Author's novel has references to Utica from the Utica Observer-Dispatch  (October 3, 2005)
By CASSAUNDRA BABER, The Associated Press

Author Jim Damiano loves Utica.

"As a first-time writer you're told to write what you know," said Damiano, who was born, raised and educated in Utica. "I have a lot of love for (Utica). It's my roots."

Those roots found a place in Damiano's first novel, "2020 A Season to Die: A parable of love and war."

The character-driven novel is the imagined tale of what America's future could entail. Through civil war, the story connects two families, one from Prosper, Texas, the other from Utica in a battle of love and war.

From Conkling Street to the Mohawk River, Uticans will recognize many of the references to the city throughout the novel, Damiano said.

"Saranac beer is even mentioned," he said. "One of the soldiers is wishing for one."

Damiano didn't need to return to the area from his current home in McKinney, Texas, to refresh his memory of Utica.

"I lived it. I walked it. It's been a part of my life," he said.

Though the novel isn't prophetic in any way, Damiano said "it's a tale of what might be. There are a lot of parallels in history, and history will repeat itself if you're foolish enough not to fix the problems."

Damiano's next novel, "Rosa's Story," tells the fictionalized account of his Italian grandmother as an immigrant in Utica.

McKinney Resident's Novel Reflects Events from the McKinney Courier-Gazette  (September 9, 2005)

Several years ago, Jim Damiano had a bad dream. America was torn apart by a civil war, and the fight was not about race, religion or gender.

It was about differing ideas of liberty.

"Usually, you wake up from a bad dream, you don't remember anything about it, but this one was just there," he said. "It was a very unusual dream. Very vivid."

It hit him "like a hammer in the head and a kick in the knee," he said. 2020: A Season to Die just had to be written.

The character-driven novel involves a female rebel president. The head rebel general is a West Point graduate. Two love stories intertwined with the book's plot "keep things rolling," Damiano said. One is a "love at first sight" story and another chronicles a relationship that develops over time between a federal soldier and a rebel nurse.

"The people in this book are just people like ourselves," Damiano said. "They are young people thrown into the middle of all this who take on leadership roles unintentionally, but they're doing what they have to do."

Snippets of the front lines can bee see through the eyes of soldiers trying to stay alive. The reader gets a narrow view of the battlefield, as if she is crouched inside a foxhole in the thick of it.

The war begins in Dallas, when the federal government attempts to confiscate all civilian guns.

"There are a lot of other reasons, but as the book points out, this is the straw that broke the camel's back," Damiano said. "Whether it's prophesy or not, who knows. It's too scary to talk about."

The story takes the tone of a parable, bringing awareness to "what would happen if the worst things that could happen in our country happened," he said. "This would be a nightmare scenario, but describes how normal people might live through this nightmare."

Two families from Prosper and Utica, N.Y. find themselves thrown together by love and torn apart by war.

The novel opens with a letter to the editor from a Vietnam Vet appaled by the state of his nation. The veteran refers to another letter to the editor written during the civil war.

"The whole book has parallels with history. As an amateur historian, I truly believe that history repeats itself," Damiano said. "There's a certain pattern I see repeating itself in our country's present state."

The war in 2020: A Season to Die starts on April 19, 2020. On April 19, 1775 the American Revolution started with the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Damiano has traveled to or lived in several areas of the U.S. featured in the book.

"I've been there and walked through the fields to see if it makes sense in a conventional war," he said.

He also interviewed military leaders and his brother, a city manager for a small town in New York, to ensure that the novel was accurate.

"The United States is in a civil war, but it's not North against the South, East against the West, it's internal, and the army that we have is not prepared to fight internal wars," Damiano said. "They're used to fighting in other parts of the world. There aren't any soldiers here. They're all over there."

Current affairs that seemed far-fetched in 2002, when Damiano was writing the book, now seem more likely, he added, with the crisis on the borders, the loss of privacy after 9-11, the fear of terrorism, inflated oil prices and revelations of how easily a major metropolis can descend into anarchy after its infrastructure is wiped out.

"You see the potential for this sort of thing happening, and when I was writing this, I didn't know that any of that was going on," Damiano said. "Man at his worst is often found when this type of situation occurs, unfortunately - and man at his best, too."

Damiano was born in 1945 in Utica. His interests include farming, music, singing in the choir at Stonebridge United Methodist Church, poetry and history. He has lived in Texas for nearly 30 years and lives on a pecan farm outside McKinney with his wife, Betty.

PRESS RELEASE:  McKinney, TEXAS– (August 15, 2005)

A new Texas author, Jim Damiano, has come onto the scene with a timely and intriguing novel about love and war. 2020: A Season to Die is a powerful and sobering tale of the United States as it might be just a few short years from now.

It is April 19th, 2020. The United States is in a new war for independence. Insurrection, guerrilla warfare, atrocity, and mayhem drive a confused and crippled nation into a maze of deceit and intrigue. This character driven novel follows two different Rebel families caught in the crosshairs of the Federal Forces. The Northcutt's and the Rinaldi's, one from Prosper, Texas, the other from Utica, New York, endure nine months of civil war with passion, love, loyalty, and mayhem in this near-future tale.

This timely book will be especially involving for anyone concerned about the present direction of culture and governance in the United States. If you find that you’re frequently upset by the daily news, and are concerned about the ways our freedoms seem to become more limited with each passing year, then this novel is for you.

2020: A Season to Die, a parable of love and war, is Jim’s first novel. If this well researched and engaging novel is any sign of things to come, we look forward with great anticipation to reading his next offering.

Jim Damiano has many interests, including farming, music, church choir, poetry, and all things historical. He currently lives with Betty, his wife and best friend for the past forty years, on his pecan farm outside McKinney, Texas.

Jim is currently working on the novel Rosa’s Story, based on the life of his maternal grandmother and the challenges she faced and overcame as an Italian immigrant to the United States.

To interview Jim Damiano, or for a copy of 2020: A Season to Die, for your review, please contact Jim Damiano at