Stand Together – Author Interview – Joe Bonadonna

Author name:

Joe Bonadonna

How did you become involved with this project?

Alex L. Butcher, who put the project together, and I are Facebook friends, have worked together before, and are also involved in Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell™ series.

Tell us a little about your work in this book?

I’d been writing short stories since fifth grade, and then I started playing guitar. Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Peter Sinfield who wrote lyrics for King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Keith Reid, who wrote lyrics for Procul Harum, I started writing poems and then soon afterwards, song lyrics. A couple of years ago I started dabbling in haiku.

Please tell us about your other publications/work.

I’ve written three books thus far in my sword & sorcery, heroic fantasy series, Mad Shadows. I’ve also written a space opera and a sword & planet novel, co-authored two children’s books with Erika M Szabo, and co-authored a pirate/horror novel with David C. Smith. I’ve published a number of short stories and novellas, and have appeared in six recent volumes of the Heroes in Hell™ series.

Do you think the written word (or art) brings power and freedom?

Yes! The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Fascist, authoritarian governments fear the power of the word. They fear any artform they think is harmful to their “regimes,” to their plans: art is transformative, it teaches and enlightens us, it makes us hope and dream. To “them,” its greatest threat is that it makes us think, and gives us ideas. Art is truth, and oppressors the world over would bury Truth beneath the dirt of propaganda, censorship and book burning.

If you could have dinner with any literary character or author, who would you choose, and what would you eat.

I’ll pick an author, and not to offend anyone still living, I’ll pick a dead author: Raymond Chandler, because he was the key to my writing my Mad Shadows Triad. Oh, maybe we’d eat pizza or steak, drink whiskey and/or Guinness Stout. Since he lived in California, maybe we’d eat seafood and drink wine.

How influential is storytelling/poetry to our culture?

It’s not only influential, it’s important: it is life affirming. We need poems and literature, music and paintings, and all forms of art. It keeps us sane and healthy. Storytelling and poetry reveal what’s in our hearts. Every art form reveals what we think and dream and hope for. It reveals the depths of our souls. Once again, it teaches and enlightens, as well to help ease the burden of our worries and our troubles.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature, what would you be and why?

I’ll go with being a vampire. They dress well, only go out at night, have superhuman powers, and if they invested wisely during their natural lifetime, over the long years of their afterlife, they could live quite handsomely, indeed.

Which authors/books have influenced you the most?

Once again, I’ll stick with dead authors: JRR Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Edgar Allen Poe, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Thomas, Larry McMurtry, and the list goes on and on ….

What’s your next writing adventure?

I’m hoping to write a fourth and perhaps final volume of novellas for my Mad Shadowsseries — making it a quartet instead of a trio. I’m also working on my seventh novella for the Heroes in Hell™ saga.

What is your greatest success?

That I’m still alive at age 70! Seriously, I’d have to say my Mad Shadows Triad, my, The MechMen of Canis-9, and the stories I’ve written for the Heroes in Hell™ saga are my greatest success stories, and my personal bundle of pride and joy.

What’s your favourite quote, who said it and why?

I actually have two, if I may: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. That’s because inside a dog it’s too dark to read.” — Grouch Marx. Why? Because he was a comedian, and his sarcastic wit often had truth and deeper, more subtle meaning. And: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” — Anonymous. Why? Well . . . wouldn’t you?

Tell us a silly fact about yourself.

I collect Halloween knick-knacks and cheap snow globes.

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

A rock-star guitar god. When I started growing up and growing older, I just wanted to be a kid again. I think a lot of us would like that.

Thank you for everything about this project and for asking me to take part.

A Day in The Life of Dorgo the Dowser


A Day in the Life of Dorgo the Dowser.

*Who are you?

Why, I’m Dorgo Mikawber, otherwise known as Dorgo the Dowser. I earned that nickname because of the dowsing rod that I carry with me all the time. This is a rather unique and specialized dowsing rod, because it can detect the ectoplasmic residue of any supernatural presence or demonic entity, and sense the vestiges of any form of magical power used in the commission of crimes, crimes I’m often hired or asked to solve. Without my dowsing rod, I’d be out of work and forced to find other means of employment. I mean, what else can I do? I’ve been a mercenary, a body guard, and even a smuggler. I’m not qualified for much else. Can you imagine me being an innkeeper or a blacksmith? I can’t. And my luck is often so bad when it comes to gambling that I’ve learned to keep my money in my pocket, most of the time. I do gamble with my life often enough and thus far Lady Luck hasn’t left my side. But it would be nice if she’d let me win at dice or cards once in a while. Oh, well. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

Tell us about an average day in your life.

