School of Deaths
by Christopher Mannino
Release Date: 05/02/14
Summary from Goodreads:
Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death?
Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail.
Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who subjugate a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons.
As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn’t an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she’s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.
Name: Susan Sarnio
Gender: the only female in the College of Deaths
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland
Siblings: Joe Sarnio
Occupation: student Death
Hobbies: Reading, painting
Name: Susan Elizabeth Sarnio
Birthday: June 2
Favorite food: pizza
Favorite TV show: Once Upon a Time
Favorite color: green
Biggest fear: spiders
Favorite memory (in her words):
When I was 8, mom and dad took my brother Joe and me to DisneyWorld in Florida. The park was amazing, and the trip was so much fun. It’s the only time I’ve ever been there. I really liked Space Mountain, because it was a ride but it was also in the dark. When we were driving home, dad got a flat tire, and we were stuck for two hours on the side of the road. We were really tired and hot, but mom said that we were so well behaved both Joe and I had ice cream for dinner that night. I had so much ice cream, I could hardly move. It was great.
Name: Billy Black
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut
Occupation: student Death
Birthplace: New York City
Occupation: Headmaster of the College of Deaths
Hobbies: reading, extra Reapings
How Theatre can help a Writer:
As a full-time theatre teacher, and stage actor for over twenty years, I’ve been fortunate enough to pursue both of my greatest passions (writing and theatre) professionally. I’d like to share some tips on how theatre can help writers.
- Theatre in a non-linear process
If you don’t have time to write a book from start to stop, you’re not alone. Part-time writers need to be able to write their story whenever they get a chance- picking up the story wherever they left off. My advice: become an actor in a play. The more shows you’re in, the more you’ll get used to thinking non-linearly. Even if a play takes place in chronological order, you never practice a show like that. You’ll pick up in the middle, work one scene, then start a different scene. You need to be able to keep the chronology of a play in mind when starting in the middle. Eventually this skill becomes second-nature, and will allow you to pick up a draft in the middle with no trouble at all.
- Theatre builds dialogue skills
Have trouble writing believable dialogue? Plays and musicals are nothing BUT dialogue. You get used to language in a new way, by not just speaking it, but practicing speaking in different ways. This builds skill at writing and using dialogue effectively in any setting. Trying to incorporate appropriate methods of speaking into your characters voices can be very helpful.
- Theatre builds confidence
A number of authors at my publishing house Muse It Up have mentioned feeling hesitant about in-person events. The image of a reclusive writer, afraid of the world, is perhaps overblown, but to be fair- writing is an insular process. What better remedy to isolation than jumping onstage in front of strangers. Sound terrifying? In a way, it’s not you up there at all. Drama provides a “mask” – in that it’s your character onstage, not you at all. If I was asked to read a script onstage I feel fine, but if I was aksed to tell my own story I might get nervous. I reach into myself, and draw on that “mask” – becoming the character of myself. It alleviates any nerves I might feel.
About the Author:
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.
Mannino is currently working on a sequel to “School of Deaths” as well as an adult science fiction novel.
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