Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Guest author, John Catapano

Today welcome John Catapano, an author I met at Necronomicon.  Seriously, if you've never been to a con, you need to check them out.

John Catapano is an author, an artist, and an engineer. He has been a genre movie fan since his first double feature at age 3. Fifty -eight years later he has traveled extensively, consulted on feature movies and dug for Dinosaur fossils in the badlands of Montana.  His genre trivia book and short stories are available at His new book, The Unusual Suspects is the follow up to his popular Dr. Sarcophagus story "Clarence." He currently is working on two novels, both with Central Florida locales.


  1. Tell us a little about yourself?

    I've just retired! I have been writing most of my life, formally writing for my high school and university papers and yearbooks. A large part of my BA was writing for all forms of media. I worked most of my life in Broadcast news and Entertainment. I drifted into the technical side of the business, travelled extensively and worked on some interesting projects. I worked for Disney entertainment for 18 years and for other national entertainment companies.  I began writing for comic books in the 90's and transitioned into prose in the early 2000's.
  2. Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals? 

    I 'm a planner. In University I had a lot of writing courses. I taught myself to write in a visual style while I slept so I could get up in the morning and transfer that to paper. I still work that way. I need a full story with beginning, middle, and end before I start to commit it to paper. When I'm writing it, I am open to changes, but it mostly comes to be published with the original story. I am always aware of trying to make the timeline and the characters reactions as real as possible even though I'm working in the supernatural realm.
  3. Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?

    The Unusual Suspects is actually a follow up to my previous novella Clarence. They take place in a travelling carnival in the early 1930's run by the enigmatic Dr. Sarcophagus. He doesn't seem to age, and he seems to know a lot about the occult. In The Unusual Suspects he gets three new acts and brings them to Winter Haven to hone their acts before the next season. A young man is murdered in the woods nearby, and the local Sheriff asks the Dr and his animal trainer to examine the body. The Dr quickly realizes that it's the result of a shape-shifter and all three of his new acts have shape-shifting in their cultures. The Werewolf, the Were-tiger, and the Wendigo. All of them had access, and none of them have an alibi. It's up to the Dr. to find out who it is before the next full moon.
  4. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

    Gerard LaChance is the Dr.'s ringmaster and best friend. He has been classically educated in Europe and is a judo master. He is also a hunchback. I wanted to go against stereotype with the character. He doesn't feel or act like it's a disability.
  5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

    For me it is sitting down and committing it to paper. Once the first draft is done I may go back and tighten (edit) it ten or twelve times.
  6. What is your favorite writing tip or quote?

    Write with the door closed and edit with it open, Stephen King
  7. Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other books in the works?

    My next work is a novel that I started in 1995. It's called Invasive Species. I produced the first chapter as a comic book in the late 90's, but I've decided to do it a prose novel. I hope to have it out next year.

The Usual Suspects

Dr Sarcophagus returns to the winter compound with three new acts for the Carnival. A short time later a grisly murder in the woods nearby leads him to believe there is a shape-shifter in their midst. Can he figure out who the killer is before the next full moon? If he does how can he stop it?

John Catapano presents the sequel to his popular story "Clarence." The enigmatic Doctor is embroiled again in an arcane mystery.

A Dark Alley Crew story.


