Finally getting it right
It was Churchill who said the Americans could be always counted on to do the right thing … after they’ve exhausted all other possibilities.
That’s a bit how I feel about Dark Soul. The character of Silvio Spadaro has been with me for twenty years. Almost as long as I’ve been published. You can bet that I’ve tried before to write about him. Thing is, as mercurial as Silvio is on the page, he’s worse in my head. I’ve literally tried everything to get him into a story, but nothing really worked. Not the loosely-connected episodes I wrote about him when I “met” him, not the novel-length family drama where he’s about sixteen and as pretty as he’s deadly.
I’ve written about him when he was a coke-head, early-to-mid-thirties, fucked up and still deadly. I’ve written him dying of AIDS. I’ve written part of his story in a near-future cyberpunk world. I’ve considered putting him into the Italian Renaissance – the Borgia and Medici surely know how to deal with him – but I never really got a handle on him.
Part of the reason is pure vanity. Hey, here’s me, Mr. “I know how this shit works” Author, and I can’t get a bead on a mere character, a figment of my own imagination? Normally I at least get to a workable compromise with my characters, sometimes the Muse does exactly what he’s supposed to do.
The other part is the desire to share. Hey, if I enjoy this character so much – and for so long – readers surely will, too. At least some of them. The problem is that, to communicate Silvio to a brain outside my own, I need to get him on the page. Back to square one. Talking only gets me so far when I try to share – writing’s more than talking. It’s a mix of re-imagining, living inside the character and the scene, but above all, it can feel like drawing a magical circle and making some incorporeal force visible by sheer bloody-minded determination and just the right spell book.
Like anything else you summon and feed with (heart)blood, characters are temperamental. Silvio more than any other. Thankfully, he’s pretty vain himself. (Never tease him with his dyslexia, he’s REALLY touchy there, for example.) So he wanted out.
So when I read a short story sub call about gun kinks (Storm Moon Press’s “Weight of a Gun” anthology) I originally wrote the story for that. The only one of my characters who I knew would get off on gunplay was Silvio. Hey, short story, I can do that without tapping the whole character, right? Can I jackshit.
Once I’d opened the gate and invited him in, he wouldn’t stop being there, teasing me with versions of his life. Most importantly, in the last twenty years, I ‘ve grown enough as a writer to finally do him justice. It’s still not a novel, but this episodic format works. Finally. Last alternative available, but it finally works.
Here's the blurbs from the three available stories:
Stefano Marino is a made man, a happily married west coast mafia boss who travels east to await the death of a family patriarch. All the old hands have gathered—of course sharks will circle when there’s blood in the water—but it’s a new hand that draws Stefano’s eye.
Silvio “the Barracuda” Spadaro is protetto and heir to retired consigliere Gianbattista Falchi, and a made man in his own right. Among his underworld family, being gay is a capital crime, but the hypersexual—and pansexual—young killer has never much cared for rules. The only orders he follows are Battista’s, whether on the killing field or on his knees, eagerly submissive at Battista’s feet.
But Silvio has needs Battista can’t fill, and he’s cast his black-eyed gaze on Stefano. A fake break-in, an even faker attack, and Silvio is exactly where he wants to be: strung up at Stefano’s mercy, driving the older Mafioso toward urges he’s spent his whole life repressing. Stefano resists, but when the Russian mob invades his territory and forces him to seek aid, Gianbattista’s price brings Stefano face to face once more with Silvio—and his darkest desires.
The second volume in the Dark Soul series features the stories "Dark Whisper" and "Dark Night."
In "Dark Whisper," Gianbattista may have broken Silvio's heart and sent him off to the States, but he's still just a phone call away. When Silvio returns from a sex shop with a bag full of goodies, Gianbattista can't resist topping his boy one more time, even if they are 4,000 miles apart.
In "Dark Night," the Russian problem comes back to haunt Stefano, and when a dark encounter leaves him bloody and broken, Silvio knows just the right way to ease his pain.
In "Dark Lady I," as Silvio Spadaro plans to take on the Russian hit squad that kidnapped his boss, he decides the best way to deal with four extremely dangerous men is to become an even more dangerous woman.
In “Dark Lady II,” Stefano discovers yet another disturbing—and arousing—truth about Silvio and how easily Silvio uses a man’s weakness for his own ends.
“Dark Brother” brings another player to Stefano Marino’s household. Franco Spadaro has just been released from the French Foreign Legion and is catching up with his little brother. In the middle of a war, a skilled sniper comes in right on time—but two Spadaros might be more than Stefano can handle.
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