Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Astor House of Old Shanghai (steampunk) featured in Issue 5 of Science Fiction Freedom E'Zine

Science Fiction Freedom Issue 5 Cover
A steampunk short story I wrote entitled, The Astor House of Old Shanghai, which was beautifully illustrated by Wayne Haag of The Fifth Element, The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Rings and The Two Towers) and Superman Returns fame was featured in Issue 5 of Science Fiction Freedom E'Zine. The E'Zine is free so be sure to check it out at:

Peter Saga, the Art Director for Science Fiction Freedom, had contacted me at the end of May (or early June if I remember correctly) through Twitter. At that time I was linking up my Twitter account with several steampunk Twitter accounts and as a result Peter discovered my book and website. He offered me the incredible opportunity to write a steampunk short story for his publication that had to be completed by the end of June. But with the month of June comes final exams and the massive amounts of grading to end the academic year at the international high school I teach at. I foolishly considered turning him down but soon decided to take on the chance to get a work published via a new medium - an E'Zine.

Since I had never worked within the realm of steampunk I was nervous as to what I could come up with, but then I remembered a small literary work I had written while I was in the internet and reading lounge of The Astor House in Shanghai back in 2004. I decided to work with what I had written and add onto it to make it fit within the genre of steampunk. At the same time I was teaching my 8th grade students about the Spanish-American War, American imperialism, and the Boxer Rebellion, which all became elements I used for the story. While I researched and began working on what would become, The Astor House of Old Shanghai, I needed a character to compliment the protagonist in the story and the character of Sir Vernon George Waldegrave Kell fell perfectly into place. The story was to take place in Shanghai in 1899 on the eve of what was to become The Boxer Rebellion. The idea of writing an espionage story provided an interesting angle and when I looked up MI5 (the British intelligence service) I was very pleased to discover that Kell was one of its founders and that he had lived in China, spoke Chinese, and fought in The Boxer Rebellion. It was perfect synchronicity. Thus from there the story took a life of its own.

I was able to finish the story about a week before deadline and then it was off to Peter at SFF. Next came the ultimate surprise. Peter soon explained to me that my story had been picked up by famed production designer, matte painter, photographer, and artist, Wayne Haag! I was completely floored. Wayne had worked not only on the films The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Rings and The Two Towers) but on The Fifth ElementThe Fifth Element was such a visually stunning and ground breaking film that to this day I still remember what I was doing the first time I saw the trailer for the film. Never had I seen anything like it and my friends and I were so excited that we counted down the days to it theatrical release. One image that I absolutely loved when I saw the film was the futuristic depiction of New York City, which you can see below.

NYC city-scape by Wayne Haag for The Fifth Element 
This image of New York was so unique that I still remember it clearly fourteen years after first seeing it. What I found so interesting about this depiction of NYC was that the sea levels had fallen with the city stretching out further into what had once been covered by the ocean. This was at a time when the dangers of global warming was initially being raised and the possibility of sea levels rising. I found it "cool" that Wayne's depiction of NYC went against the grain as to what was to occur in the future and that instead of sea levels rising, they had fallen.

Kell portrait by Wayne Haag
Working with Wayne on what was to become a beautiful portrait of the character of Kell was a dream come true for a major science fiction film fan. Wayne is, in so many ways, my hero as to what he can accomplish through the medium of his art in creating futuristic and fantastic worlds, city-scapes, and landscapes. I had always wanted to gain the ability of becoming an artist in bringing to life what I could imagine, but gave it up once I took a very good look at the competition and pursued music and later writing instead. Wayne was very supportive and constantly encouraging me and has inspired me to continue work on The Astor House of Old Shanghai storyline to develop it into a full-length espionage, steampunk novel.

As a result, while I was in Chicago in August, I stocked up on as many books as I could find on the topics of espionage, The Boxer Rebellion, British imperialism, and Chinese history in the late 1800s to early 1900s. While I work on Dark Legacy: Book II - Travels I will also be working on this steampunk story.

I am incredibly grateful to Wayne Haag and Peter Saga for giving me such an unforgettable experience over the summer. I invite you to check out Wayne's website at and Peter Saga's amazing Science Fiction Freedom E'Zine at

Domenico Italo Composto-Hart

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reflection: Book Signing and Presentation at The Book Stall in northern Chicago

Busy signing books at The Book Stall in northern Chicago
The second book presentation and signing for my sci-fi/fantasy novel, Dark Legacy: Book I - Trinity, was held at The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois (a northern Chicago suburb) on Saturday, July 30th. The event was organized by my mother and sister who worked diligently in promoting the presentation to as many friends and family as possible. As a result we had around sixty people in attendance and we sold every single copy The Book Stall had in stock.

It had been two years since I was back in the United States (the longest I have ever been away from the country of my birth), and back to my home town of Wilmette. It was a great pleasure to return with my family and present my literary work in Winnetka, which is the town where I went to high school. Although I was nervous before the event, once I got started I had a lot of fun discussing the themes, history, and stories behind the book. But the best part of the presentation was the excellent range of questions I had from the audience.

Two amazing friends filmed the presentation and book signing using high definition cameras, and as a result I have already uploaded the presentation as a four part video onto the YouTube channel for The Legacy Cycle at Check it out and share them with all your sci-fi/fantasy reading friends!

With magic,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dark Legacy: Trinity presentation and signing at The Book Stall in Chicago's North Shore

Presentation and book signing of Dark Legacy: Book I - Trinity will take place at 3:00 pm on July 30th at The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, IL.

