Prior to Park Avenue to Park Bench, you’ve written poetry. Have you shifted entirely to stories and essays?
One day it occurred to me that my poems and prose were, in fact, stories in miniature. I felt that I had cut my teeth as a writer of poems and decided that I would experiment lengthening my observations into longer pieces. There is no doubt that poetry helped me as a writer of longer stories and essays, mainly by being able to express my thoughts with the least amount of words and in a “poetic” style. I feel fortunate that my evolution as an author occurred this way.
What helps you keep writing?
Writing is the one activity that takes me out of myself more than anything else I do. In many ways, writing is a spiritual experience for me and, when I write, I feel most connected to nature and humanity. I have yet to discover anything more satisfying than holding a finished book in my hands for the first time. When a person combines words that originate from his or her own mind it’s, to me, one of the highest art forms. A writer’s combination of words and ideas are as unique to the world as every human personality and experience.
What authors have had the greatest impact on your style?
Concerning my style, I was compelled to allow my own unique style to evolve and therefore made a personal pledge that I would just keep writing until I felt comfortable that my voice had evolved into a style that I could truly call my own. I did not want to copy or "be like " other writers. For better of for worse, I restrained myself from reading “ How to Write Books “ or go deeply into the works of other poets and short story writers. After a few years, I began reading extensively again, and what I learned was that much of my artistic self discovery had been experienced by other writers such as Bukowski, Vidal, Tolstoy, Emerson, Celine and Cervantes; just to name a few. More than having an impact on my style, I believe that they validated the direction and path I had discovered by following my own heart and conscience into the world of words.
Have you stayed in touch with any of the people you’ve written about in your book? How are they doing?
Manhattan is the world’s biggest small town. Some of the people I write about are on the fringes of society and are now either incarcerated, sick, or have passed away. Since I walk the city, I sometimes bump into people I’ve written about. Usually, they are more interested in telling me new stories about their lives than rehashing the past. So, we talk and I continue on my way into the city — my muse — which offers a bounty of information for new material. All of my characters will be with me for the rest of my life. They become part of my fabric as a man and a writer. Others are good friends and we stay in regular phone contact or meet for meals at interesting restaurants in the city once in a while.
How has your career before writing influenced your material?
In business I bought and sold plastic scrap. I always thought that my job was more like art, which just happened to be a business. It took a tremendous amount of creativity to devise ways to recycle old plastics into new and usable products. Decades of training my mind in the world of plastics scrap trading made the transition to creative writing almost seem natural. In addition, I was always writing letters and did my company’s advertising, public relations, and graphic design-- which to me is all about art and creative thinking--just like writing.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on an outline for my first novel. I recently had an interesting experience that inspired me during a drive around Bear Mountain State Park, about an hour’s drive from Manhattan. I decided to veer off track and see if I could get a glimpse of the infamous Sing Sing Prison located in Ossining New York. I always have my camera handy and I began taking pictures of the draconian fortress. I guess I got too close and a guard rushed out and almost confiscated my camera; he gave me a stern lecture before sending me on my way. I felt lucky he didn't take me inside! That experience led me to do further research about Sing Sing Prison, which then sparked my imagination and I could feel the creative writing juices begin to flow up the Hudson (up the river to the big house) and toward a story idea. I’m hoping this will be a good story for my first novel. I'm very excited about it and I’ve shared the idea with my writer friends, focus group and editor and they all seem to want to hear more, which is a good sign.
Before you go, for those who are reading about you for the first time, what is something that you want readers to take away with them about you?
Overall, for readers to know me is to know my characters. I believe that people who have the least to offer in terms of material wealth have the most to offer in terms of spiritual riches. Plainly put, since they have nothing else to give, they give of themselves, and in my case they offer me the gift of their stories; unguarded by conventions; emotional, social and material fences that many people erect and protect themselves with.
To know me as an Author is to know Hal S., Ricky Glasses and Lenny, in my stories. Also, as a writer in evolution, it was important to let down my own fences and reveal my personal struggles, insecurities, hopes and wishes. This was a big break through for me. I needed to write honest and true foremost and not to please an audience for commercial reasons.
Short story writer and poet Michael Domino has lived in New York City for 10 years, and has lived and worked within a 50-mile radius of Manhattan Island for most of his life. Captivated and sometimes overwhelmed by The City, he has come to know that the essence of Manhattan life is contained within its people – from all income brackets, all living situations, and all ages to all backgrounds, personalities, and circumstances. Michael published three books of short stories and a novella. His latest book of short stories is Park Avenue to Park Bench.
You can reach Michael at: www.MichaelDominowriter.com