Interview with Al DeFilippo

Published 2015-06-10.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My motivation for becoming an author is the result of what I interpreted as God's call on my life. In the midst of losing a large family business, I experienced a "new birth" if you will- leading me out of the familiar and prompting me to return to the former. As a child, I was fascinated with the concept of being a good writer. It happened one day sitting in an empty fourth-grade classroom, waiting for my fellow students to arrive. As I sat there alone, I was taken by a well-written paragraph on the chalkboard in front of me. Within minutes, the teacher walked into the room, said hello and immediately asked me what I thought of the writing on the blackboard. I nodded my approval and with a burst of enthusiasm she exclaimed, this is fantastic writing! From that point on, I wanted to be a writer. In reality, I had been a storyteller since I was a small child. My mother and father knew that story craft was one of my strengths. There is a story of when I was in my kindergarten classroom and I got the entire classroom to run to the room's doorway when I exclaimed that a school bus was coming down the main hallway of the school. There wasn't a school bus coming down the hallway, but my classmates believed the story and came running to view this possible event. Another "life-changing" event centered around "story" occurs in a fourth-grade production of the duel between American Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. I played the part of Burr; my close friend and classmate, Paul Santamaria, played the part of Hamilton. At the point where I shoot the cap gun pistol and Paul falls to the stage floor, the 100 or so students watching the production stood to their feet cheering. I actually had to pause for several minutes before I could give my next line. It was a moving scene for audience and actor alike.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy of writing is the fulfillment I get when placing myself into a historical character's setting. One of my personality profile strengths is context. I fascinate with the original intentions, the blueprints if you will. To me, what is extremely important is the why, why was this formed, why did this occur, why is it important, why is this story from history important to today? I guess in a way, I'm an extremely diligent four-year-old! It is the why which inspires me to write the what, when, where and how. Writing also supplies my excuse to snack on dark chocolate. But more on that later.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite author list is small. One of the hurdles of writing about characters from history is that you spend the majority of your reading time searching through non-fiction work. Some of these writings possess poetical flourishes, but these welcomed events are rare. Most of the books I read were written several centuries ago. Without these original source documents, much of the historical retelling would fall short. However, there are some fiction authors I really appreciate. I enjoy reading the works of James Michener. His book, Chesapeake, fascinated me. His ability to thread nearly 500 years of history for one location of geography is truly an enjoyable experience for one who fascinates with context. I enjoy the writings of C.S. Lewis. His ​Screwtape Letters is an amazing piece of artistry. The book would make a great movie done by contemporary A-List actors. I also enjoy the "King of Paradoxes," G.K. Chesterton. The British philosopher, poet, journalist and novelist fascinates me with his juxtaposition of the ordinary. He raises the ordinary to the extraordinary. He also brings down the proud and the haughty. Quite fun.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I love to work. I love to play also. For me, each day is a blessing, just like good health and that feeling you get after a great workout! Life is to be enjoyed, even when doing what you are required and especially when you are doing the right thing. It is enjoyed best with the mindset that it was not promised but given, as a​​n act of mercy.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to exercise. I also love music. As a musician, I play the drums and African percussion. I enjoy watching British television. Top Gear and Keeping up Appearances are two of my favorite programs. I love to spend time outdoors. Living in South Florida, there are nearly 365 great days each year. The only blemish on these days is when a hurricane decides to visit the sunny coastlines. I love to wrestle with my Wheaten Terrier, Riley Flynn. He is a gentle animal but thinks he is tough enough to mess with daddy! My wife and I really enjoy getting out to eat and road trips. Our kids are older, they still join us on the road trips, but Kim and I are beginning to experience the leading edge of the empty nest.
What is your writing process?
