Mario Routi

Interview for SciFi Online

Mario Routi has been writing from an early age. He completed his first short story by the age of ten and his first theatrical script by thirteen. He has garnered many favourable reviews. Routi spoke to Charles Packer from his home in London...

Charles Packer: When you were growing up was literature an important part of your family background?

Mario Routi: Definitely! I can remember kids in the neighbourhood playing soccer, and me there sitting in a corner under the shadow, with a book in my hands.

CP: Who were your earliest influences and why?
MR: Julius Verne influenced me deeply when I was a child. He enriched my fantasy.

CP: Who or what fuelled your desire to put pen to paper?
MR: From authors it was none other than JRR Tolkien and Stephen King. My dad however was very supporting in this too.

CP: What made you decide to embark on a project the size of a novel?
It's something I wanted to do since I started to understand life. I always knew I'd do it, I just didn't know when that would be.

CP: The demographic for fantasy and science fiction would appear to be young males. Was there any meaning behind you choosing a young woman as your central character?
I believe young males will love to read a novel with a woman heroine for a change. At the same time, I want to attract more women into reading fantasy novels too.

CP: Given the age of your main protagonist, where you aiming for a predominantly young adult audience?
When I first starting the novel, I aimed at kids, meaning 10 to 14-15 years of age. As the story grew bigger, so did the average age of my potential readers. When I finally finished the book, I realised I had written a novel suitable for all ages besides the kids I first aimed at, so I rewrote some parts and changed a few things to make it readable for younger ages too. However, the book still isn't the most appropriate reading for a child under 12 and I think that - although older people will probably enjoy it too - its targeted best to young adults readership.

CP: Is the Flame supposed to be representative of anything other than a giver of eternal life?
The Flame represents the internal power we all have. Our will to be good and do good. The Flame is our own soul!

CP: King Turgoth and Lord Light are very similar in character, in that, they both feel that they are doing the right thing by their respective peoples. How important was it to you that the lines between these two characters should remain blurred?
MR: That's an important part of the story. Turgoth is a rebel, while he wants to search for everything. Lord Life is a peaceful man and doesn't like to enter things that might be beyond his powers to explain. However, they both are ethical leaders who try their best for their people. They are bright and brilliant, each on his own way, although they are so different. And they seem to have a bond that connects them, that connects these two characters, these two great leaders, that can be no other than the struggle to do the right thing.

CP: The mythical creatures in the book come from differing cultures, did the choice of creatures come from a personal preference or did you feel that you needed a cast of characters which your audience might be familiar with?
Actually, most of the creatures and characters aren't familiar to the readers. The Minotaur is presented to be good and not evil, like it is in the Greek mythology. The Gorgons are ugly creatures and not beautiful women like most ancient scripts want to present them. Also, I have a completely different image given for the Sphinx. As for the Porths, they are completely creatures of my imagination. My Cyclopes with the Greek Mythology Cyclopes, have in common the one eye, but nothing else further to that. Finally, the Centaurs are described the same, but like the Minotaur, they are good and not evil. It is only the Amazons that could match a very similar description to the late Mythology.

CP: Talking of myths, the idea of a young adult discovering that they have a secret destiny is very popular in most societies, why do you think that is the case?
Because we all see that things are going from bad to the worse and worst, so we are all hoping that the miracle will happen and the Knight in the shiny armour will come and save the day.

CP: Are you working on a sequel?
I'm already on it!

CP: Do you still believe that history is one of the most distorted of disciplines and if so how are we ever going to tell fact from fiction?
MR: Yes, I'm absolutely convinced that history is being modified, and as the years go by, it'll be more and more difficult to tell fact from fiction. For the moment, we can only study the historians, compare them and make our own judgements.

CP: The book is very visual. Do you think that the story could translate to film without loosing its philosophical core?
It can translate into film and it probably will.

CP: Do you find the process of writing easy or arduous?
MR: To me, writing is like swimming to a swimmer. I enjoy it and it's usually easy. But times come when the sea is upset and the swimmer can get tired to get out to the sour, or even drowned.

CP: Do you still get the same pleasure, from the publication of your newest work, as you did from the publication of your first work?
MR: Yes I do, and actually even bigger.

CP: Would you have any advice for any young budding authors?
MR: Write a lot, read more. Don't give up. Use your imagination, then put it to paper and let it flow. Most important to me: While you are writing a story, you mustn't know where it'll go and how it'll end. You must feel the suspense and agony to see what will happen next, till the very last moment. That will make you write more, in order to find that out. If you have the agony for that, then probably your readers will too. If you don't, then why should they!

CP: Thank you very much for your time.
Thanks for yours.