Click on this photo
to read John's interview about why he is inspired by Northumberland
and other locales
he draws upon
in his writing
Biography of
John Dandola


Unlike most creative types, John Dandola has always sought to bring practicality into the artistic process. "I like to see things not only get finished but I like to ensure that they last," is his simple rationale.

John will confess that the first talent he realized was art. He sold his first paintings while still in high school. Always an avid reader, stories were equally important to him. As he explains it, "I liked telling stories and illustrating one scene always got me bogged down and impatient so I explored other possibilities." From static art, he began dabbling in 8mm animation. When he got to college and the film department didn't have an animation stand to accommodate 16mm, he built one then the resulting cartoon won an award at an east coast college film festival.

From animation, he began working with actors. He designed sets for theatre and film. He directed plays then he moved on to direct and edit industrial films. After graduation, he landed freelance filmmaking assignments from Prudential, New Jersey Bell, The United Way, and The Sierra Club.

From there, he wrote, produced, and directed the live-action film short, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which brought about notice of his storytelling skills and he moved on to screenwriting.

In pursuit of his writing career, John has lived in various locales around the world with notable stints in Los Angeles, Toronto, and London. His most memorable lodgings were on Lindisfarne (a.k.a. Holy Island) off of England's Northumberland coast. The island is the locale for his first sold screenplay. John maintains a home and office in his hometown of West Orange, New Jersey, where his Italian ancestors settled during the 1880's and where his Irish ancestors had established themselves prior to The Revolution.

West Orange is the unlikely home of the world's first motion picture studio—"The Black Mariah"—built by Thomas Alva Edison and the site of so many landmark motion pictures. John's maternal grandfather worked as a personal messenger boy to Thomas Edison in the 1910's (a unique perspective which figures prominently in his 1940's West Orange-based mystery novels).

John's professional affiliations have included the Graphic Artists Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Dramatists Guild of America. He remains a member of the Writers Guild of America.

He is the author of eleven mystery novels. He has also written a biography, children's histories, non-fiction books, and various magazine articles. He is the editor and/or the ghost-writer of several more works of both fiction and non-fiction. His photographs and illustrations have been published both here and abroad.

John has written the screenplays for Woden's Day (based on the British supernatural thriller, Dragon Under the Hill) and Michael for Amy International Productions in London; undertaken an adaptation of Scaramouche for Wolf Productions in Copenhagen; created screenplays from two of his own novels, Dead at the Box Office and Wind of Time, for Emmy Award-winning director Peter Brinckerhoff; consulted on the screen adaptations of a number of other novels; and served as a script doctor on numerous film and television projects.

Always fascinated with history, his writing always contains some element of it. John is often contacted about historical correctness in scripts and, when budgets are minimal, how locations can be suitably cheated to recreate a particular time-frame. His expertise about the medieval world, especially the Vikings (a passion since childhood), is often tapped by other writers and filmmakers.

One of his favorite historic places, Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is featured in his New England mystery novels (Wind of Time, Wicked is the Wind, The Unbound Wind) and a mystery short story (Whispers Upon the Wind). He has also featured both the castle and its builder, John Hays Hammond, Jr., in his mystery novels, Dead by All Appearances and Dead in Small Doses, which are set during World War II.

John has adapted the English mystery novel, A Wisp of Smoke, as the pilot for a British television series based on the Arnold Landon Mysteries by Roy Lewis. The twenty (and counting) novels feature an amateur historian in present-day Northumberland. The project drew John back to England's northernmost county with which he is so lovingly familiar.

John is a graduate of Seton Hall University where he studied Film/Theatre/Television and was actively involved with its well-known "Theatre-in-the-Round."

As a playwright, John returned to that school and began working with New Jersey's prestigious Celtic Theatre Company, which was founded and is overseen by one of his former college professors. Tales of a Public House: An Evening of Wild Imaginings & Traditional Irish Music—adapted from the short stories of William Carleton (1794-1869)—premiered in March of 2005.

That success was followed by ten more plays over six years as a joint venture of  Seton Hall and its G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture.

2011 brought an abrupt end to that association since an investigation revealed the copyright infringement of at least one (quite possibly more) of John's plays which cost him a theatrical publishing contract. Worse yet,
those infringements were covered up—which is certainly not how one's alma mater should behave. John has severed all ties with the university.

He is currently at work on several more mystery novels and a second volume to his acclaimed biography of John Hays Hammond, Jr.

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