Marino, Peter 1960-
Marino, Peter 1960-
Born July 21, 1960, in Amsterdam, NY; son of Giacchino "Jack" (a mortgage broker) and Noreen Grace (an office manager) Marino; married G.A. Broadwell (a linguistics professor) June 12, 2004. Education: State University of New York at Albany, M.A. (education), 1983. Politics: "Reasonable." Religion: Unitarian Universalist. Hobbies and other interests: Kayaking, biking, gardening, cooking, film festivals.
Educator, playwright, and novelist. Adirondack Community College, Queensbury, NY, professor of English, 1990—. Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, member of social justice committee, 2002—. Actor in regional theatre; Mop and Bucket Company (improvisational troupe), founding member.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, State University of New York, 2005-06; Young Adult Library Services Association Best Book for Young Adults nomination, 2007, for Dough Boy.
Ralph Smith of Schenectady, New York's Coming Out to His Wife Options (one-act play), produced in New York, 2003.
Dough Boy (young-adult novel), Holiday House (New York, NY), 2005.
The Good Samaritan (one-act play), produced in Boston, MA, 2006.
Alice Blunt (young-adult novel), Holiday House (New York, NY), 2008.
Magic and Misery (young-adult novel), Holiday House (New York, NY), 2008.
Also author, with Tom Ecobelli, of play The Grandma Show, produced in Albany, NY.
"I wrote my first book when I was in third grade," author and playwright Peter Marino told SATA. "I can't remember the title now, but it was about a woman named Carrie who was in labor and had to get to the hospital. I must have been heavily influenced by the birth of triplets on the television program My Three Sons. I thought it was the coolest thing in nature that three babies could be exactly alike, so I ran with the idea and had Carrie deliver six.
"More important is the thrill I felt writing and illustrating my own book, and showing it off to friends and family. It was then I knew absolutely that I wanted to be a writer. I wish I could tick off the subsequent awards and achievements that propelled me through childhood into the literary life, but there were none. I couldn't even get a piece in Highlights magazine. Someone else won the creative writing award at my high school graduation (and I hope he is reading this). I had much to learn about writing, and more significantly, much to learn about how to define the word ‘writer.’ It wasn't until the age of forty was creeping through my window that I realized I was a writer whether I got published or not. It's been said a thousand times if once, but it's true: Writing is a physical and emotional necessity—and it's the most fulfilling work I do.
"That's not to say my career as a composition professor is secondary. I love working with students at the community-college level. Teaching writing means I am a writer working with other writers all the time. Granted, most of my students do not consider themselves writers, but part of my job is to get them a little closer to that self-definition by treating them as peers in the work of words.
"My full-time teaching job affords me the basic necessities of life—housing, food, HBO—but fitting my writing in is always something akin to solving a crossword. Sometimes I get frustrated and leave the spaces blank. Then I realize a whole week has gone by and I've barely written a word in the face of so many student papers to read and plans to draw up and e-mails to send and answer. This is when my soul starts tapping its ethereal fingers, shyly at first, then with growing frustration, to remind me that, despite the hundred things I'm currently caught up in, I really need to do some work.
"When I first queried my agent about my young-adult novel Dough Boy, I told him that, despite my book being about childhood weight issues and school bullying, my intentions were not to cash in on fashionable themes. I had not studied the markets to see what publishers were looking for. I just wanted to tell the story of a fat boy with an ironic sense of humor, like the protagonists in novels by some of my favorite authors—William Sleator, Jerry Spinelli, Ron Koertge, and Isabelle Holland. Tristan's story evolved from the truth of my own teenage anxiety, and from my observations as a middle-school teacher. By writing, I wanted to see if I could discover some truth about Tristan, this character I had in my head whose journey I really had no plan for. By the end of the novel I discovered a few things about him, that he was going to have to accept the uniqueness of his own physical design and his own social station, and that neither of those were in conflict with achieving an individual degree of physical fitness.
"If you as an aspiring writer ask me for advice, I can suggest that you write regularly and without fail, because a priority is a priority. You can take the advice, and I do, of Peter Elbow, and not worry if your first drafts lack direction. They will take shape, eventually, if you keep working on them and get feedback from others before you go public. That's what's disappointing about advice…. It's always some species of common sense instead of the potions or antidotes we really want!
"I can also suggest you search for truth in your writing—not objective truth like 2+2=4, but truths unique to your characters. ‘What if…’ is an okay template if you're churning out formula fiction, but you won't find your own writer-self in the process. I learned that lesson the slow way, in the course of writing two of my plays, a one-act with a very long title, and a full-length comedy, The Grandma Show, the latter written with my lifelong friend Tom Ecobelli. In both cases, the first drafts were all about the jokes. But through the revision process, I (or we) discovered that a writer can't forfeit taking his characters seriously. The humor needs to derive from the essence of the characters, not be a character unto itself.
"Finally, although it sounds clichéed, give perseverance a try. Life continues to be unfair, so there are lots of talented writers who have had limited or no publishing experience, while many so-so or just plain lousy writers can afford heated backyards for their dogs. If you get discouraged by a lack of commercial success, think instead about your soul and what it needs, and you will keep writing."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 2005, Jennifer Hubert, review of Dough Boy, p. 55.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2005, Deborah Stevenson, review of Dough Boy, p. 146.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of Dough Boy, p. 1142.
Publishers Weekly, October 17, 2005, review of Dough Boy, p. 69.
School Library Journal, November, 2005, Susan Riley, review of Dough Boy, p. 141.
Times Union (Albany, NY), Donna Liquori, "‘Dough Boy’ Deals with Weighty Teen Issues," p. J4.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2006, Jay Wise, review of Dough Boy, p. 488.