The many dimensions of Michael Ventrella: he’s a Stroudsburg criminal defense attorney, author of a series of fantasy novels and non-fiction works about music, and the former bassist for a college band called The Naughty Bits.
Michael put his love of writing this way: “I’ve been writing all my life. I worked on school newspapers, wrote a play our high school put on, worked for a newspaper in Boston, wrote background information for games, founded and edited a magazine about animated films called Animato! and of course, as an attorney, I write a lot of briefs.”
About twelve years ago, he took the plunge and decided to write a novel titled Arch Enemies. “You know those fantasy novels where they grab some kid and tell him he’s the Chosen One from some ancient prophecy?,” he asked. “I thought, ‘What if they got the wrong guy?’ It grew from there.”
Michael is a typical author in the sense that he often has many works in progress simultaneously. He’s currently editing two anthologies (Tales of Fortannis and Baker Street Irregulars, the most recent additions to which are slated for release during 2018). Through the years he has also written three more books. “The current one is with my agent at the moment and is being considered by a major publisher, so here’s hoping for good news,” Michael said.
Adding to his growing body of work are about a half-dozen short stories published in various anthologies; a political novel (but not a parody) called Bloodsuckers: A Vampire Runs For President; and a non-fiction book coming out from Bear Manor Media this year about the music of The Monkees. His fourth novel, currently with his agent and being considered by a major publisher, is a time-warp creation dubbed Big Stick. “It’s an action-packed steampunk adventure with Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain fighting against a vast evil conspiracy in the year 1897,” he explained.
Is there an overriding theme, or message, to his stories? Michael said it’s really just “to have fun.” True; dangerous things happen to his characters and there are some serious consequences they have to face, but at the same time, there’s humor and fun.
His imagination took a turn towards drama and acting, when, about 25 years back (while living in Boston) Michael, his wife Heidi and some friends created a game: instead of sitting around a table pretending to be wizards and warriors, they would go out in the woods and act it out. “This was the start of ‘live action role-playing’ (or LARP, although we had never heard of the term at the time),” he said. “Soon, there were copycats all over the country.” He gleefully admits that all those people running around hitting each other with padded weapons and shouting about lightning bolts “can be partially blamed on me. I now run Alliance LARP, one of the biggest in the US and Canada, with chapters everywhere.”
Around five years ago, Michael got the idea to “pay it back” and started a writing group in the Poconos. “We originally were calling ourselves the Pocono Writers Group but I was able to associate ourselves with the Philly Liars Club, so now we’re the Pocono Liars Club,” he said. But it’s not a disparagement. “After all, that’s what we fiction writers do, don’t we? We tell glorious lies!”
The writers’ group (there are no dues) meets on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hughes Library in Stroudsburg from 7 – 9 p.m. On September 23, the group hosted its first Writers’ Workshop, offering advice, exercises and lectures on a variety of topics for authors. It will present the 5th Annual Pocono Writers Conference on January 20, 2018 at the Hughes Library from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The event is free but limited to the first 50 people who sign up. This conference is not so much for the beginning writer. “We bring in established authors, editors and publishers who spend the day giving lectures, answering questions and helping steer the unwary from mistakes.”
For more information on Michael’s books, visit www.michaelaventrella.com.
For more information on the Pocono Liars Club visit www.poconoliarsclub.wordpress.com.
For more information on Looking For The Good Times, An Examination Of The Monkees’ Songs One By One, visit www.monkees.wordpress.com.