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Writer vs. Writer: Domenic Marinelli

Here we are yet with another amazing transgressive writer, Domenic Marinelli. He's a freelance writer and a journalist from Montréal, Québec, Canada and he has written 15 novels. Let's get to know him through his own words.

Hello Domenic. Glad to have you here. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your writing process?

I’d just like to start off by saying that it’s an honor to talk to you today. I’m a journalist, freelance writer, and author of 16 novels. I’m from Montréal, Québec, Canada. The genres of my books range from Transgressive fiction to neo-beat poetry and prose, as well as crime, action thrillers, and horror novels. I like to kind of write in multiple genres because I love to read multiple genres.

I was first published at 10 years old in a school board periodical. I was published again the following year and by the sixth grade, my teacher, Mr. Summers suggested to my mother that I cultivate my writing, and so I did, by reading a lot and writing a lot as the years went on.

I first started sending stories out to professional magazines back in 2010, having worked on a number of them from when I was very young. I piled up a lot of rejection slips but I kept at it. Money was tight, but I had conviction that I’d eventually get somewhere and be able to pay my way in life doing what I loved, which was writing. I worked a bunch of odd jobs over the years, and despite having a teaching certificate after I was done with school pretty much, I worked as a video store clerk, office and warehouse clerk, dental equipment technician and cook.

Back then, when I was first sending stories out, like I mentioned, money was tight, so I didn’t even have an internet connection. I would go to the local library to use those computers, as far as connecting with publishers and all, but at home, I worked on an old typewriter, believe it or not. I’ve said this before in podcast interviews, but my conviction for my writing and my lack of conviction for the odd jobs I worked led me to going bankrupt twice. That’s how much I believed in my work. I was ready and willing to face financial obscurity twice. And boy did I face obscurity. Some days I wondered where the hell it was all going, but I kept at it.

Fast forward a few years, I was finally convinced to join in on social media, starting first with Facebook, as I had independently published my first novel, Weathered Tracks (2016). A few years after that, I landed my first freelance writing gig, and by the end of 2019, I was able to write full-time. It’s been a crazy ride and continues to be a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t be able to do anything else.

You're such an inspiration. Can you tell us about your published or unpublished books?

Weathered Tracks was my first book, as I mentioned, and it was me trying to combine horror with Transgressive fiction in a sense. It paid off because it turned out to be something I’m very proud of and really can’t be associated with any of the aforementioned genres. It kind of became its own thing.

A lot of my books fall into that category. I usually start off with a concept or a direction, usually outlining the whole thing, but sometimes the project kind of takes a life of its own.

I followed my first book up with a collection of stories, Save … Act – A Collection of Ten Stories, then the novella, Miles In The Dark. Then came my first straight-up horror novel, Beneath The White Darkness. To date, it’s my biggest book and one I think you can really sink your teeth into if looking for a good horror novel that isn’t at all typical.

Then came 13 Years of Lamentation, a strictly Transgressive piece…a story that isn’t all that easy to read but honest. I then released Resonant Words (articles) and in quick succession released Strays in the Cold and Kiss of the Calliope, another horror piece. In Strays in the Cold, some of my first bits of poetry are collected, as are stories and even a play entitled “R-E-V-E-L-A-T-I-O-N.”

Then came Flea Market Scripture and Generic V, my first take on satire. And after a horror collection entitled The Mannaro Motel at the tail end of 2019, I released 4 books in 2020: An Open Letter to Arthur Pond, Where It Lay Hidden, Stella’s Lighthouse and Summer of the Great White Wolf. 2020 was huge, because I released these four novels, but was working for a local paper in Montréal, covering crime, politics, community events and the Covid-19 pandemic. I look back on 2020 now and wonder how I got everything done, but I managed (laughs).

This year, so far, I’ve released His Old Tapes (stories & Poetry), and have been promoting it as best as I can on a few podcasts and one live reading in the city of Pincourt here in Québec, just west of Montréal. I try to go to many readings while touring a book, but the pandemic has made that hard for sure.

For each of your books, how long did it take you to write?

That’s an interesting question. It’s always different for me. Sometimes a book can take me ages; especially the big ones. That’s either because of research, or the novel is a pretty sprawling book and needs the time to develop on its own terms. I guess you can’t rush it sometimes, but in other cases, I can have a book conceptualized, written and edited inside of 2 months. That’s what happened with Where It Lay Hidden and a few others.

Tell me about a time when you developed your own way of doing things or were self-motivated to finish an important task.

It’s about routine in the end. Beat poet and writer, Gregory Corso said that you can’t separate the poet/writer from his work. He or she is one in the same with his work—that’s how it works best. I definitely live by that. It took me a while to get there, because sometimes life kind of gets in the way, and you want to do it all in a sense, but a decision needs to be made at one point…do you want to be a writer or do you want to be an accountant that wrote a book?

It’s hard for a lot of people to grasp that, and I get that, because they’re not living what I’m living: deadlines, getting paid for what you put forth on your own terms, editors, etc., but in making my routine and building my life around that routine, I’ve settled into a pretty good groove that works for me. It wasn’t always the case, and that was a recipe for disaster for sure. Now my daily journalism, fiction, poetry and promotions kind of fit into the groove that is my life somehow, which entails family stuff as well, which is important to me.

