The following article written by John Usalis, appeared in the Republican Herald Newspaper in the September 5 2010 issue. Photo by John Usalis.
ASHLAND – Thomas M. Malafarina likes to be scared.
The Ashland native hopes to deliver a chill to others with his books, “Ninety-Nine Souls” and “Thirteen Nasty Endings,” which he donated to the Ashland Public Library on Friday.
His first book, “Ninety-Nine Souls,” is set in Schuylkill County in the fictional town of Ashton. It tells the story three miners trapped in a cave-in, one of whom sells his soul to Satan to get revenge for the disaster. In turn, Satan turns the miner into an immortal soul-feeding demon that must remain trapped in the mine until he gathers 99 souls.
For the second book, Malafarina’s editor suggested the title because the 13 stories within all have very nasty endings.
A 1973 graduate of North Schuylkill High School, Malafarina landed a job at The Evening Herald after sending song parodies of a mine strike to editor William O’Brien.
“I loved writing, but the hours were long and I just left,” said Malafarina.
Malafarina got a job with Rockwell International in Wyomissing, later earning his associate degree in business administration. He currently works as a senior manufacturing engineer for ITT in Lancaster.
Over the years, Malararina wrote mostly technical and training manuals. He also teaches at vocational schools.
“In 2004, I started developing an idea for a screenplay. I played with that for a year and submitted it to various places, but I realized I had too much detail in it,” Malafarina said of “Ninety-Nine Souls.” “So I decided to turn it into a novel.
“In 2008 I started rewriting it, and started shopping it around in 2009. It’s set in Ashton, Pennsylvania, and is set in three time periods – 1965, when most of it takes place, then flashes back in 1865, then moves forward to 1985,” he said.
Malafarina has started his a third book, “Burn Phone.” He was contacted by Sunbury Press, Camp Hill, and struck a three-book deal with the company.
He has also signed an agreement with Sunbury Press for a fourth book that will not be horror fiction.
“I am also a bit of a cartoonist, and my cartoons are really warped and strange,” said Malafarina. “I’ve been doing those for about 20 years and I’ve collected about 300 cartoons.”
Malafarina performs with the Blues City Blues Band and plays solo acoustics shows on occasion at the Lazy Dog Coffee House in Minersville, where he will have a book signing at 1 p.m. Oct. 10.
Malafarina lives in South Heidelberg Township near Reading with his wife, JoAnne. He has three grown children and two grandchildren.
Malafarina enjoys visiting Ashland, noting that he misses the ABA Mummers Parade.
“We used to always try to get back for the parade. My wife calls it ‘our trip to Mecca,'” he said. “I would come back and visit my old house on Arch Street near the old high school. You can’t take the coal region out of the boy.”