On the rare occasion when I’m not engaged in something to do with murder, mystery, magic, mayhem, and the occasional monster, my average life is pretty average. I sleep late, stay awake all hours of the night, drinking, placing the rare bet on a Minotaur wrestling match or centaur race, and spending time with a lovely woman. But as I said, those days are rare, because those who deal with the supernatural and the demonic, and those who follow the Dark Light of Odylic Power, which is commonly referred to as magic and sorcery, are always up to something nefarious. In my city of Valdar, almost anything can happen, and usually does.

Are you a lark or a night owl?

I have to be both in my line of work, because evil never sleeps, demons never rest, and most crimes occur during the darkness of the night. I often have to walk a fine line between darkness and light, in the shadows of a world where life is cheap and souls are always up for sale.

How do you think your ‘average’ day compares to that of other people?

Well, I sometimes get a chance to break my fast, enjoy a bath and don clean but tattered clothing. I may even get a chance to visit with friends. But that’s where all comparison comes to a halt. When there’s a crime committed that involves dark sorcery, demonic entities and supernatural agencies, that when I come in. I’m either hired by some private citizen to help solve the crime, or my friend Captain Mazo of the Purple Hand (the Royal Constabulary in Valdar) will, most reluctantly, ask me and my dowsing rod to lend him a hand.

Do you court danger?

I don’t court it so much as find myself either caught in its grip or trying to keep clear of it. But when I’m forced to deal with unscrupulous men, duplicitous women, practitioners of the Dark Arts, and a criminal underworld . . . well, danger usually courts me. Trouble, as someone famous once said, is my business.

Do you think your life is fulfilling?

I think so. I hope so. I have helped a lot of good people, saved a lot of lives, and have sent many a dark soul to the dungeon or to the gallows. I’m certain Hell is filled with many of my foes who are just waiting for me to get there.

If you had the choice what would you change in your daily life?

Nothing. Not a damn thing. I love my life and enjoy it to the fullest extent of both my ability and my pocketbook. Although it would be nice to have a little more money so I could afford to buy some new clothes. My friends are always chiding me for wearing the same shirt, britches and boots day in and day out. By God, how some of them nag me to no end!

Tell us a little about your home/environment/land – how does this reflect on your day to day life?

I live in an interesting world where lost souls are often resurrected as hell-spawned devils; where entities from the other side of the veil separating the earthly from the unearthly can be conjured into existence; where beings from an ancient land whose borders cross over into other dimensions slip through to my own world. In my specialized line of investigative work I’ve had to confront sentient, gold-eating shadows, malevolent puppets, wicked witches, mad sorcerers, blood-thirsty men and women, plus hungry ghouls and zombies, faun assassins, demented demons, ghastly ghosts, vengeful vampires, raging werewolves, and the most deadly, other-worldly book ever written. Then there are the semi-human races, like the Muthologians, those so-call “mythical” beings and creatures who escaped from your world of ancient Greece and settled in my own world of Tanyime.  Most of them are good souls, and I’m fortunate to call many of them my friends. I truly live in interesting and exciting times, don’t you think?

Are you organised or chaotic? Does this annoy your family/companions?

I’m usually chaotic, although when it’s called for I can be very organized. I have no family, but my habits, the hours I keep, my attitude, and my entire lifestyle often troubles and worries my friends. But they’re all decent folks who, more often than not, are willing to lend me a hand. Our tempers often clash when they disagree with me or try to prevent me from getting involved in something that might cost me my life and perhaps even my soul, but in the end I am blessed to have such good friends looking after me.

Thank you for spending so much of your valuable time with me. I enjoyed our little chat. And remember, if you ever have need of me: “Have Dowsing Rod. Will Travel.” I got that from some bloke whose name, sadly, escapes me at the time.

By the way, you can find my Mad Shadows adventures (volumes 1 and 2) on Joe Bonadonna’s Amazon author page:








Book Spotlight – Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin – Fantasy for Kids



Spooky and funny, a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children. Nikki and her impish cousin, Jack, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest on Halloween. A wise talking skeleton, Wishbone, tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their wands. The children offer their help, so the skeleton takes them on a journey to the world of Creepy Hollow to retrieve the three wands he hid long ago in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. Ghoulina, the beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil, can get their hands on them. This is a fun, humorous and touching story for kids, with plenty of character interaction woven into a backdrop of scary danger, heroic action and lessons to be learned.


