Set on a Greek island, Dario Ciriello’s latest novel Black Easter, delves into the worlds of good and evil — and the intersection.
Meet Dario Ciriello
Dario Ciriello was born and raised in London, to Italian parents, with roots in Turin and Piemonte.
“At the time there was discrimination against Southern Europeans. I was the only Italian kid in my school. Italy lost the war — on the wrong side. Needless to say, I was teased a lot. As a kid, I had trouble with my Italian identity; I wanted to change my name.”
Though he spent his summers in Italy, he grew up “very English.” Like many Greeks, he spoke about straddling two cultures.
“At the core, I was English, but later the Italian side came out. I always felt a little outside the mainstream.”
Writing runs in the family — Dario’s father was a journalist.
“I went to sleep at night with the sound of his typewriter. To this day, it’s a soothing sound for me; it reminds me of my childhood.”
He wrote his first short story at 8 years old, but never thought seriously about being a writer. He explored his creative side, in what became a 25-year career as a faux painter. Dario continued this work when he followed his heart to the US in 1989. The ill-fated relationship ended, but he’d set up a business in California, and decided to stay. He began writing seriously in 2000.
So how did this Italian-Englishman become a Grecophile?
Dario and his wife, Linda, were living in Santa Cruz, CA, where she worked in a series of start-ups. He refers to this period as, “life in the fast lane.” Linda had a great job, but they felt they were “running to stay in one spot.” Dario loved Greece, and suggested a vacation.
“When we returned, we thought, ‘What are we doing here? We could be in Greece.’ I’m a European National, so we thought we could move to Greece, start a business, and live the good life”.
The couple moved to Skopelos, in 2006. Through the consulate, they prepared all the proper business requirements, but bureaucracy held things up. After a year, their residency was still not approved, so they couldn’t start the business or get jobs. After burning through their savings, in 2007, it was time to go back to the States.
“The economy had just tanked. Fortunately, we found work, and I started writing Aegean Dream right away. It’s a bittersweet travel memoir.”
Despite this adventure gone bad, Dario and Linda loved Greece.
“We didn’t want to be ex-pats, so we made Greek friends right away. We studied Greek for a year, with a tutor. We like the lifestyle and the values. In the US we live to work, and there you work to live. People there put life and family before work. They enjoy the good things in life. They don’t work 60-hour weeks and take 4-day vacations. I love the emphasis on family, their loyalty, their spirit.”
Writing Black Easter
Dario explained that Black Easter was inspired by the “collision” of three desires. He’d always wanted to write a book about “old-fashioned black magic”.
“I didn’t want to write a glittery-high-school-vampire kind of story, but one about good and evil in the classic sense.”
Additionally, he’s a WWII history buff, and wanted to explore what it was like to be a German officer who’d been through the horrors of Russia.
“I have some Jewish family members that died in concentration camps. I wanted to delve into the Nazi mind.”
Finally, Dario said, that having lived on a small Greek island, he’d wished to set a dark thriller there.
“The remote location is a perfect setting for a horror/thriller/suspense book. It’s easily cut-off. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to contrast the terrible evil in this idyllic setting.”
He thoroughly enjoyed researching Greek Orthodoxy and Mount Athos, and hopes to visit someday.
Greek American Paul Hatzis has been through a tough time — he divorced a wife who got mixed up with a cult, and more. He sells his San Francisco antiques business, and decides to take a “time out” from life. He knows some Greek, and decides to move to a small, remote Greek island. On the fictitious island of Vounos, he hopes he is far enough from home — and his life — to figure out what’s next.
There, a beautiful real estate agent named Elleni shows him a fantastic stone house. Paul moves in; the two become lovers. Neither of them knows the house’s evil past. They hear the speculation, and Elleni confronts her grandmother, who tells her of the sinister events that took place there. In 1944, black magician, Dafyd, and his clairvoyant companion Magda, recruited an SS officer into what amounts to a deal with the devil, which after planning their deaths — and their return — leads them to service in hell, with the promise of being reborn as all-powerful, with the ability to dominate the earth.
The lovers shrug it off, learning that the house has been “cleansed”. Paul prepares for his niece’s arrival for Easter. Little do they know that this particular Anastasi day happens to be on the threescore and tenth year, when the threesome is to return. Strange things begin happening in the house, as the artifact buried in the basement begins to activate, and sets the rebirth in motion. The evil trio just need three bodies to take over, and then they can commence their wicked plans.
REVIEW: Black Easter
Black Easter is a fascinating thriller that will give you chills — and make you think. Those fascinated by the occult or a well-conceived thriller, will enjoy this book, but it brings to mind a much deeper meaning.
In a world, such as ours, where good and evil exist, how do we combat it? Can we? We think about good and evil in our lives and in the world. The story becomes an allegory for today’s world: when we stand together, and work together for good, we win. But if we aren’t all in — if we are divided, if we work against each other — we lose, and evil creeps in.
For an intriguing, thought-provoking read, put Black Easter on your list.
By: Dario Ciriello
Publisher: Panverse Publishing
Publication Date: December 5, 2015
Other books by Dario Ciriello: