ROSELLE PARK, NJ — Richard Marranca of Roselle Park recently published a book of short stories called “The New Romantics: Ten Stories of Mystery, Passion, Travel, and Vampires.” He is the author of a novel titled “Dragon Sutra,” which tells the story of a teacher exploring southeast Asia who gets involved in dangerous situations while befriending Cambodian women and monks. Marranca, an English professor and life coach previously from Roselle, loves to travel and explore the depths of his imagination.
At the age of seven, Marranca took his first family vacation to Italy. This would be the first of many adventures around the world. He recalls the memorable experience he had when he was so excited to see the Colosseum.
“I recall being so excited by the Colosseum taking up the sky that I started running and bounced off a telephone pole and fell backwards. Luckily there were no cell phone cameras in those days. I try to have that kind of elation about writing,” he said. “The themes of my stories are often about discovery, travel and nature.”
A story of his titled, “Futurismo,” takes place in Italy during the 1920s. Another story called “Coffin of K” takes place in a museum, which is full of passion and tragedy.
“What else is life besides humor and tragedy?” Marranca asks.
In his search for truth, Marranca explores both the past and present for the answers he seeks. He includes ideas from ancient and modern times in his work. He mentions historical figures in his stories, too.
“In the two vampire stories, there are references to Leonardo Da Vinci and Michel de Montaigne, one of the early kings of Thailand,” Marranca said. ‘Without nature and especially wild places, we’re lost souls.”
The vampire stories take place in Baltimore and Bangkok. He got the idea for the vampire story, “Bangkok Underground,” after he left some documents in a hotel room while traveling. The hotel manager initially refused to allow him to return to the room for his papers. During that time, he fantasized what it would be like to sneak into the hotel at night. He imagined that he encountered some vampires along the way.
The title of Marranca’s work refers to the Romanticism genre of early literature. He was inspired by one piece of work in particular titled, “The Poet and the Vampyre,” by Andrew McConnell Scott. It’s about Byron and Shelley, some of the first Romantic poets. It also mentions Dr. John William Polidori, who wrote one of the first vampire tales.
“Romanticism was an expansive way of thinking,” Marranca said. “It began in the late 1700s, and its themes include freedom, passion and creativity. The West’s Romanticism has some common ground with Taoism, too.”
Marranca likes to explore the East and West worlds in his works. He mentions Greek and Buddhist philosophy. In his story, “Resurrection,” a student returns to meet an old yogi, who rejected wealth in his youth. Many of his more spiritual works take place in India.
Marranca works in the English department at Passaic County Community College. During the past 10 years, he’s taught at Montclair State University, Rutgers University and The College of New Jersey. In his spare time, Marranca is working with a friend on a collection of sci-fi short stories. He’s also in the midst of writing a novel that takes place in the 1980s. As a life coach, he’s also inspired to write a self help book.
“The rub with the self help genre is that it’s easy to read a book, but hard to change your life,” he said. “That’s the dilemma.”
His new book of short stories is available through Amazon and Oak Tree Press of California. It should be offered through Barnes and Noble soon, but is currently available through Nook only. Marranca encourages all his students to write, even if it’s just journaling or writing an essay.
“I would just like to add that it’s good for each person to write,” he said. “Common sense tells us this feels right, and now science authenticates this. It’s good be connected, to be integrated with your mind-body, with others, with nature. We all have so much to share.”