“I had such fun reading this, it’s a while since I’ve read a book written for children, and I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of sophistication there is, while still maintaining a tale suitable for the younger reader. The characters leapt off the page, acted naturally and, this is important for me as a reader, I felt for them, cared for them.”

Author Lucinda E. Clarke

“The authors, Erika Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, share a great talent and imagination when it comes to write children’s stories. They take kids and young teens on a magical reading journey that will keep them glued to the pages. I recommend this book for young teens. It is the perfect story for Halloween time. It’s like Cool Whip on pie!”

Children’s author Mary Ann Vitale

“Three Ghost in a Black Pumpkin: A Creepy Hollow Adventure by Erika Szabo & Joe Bonadonna is a Halloween Howling Hit! I loved this action packed scary tale from beginning to end and it will certainly engage young readers at home or school. This is book one in a series and I am already wondering what ghoulish adventures await this heroic team. As a teacher, I look for books that teach a good lesson and this one will not disappoint. I recommend this book for home or school libraries for children from ages 6 to 12. I gave it 5 Howling Halloween stars!”

Children’s author Janet Balletta



“Erika became an avid reader at a very early age, thanks to her dad who introduced her to many great books. Erika writes alternate history, romantic fantasy, magical realism novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 4-12 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them.”

Erika’s website:


“Much like Erika, Joe’s dad introduced him to books, as well as movies and music, at a very young age. He was encouraged to write as soon as he could hold a pencil. While Joe writes mostly Heroic Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Horror and Science Fiction for an older audience, he decided to reach out to a younger audience and write something entertaining, as well as educational. This is his first collaboration with Erika, and his first children’s book.”

Joe’s Amazon Author Page



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Hell Week – Day 2 – Joe Bonadonna/Johnny Fortune

For the second day in Hell I welcome Joe Bonadonna and his character Johnny Fortune

His Satanic Majesty sends Mary Shelley and Mob hitman Johnny Fortune to unionize the Uncubi — all the unpublished poets and authors in Hell and bring them under Jimmy Hoff’s control. But first they must save Galatea, Victor Frankenstein and his famous Monster from a vampire-like Lemuel Gulliver, who is using the Uncubi to help him overthrow Satan.

Welcome to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour.

Name (s) Giovanni Giuseppe Francesco Fortuna. alias Johnny Fortune. a/k/a Bad Luck Johnny

Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain). If I could recollect good, I was about 30 or so.

Please tell us a little about yourself. What? You some kinda cop? You writing a book? My mouthpiece says I ain’t gotta answer no questions I don’t wanna answer.

Who were you in life? I just told you my name. Madonna Mia! Okay — I was my Papa’s favorite, his pride and joy. I was my Mama’s disappointment, her shame and her heartache. I was the guy you shouldn’t cross, the guy you didn’t wanna mess with. Know why they called me Bad Luck Johnny? Cause I brought bad luck to anyone who got on the bad side of me or my bosses.

How do you think you ended up in Hell? I don’t think. I know. I was gunned down — shot to shit with a Tommy gun back in 1960, at a place called Moon’s on Chicago’s old west side, on Chicago Avenue, to be exact. That was the first and last time my own luck turned bad. Guess I messed with the wrong guy’s wife.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Handsome. Dashing. Suave. Debonair. Classy. Swanky. Imposing. Sexy. Dangerous.

Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. I live on Golem Heights, New Hell, currently sharing Goblin Manor with Doctor Victor Frankenstein. But I go where my capo sends me. I work for Frank Nitti, who takes his orders straight from the top guy, the Hellfather . . . His Satanic Majesty himself.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life? My code never changes: Omerta — the Code of Silence. I hurt no one who doesn’t hurt me or mine. Not unless I’m hired to hurt someone. I keep my friends close. My enemies end up in a lime pit. But let me set you all straight: Bad Luck Johnny never did and never will beat, hurt or kill a woman or a child. That’s not who I am or what I do.

Would you kill for those you love? After all sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice! Hey, I broke arms, legs and heads, and killed for fun and profit when I was alive. No shit I’d kill for those I love — I did and I do. I give a rat’s ass about the Undertaker and his freak of an assistant, Gorgonous. They don’t fuck with me and I don’t fuck with them. I do my best to stay off that damned Slab A. As for sending people to the Mortuary for reassignment, I hope they enjoy their visit. That’s how it is in Hell, being damned and all.

Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term….Sure, for family and good friends. I was whacked for fooling with another guy’s piece of ass. In Hell, screw that crap. I do my best to stay . . . to stay animated, I guess might be the right word. Who in their right mind wants to end up as just another hunk of clay in the hands of the Undertaker. Now there’s one motherfucker what needs whacking. I’d like to play Undertaker on him.

Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? Sex. I fear sex. We all know how painful it is to cum in Hell, all them scorpions and shit. Yeah, I’m plagued in Hell — I keep gagging and spitting up the machine gun bullets that ripped my ass to shreds back in Chicago.

What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? The Big Guy? He ain’t even got warmed up yet. Just wait. You’ll see.

Who are your friends here? Victor and his Monster, Adam Frankenstein. Good people. Galatea, one real fine dame. She and Adam got a heavy thing going on. Quasimodo, Victor’s lab assistant. Ugly little guy but he’s loyal and makes me laugh. I like Mister Up, too, the Unknown Poet. He’s the capo regime of the Uncubi, all them unpublished poets and authors who sold their souls to the Nephilim and got turned into some kinda new breed of demons in Hell. They’re all union guys and dolls now, and work for Jimmy Hoffa. Ah, but my main squeeze, though we ain’t done no squeezing yet, is Mary Shelley. What a smart and classy broad she is. Real buxom. You know, voluptuous. For her, I’d risk shooting fucking dinosaurs from my dick, if she’d give me a tumble.

Who are your enemies? Whoever I whacked and are somewhere here in Hell. My enemies are anyone Nitti, Hoffa, and Old Scratch order me to whack.

If I recall relationships are… difficult, is this the side of humanity you miss the most? You mean a good fuck? Yeah, I miss that. I keep clean and safe. I get my rocks off sending people to the Undertaker. I keep that son-of-a-bitch real busy. But like I said, to go bumping uglies with Mary Shelley, I’d risk and suffer anything.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I never masturbated. I didn’t wanna go blind. So, whenever the urge came over me, I’d go out and beat some guy to a bloody mess. That’s how I got my start., back in 1946 or so. Chicago wise guys whose names I won’t mention liked the way I worked, so they started sending me out on jobs. At first, I broke heads and legs doing collections. Then I graduated to contract killing and never looked back. I loved every minute of it. I love the smell of gunpowder and arterial spray and the sound of guys screaming and begging for their lives. Life and death ain’t don’t get much better than that. And let me state something here for the record. I am the only damned soul in Hell I know who likes it here. I never wanna leave. Why would I want to? I like whacking people. You think they gonna let me practice my trade upstairs with all them freaking angels?


Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

POETS IN HELL, in the story “We the Furious.”

Author name:

Joe Bonadonna

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.


Author page:

​Bonadonna’s Bookshelf on Facebook: ​


Joe Bonadonna’s and Shebat Legion’s Undertaker’s Holiday, reveals that “Even Hell’s Undertaker needs a holiday from the Mortuary, as David Koresh, Reverend Jim Jones, Ovid and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the ‘Fellowship of the Thing’ soon find out.”

Here’s a little spotlight with Joe –

How did you end up writing for Heroes in Hell?

I wrote a review of Rogues in Hell as a favor for my friend, author Bruce Durham. I enjoyed the book immensely; I had read the first 4 or 5 of the original Baen Books editions, back in the day, and I liked those a lot. But then I moved away from writing and reading the fantasy genre, for many years — something I had been doing since the late 1960s. I got involved in reading and writing other things and didn’t return to fantasy until about 2007, when I first heard about self-publishing. I didn’t get online until 2010, and that’s when I discovered that the fantasy genre was bigger than I thought, thanks to indie- and self-publishing, and small press. I mean, many of these books were not on the shelves at Border’s Books and Barnes-Noble. And then I discovered that the Heroes in Hell series had been rebooted, with new authors and a new look and attitude, and a new publisher — Perseid Press. After I read Rogues in Hell I purchased Lawyers in Hell, the book that preceded Rogues. And then, one fine day, Janet Morris contacted me: she had read my review of Rogues in Hell, loved it, found and read my story on Black Gate’s online magazine — “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum. ” She liked the tale, my writing style, and my character of Dorgo the Dowser, read more of his stories, and invited me to write for Dreamers in Hell, the next volume to follow Rogues. She said I had the right “attitude” and that my review showed that I understood what Hell is all about. To say I was overwhelmed, intimidate, thrilled, proud and honored would be putting it mildly.


