Richard Paolinelli

SUPERVERSIVE SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT: CHRISTOPHER DiNOTE

Welcome to this week’s Superversive Sunday Spotlight. Every week we will chat with a Superversive author that you really should be reading.

This week we welcome Superversive author, Christopher “MOGS” DiNote:

How long have you been writing?

Since grade school, but my first published fiction came out in December 2019. I’ve published nonfiction in 2003 and 2017 respectively related to my day job.

As a kid, my dad and I used to come up with silly stories featuring talking animals for English class writing assignments.  My favorites were loosely based (okay, practically stolen) from the old “Mr. Ed” TV show and the “Francis the Talking Mule” movies, stuff like that. I was inspired by old Warner Bros cartoons and old Disney shorts. My dad was an old school sci-fi fan (he always said “sky-fi” I have no idea why), so he introduced me to all the “classics” of the 1950s and 60s, and the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials. So, I grew up knowing the sources that inspired Star Wars.

In middle school, I got into tabletop gaming, so I became one of “those guys” who writes extensive backstories for their characters and fictionalizes gaming sessions. The GMs and I usually had “creative differences” about the fictionalization part. I also roll dice so badly that people think it’s some sort of weird performance art, so in my gaming years I drifted towards the dice-less “storytelling” style games.

In high school, I worked out a whole Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired space pirate fantasy world and I’ve kept all the notes and bits and pieces from when I was 16 to the present. My life’s writing goal is to finally realize that series.

I briefly tried fanfic writing in college, and I quickly realized that it is much better to get paid.

Which writers inspire you?

I got lucky: when I was about 8 or 9, my great aunt gave me a box set of the first six Barsoom novels, and those changed my life. I later worked with her in the county public library. I read everything on the shelves when it came to sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, you name it. I read all the things. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Rice Burroughs are my “Big Three.” Followed immediately by Robert Louis Stevenson, Raphael Sabatini, and maybe Jack London. Sir Walter Scott. H.P. Lovecraft and weird fiction authors, many of who are pretty forgotten these days unless you’re into PulpRev. Lord Dunsany.  E.E “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series. Clark Ashton Smith. Jack Vance. For military sci-fi, David Drake is my biggest influence, followed by David Weber. I love Dan Abnett. I enjoy John Ringo, Kacey Ezell, and Michael Z. Williamson as well.

Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein were early influences, but they don’t have the same hold on me now as they used to. I’m getting more and more into Ray Bradbury and Gene Wolfe. Neal Stephenson. William Gibson. I used to like Michael Moorcock.

I finished Jeffro Johnson’s Appendix N book and am making my way through the originals.

I’m influenced by many comic book writers, screenwriters, and directors as well. Paul Dini is one of the best. Quentin Tarantino. Sergio Leone. There are musicians that inspire me; Bob Dylan (I like his songs best when someone else sings them), Prince, Brian Wilson, and always, always Billy Joel.

So, what have you written?

With my wife Jaime, I co-wrote a series of about 20 short pieces commissioned by Michael Z. Williamson for his 2019’s Freehold: Resistance anthology published by Baen, In Mike’s own words, it’s not really an anthology so much as a “mosaic novel.” Jaime and I wrote a series of “vignettes,” really journal entries, by General Jacob Huff, the commanding general of the UN peacekeeping forces occupying the Freehold of Grainne. Collectively, they ended up becoming one of the three framing stories for the whole book, which Mike, assisted by Jamie Ibson, edited to read like a cohesive novel!

Mike invited Jaime and I back for more in the upcoming Freehold: Defiance anthology, which is available for pre-orders on Amazon.com. This time, I partnered with Phil “Doc” Wohlrab on a story commissioned by Mike in response to a Facebook thread that went way off the rails, while my wife has her solo debut. I’m extremely proud of her, I think she’s delivered one of the best stories in the Freehold universe.

Also published in 2020 by Midland Scribes Publishing, I had my first solo mil sci-fi story ‘Frickin’ Guard Guys,” appearing in the Space Force: Building the Legacy anthology. This one was a lot of fun as well.

Professionally, I’ve written two grad school papers turned into publishable material, one a journal piece in 2003, and one more recently by the US Air Force’s Air University in 2017 about military wargaming.

I just finished a Christmas-themed short story that will hopefully (finally) see the light of day very soon. It’s late because I caught COVID just before Christmas smack dab in the middle of writing it. It is the most “Superversive” thing I’ve written so far.

What draws you to Superversive writing?

I’m a late Gen Xer/Gen Y cusp. I’m sick to death of fake “irony,” snark, nihilism, cynicism, posing, and sanctimony in art. I despise academic wankers who still think there’s something “edgy” or “punk rock” in this day and age about “subversion.” Superversive writing reminds us all that there is something better out there. 

That we can depict the good, the true, and the beautiful. I’m a “cradle Catholic” albeit who walked away but came back to the Church. It’s amazing what military service, marriage and fatherhood can do to your outlook on life.

In college, I used to say that the most real punk rock thing would be to form a band, dress in three-piece suits, nice shoes, clean haircuts, no makeup, or piercings, and sing 30-second-long hardcore blasts about listening to your parents, staying in school, not doing drugs, and getting married and having a stable family life. When everyone in the big leagues is a “non-conformist” who stills thinks they’re the counter-culture, and not the establishment, then going superversive is the most punk rock thing you can do.

Yeah, I guess SLC Punk influenced me a just a little bit too.

What are you working on at the minute?

I recently made a successful pitch for my first novel, in a popular series that must remain a mystery for now. That’s project number one for the next few months. I’ve also got an invite to do a co-authored short in another upcoming anthology, details of which I also have to keep under wraps for now. Lastly, I have a sci-fi/horror short that’s about 50% done that I want to get finished so that it will stop haunting me.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

Based on my day job and family life, I listen to more audiobooks these days. I read and listen to a lot of nonfiction, I do a lot of professional reading for my day job.

I like reading works on religion and philosophy, and how they relate to popular culture, so Bishop Robert Baron is one I follow. I just finished Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter. I’m not a big steampunk guy, so I wanted to go back to the beginning of that, after listening to an audiobook version of The Time Machine, and see if I’m just biased, or not reading the right stuff.

I’m really digging the Galaxy’s Edge series by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole: the main series and the spin-offs like the Order of the Centurion. I’ve just started JR Handley’s entry, The Reservist. One of my favorite writers right now is John C. Wright, hands down. I listened to the audiobook version of The Last Straw, and I loved every minute of it.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Amazon page here.  Keep your eyes out for more!

Thanks for sharing Christopher. Be sure to check out Christopher’s books and be sure to check back next Sunday for our next chat with a Superversive author.

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