It has been their dream for over 25 years, and now Joe and Mary Dattilo are authors.
Joe Dattilo said he originally caught the bug in college. While sitting in what he described as boring science classes, Dattilo began to jot down ideas for science fiction and fantasy stories.
One day, he shared his ideas with the future Mary Dattilo, who said she was interested in becoming an author, too.
More than 20 years later, the couple has published their second novel together under the pen name J.M. Dattilo. "Time’s Secret," was released in August, the second volume in the series. Readers’ reviews on Amazon.com are very positive, and Dattilo said sales are brisk.
Besides being an author, Dattilo is a construction engineering consultant and a member of the Cheshire Historic District Commission. Mary Dattilo works part-time as the IT manager for the Cheshire Library.
In the evenings the couple work together on their novels. Dattilo said they started on their first novel, "Time’s Edge" in 1987, nibbling away at it for more than 15 years, writing in long hand. "I used to write in pencil. She wrote in pen."
Dattilo said the hardest part was character development. "You wanted them to be real. You wanted them to be deep. You didn’t want them to be flawless," he said of their characters. "Once we worked that out the stories began to take shape."
The plots involve intergalactic intrigue with time traveling, robots and aliens thrown in for good measure
They also keep extensive files of their ideas, research and descriptions of characters and fictional places where scenes take place. Dattilo said they even used CAD software, which he uses in his construction consulting business, to create diagrams of buildings the characters visit.
On a whim in 2005, Dattilo entered "Time’s Edge" in the New Voices in Literature writing contest of the Shoreline Arts Alliance, and the novel won the Tassy Walden Award. The couple did a rewrite, shortening it to 105,000 words to quicken the pace. Then they sent the book to a literary agent.
"When we wrote the book, we had a definite idea what we wanted our book to be," he said. So they rejected offers from publishers that wanted to cut it some more and add more violence. The couple self-published instead.
To their delight, the Dattilos saw their book take off. He said they sell several thousand copies per month, with e-books outselling print. By the time "Time’s Secret" came out two months ago, readers were anxiously awaiting its release, Dattilo said.
"We seem to appeal to male and female, young and old, so that’s a nice thing to see," Joe said.