The next night, Minnie joined them for dinner.
"Doctor, I would like to thank you for inviting me to dinner. This is so exciting!" Minnie said clapping her hands. "Gerard and I wanted to take an opportunity to say how impressed we were with your performance the other day."
"You had everyone on the edge of their seats." the Doctor said as Gerard nodded. "Well, we all have our talents, and I'm glad you were entertained, but I'm excited about these hot dogs and fried potatoes! They look yummy!" she said her eyes open wide. "No more delays then. Bon App├ętit!" the Doctor replied. The room filled with the sounds of three people enjoying a meal, one much more enthusiastically than the others. As Gerard brought more Cokes out from the ice box, Dr. Sarcophagus began to explore Minnie's past.
"Well, my father was the supervisor of the plantation and so I had full run of the place," Minnie started. "Was the jungle very close?" the Doctor probed. 
"We were surrounded by the jungle. The men constantly had to keep it at bay. Everything in that climate grows very quickly you know,"she said. 
The Doctor continued, "Being that isolated sometimes leads to a regression back to superstitions that the surrounding civilization has long put a way." 
As Gerard placed the sweating bottles on the table, Minnie exploded into raucous laughter. "Oh, Doctor! I was wondering how we would get around to the subject," she said between breaths. 
"What question is that?" the Doctor said as coyly as possible while Gerard slowly sat down. 
"That I am a witch of course! When I heard you had presented Diane with your silver topped cane and tried to feed poor Henry some raw meat...." 
Gerard interrupted, "That was Steak tar tare," he said with a straight face. 
"Yes, of course," Minnie continued, "I surmised that you believe the murder in the woods a few weeks ago was done by a shape-shifter. I assure you, Doctor, I cannot change into a were-tiger, and I did not murder any of those people."
Dr. Sarcophagus sat back in his chair and placed his utensils on the table. Gerard spoke, "Were we that obvious?" 
Minnie reached out and touched his hand. "No, no, my dear. Neither of them suspect, but I am curious. Have you vetted Andrei yet? Don't tell me; the silverware at dinner?" 
Now it was the Doctor's turn to laugh, "The silverware and wolf's bane under his chair. Gerard just got the smell out of the wagon."
"Did he turn into a wolf?" she asked. 
"No, he did not," the Doctor said, "Tell me, Minnie, why were you sneaking into the forest that night?" 
She wiped her mouth with her napkin, "So I was seen."
"There were a number of people seen entering the forest that night," Gerard said. 
It was Minnie's turn to sit back, "I may be able to clear up some of that for you. Diane came to my wagon that night.  She and Andrei had a huge fight. She asked him to come to her wagon, but he was distracted, worrying about the bear. He stomped out of the wagon, and Diane came to me in tears. I tried to console her, and as we walked back to her wagon, we saw Andrei rushing into the woods. Of course, she followed."
"Did you know that Henry was in the woods that night?" the Doctor asked. 
"I did not know that," Minnie continued, "but I may have an explanation . Henry is seeing one of the acrobats, Elizabeth I believe, and her sisters do not approve. They have been having clandestine meetings outside of camp almost since the day we arrived." 
Dr. Sarcophagus smiled, "Well that explains his faulty alibi. What were you doing in the woods that night, Minnie?" 
She giggled, "I am also having an affair I'm afraid; with Lucas. He is a wonderful man," she said with a broad grin, "We had a romantic evening under the stars that night."
"Well, I am happy that you have found a kindred spirit here," the Doctor said. 
An hour later, Minnie left and Gerard and the Doctor were clearing the table. "So, it seems everyone in the Carnival is having relations except me, Doctor," Gerard said almost as an aside.
"Yes, it seems so, perhaps it is time to move on. Penelope left the Carnival almost six months ago," the Doctor continued, "but more importantly, we are no closer to a solution than before. The bear didn't commit the murder, and none of our suspects are shape-shifters. Of course, we only have Minnie's word for herself."
"Maybe she bewitched Logan, and she really is a were- tiger! That can be the only explanation!" Gerard said with increasing hysteria, "that is why she can control Kali!" 
The Doctor raised his hands in a slowing motion, "Now, now Gerard. I don't believe Minnie has a deceptive bone in her body, but that leaves us with no suspects and the full moon approaching." 
Gerard continued clearing the plates, "Do you have a plan, Doctor?" 
"I do not, and I am much too tired to formulate a plan," Doctor Sarcophagus replied stifling a yawn, "All this socializing has worn me out."

Tell me in the comments what you think.

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