Local fantasy writer is heard as well as read

Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:20 PM EDT

NEW BRITAIN — His books appear on The New York Times best-seller list and have sold more than 10 million copies. His most recent hardcover debuted as a No. 1 The Wall Street Journal best-seller. His books have been translated into German, Italian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Turkish, Croatian, Bulgarian, Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Czech and French.

He is one of the fantasy genre’s most successful authors.

OK. We’re not talking about New Britain native Michael Bertolini. We’re talking about R.A. Salvatore. But look out, R.A., here comes New Britain High School and Central Connecticut State University grad, M.J. Bertolini.

Like Salvatore, Bertolini immersed himself in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” Like Salavatore, Bertolini changed his college major. Salvatore went from computer science to journalism, Bertolini from history to paleontology. And, yes, both writers are married and own at least one cat. But the most significant similarity: both have released their novels on audio.

Bertolini, 30, has an audio version of his first novel, “The Cold Tower,” originally published by the Create Space Independent Publishing Platform. The audio is narrated and produced in California by Geoff Metcalf. It is the first novel in a five-part fantasy epic; all are available for purchase at, and The audiobook is available on and ITunes.

“I wanted to expand my reach to audiobooks,” Bertolini explained. Metcalf is an experienced radio personality. Bertolini transforms the narrative into script form while Metcalf adds inflections and intonations.

Bertolini wanted one voice — Metcalf’s — for his entire audio series. No wonder. The man can give you chills:
“In the world of Scyllia, darkness is coming. The evil sorcerer, Enlokirim, has risen from the grave, seeking revenge against those who have destroyed him.”

While at CCSU, Bertolini began playing Dungeons and Dragons. It became, he says, a mild obsession. He read all of Salvatore’s early work and Tolkien’s Ring trilogy. Bertolini also wrote the first version of “The Cold Tower” and created an outcast warrior, Amras Oronar. In 2008 he won a national novel writing competition and hasn’t looked back.

Bertolini, who has a day job, writes evenings and weekends, hoping like Salvatore to some day become a fulltime fiction writer. Currently, he’s working on a second series of books but prefers not to talk about his work. There are two key women in his life: his wife, Shannon, and his mother, Linda. Shannon provides inspiration, Linda encouragement.

“When Michael was little, I read him books on dinosaurs,” said Linda Bertolini, a Kensington resident. “In fifth grade, he wanted to become a paleontologist, then got interested in the fantasy world.”

Bertolini’s mom hopes her son will make a career out of writing. It could happen.

“Look at Stephen King,” she says. “He came out of nowhere.”

Scott Whipple can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 319 or
Copyright © 2014


Michael J. Bertolini was born on June 15th, 1984 in New Britain, Connecticut. The oldest son of David and Linda Bertolini, Michael grew up with one passion: dinosaurs. His earliest dreams were of moving to Montana to become a paleontologist. As time passed though his dreams of becoming a paleontologist began to fade and his love of history grew. When it came time to apply for college admission he decided to study to become a high school level history teacher.

Michael graduated from New Britain High School in 2002 and went to Central Connecticut State University. It was at CCSU that he was first introduced to a fantasy role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons. It became a mild obsession for him; even after the weekly game sessions ended he was filling his time with fantasy books. He read all of R.A. Salvatore’s early work and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy for the first time. During this time he wrote the first version of The Cold Tower and created Amras Oronar.

As his time at school progressed he decided that teaching was not for him. Now needing to take a minor he chose archaeology, a course of study that reminded him of his early dreams of paleontology. Both history and archaeology gave him insight into the human world and inspired much of Scyllia.

He graduated on December 22nd, 2007.

In 2006 he first attempted to write at least 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month competition. In 2008 he won NaNoWriMo and completed the first draft of The Cold Tower, though it would be nearly a year before he returned to the work to edit it for publication.

Michael lives in Connecticut with his wife (June 2014 wedding picture below) and cat, where he continues to write. Since the Dark Heritage Saga books, he has expanded his writing into the horror and sci-fi genres. He's also released his first book about dinosaurs, JURASSIC, though he intends to write more.


The Cold Tower is his first published work. The book has since recieved great reviews: Chelsea Perry of Apex Review says "The Cold Tower is a grand, sweeping fantasy epic. In the vaunted tradition of Tolkien and Herbert, author Michael Bertolini combines imaginative characters with compelling plotlines to create an engaging tale with strong spiritual undertones...a cant-miss thriller for fans of quality fantasy fiction."

Before TCT was published he had already completed the first draft of his second book, The Shadow Road. After a few edits he published the new book on June 11th, 2010. Like its predecessor, The Shadow Road has received excellent reviews and is considered by many to be better than The Cold Tower.
The Lost Worlds was published in spring, 2011. Soon after, the books in the series have been published in Ebook form in response to the growing market in electronic books.

He finished writing The Keeper's Gate in late 2011, it was released in the late spring of 2012. Shortly following its publication, a glossary of the Dark Heritage Saga was published.

The final book in the series, The Blood Fields, was published at the beginning of spring 2013. His first book after completing the Dark Heritage Saga series, Creatures of the Night, was published shortly after.

Michael's short story, Solitary, was included in I Believe in Werewolves, an anthology published by Netbound Publishing; inspiring him to write more short stories, most of which were included in the book Horrorscope. His novels and all of his short stories are available for download from Smashwords and other e-book retailers.

Michael decided to expand his writing and wrote his first sci-fi book, M.O.T.H.E.R. and finally wrote about dinosaurs in the book JURASSIC.