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Author Interview: Nicholas Ponticello

Nicholas Ponticello is a high school mathematics teacher and STEAM coordinator at Flintridge Preparatory School in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Ponticello graduated from University of California, Berkeley with degrees in mathematics and astrophysics, and is currently completing a sustainability certificate through the UCLA Extension program. He is interested in exploring the intersection of science, sustainability, business, and education, and hopes to encourage more systems thinking and sustainability-themed curricula at the secondary school level.

Mr. Ponticello grew up in Northern California and began his career as the operations manager at KOMENAR Publishing in Oakland, CA. He is a longtime runner, and has coached champion cross-country and track & field teams at the high school level. Mr. Ponticello is also the author of Do Not Resuscitate, a fictional biography that considers transhumanism and the intersection of technology and sustainability. He has studied writing under Kim Krizan (Before Sunrise, Zombie Tales 2061) and Bruce Miller (Eureka, Medium, ER). Do Not Resuscitate received honorable mention at the 2015 Green Book Festival, which spotlights “books that contribute to greater understanding, respect for and positive action on the changing worldwide environment,” and is a semi-finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards for Literary Fiction.

Mr. Ponticello resides in Los Angeles with art historian, Nico Machida, and their five freshwater fish.

  • : Third grade. The magical adventures of the anthropomorphic inhabitants of Fifi Forest, a woodland kingdom complete with castles and kings and tax collectors. It was a series of children's books, actually, and my third grade teacher tried to convince me to submit them for publication in a magazine. I, being a shy, nervous child, refused, and now the tales of Fifi Forest lie forgotten somewhere in my parents' garage.
  • : Like many people in this world, my protagonist wants to die. Is ready to die. But it's about fifty years into the future, and there's a chance he can download his brain onto a microchip and wake up again any time after his death. He's like, "No f***ing way!" But his overbearing daughter is insistent. So, as he decides the fate of his brain, he recalls the past: his pious sister, his duplicitous father, and his philandering wife, all of whom meet untimely ends that force our anti-hero to consider the real meaning of death. The novel is aptly titled "Do Not Resuscitate."
  • : Do you remember when personal computers had a black interface and orange typeface? Do you remember MS-DOS? Do you remember when you used to go to Grandma’s house and bang on the typewriter without rhyme or reason—then you'd bring the printed page of gibberish to Grandma and ask her to tell you what you spelled? djkldfbadffasdjkfhnsckafeincsqoiehncdscareunofncald “BAD” is in there, as are “AS,” “ARE,” and “NO.”
  • : Now I'm working on the story of fifty-odd passengers marooned in space on a cramped starship for four decades. The story is told by an alien observer, who, like the narrator of a National Geographic special, gives us the gory details of these humans' pitiful lives without ever intervening, even when the humans are sure to kill each other off. It's basically a version of Big Brother in space.
  • : Here I should really pay tribute to some of the most insightful—and neurotic—authors of all time: Kurt Vonnegut, a man ahead of his time, and of his time, and of the past. No one can expose the absurdity of the human race like he can (see Galapagos, Mother Night, or the famous Slaughterhouse Five). Jane Austen. She's about as scathing as Vonnegut, but with more charm (see Persuasion, Emma, and Pride and Prejudice). And Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (pen-name Isak Dinesen), whose insight into the human condition is unrivaled (see Out of Africa).
  • : I don't kid myself that I'm a bonafide author. Unless I can put food on the table, pay the mortgage, and send the kids to college with the money I'm making from writing, then I refuse to pretend that I'm anything other than a high school mathematics teacher. And in my capacity as a high school mathematics teacher, I am doing the best I can to send young humans out into the world with the intellectual wherewithal to be decent, thoughtful—at worst, innocuous—contributors to this painful experiment called life.
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  • : Fans? What fans? If you're a fan of mine, you must have a pretty bleak outlook on the condition of the human race. (Did you know humans are a type of ape? Seriously, I am, by every scientific definition, an ape. So are you.)
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