That's an absolute truth. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Mordecai Richler, author of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and so many more. This was a man that had the ambition to know what he wanted from an early age, and he knew that he had to be honest in delivering that message that he wanted to get across. In Montréal, he battled constantly because of his opinion and how honest he was in his journalism and in his fiction, but he never backed down from the fight.

The language war in Montréal and the rest of Québec was pretty nasty at times—especially in the mid-nineties and even before—and he was honest with his opinion in that regard. It got so bad—the opposition against him from the French-speaking citizens in the province, that journalists would go to his apartment in downtown Montréal and interview him, and you know what…he ‘d invite them in, and have a war of words, defending his stance…and that was on TV, believe it or not.

I saw that as a child at the time, and was in awe. Here was this writer, defending his stance, allowing these people that probably hated him, with whatever hidden agendas they had, and he’d bat the balls they threw at him out of the park, one at a time. Now that’s power.

One of my favorite quotes of his: "I’m trying to tell the truth. I don’t think that it’s something that has to be in season like hockey or hay fever. I think you should be able to tell the truth at any time."

I try to live by that every time I sit down to write a piece…and in this sensitive society, it isn’t always easy.

What makes a good transgressive story?

Honesty. Truth…writing without any filters. That’s what makes a good transgressive story. When I see writers in the genre pulling their punches, I start to worry. Transgressive fiction should be a no-holds barred shoot fight of the most violent proportions—no limits. Editors and publishing houses that are worried about offending readers, have no business publishing good transgressive fiction that has no boundaries.

A transgressive writer never has that added element of danger of going out of bounds with his or her work…there are no rules essentially. Because there are no rules in life when it comes to how far a murderer will go; how far an effected addict will go; how far an abuser or pedophile will go. Therefore all of that needs to be on the page, no matter how uncomfortable it gets.”

What is it about the Transgressive Genre that attracts you? When did you find yourself attracted to transgressive literature? Why?

That same honesty. I love the grandfathers of the genre…Charles Bukowski, of course William Burroughs…a Beat, yes, but Naked Lunch definitely opened doors for transgressive writers everywhere. I absolutely adore the work of A. M. Homes. The End of Alice is one of the greatest books around, Homes showing that she had no fear and no filter when taking the book where it needed to go to effectively deliver the intended message and lesson. Because even in transgressive fiction, there’s a lesson to be learned, I feel.

Everybody has a story…the judged, the outcast, the loner, the deranged, the sufferer…everyone. Transgressive fiction—honest transgressive fiction, is a way of telling those stories.

In Stella’s Lighthouse, the story needed to go to a dark place—somewhere extremely uncomfortable for many to delve into, but in the end, there’s a point to all that madness, as even in life, a disastrous and unfortunate scene of murder and brutality will tell a story, and as a journalist, a writer, we need to get that message across honestly—tell the story right…deliver the message.

Otherwise we’re just sugarcoating everything for our readers and that’s not right. If society continues to do that, future generations will be nothing but a bunch of over-sensitive automatons, and when the proverbial shit hits the fan, when things go badly, they won’t know where to turn because they’ve been canceling everything that makes them uncomfortable; pushing away that truth and honesty that real transgressive fiction brings to their doorstep; whether historic or in fiction and the rest of the arts. Imagine trying to cancel the Mona Lisa because she offended someone in some way! Ridiculous.

Indeed. Which character in a book most represents you? Why?

Great question. I often see myself in other people’s work—in a book I read. I’ll see some of myself in that character. But as far as my characters are concerned, they’re their own entities in a sense. I often write about flawed individuals (although we’re all flawed—so maybe in a sense, that’s how my characters are similar to me), or rather those that are on a journey to self-discovery, and I find that I can have more compassion for others, especially a sufferer of addiction, or a criminal full of remorse or on his way to finding remorse…on his or her way to being a contrite sinner.

I can’t really see myself in any of my characters all that much, except for maybe in small ways, but they’ve all become so important to me, from when they whispered their existence from out there in the ether and into my ears and all these years later, I still feel them around me.

Apart from books, you’re active on YouTube as well. Tell us a bit about it.

Yes, YouTube was a way to bring my work to a broader audience. It’s had a slow start, as there’s so much on YouTube these days. I also put up old school videos. I try to make videos that look older in context—like the videos you can find up there of Jack Kerouac readings. That’s done by design. I want my fiction to be associated with the Beat videos that can be found online these days.

I’ll put readings up there, edited with images I’ll shoot with my Nikon on a walk or something. I’ll put up live readings as well. I want it to be a place for people to go and check out some old school poetry and prose readings, and listen to some folksy background music as the images and words kind of come at you. Not too popular in this era of influencers and TikTok, but I’ll stick to my guns…it’s worked out so far thank God.

Thank you so much Domenic for being here with us today and I hope we can collaborate in the near future.

If you're interested to know more about Domenic and his books check out the following links:

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