Author, Mario Carić
Short Story: The Final Act
Apologue of the Immortals
Tell us a little about your background and what led you to writing.
I come from a small town of Sisak in the heart of Croatia, a place rich—and sometimes burdened—with (pre)historic significance which had always acted as a beacon of inspiration. It had definitely played a part in my writing career. I am a forensic anthropologist and human osteologist by trade, specializing in stable isotope analysis aimed at reconstruction of diet of past populations.
How or when did you realize you wanted to be an author?
The very first time I read a Conan short story collection, then Elric of Melniboné, and Sherlock Holmes (a bit of an odd mix there). Old Marvel comic books from the seventies and eighties also played a large role. The excitement and the sense of wonder all those tales provided had ensnared and inspired me to try and create my own—granted, at that time similar—works. The short story form had always been my greatest love, especially the combination of brevity and fast-pace crowned with memorable—sometimes shocking—conclusions. The English language, I found, suited me far more in this regard than my own mother tongue, prompting me to start down a long road of not only learning it, but also being able to command it to such an extent I could stand toe to toe with native speakers. I dare say my inclusion in this great anthology packed with such talented authors proves I've succeeded in my goal.
What is your writing process like?
I usually start off with an outline, a brief blurb or a note of an idea, which I then gradually transform into a synopsis of a dozen paragraphs, divided according to important beats and narrative pauses. From there I proceed with the actual writing, where I further develop—and many times change—the previously established details, thus always giving myself a sense of freshness when approaching a new yarn. I am, however, a very slow writer as well as reader, but I also love the 'germinating process' of the developing idea. I love to see the potential story 'stew' in my head until it's ready to boil and spill out in its (semi)completed form.
What inspires you to write?
Like most writers will probably tell you—everything. From everyday stuff like walking an unkempt forest path, to field trips such as sightseeing of ancient buildings, to the more extreme—and, let's be fair, fun—cases like ancient murders I see in my everyday work as a forensic anthropologist. Everything can act as a spark for a new yarn if you're inclined towards the creative side. Sometimes it will be just a few words or a single sentence that goes nowhere in the end, or it might be a fully formed idea. Many times I incorporate those smaller fragments together to create something completely new which far exceeds the sum of its parts. The creative process can be both extremely satisfying, but also frustrating at times, but that's the place where it's best to stop and cool down.
What part does writing play in your life?
Writing has always been a substantial part of my life. Though I may not write every day, there are always some ideas or snippets of action going about in my head, even when I do the most boring, random stuff. I found that terms 'quality' and 'quantity' do exist for a reason.
What are your aspirations for your writing journey?
As I said earlier, my greatest dream—and joy—in writing is the creation of new worlds and yarns. I do them primarily for myself, because I love the creative process and the new universes it births. I have always been inclined to remain in one universe and flesh it out as much as I can, because the 'lived in' sense you get with each yarn helps the next one in that established continuity grow and become more believable, both in terms of setting and characters. Needless to say, if my fiction can entertain others, then my success if twofold.
What is something you know now about writing you wish you knew when you started?
I shouldn't have doubted myself at first, though it was hard when the rejection letters started pouring in. It was a phase through which one has to power through and keep on writing and getting better, and then the rejections start being replaced by acceptances.
Describe your favorite character (you created). Why?
Arkain, the main protagonist of "The Final Act" without a shadow of a doubt. I think I've found a perfect balance of realism and fantasy with his 'armored' personality, and have created a character with great depth which I had already begun to explore in other tales. I've tried to create something I hadn't seen beforehand by merging my two favorite genres: sword & sorcery and hardboiled fiction, which had given me a truly vast canvass to paint on. I've never had such fun writing anything as I do Arkain Mysteries.
Which author(s) inspires you as a writer?
Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Karl Edward Wagner, Dashiell Hammett, and Arthur Conan Doyle. I'm quite a traditionalist, as you can see. I find their works highly inspirational and always return to them; not for plot ideas, but more for the feeling and vibe their stories give off. If I had to describe the feeling, I'd go with 'timeless'.
What advice would you give newly aspiring authors?
There are no perfect writers, settings, or stories. It is just a burdensome idea inside our heads, a lie which can hinder people from trying and make them throw in the towel. In writing as well as with everything else in life, if you believe in something, never settle. Never give up. Keep on going and you will succeed because the universe will get bored of your persistence and simply let you have what you want.
What works can your readers expect to see in the near future?
I have a couple of stories ready to be published in the forthcoming issues in Tales from the Magician's Skull—a prestige magazine from Goodman Games publisher and edited by the acclaimed fantasy writer Howard Andrew Jones. I am also writing and seeking home for new Arkain Mysteries, and hope to find it in the new future.
How can your readers find more about you and your works?
You can always look me up on Facebook and Discord, on the Whetstone S&S Tavern server operated by author and academic Jason Ray Carney. I'd love to get to know as many readers as possible. Regarding my work, you can check it out in magazines such as Savage Swords Monthly, Swords and Sorcery Magazine, and Whetstone.