Monthly Smiles is happy to usher in February with Dan Salerno. He's the author of 20 Short Ones, a unique collection of inspiring short stories. Each story is told from a fun and faith-based (Judeo-Christian) perspective.
Dan Salerno has traveled to Northern Ireland five times and to Japan (once) on mission trips. This was before he lived in New York City for eight years, earning a master's degree in social research while working for the National Coalition for the Homeless. After that he worked and lived at the Catholic Worker's Joseph House near the Bowery, before moving back to the Midwest.
He eventually returned to New York and worked for a children's ministry in Brooklyn, NY for 16 months soon after 9/11.
20 Short Ones, his first book, was published by WestBow Press (a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing).
20 Short Ones is a fun, fresh, faith-filled collection of short stories about relationships, romantic and otherwise. Kirkus Reviews called it “an engaging and whimsical book about faith, love and friendship.” Nadine Kells of Prismatic Prospects wrote, “I especially liked the depictions of characters who are introverted or socially awkward; it can be easy to portray a character’s shyness or introversion as a “flaw” that he or she needs to grow out of instead of a human attribute that can be appreciated as much as another person’s outgoingness.”
Dan,what do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
My main form of exercise is walking. So I go for a twenty minute walk every day, even in winter, around a beautiful park not far from my home. In summer months I garden and shoot hoops (basketball). I love reading outside on the patio and watching films. Volunteering is also a top priority - at my church, a neighborhood after-school program and for an anti-human trafficking coalition.
What inspired you to write 20 Short Ones?
Simply living long enough and being distanced enough from the past to see so many really good stories in it. Much of the material in 20 Short Ones is auto-biographical. Being recently retired, and having more free time also helped. During the year that most of 20 Short Ones was written, I read the Bible four times through, cover-to-cover, so my faith helped form the narrative.
How did you choose the title of your book?
A burst of inspiration? I’m not really sure. It’s partly a literal statement of what the book is, twenty short stories. With a little bit of wit added to it. (I’m 5’ 1” tall).
What is your favorite scene/chapter?
It’s hard to pick one. “For Emily” is one of my favorite stories in the book. It takes place in Northern Ireland and it was a lot of fun to write. Mainly because it was focused on the actual experience of going to Northern Ireland five times on (faith based) mission trips. One of those visits lasted four months. I met some exceptional folks there, mainly the couple who run Crossfire Trust and the volunteers who help them. But I also like “Agee,” because it deals with a friendship that develops under very unusual circumstances. But then a lot of the stories in 20 Short Ones are about relationships that are spontaneous and happen because of a person’s willingness to go with the flow and take a chance.
Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
Hope. What I wrote in the Author’s Statement is: “Life can be so complicated. Relationships reflect life. It seems to me that it’s becoming more and more difficult to develop and sustain deep relationships. So much of everyday life makes it difficult to form solid friendships. But we need them. And we can choose to spend the time necessary towards developing them. It’s really our choice, so there’s hope.”
Are you working on a new project?
I’ve written another collection of short stories with a Christmas theme. And I’m in the middle of writing another collection centered around my Mom’s home town of Metropolis, Illinois. (Yes, there really is a Metropolis, with a statue of Superman in the town square). And I have an active blog, posting weekly, mainly on the topics of faith and social justice.
Dan, thank you. This has been a very interesting interview. And speaking of taking things literal. I have to wonder if the creator of Superman was inspired by Metropolis, Illinois.
Readers, you can visit Dan’s social sites here:
Dan’s blog: www.lifesomethings.blog.com
Dan’s website: www.dansalerno.com
Check out 20 Short Ones on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/2qA7hK0’
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