Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all fo your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.
TGG: Thanks for taking the time out to be interviewed today… Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

MJR: Hello readers, my name is M.J. Rocissono, and I want to thank you all for taking the time to learn a bit about me. I’m the author of Beyond the Wicked Willow: Chronicles of a Teenage Witchslayer, and I’m currently working on book two in a series of– well, I don’t know many, as of yet. So far, book one has been well-received by a diverse group of readers, both young and old alike. I’ve received glowing, and humbling, reviews from novelist/screenwriter, John Fusco (writer of Young Guns 1 and 2, and The Highwaymen, among many others) as well as from Dean Sheril Antonio, PhD, of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Recently, my book was assigned to two different literacy classes at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. If you’d like to read the students’ reviews, just go to Goodreads.com and search the review section by filtering the sort order by “Newest.” The first thirty reviews will be from the students. Most recently, my book was requested for review by Joseph Sciorra, PhD, Director for Academic and Cultural Programs at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College (City University of New York). Because Mr. Sciorra’s PhD is in the area of folklore, I’m very excited for his review, as my book is based on and around various Italian folklore, myths, and superstitions. Most importantly, I am a family man and fighter for social justice for all vulnerable and marginalized peoples as well as an animal welfare advocate.

TGG: Could you please let us know what “Beyond the Wicked Willow” is all about?

MJR: FRANKIE FRETINI has had a horrible year. And, just when he thinks things are looking up, well…all heck breaks loose. It happens in home-ec class just moments after the girl of his dreams, Jenny Moran, invites him to the annual town carnival. Still dazed from the unexpected invite, Frankie accidentally plasters the face of school bully, Brick McDuddy, with a giant scoop of chocolate mousse. Embarrassed, and fuming mad, Brick plots to deliver his painful revenge at the carnival. When Frankie, and his pals, Sam, Beef, and Bookworm show up to meet Jenny, Brick and his nasty bootlickers, Harold “The Horrible” Dunson and Billy “Scat” Pile, chase them into the eerie tent of an old Gypsy fortuneteller named Mala. Trapped with nowhere to run, Frankie makes a pact with Mala not knowing that he and his pals would be swept through her crystal ball to Medieval Italy. Now, their only hope to return home rests in Frankie’s hands. He must kill the evil Italian witch, Il Strega Diavolo, and rescue Mala’s twin sister, Tsura. But, can Frankie find the courage to face the Strega?

But, more importantly, the book is about anti-bullying, anti-war, grieving the loss of a loved one, kindness, friendship, family, and facing one’s fears in life.

TGG: Sounds like a great book and right up our digital alley! What is it about myths that inspire you the most?

MJR: I think what inspires me most about myths is that they are a reflection, and product, of human nature. They show our innate human desire to create stories as a way to explain the unknown. They connect us to a past far different than our present, but also reveal we are not so different than our ancestors. Aside from that, myths are a source of strength, and courage, for fearful humans – road maps of sorts intended to assist in facing, and confronting, universal human trials. Of course, there is much more to myth than that. I highly recommend all the works of Joseph Campbell for anyone interested in the subject.

TGG: I read on twitter that you’re also a screenwriter. What are you working on/what have you done?

MJR: I informally studied screenwriting under the instruction of John Fusco, who I mentioned above, for many years. I’ve written feature-length screenplays in the genres of action, drama, comedy and fantasy adventure. In fact, Beyond the Wicked Willow was first written as a screenplay, which I later expanded into its current form of a 329 page novel.

TGG: That seems to have happened to a few writers we talk to. Finally, where can we support you? (follow you on social media, buy your book etc)

Links to Amazon:


Twitter: @mjrocissono

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