Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Conversation 33: Massimo Marino

Welcome back to Clockwork Conversations!

Today as part of our June Interview Extravaganza, I am pleased to introduce you to scientist and author, Massimo Marino!

Welcome, Massimo! Please tell us a little about yourself.

MM: I'm Italian, and because even in Italy that means everything and nothing at all, I should say, I am Sicilian. I was born in Palermo, and as it happened in the history of Sicily to countless Sicilians, I left my hometown for good, back in 1986. I lived more years abroad than in my home country, and I have changed in many and different ways than my old friends there. It is always a pleasure to go back, but it is now 6 long years since my last visit. Saudade? Maybe, a little.

I lived in Switzerland, France, and the United States. I am a scientist as a background, and have spent over 17 years in fundamental research. Most of my writing are then academic stuff. 

I worked for many years at CERN—an international lab for particle physics research near Geneva, Switzerland—then in the US at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Fantastic moments and memories from those years. In 2005 I moved to the private sector, worked with Apple Inc., and then for the World Economic Forum.  Currently, I’m an IT consultant and an entrepreneur.

I’m an author with Booktrope Publishing.

Q1: I just read a riveting post on your blog about a recent trip to the hospital that you had—I hope you are feeling all better. You seemed to be profoundly moved by the event, as any of us would be by a major health scare (or life event; I am a stroke survivor myself among other things.) Did this experience change your outlook on life at all? Is there anything that you do differently now because of it?

MM: Thank you, fully recovered. The event reinforced—if it was even necessary—the thoughts and considerations that I explored at the time I was writing my first published novel, “Daimones.” In the story, the main characters face an unthinkable possibility, being the last humans alive on Earth. It certainly gives you food for thought about what it is that gives meaning to our lives, and what we should be grateful for. It’s not money, nor a fancy sport-car, or the latest Rolex model.

Q2: You’ve worked as a scientist for many years. What is one thing about the universe that you find continually amazing?

MM: The Universe per se is amazing. It continuously surprises scientists, and today’s leading science makes most science fiction around look banal and unimaginative. The implications that are in the realm of possibility with the new cosmological theories are mind-boggling, but for a scientist envisioning science fiction they are actually exciting and inspirational. An example? The existence of a network of traversable black-holes (Kerr ones) that would work as a working galactic underground (or Tube, if you’re from UK.) If only we had the map with connections and timelines we would be set :)

Q3: How important is it to you to follow your passions in life? Do you believe in the saying “Love what you do, do what you love?”

MM: It is a gift when it happens, but we can make it happen, too. The message in the saying is that you are the architect of your own happiness. It will not come imposed from elsewhere, it will come from within yourself. If you can’t learn to love what you do, don’t be afraid of changes, even abrupt ones; with perseverance the stars will align themselves and support you.

Q4: If you could stop time for an instant, to have one perfect moment to hold in your memory forever, is there something specific that you would wish to recall that you could share with us?

MM: I believe readers will think of it as a cliché, but it is the moment my daughter was born. The eyes of my wife, tired but happy, locked into mine, and I held a new life in my hands. Then, I cut the umbilical cord. It still gives me goosebumps.

Q5: Bonus question: (Massimo preferred this to my standard bonus question…) How and when did you start writing?

MM: My Dad received “Astounding Stories” and I wasn’t allowed to read the magazines but they did have astounding covers; I dreamed about them. Based on those covers, I created stories in my mind, then put them down on paper with a pencil in my little hands so that I could re-read and never forget them.

I didn’t think in those days about plot and action, character development, building my voice, what themes and belief systems I had to, or wanted to cover. The place and the setting came from those cover pictures, and I wasn’t concerned with temporal or structural issues. I learned a lot of lessons, since

It's been a pleasure learning about you! Thank you for joining us today, Massimo. 

You can learn more about Massimo Marino and his writing by visiting him at:

See you soon as we continue the June Extravaganza!