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Prolific Chicago Author Celebrates Latest Release

Walter Rhein
Image courtesy of Joe Bonadonna

Joe Bonadonna’s author page on Amazon contains 27 titles, and even that doesn’t completely represent his work as a published author. He’s appeared in numerous periodicals going back to the days of Weird Tales and is a regular contributor to the Heroika shared universe created by renowned author Janet Morris.

I've been fooling around, writing stories since fifth grade - 1962. I've always enjoyed reading, so I guess that sparked it all. I also am a huge movie fan, and films like The Vikings, Jason and The Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and the two Steve Reeves' Hercules films also inspired me—Joe Bonadonna

Perhaps the work that’s closest to Bonadonna’s heart are the tales of Dorgo the dowser contained in his Mad Shadows series.

The third book in the Mad Shadows trilogy was released earlier this month, and Bonadonna is delighted to observe this passion project become fully realized in print.

Bonadonna recounts how the creation of a novel can sometimes take a convoluted path.

One version of this story was started in 1978. A second, revised version took place in 1980, when Bantam Books showed some interest. But then they changed their direction and decided not to do any more fantasy and sci-fi. In 1984 I worked for many years on a 1000 page version, which never reached final draft. In 2015 or so, I decided to rewrite the entire novel as a Dorgo the dowser story. Off and on since then I worked on it and whittled it down. I finished it in October of 2020, and sent it to my publisher—Joe Bonadonna

Mad Shadows is an interesting cross-genre series that is part high-fantasy, part mystery and part horror. Dorgo the dowser is more of an intellectual than most of the protagonists inhabiting these kinds of titles, and that’s a large part of the story's appeal.

Dorgo has more in common with C. Auguste Dupin than Conan the barbarian, and he often bites off more than he can chew. His vulnerabilities are what make him more of a literary character than his other fantasy contemporaries.

I'm hoping to do at one more Mad Shadows book. The Mad Shadows Quartet has a nice ring to it. This would return the the format of the first book - with between 6 to 9 novellas, each a story that stands on its own—Joe Bonadonna

Bonadonna is philosophical about why readers keep returning to novels in the fantasy genre. He concludes that they have a broad reach and enduring appeal.

For me, Mad Shadows is just a tale of high adventure, a war story with some serious discussion about faith, friendship, good, evil, and loyalty—Joe Bonadonna

Like everyone else, Bonadonna is looking forward to things getting back to normal. He regularly appears at book festivals, libraries and conventions. Public appearances offer critical opportunities to interact with fans, which helps provide inspiration for the direction of subsequent works.

Mad Shadows and other works by Joe Bonadonna are available at a bookstore near you.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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