I grew up in the construction trades. By the time I graduated college, I was building homes for my family's business. Writing to me is much like doing drywall repair. You start with this gaping hole in the wall- it needs to be filled. You roughly cut out a chunk of gypsum board. You place backing behind the opening, screw the hewn piece of drywall to the backing and tape the edges with nylon strips. Now you mix up some 5-minute mud. You spread the first layer thin, not too thick. Let it dry. You mix another batch of 5-minute mud, this time you spread it a little thicker and you go beyond the initial edges of the repair. You spread the mud roughly triple the size of the patch. Let this layer dry. Again, you mix more 5-minute mud, this time placing the mud in as smooth as you can get it, pulling the perimeter boundaries even further in all four directions. Your 4" x 4" hole should now be represented by a drywall patch that is about 36" x 36". Take the heat gun, (a glorified hair dryer) and heat the mud. When completely dry, lightly sand the patch. Now, for the final coat, mix some 24-hour mud and spread over the entire patch. When this is dry, lightly sand and finish with a coat of paint primer. The patch is now ready for painting. ​​​​That is how my writing process works.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I read, cover to cover, I accomplished in one day. I was in middle-school, about 14 years of age. It was the story, Alive, I believe that was the title. It was a retelling of the true-to-life event of an airplane crash that left nearly two dozen people stranded in Chile's Andes Mountains. At one point in the tragedy, the people were forced to cannibalism for survival. I couldn't put the book down, part of me fascinated with such a gruesome task and the other with how does this story end. I was too young to know it at the time, but a part of me was asking the "why" question. Why did they have to resort to cannibalism to survive? Wasn't there another way?
How do you approach cover design?
Knowing that this is the first impression of the book. I want it to be an artistic feast for the eyes. I am a detailed person who enjoys the creative process. For me, the cover has to wow you! I am drawn to the talents of other artists, God included!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The bloggers who write faithfully about my subject. Finding them is easy, Google Alerts. Contacting them and developing a relationship somewhat easy, email. Getting a free book into their hands, a snap!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Black Country is the opening book of a trilogy. The Asbury Triptych Series is a novel based on the life of Francis Asbury. Who is Francis Asbury? If you didn't know, there is a large granite and bronze statue of this British Founding Father in Washington D.C. Asbury's story is the kind of story I like to write, ​a historical, "Fish-Out-Of-Water" story.
I've always been a fan of stories from American history, novels like Michener's Chesapeake, movies like the Patriot and Silverado, and the television series Bonanza. However, I've never seen one done where the American hero is actually a British citizen.
The tone of the story of Francis Asbury is like combining the movie Amazing Grace with the television series, Bonanza- truly a two continent, 18th century story where the hero wanders about for 45 years, witnessing the transformation of a continent from thirteen fledgling colonies into a burgeoning nation. All this while never becoming a citizen of this new land called America.
He is a young, somewhat inexperienced British preacher who leaves his homeland of England to go to the American colonies. His timing couldn't be worse for a British citizen. He arrives in Philadelphia on October 27, 1771, when the colonies are ramping up to rebel for their freedom against England. The Asbury Triptych Series covers Asbury's first years in England, (something never attempted before) and his first 13 years in America as a circuit-riding preacher, teamed up with Harry Hosier, an African ex-slave, and traveling the virgin forests of the American colonies. The opening book, Black Country, as mentioned above, details something never attempted in the 199 years since the death of Francis Asbury. (The bicentennial of his death is in 2016). Black Country details his early childhood years, the early religious movement he is attached to, the fierce opposition to this culturally-significant movement, (the movement virtually destroyed illiteracy and the destructive addiction to Gin in England) his early years of ministry and his struggle with leaving his family, friends, a girl and his homeland to pursue God's call on his life. For more on how I came to discover this amazing man and his amazing story, please see my Author bio on the book site's​ web page​​​​,
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Books by This Author

Black Country
Series: The Asbury Triptych. Price: $13.99 USD. Words: 288,060. Language: English. Published: March 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Christian » Historical
Black Country is the story of the early life in England of British preacher, Francis Asbury, the George Washington of American Christianity. The opening book of The Asbury Triptych Series sets in the rugged West-Midlands of England, the iron-working capital of 18th-century Great Britain. The story delivers a portion of Francis Asbury's life never written about before.