Themes of forgiveness, trust, honor, technology as a healer, and non-violence echo through the pages of The Beauty of the Fall. What was the inspiration for the themes you used throughout the novel?
When I started the novel three years ago, I was interested in writing about, as you say, technology as a healer, or as I like to say, technology as a community builder. There are many good novels out there about the evils of technology, but few, if any, about technology companies that bring about positive social change. The idea of using technology to enable true democracy, as opposed to the slew of representative democracies out in existence today, intrigued me. The events in the world this last year –– the rise of fake news, populism, racism, and sexism—confirmed that I was one the right track. However, as my protagonist, Dan Underlight, emerged, I realized I was actually writing a redemption story. Once I was clear on that point, the themes broadened out to include all the ones you mentioned, especially forgiveness and simplicity.
I felt this story was very well written and used beautifully soulful language to create unique characters living compelling bittersweet lives. What’s your experience as a writer?
Well, first thanks for the compliment. I spend a lot of time at the sentence level, so it’s nice to hear that the language resonates with you. I’ve been writing all of my adult life, but only full-time for the last six years. In college, I had a chance to be mentored by a novelist in residence, but I was broke and needed to make money for a time. So when I graduated, I did. Throughout those years, I kept writing––mostly songs and poetry––but I always knew I would come back to writing novels. Hopefully, I’ll get ten or so of them out into the world before I’m done. I tend to write on most days in the morning for five or six hours. I’m a big believer in writing in the morning and tend to do my best work first thing each day.
The characters in The Beauty of the Fall are complex. What is your process for creating such in-depth characters?
As a writer, I’m trying to go deeper and deeper into the soul of each of my characters, and so I focus a lot of my effort on their inner lives. In this novel, I spent most of my time on Dan and Willow, but I also spent a considerable amount of time on the other characters. On process, I write a character over and over until I feel I find his or her voice. That usually happens at the scene level, and once I understand a character’s voice in that scene, it generalizes to the rest of the book pretty easily. With Dan in particular, once I understood his grief at some deep non-verbal level, he came into focus.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
I’m working on my fourth novel, The Latecomers, which is about aging in a world that in many ways devalues age. It’s about how a few folks try to build a community that values age and wisdom. I’m one-hundred-and-forty pages into that novel and hope to have it out in a couple of years.
Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.
Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. He then recruits three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change.
Guided by Dan’s leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?
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Fired. Workaholic technology executive, Dan Underlight is fired from his high-paying job at a Fortune 500 tech company by the woman he considered his best friend. Sixteen years of working together reduced to a severance package. He feels angry, betrayed, and heartbroken, but mostly he feels lost. Lost because being unemployed gives him too much time to think about the tragedy of his ten-year-old son’s accidental death, and the guilt he still carries for spending too much time working and not enough time parenting.
Before he’s processed this toxic blend of emotions, Dan embarks on a new relationship with Willow, a victim’s advocate, a poet, a lost soul, and an abuse survivor. Their love is deeper than anything Dan has experienced before, but will it be enough when he accomplishes his dream of opening a new tech company, one that is in direct competition with the one he left? Will Dan allow himself to grow into a kinder, more compassionate human being at the same time as he grows his company into a conscientious innovator, or will the demons from his past collide with his present and destroy him?
From the very first paragraph, Rich Marcello drew me into his book with a command of the language that I liken to a poet’s. Passages like this one, “He put his head down, tried to rekindle the wildfire he helped birth years ago, tried to daydream down a riven path.” and this one, “Don’t look down, the pinpricks have spouted and are covering the new carpet in blood.” provided me with ample proof early on that Marcello was a real deal literary composer, a master of the language, and a wordsmith with soulful depths.
But beautiful language alone can’t make a reader keep reading. Original characters with powerful character arcs and a compelling story to keep all the characters growing is fundamental. No problem there, either. From Dan to his counselor to Willow to his son, stronger characterization is front and center. I know Dan—he reminds me of the author Richard Bach. I know Willow, too, this wild child, compassionate, changer of the world woman who is always strong, always courageous even when her heart is broken. These characters kept me reading.
