Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Corona, Queens, New York and I include the neighborhood and locality in my books.
What's the story behind your latest book?
There's a story behind all of my books. For example The Starlight Club is filled with many true experiences that I used fictionally in the book. Someday I'd like to have a question and answer session where I can explain which parts of the book were true. In that book, just about everyone I wrote about was real. It would be nice to have a deeper discussion about the truths and falsehoods of the book. In Starlight Club 2: I created the character Swifty who was based on a friend o mine that I grew up with. He was a professional prize fighter and I described the two fights he fought to a draw with a real classy fighter by the name of Johnny Torres. In the book I had them fight 3 draws instead of the two they actually fought. During Swifty's induction into the army (which was really my induction) a professional heavyweight boxer I knew from the neighborhood was standing in front of him (me) and when they were about to get a series of shots he turned around and asked Swifty to catch him if he fainted. He said that he didn't want to embarrass himself by passing out in front of the other guys. That actually happened when I was inducted into the army and I almost laughed at him. This big tough heavyweight boxer who wasn't afraid to fight 5 guys in an alley, was afraid of a little needle. I thought it was interesting so I put it in the book.
When did you first start writing?
This is an interesting question because I didn't start writing until I was 75 years old. What motivated me to write was my wish to make money to send my grandchildren to better schools.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A publisher published my first two books but I was frustrated because he overpriced the books and I knew they wouldn't sell at the price he set. So I decided to leave him and become an indie author where I could then manage my own affairs.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has put together a neat program of introducing authors to the reading public. Programs such as this one. My books seem to be selling better on Smashwords, and for that I'm grateful to them.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I discovered late in life and much to my surprise that I can tell a good story. I once commented that If I knew I could write a good story, I would have started writing a half a century ago, and thats the truth.
I've had the most fun writing a book, when I wrote The Adventures of The Lone Jack Kid. When I decided to write the book, I wanted to use the work "Kid" in the book, like the Sundance Kid, or the Cisco Ked. When I researched names that I could place before "Kid" it seemed that every name had been used in the movies or in books. But after spending an inordinate amount of time researching for a name, I came across the little town of Lone Jack in Missouri. What was significant in this town was the Civil War battle that took place there. The town consisted of a few buildings plus a large hotel. The battle that took place there was small but very bloody, in fact It was a slaughter - but it wasn't so much the battle that took place there, rather than the men who left their footprints in history to become western legends, that took part of that battle. Frank & Jesse James, Cole Younger, Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson. All of these men were involved either directly or indirectly in the story.
While The Adventures of The Lone Jack Kid was fun to write, there was another book that was written from my heart. This was a book I never thought I'd write because it concerned some of my experiences while on the FDNY during the 1960's and 70's. I don't like writing about myself. The reason I wrote the stories was my editor asked me that since I was on the fire department, I must have a lot of interesting stories to share with her. I told her that I'd check my files. I kept notes back then of the more important fires I responded to, and I wrote the 5 short stories based on those notes. The book is titled Engine 24: Fire Stories. Visit youtube and type in Engine 24 book trailer, watch the trailer then email me and let me know what you thought of it. I had 6 trailers made for my books but this last one was special (in my opinion) and I entered it in the 2013 eLit best Book Trailer category because that's how much I thought of it. Here's the youtube link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE-ZTpAlMJU
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean the world to me. I know this sound like a cliche but its true. They compliment me if my book is good, and if they find a typo or see a mistake in the plot or story time line, they'll send me an email and let me know about it, and as soon as I receive it I'll correct it. Look, without fans there would be no book sales, so I'm very appreciative of my fans.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on The Starlight Club 5, then I would like to do a sequel to The Lone Jack Kid, but I'm also considering writing a book about a little revolutionary war battle that took place in the little town of Stonington, Connecticut. Look, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I'll finish the book I'm working on now and then we'll see what happens next.
The Starlight Club was originally written as a stand alone book, but friends and family and even some fans said that the characters were too good to appear in just one book - so I wrote a second book and then a third and fourth. But I believe the 5th book will be the last of the Starlight Club books. Much of that first book had truth running like a river through it. It would be interesting to have a discussion on what parts were true and which weren't.
Who are your favorite authors?
Great Question because I'm a prolific reader and I have many authors I like. But I'll tell you which ones I like right now. They are Vince Flynn, Mark Greaney who writes the Gray Man series (and co-authors the Tom Clancy's books), and RW Peake who wrote the great Marching With Caesar books.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Every day that I wake up is a win for me. When I open my eyes after a good nights sleep, and I realize that I'm still alive, I know that I'm going to have a great day. I would really be pissed off if I woke up one morning and discovered that I was dead.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I'll spend some time on my computer checking my emails or video chatting with my brother. Later I'll pick up my ipad and read a little. Take walks and when I come back I'll exercise a little. but I must say it's very boring for me when I'm not writing. Don't forget I started writing at the age of 75. I'm 78 now, and I've written 12 novels and 6 shorts stories, so you can see that I do a lot of writing.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I like adventure, action books. I'm not one for vampire, romance or horror books. I like almost any genre other than the books I've just mentioned. Westerns (if they're good), history, science fiction, mob books, hi tech, biographies, survival, war stories (with a good plot). I'll look for books from my favorite authors, sometimes I'll search for books to download because I always like to have books on my iPad waiting for me to read.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote The Time Portal and I was so insecure after writing it I was embarrassed to show it to anyone. Finally my daughter introduced me to her friend, a retired attorney who loved the story, and agreed to become my co-author. I was surprised when people after reading it said that they liked it. I wrote three additional Time Portal books which in my opinion turned out rather good. That first book and the reception it received gave me the confidence to continue to write.
What is your writing process?
The plot line comes easy to me. I usually start writing without knowing where the book is going. As I write I see the finished paragraphs in my mind and so as I write I try to catch up to the thoughts my mind sees. It seems as though I'm always trying to catch up to the next paragraph. I find that my original intention is as I write to take the story in a certain direction, but the book sometimes takes me in another direction. When that happens I'll let it take me where it wants to go. I hope what I'm saying here makes sense to the reader. When I start a book I have no idea where the story line will take me. I do have a starting point and a thread of what the story will be like. But the story in the beginning is like planting a seed. I start with an idea then I start writing the story and as it progresses the story like the seed begins to mature and bear fruit.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
When I was a little boy, my mother gave me the book, The Arabian Nights as a christmas present. As I read the book, my mind visualized all of the characters in vivid technicolor and they were all very much alive. As a little boy I loved those stories. Reading that first book gave me a love for reading.
How do you approach cover design?
My publisher asked me if I had cover ideas for the covers of my first two books. I gave him my suggestions and he had his artist create the covers from the suggestions I gave him. When they were completed and shown to me I could tell that they weren't great covers, they were just ok. An author friend of mine after looking at them shook his head and referred me to his artist and she designed some really great covers for all of my books. I learned an important lesson then, and that is an author should leave the design of their books cover to a professional artist. Remember a good cover is what draws a reader to the book. A cover is like a magnet. A good cover will attract readers - an unattractive cover will repel readers.
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