My name is Marco Cultrera and I finally figured out what I want to be in life: a writer.
In hindsight, I should have known all along. Since I was a small child, I was a ferocious reader and generally obsessed with fiction, especially serial. I remember consuming every type of story I could put my hands on: books, comics, TV shows, and movies. I've always loved to get lost in made up worlds, populated by fictional people.
Don't worry, though, I'm not a recluse with no friends and suspicious hygienic habits. Not quite, reality has mostly been good to me. I always had my share of close friends, I just chose them among like minded people, and it was with them that I discovered my passions.
I grew up before the computers-in-every-house society we live in now, and videogames were bulky machines at the local joint, with graphics that could have been drawn by toddlers and game mechanics simpler than hopscotch. I still squandered too many quarters to count on them, but they couldn't provide the immersion that they can now, and that my brain craved.
Luckily, I have always had a fertile imagination, and I survived by feasting on hundreds of hours playing boardgames and RPGs of the paper and pencil variety. Dungeons and Dragons, Runequest, Call of Chtulhu, Superworld, Villains and Vigilantes and a lot more. Name one, and odds are I have spent many afternoons playing it with my friends.
Meanwhile, life went on. I finished high school, and later university, with a degree in Theoretical Physics and a Thesis on the now famous but then less so Higgs Boson. Soon after, I met the love of my life, and had to start thinking of building a life with her.
And the writing, you are probably wondering? No short stories in kindergarten about robots with gamma rays zapping into oblivion all the girls? No first novel about a band of superheroes defeating aliens completed at the age of nine? No painstakingly composed poems on how unfair the life of an eleventh grader is?
The truth is that I didn't start writing consistently until I was already in my mid-thirties. I’d like to think that it was because I knew I wasn't ready, and I needed to continue my “research” in the world of fiction, reading as many books and watching as much TV and movies as possible, but the reality is that I didn't need it yet.
When I realized that the academic career was a path littered with very little money, I turned to my passion for maths and games and managed to build a career in the videogame industry.
Game design is something that I love to do as much as writing, and that has the added benefit of paying the bills, so while I have always known that eventually I would write fiction, my creative self was more than fulfilled in my line of work.
Whenever an opportunity to write would present itself, though, I would be quick to grab it. Like in the early 2000s, when a dear friend of my wife’s was starring in a few network TV series, and I ended up writing a couple of screenplays for her, managing to gather some interest with her management firm.
Everything changed at the turn of the decade. My work started not to be as fun anymore, and we had an explosion of kids in the house. Literally: my three daughters were born in the span of eighteen months (in case you are wondering, I’m not a polygamist nut, my oldest one was followed by twin girls).
The first three years of the twins' life are a bit fuzzy in my memory. A blur of night shifts, baby bottles, dirty diapers, albeit more than made up by the unbearable factor of cuteness that three little girls under the age of three bring to the table (don’t just take my word for it, ask my wife, she’ll swear they are as adorable as they come).
Somehow, though, during that period I started writing my first novel. Scraping every minute I could from work and parental duty, I begun putting on the page (fine… hard drive) the adventures of General Cardan Stiller and his friend, Master Spy Poliad Seramin.
Sometimes I think that writing had a big part in maintaining my sanity in that period that in our house will forever be known as “The Dark Days”, even if I don’t have definite proof of that. What I found out, though, is that from that moment on I NEEDED to write.
The option of not doing it was gone. Since then, if I go too long without working on some kind of fiction, I feel down, irritable and my energy level plummets.
Thankfully, life decided to oblige my needs. In 2010, I left my job and my wife went back to work. Becoming the stay-at-home dad has been a blessing. Spend time with my girls, and keep writing? Heaven!
Well not quite, the domestic duties can be thankless, and trying to reason with toddlers, even the cutest of them all, would drive much more poised person than me insane, but somehow I’m making it work (it helps that they started going to school, I’ll admit).
I completed my novel, The Paradox of Deception, and I’m starting to shop it around. I'm also self-publishing a collection of short stories, Nexus of the Unexpected, while working on two new projects.
Life is not always easy, but it’s good... as long as I can keep writing.
Where to find Marco Cultrera online
Nexus of the Unexpected - 15 Short Stories
by Marco Cultrera
Nexus of the Unexpected: 15 short stories with one thing in common, a surprise ending.
They are all of a Science Fiction or Fantasy flavour, but each one is different in its combination of style, theme or length. These stories may amuse you with a smidgen of comedy, scare you with a pinch of horror, or amaze you with a dash of magic realism, but they all will blindside you by the end. Guaranteed.
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