These days, when someone talks about “Twilight,” they are most likely referring to a wildly successful series of teen vampire novels and movies. But local writer Joe Del Priore has other ideas about what makes up the “Twilight People” in his new self-published book by the same name.
Del Priore, a North Bergen resident who used to live in Weehawken, has amused and intrigued Reporter readers for years with his satirical essays in the Hudson Current and Midweek Reporter newspapers. But he’s composed fiction as well.
“Twilight People” does contain vampires, zombies, and even a wolf man for good measure – but Del Priore’s compilation of short stories also features the importance of not refreezing the body parts of the undead, and human miniaturization gone wrong (think angry little people in snow globes).
“My aspiration is that some of them are going to stay in your mind, maybe make [you] lose a little sleep.” – Joe Del Priore
His self-described “edgy” and “uncomfortable” stories are ones he would like to linger. “My aspiration is that some of them are going to stay in your mind,” he said in an interview last week. “Maybe make [you] lose a little sleep.”
Del Priore said the title was inspired by a series of vignettes he wrote years ago, long before the Stephanie Meyer book and movie saga.
Instead of changing the title, Del Priore decided to hang on to it, hoping there could be some accidental discoveries of his book through Google searches.
From postal to published
Though he studied English at Rutgers University and went on to teach in Jersey City for a few years, Del Priore actually spent most of his career as a postal carrier from the late 1970s until 2006.
He delivered mail during the day and would spend his evenings writing.
His work has been in print since 1982, including the Reporter essays.
Now retired, he spends most, if not all, of his days writing. He also participates in several writers groups in the area.
Del Priore said that his prolific writing isn’t attributable to great talent, but prioritization. While he knows many people and is involved in many groups, he said that having few close friends and no close family of his own has equaled more time to write.
Indeed, Del Priore’s essays sometimes highlight loners and people on the outskirts of society.
Del Priore said his free time has also allowed the opportunity for a lot of reading. It was when he read a collection of sci-fi short stories by Ray Bradbury six months ago that he was immediately inspired to put together a book of his own.
Within two months, he had written 50 short stories.
“I was so excited about the idea of getting a book out,” said Del Priore. “It went very quickly.”
Inspiration for the small or silver screen?
Del Priore, who said he writes for all ages and is inspired by everything around him, has enough pieces (over 400) to fill 10 volumes of books, he said.
“I would love to see them all in print,” he said. “They’re all good stories; they just need polishing. It’s a good problem to have.”
Besides hoping to publish more compilations, Del Priore is also considering what his work might look like performed on TV or in the movies. He already has written monologues, skits, and plays, at least one of which has been performed.
A Del Priore short story, “The Gulf,” about the separation between two people, was made into a short film by film school students this spring.
His short stories, which are reminiscent of Rod Serling and Stephen King, would be suited for an interesting series like the popular “Twilight Zone.”
“Right now I just feel like anything is possible,” said Del Priore.
Where to find it
A book launch event will take place on Oct. 5 at Montclair Library on Fullerton Avenue.
Before that, Del Priore will be participating in local open mics and reading groups to promote his work. On Aug. 1 at 2 p.m., he will be the featured reader at Literary Lounge at Luna Stage, 555 Valley Rd., in West Orange.
His book is currently available online at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.scribbulations.com.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.