How do you deal with writing in a shared universe?

​First, I didn’t even attempt to write a Hell tale for about a year, and the story I wanted to write for Dreamers in Hell never materialized. Instead, I read and reviewed both Lawyers in Hell and Dreamers in Hell. By doing that, and taking a lot of notes while I was reading, and this time out reviewing each story in the books, I came to an even better understanding of how Hell worked. I also chatted non-stop with Janet — one of the most generous and patient authors I have ever met — who gave freely of her time, and took me by the hand to instruct me on all things infernal. I also asked a lot of questions of the other writers, read and studied the Hell Files for more info, reread the first 4 or 5 Hell books, read some of the others I had missed, and sampled stories from all the others: as of this date, there are 17 volumes, I believe. Over a year passed before I felt confident to start writing: there are many heavy hitters writing for Janet, including Janet and her husband Chris. This is not just any shared-universe we’re talking about here — this the Hugo-winning, Nebula-nominated, high-acclaimed and highly-successful Heroes In Hell series: top quality, highly literary, character-driven, with almost every genre represented, every style, no holds barred, with stories that run the gamut of emotions from human comedy and drama, not to forget stories of horror and allegory, whimsy and fable. And there are always elements of poignancy and intimacy, sorrow and joy: there is hope in Hell, and love, and the greatest cast of characters in this world or the next.


Why did you choose the characters you are using?

​For my story for Poets in Hell, “We The Furious,” I wanted to use different characters, at first. More modern characters — pulp fiction writers. But there were some problems with copyright and such, and so, after still more discussion with Janet, I chose Victor Frankenstein and Adam, his famous Monster, and Galatea, who has so very much in common with Adam; this was a good fit because of my love for monster movies and Greek mythology. Then I chose Lemuel Gulliver as my villain. Janet liked my idea for an original character — Giovanni Fortuna, a/k/a Johnny Fortune, alias Bad Luck Johnny: one time Chicago Mob hit man. He’s pretty much me, lol.  He is one of the few people who loves it in Hell. “They won’t let me whack guys in the other place, and I like whacking guys.” He works for Frank Nitti, who I borrowed from another writer, as I borrowed Jimmy Hoffa, for one scene with Satan. Janet let me use Mary Shelley, because of the Frankenstein connection. I also created the Uncubi, who are all the unpublished poets and authors who sold their souls to nephilim when they believed they were romancing the Muses; they became a New Breed of demon in Hell, and their leader is the Unknown Poet, (who is now called Mister Up, in a new story I’m working on) And then I was off to the races.  For those not familiar with how this shared-universe works . . . most characters are drawn from history, legend, myth, the Bible, folklore, etc. Most are pre-1900, with few exceptions. Fictional characters created by other authors are allowed, provided they are also pre-1900, and especially if a link to a real person can be established, such as the Dracula and Vlad Tepes connection. And each writer asks for certain characters to be reserved for him or her, and then we are allowed to borrow from each other, working as closely as necessary with other writers. When a writer is finished with a character and no longer wants to use him/her, we throw them back into the Hell Pool, freeing them for others to reserve for new stories. Of course there are rules in Hell, and Janet makes sure we adhere to those rules. But these rules are most unusual, for although they control and confine, they do not restrict , they liberate — they force you to think outside of the box, force you to be more creative, to work around the rules, and to come up with plots and events and scenes you could write NOWHERE else, except in Hell. I even collaborated with author Shebat Legion for a humorous and grisly little tale called “Undertaker’s Holiday,” which also appears in Poets in Hell. All in all, writing for Hell and Her Satanic Majesty, Janet Morris, has been uplifting: I’ve had to up my game and set my own bar higher than I have ever set it. I’ve had to research, a lot of research into characters’ lives, reading history and mythology, philosophy and legends, searching through the Bible . . . writing for Hell is hard work — but extremely rewarding and a lot of fun, too. I feel that I’ve branched off into writing stories that are more literary in nature, that say something about the “human condition,” stories of hope and love, loss and loyalty and courage. Writing for Hell is unlike any writing I have ever done before, and I hope I will have the opportunity to remain part of Heroes in Hell for a very long time: it’s special, it’s important, it’s entertaining and even informative and educational. Plus, I get to work with and for Janet Morris!  Those of us who write for Hell, and those who read Heroes In Hell and like it and understand it  — they know what I mean.

Written from…

Golem Heights, New Hell