Then we arrive at the story. Characters and language need movement, need story, setting, pace, tension. Marcello has these covered, too. Set in New England, the vivid colors of the seasons remain clear in my brain long after I finished the book. Authors who take the time to divide their books into parts and give them names always receive a grateful nod from me. I like to know the structure of a story before I begin reading, and I like rolling back to the Table of Contents to remind myself what’s next in this journey. The Beauty of the Fall’s Table of Contents is especially brilliant; titles like “So it Spins,” “Build from the Sky Down,” “Spectacles, and Halos and Code” promised each chapter would carry its own mini-story and all the mini-stories would merge to form a powerful narrative.
Themes of forgiveness, trust, simplicity, honor, technology as healer, and non-violence echo through the pages of The Beauty of the Fall and held me captive until the end. If I had to name a gripe, it would be that the last chapter was unnecessary. The story should have ended with “The Good-bye Return,” but I can understand why, for closure’s sake, Marcello included “In the Coming.”
The Beauty of the Fall will appeal to readers who love a compelling, well-written story with elements of literary fiction, technology fiction, and romantic fiction. Marcello doesn’t write the type of literary fiction that prizes language over story. He writes the type that uses beautifully soulful language to real unique characters living compelling bittersweet lives.
Pages: 283 | ASIN: B01MFCTYYW
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It is impressive, nay amazing, what the human soul can withstand. The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello chronicles one such journey. Our protagonist is Dan Underlight, a man approaching the end of his prime who is getting laid off from the company he helped found. Dan has always been involved with hi-technology and the story opens with his seemingly unjust dismissal from a company he has birthed and nurtured much like a child. As Dan leaves RadioRadio Software after being pushed out by his founding partner, Olivia, we are privy to the sensational emotional and physical journey he undergoes. We learn that a few years ago Dan lost his only child, ten-year-old Zack, and that he dropped into a deep depression. We learn that Dan is divorced and that there is nothing in his life that brings him joy as much as working for RadioRadio had. When we begin our story, we meet a battered man who has nothing left. Then he begins a journey, and takes us with him.
Marcello is a master with language. The story flows in such a natural way it is easy to get sucked into what you’re reading and lose track of time. There are no unnecessary words. In a tragically beautiful tale like this it is easy to drown your story in frivolous language. Marcello keeps the dialogue short and only uses it when absolutely necessary. We journey through this story from Dan’s perspective as it is told in the first person. Marcello weaves effortlessly between Dan’s thoughts and the words he and those he meets say. Poetry peppers the text due to the creative Willow who will become both a source of strength and sorrow for Dan. He is a man who is grieving: grieving the loss of his child and the loss of his reason for existence. We go with Dan through therapy, we journey with him on his pilgrimage and we arrive at his revival as he creates a company even better than the one he had before. It’s not all roses and sunshine for Dan, however, and we also continue with him through his intense sorrow and his drunken attempts at coping. Marcello’s portrayal of the human condition is fantastic and readers will not be disappointed.
The story is broken down into parts and time flows effortlessly. In some novels time skips are awkward and unnecessary. Even the short six month time skips are effortless and useful. When we meet Dan, he is broken and wounded. He rebuilds, even better than before, but suffers two detrimental losses that may have readers concerned about his recovery. After all, he is only human and the soul can only withstand so much pain. Marcello doesn’t disappoint and the resolution of The Beauty of the Fall is realistic and will leave readers feeling confident in Dan’s choices for the rest of his life.
If you’re looking for a masterful tale that will have you laughing, crying and questioning how you view yourself in the universe, you will not be disappointed with Rich Marcello’s wonderful portrayal of the human condition in The Beauty of the Fall.
Pages: 283 | ASIN: B01MFCTYYW
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