Today, I’m pleased to introduce Catholic author, filmmaker and dad Michael Sortino to our readers. I loved Michael’s first book Teddy Gyros: Kid Vampire Slayer and am eager to help bring it’s sequel to print. I hope you enjoy our conversation and that you’ll head over to Michael’s Facebook page today and “like” him.
Q: For our readers who aren’t familiar with your work, please introduce yourself and your family.
I’m a writer who is privileged to have a wife and four kids, who has been blessed to be Catholic, and who strives to use my gifts to bring souls to the Lord. I’ve learned what the cross is, through suffering in my family, and come to realize that God’s love knows no bounds, that He will do whatever it takes to bring us to Him. But He won’t force us. So, it is often through suffering, through the whispers of art and through the witness of lives that we’re drawn to Him. I hope that my life and my works will either prepare the soil for this seed of faith and/or nurture souls and introduce them to a life, not of slavery to fear or mediocrity, but one of joy meant to be lived to the fullest in Christ. We also have two dogs (God help us) and we live in Scottsdale, AZ (summer is here, Saints preserve us!).
Q: Tell us a bit about Teddy Gyros and the other work you’ve been involved with lately?
Teddy Gyros is a young character in the first book of a children’s fiction series that I started two years ago. He sees vampires. He fights against them, but don’t worry, there’s no blood and gore. There’s mystery, thrilling moments, yes. It’s a fun read, but it’s meant to be an allegory to the spiritual battle, with Teddy as a model for kids of fulfillment in reaching out to help others. Book One is available now, Book Two is written, and I’m hoping to get a solid publisher to pick up the series. You can read more on my FB page. I also have a fiction novel for teens and up, and I also have more than a handful of screenplays for feature films, ones that are entertaining yet work to battle against the Culture of Death and instill a healing Culture of Life through the powerful medium of entertainment.
Q: What type of work are you interested in creating in the future?
I would love to keep writing fiction and creating media, videos, movies on a larger scale, Lord willing. I just finished working on a documentary for the Archdiocese of Brooklyn on the Rite of Exorcism. You see more info on this at www.riteofexorcism.com. It can also be ordered on Netflix right now, too.
Q: Why is it important for Catholic families to have good, quality fiction and films to share together?
There are entertaining films, books or TV shows out there, but a lot of time a good deal of subversive baggage comes along with it. Just ask my kids. I’ve gotten down to blocking the Disney Channel now, if you can imagine it. I don’t want my little girls to turn out like the girls shown on their shows, period. We watch I Love Lucy now, and are having a blast. Kids respond to quality entertainment, something that speaks to them on a real dramatic level (Little House on the Prairie, for example) or lets them laugh without feeling degraded deep inside, whether they realize it or not.
Whether we want it to or not, it’s unavoidable that life imitates art. My personal hero, JPII, then challenged artists to not shirk from our responsibility. We can’t just have our art imitate the life around us, but we should let it call us to a greater standard of living, the Gospel way of life. Also, what we and our kids put into our minds will either bring us closer to the Divine image we were created in or subtly and slowly pull us away from that, until we look in the mirror one day and cannot even recognize ourselves. I know that’s a deep answer to your question, but I believe it’s the truth, and it’s why I believe good media is crucial to shaping the world and its future for the better.
Q: How can our readers support you in your efforts to share your work on a broader basis?
Please spread the word. The best way to do that right now is to jump onto Facebook and ‘like’ my author page. Like it or not, this is how publishers are measuring the risk of bringing on new authors, and they’d rather take on someone who already has a small following. Liking my page and asking others to do so will help accomplish that. (If you’re not on Facebook, which I never really wanted to be, but need to be as a way of promotion, you can send me an email, write a review of my work on Amazon.com, or simply skywrite a word of encouragement or two!:)
As a reward, you get to read my non-fiction humor/inspirational book, Food Makes Me Happy and That’s My Problem! for FREE on my FB page. It’s a funny and inspiring look at the weight loss/self-image issue in a way that no one else seems to want to talk about.
Of course, you can also buy Teddy Gyros, Book One, as a way to show support.