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John Palisano's Biography

Member Info

Los Angeles
Yes: Yasmine Zapp
Nov 2008

One evening when I was only a small boy, my father allowed me to stay up late with him and watch NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on television. He fell asleep, but I waited for the end. I couldn’t believe they’d let the lead guy die after all that. I was horrified. Later that summer we went to the drive-in, which was a big deal in Norwalk, Connecticut in the 1970s. Everyone went. We all piled into the Bomb, our old station wagon, and saw lots of movies there. There was a swing set right up front where a many of the little kids congregated. We got a kick out of that, especially during GREASE, because there was a similar set-up in the movie. One night, though, there was a double-feature that I’ll never forget.

Demon Seed scared me, and the unforgettable images still haunt me. The film that followed, though, ruined me for good. ALIEN. I don’t think I walked past my attic door after dark that entire summer for fear the alien would snatch me up and away.

Soon I couldn’t even go to the beach. JAWS waited for us. Of course, this was also the time I discovered my father’s treasure trove of old horror comics, most of which I still have safe and sound. My imagination was on fire. We went to some of the early science fiction conventions in New York. I found Fangoria, and used Tom Savini’s Grande Illusions book in an attempt to make my own monsters at home, and experimented with that for several fake-bloodstained years. Eventually, though, I realized my favorite part was in dreaming up the ideas. In all truth, I was better in that regard than in any of my make-ups.

During middle school I put out a xeroxed fanzine Castle Gore that I sold to my classmates for a quarter an issue. Inside, alongside my reviews of whatever movies were coming out, I put some of my own short stories.

By the time I was thirteen I’d completed my first novel . . . Novella, really . . . about a time-traveling teenager who saves the world from a monster bred in a Victorian scientist’s lab. He used a flying go-kart to do so.

Songwriting found me. For years I toured with rock n’ roll bands, opening for national acts, and all the while, writing lots of lyrics, poems, and short stories. Winding up at Emerson College, I truly found myself. My short stories were finally professionally published in some of the local academic literary magazines, and also my script He’d Hoped For Mars won the Latent Image Magazine screenwriting contest, but was turned into a successful short film, scored by Aaron Logan at nearby Berklee College of Music.

After college I moved to Los Angeles, taking an internship with Ridley Scott. That was a phenomenal time in my life, and I learned so much. I worked on many big budget films, and got to see how those films I grew up with really came together. Of course, being in that hotbox, I wrote lots of scripts. Had an option or three, and produced a couple of low-budget films while I was at it. Something happened, though.

The movies of the scripts often came out so differently than the original ideas. Budget compromises. With writing stories, well, the only limit is your imagination. You’re not limited to how much money you have, or time, or your location, or the skill of the CG artists on your team.

Shifting gears to prose has not been easy. I had hundreds of rejections from top markets until I began to place my stories. That is not an exaggeration. It was harder to place a pro-level fiction piece than find financing for my first film. I love the challenge, and few things have been as satisfying.

My journey continues, of course. All these years later, I’m finally going to see my first novel NERVES see print from Bad Moon Books in the summer of 2011. In the meantime, there’s lots of short stories appearing soon, and several movie projects, too.

Thanks for reading.

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