Daniel Darko Marciano is a local children’s book author whose newest book titled, Thomas Blasts Off came to fruition after the author overcame many obstacles in life. Thomas Blasts Off is a short story about the adventures of an introverted boy named Thomas and his dog, High Tower who persevered to achieve his dream of traveling into outer space. We recently met up with Marciano for high tea in La Jolla’s new tea room, Mary’s English Kitchen and chatted about his long journey from being a drug addict and convicted felon to a published children’s book author.
Are You In A Band?
Marciano is not your typical children’s book author. Indeed, even his physical appearance is distinguishable. He is tall, lanky and sports a partially shaved head. He has visible tattoos including matching skull and bones on his ear lobes. On the day I met him he was wearing skinny dress pants, a striped knitted sweater over a button-up dress shirt topped with a red bow tie. Picture a young, punk version of Mr. Rogers. He often gets mistaken for a rockstar or tattoo artist. Marciano was born and raised in San Diego. However, he admits that he grew up on “the wrong side of town.” His upbringing consisted of little to no parental supervision or guidance. Suffice it to say that he had to learn things the hard way. Marciano remembers being in and out of trouble with the law at a very young age. One of his earliest memories is having to wash police cars as a punishment at the age of nine. His acting out and misguidance led him to drop out of school and eventually to a life of drugs and crime. After many years of living the hard life which includes many stints in jail and up to a decade of being homeless, Marciano knew he needed to change.
A New Life
With a new outlook on life and a little help from a new California referendum, Marciano received a second chance. After hitting rock-bottom, strung out on drugs and standing at the mercy of a judge, Marciano took advantage of a new program being offered courtesy of Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000. Prop 36 allowed qualified defendants convicted of drug possession to receive probation and drug treatment instead of incarceration. This allowed Marciano to enter into a rehabilitation program called Drug Court offered through the San Diego Superior Court, in lieu of a four year jail sentence. After shedding his old life of drugs and crime it was time to join society and find a steady job which was also part of his probation. The first challenge in his new life was finding a job as a convicted felon. Marciano, once again, received another opportunity and found a job at a local grocery chain through a special program that gave convicted felons a second chance.
A new found life and a steady job allowed him to pursue his dreams. Marciano has always been interested in art and music. Although he didn’t finish school he says he always loved reading. He is a self-described “lit-geek.” He would amuse other inmates by playing improvised songs about his surroundings. Even then he seemed to have a keen sense for story telling. It wasn’t until he started living a “normal” life that he decided to truly begin writing short stories. With the help of a friend he learned how to illustrate, which allowed him to create complete stories with images. Marciano sees himself as an all around children’s entertainer much like Mr. Rogers. He enjoys bringing his stories to life in a fun, interactive and educational way, which is exactly what he created with Thomas Blasts Off. The character of Thomas was interestingly created by chance. Thomas was a small and obscure character in one of Marciano’s first books called Professor Danny and Captain Chris. Thomas was created after one of his friends (named Thomas) expressed that he wished to have a character named after him in the book. Although the story had been completed, Marciano obliged by giving him a cameo in the story as a child astronaut named Thomas. He later created a spin-off with that character which became Thomas Blasts Off.
Read, Play, and Learn!
In keeping with his passion to entertain, Marciano is invited to various events around San Diego where he sets up fun and interactive activities for kids. Marciano is currently out promoting Thomas Blasts Off with a full interactive show which includes original songs, drawings, and a homemade rocket ship (similar to the one Thomas builds in the book) that kids can ride. Marciano’s next event is on May 11th at Geppetto’s in Fashion Valley Mall at 1pm. Come out for free rocket rides, live music, reading, art and fun! He will also be at KidsFest at Liberty Station in Point Loma on May 17th and 18th.
You can order a copy of Thomas Blasts Off online by visiting, TheDannyDarko.com