed everything in that particular character’s story arc, all the way through the ending of the novel.
What is your favourite food?
I’m a pizza addict. As an Italian kid who was raised by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Teen Titans, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I do my best work late at night when the rest of the world has slipped away and I can separate myself from any distractions. But on the flipside, I’m wont to be an early riser. It’s not a surprising occurrence to find me awake before sunrise on a weekday. I suppose I’m a night owl who recognizes that life calls for some flexibility.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I want to go to London for the same reason every American wants to go to London. I also wish to visit Italy, particularly Rome and Sicily. It would be nice to get a bit more in touch with my heritage.
Do distant places feature in your books?
There’s a bit of cross-country trekking in Project NOVA, but the farthest the story takes us is to England. I have a mental list of different things I wish to accomplish in future works, and visiting a number of more exotic locales is up there.
Do you listen to music while writing?
It depends on what I’m writing. If I’m working on poetry or prose, I tend to prefer either instrumental pieces or no music at all. As a writer, I’m very in tune (no pun intended) to the lyrics in the music I listen to, and it can sometimes be too overpowering in terms of distraction and influence on what I’m working on. I definitely listen to music if I’m writing stream of consciousness or anything resembling informal work.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
Project NOVA is the result of two year’s hard work, balanced alongside a day job, classes, a tumultuous personal life and a number of other creative projects. It’s a labor of love, and it is very much a benchmark in my career. I look forward to being able to look back a few years from now and see where I was and how much I will have grown since then. In some ways, Project NOVA was an experiment for me as an author, exploring different tropes and cinematic elements and trying to make them my own.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
The characters tell the story, not the author. Your novel is a living, breathing story that can change and evolve all the way until the final page. It’s all a trial and error process. Publishing is an interesting beast, and if you want to be able to compete with a Big Six book as an independently published author, it’s going to require hefty financial investments. At this stage in my career, especially as a student, I’m not quite at the stage where I am trying to go head to head with those big budget releases, but I am certainly looking forward to it.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I would have liked to write a larger number of smaller pieces, rather than the single large piece. 120,000 words might have been more than I could chew, considering it’s nearly twice the average novel’s length. By the time I wrapped production, I was long since ready to move on from this story and its characters.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
The people and experiences I’ve met in my life, the places I’ve been, and the things that have stuck with me over the years have been big influences on my writing. Film directors and authors, including Chris Nolan, Eoin Colfer, S.E. Hinton, J.K. Rowling, Rian Johnson, among others, also influence me. Memorable teachers throughout my school career have also been irreplaceable.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
You’ve heard this piece of advice too many times to count, but that’s because it’s the best advice out there. Write, write, write. Take on one project at a time, and stay with it from start to finish, but you need to be constantly generating new ideas and keeping an ongoing folder of characters, settings, and plot ideas. You should always be creating art.
What are three words that describe you?
Determined, Charismatic, Clever
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
My current favorite book is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It was his debut novel and, in my opinion, holds up as his strongest work. His approach to literature is refreshing, innovative, and nothing short of inspiring. The stories that he tells cannot be told through any other medium, and that takes written word in an exciting new direction. Runner-ups include 1984, an all time favorite, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book I feel a personal connection towards.
My favorite writer is Bukowski. His style is iconic, influential, and entertaining. Even his prose has poetic elements. He knew his way around a typewriter.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
After World War II, the United States developed Project NOVA, an international peacekeeping program designed to operate outside the jurisdiction of the newly created United Nations. The Project quickly earned a reputation for accomplishing its goals by any means necessary, and was allegedly shut down following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Forty years later, detective John Lange's investigation into a rumored revival of Project NOVA leads to a string of startling discoveries about his own family tree. When the Project decides to cut his investigation short, Lange will have to learn that some cases are better left unsolved.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.