The Book Stall
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, Illinois, USA
Tel. (847) 446-8880

The Book Stall at Chestnut Court is a fantastic book shop located in Chicago's North Shore that is now celebrating 75 years of independent book selling! Come and join us on the 30th of July.
With magic,

Monday, May 30, 2011

S.J. Wist Review of Dark Legacy: Trinity

Check out the Fantasy Book Review Blog of S.J. Wist at:
Last Friday I was very pleased to discover a review of my book by S.J. Wist who is a fantasy writer and reviewer that is currently adding the finishing touches to her fantasy novel, Dragon Aster.

Thursday, May 26, 2011
Review of Dark Legacy: Trinity
by Domenico Italo Composto-Hart

Rating: 5/5

"Dark Legacy: Trinity, is a fantasy novel with a blend of science fiction that will appeal to both preferences in readers. It is a coming of age story of Kieko, son of the last Kai guardian of Atlantis. He is trained by the priest, Shinsei, as the relentless force that took Atlantis draws closer to his peaceful home of Ikishi.

The oldest mystics of the Orient against the pinnacle of human kind -- Atlantis, fused together seamlessly. When the technology of science fiction clashes with a primitive culture, sparks fly. When it collides with rich characters who are rooted deep in their spirituality, then it becomes a battle of absolute willpower against a merciless evil. Add just the right touch of vivid detail, characters and story, and you have this epic tale that is hard to put down.

Kieko, Aiko and Kira are all lovable and thoroughly entertaining to follow to where their youth takes them next. As they become adults together, their trials and tribulations grow a powerful and unbreakable bond that the reader can easily connect with and follow alongside.

Domenico Italo Composto-Hart has made a most impressive step into the fantasy and science fiction genre. This first book of the Dark Legacy series will join my shelf alongside my all-time favorites."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reflection: Book Signing and Presentation at Librería Gigamesh, Barcelona

Book signing at Librería Gigamesh in Barcelona, Spain.
The first book presentation and signing for my sci-fi/fantasy novel, Dark Legacy: Book I - Trinity, was held at LibreríGigamesh in Barcelona, Spain. The event was organized by my wife as part of a surprise birthday gift. Since launching the book my wife has been encouraging me to get out of my shell and promote it, and the event at Gigamesh was a wonderful way to begin doing so.

So much energy and time went into writing, rewriting, writing, rewriting, editing, reediting, and editing the book that once a final draft was complete, the book cover design finished, and the website ( up and running, came the question . . . "well, now what?" I hadn't put much thought into the promotion of the book beyond what can be done via online networking sites. Promoting in the "real" world as opposed to the "virtual" world was not something I had put much thought into. Perhaps I had been avoiding the idea. To be honest I felt uncomfortable going out there to promote (essentially become a salesperson) for my art. Most artists I believe are shy about promoting (to sell) their very personal works, and my book is, in many senses, a very personal story.

But, my wife was there by my side pushing me to do what an unknown writer must ultimately do. To get out there and share with the world their art.

The event at Gigamesh was a safe and comfortable way for me to get my feet wet. Many friends, students, fellow teachers, and family were there to support me. What made the event unforgettable was seeing my father walk into the bookstore unannounced; he had flown in all the way from Chicago as a surprise. And what a fantastic surprise it was for me to see my father, to have his support, and to share this moment with him. My father is, in a word, amazing!

A friend of mine video-taped the presentation with her iPhone and so I have been fiddling with iMovie to prepare the video recording of the event on this site as well as on the other Legacy Cycle sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Perhaps in a week or so I will upload the presentation . . . so stay tuned.

With magic,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Janusz Migasiuk: The Genius behind The Legacy Cycle website

Later this week I will write a blog describing my first book presentation and signing at Libreria Gigamesh in Barcelona, Spain, which took place on the 1st of April. In the mean time I have uploaded the promotional poster for my sci-fi/fantasy novel, Dark Legacy: Book I - Trinity.

Janusz Migasiuk ( designed this poster and built the website for The Legacy Cycle ( as well as my personal website (

He is the most talented and professional painter, graphic artist, and web designer I have ever met, and it is a great honor to have him as a good friend. I encourage you to take a look at his site and his talented work and to spread the word about him. On top of his amazing abilities as an artist he is also an exceptional musician (bass player & keyboardist). Overall, Janusz is a fine example of what it means to be a Renaissance man.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter you can look him up as well at:

All the best,
Domenico :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dark Legacy: Trinity presentation and signing at Librería Gigamesh

Gigamesh book signing poster for
April 1, 2011

Presentation and book signing of Dark Legacy: Book I - Trinity will take place at 19:00h (7 pm) on the 1st of April, 2011 at:

Librería Gigamesh
«Vicio y subcultura»
Ronda San Pedro, 53
08010 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. 932 466 359. Fax 932 327 708

Librería Gigamesh in Barcelona has the best, and largest, selection of science  fiction, fantasy, and horror books, and graphic novels in English. For the expats in BCN that are in literary need of Neal Stephenson, Iain M. Banks, Ursula K. Le Guin, Stephen King, Robert Jordan, etc. then Librería Gigamesh is where you need to be.

Looking forward to seeing you on April 1st!
All the best,
Domenico Italo Composto-Hart 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dark Legacy: Book I - Trinity Cover Design and Launch!

Book cover design for Dark Legacy.

The Legacy Cycle website has launched on this day(s), January 20-21 (depending on what side of the planet you are on), 2011 for my first sci-fi/fantasy novel, Dark Legacy: Book I - Trinity! You can visit the site at: and learn more about Atlantis and Lemuria.

Now that I have climbed my first literary mountain (writing and finishing my first novel), I stare at the foot of the next mountain (promoting the book), and with the launch of I have taken my first step.

All the best and I hope you enjoy the book!
Domenico Italo Composto-Hart