Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Million to One: Tony Faggioli

Tony Faggioli is an up-and-coming writer who recently released his first trilogy, a set of action-packed thrillers with a big supernatural component running through them. And, I am proud to say, a personal friend. I'm so happy to welcome him here for the second part of a ten question interview.




6) Writing a trilogy - how do you make the pacing work so that each book works as a standalone and within the series? 

Honestly? I have no idea. I know, I know...I'm supposed to sound all cool, like I planned it all out that way, but the truth is that the story literally took on a life of its own. There were some days that my fingers simply couldn’t keep up with my brain. I was waking up at 3am or 4:30am. It was nuts. But I did have my outlines to try and mesh together. After I was done my editor cleaned up some rough patches but for the most part, it just wrote itself.



7) Critique groups and beta readers. Tell us a little about how those have helped you be a better writer - if they have. 

Each person comes to a critique group with a skill level. From there, if the group is good, that skill level will elevate. I mean, without fail. It has to. Because a good critique group is really an extension of any good writing professor you’ve ever had in your life…they keep you honest. They call you on your bullshit. They flag a character who is weak (as my group did with Tamara at first) and before long you see the reason why (she was destined to be one of the strongest characters, and as a male writer, I was struggling with how to give her a voice).

8) You auditioned several content editors for the series. Tell us how and why you selected the editor you did. 

I’d used Stephen King’s first editor to go over my prior book (The Snow Globe) so I’d already experienced an older editor who was inflexible. As such, I knew I needed something different this time. I searched and searched, and it paid off. She was young, but experienced. I wanted an editor who had spunk. Who wasn’t going to take my shit but who was also calm, cool and collected. Almost like a female Spock to my Captain Kirk. We Skype’d and she was perfect. A quick example? The ending of Book 2 used to be the opening to Book 3. She didn’t like that. She saw immediately that if I ended Book 2 the way it is now I wouldn’t just hook the reader, I would practically stick them with a fishing gaff. I went all crazy about it, ranting and raving about why I disagreed and her reply was the equivalent of, “Well Captain. That. Is. Illogical.” Except she has a British accent. I mean, can you imagine a British Female Spock? I didn't stand a chance. But guess which scene has had the most visceral reaction to date? Yep. Especially with my female readers. Most have tripped out (in a good way) but a few have been really pissed, and they DM me with anger, curse my name, cry foul…and then tell me they just bought Book 3 J

9) Every author has to balance marketing for the book(s) already released, with creating new work, while editing and revising other work. Besides coffee, what tools or mindset help you do this?

Tues-Thurs I’ve gone with a “split-day” approach. 8am-Noon I create (currently that means writing the first book of my new trilogy). Then I break for a one hour lunch. Then from 1-3pm I edit/revise (currently I’m working on The Snow Globe rewrite). From 3-5pm I monitor and check on my promos, internet stats, sales, etc. and setup TweetDeck for my next day’s content. I’m on Facebook here or there each day, so I track/post/reply as needed. Mon and Fri I can only dedicate half a day to my Indie Author cause, so I spend the afternoons editing/revising, writing my blog, putting together my newsletter and doing awesome blog interviews J

10) What question have you not yet been asked - and what's your answer? Hmmm. I guess the question would be, “How did you balance the spiritual/Christian elements of the story while targeting the mainstream, commercial thriller market?” 

Because I worked SO hard that. And my answer, “By relying on the fact that the topic of the story – the pain and consequences of love betrayed – affects Christians, Buddhists (etc) and atheists alike. The vast majority of us have this reverence for the concept of love and an innate need for it. As such, regardless of the spiritual base from which you may read the story, you can appreciate what the characters are going through."


Tony Faggioli was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California, where he majored in Public Administration and interned in Washington, D.C. at The White House. After college, he transitioned to corporate America before deciding to start his own business. One day, he realized that nothing brought him anywhere near the amount of joy as the writing he did from grade school through high school. So, at age 35, he decided to rekindle his passion. Since then he's written four novels and begun his fifth. He's a happily married father of two kids, two dogs and a pretty awesome goldfish. 




Newsletter: https://tonyfaggioli.com/

Catch him in person at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California on Sunday, January 8 at 4 pm.  



Click HERE for Part I of this ten question interview.

Got more questions for Tony?
Ask them, below.

Monday, January 2, 2017

One In a Million: Tony Faggioli

One of the best things about being a writer is getting to meet, read, and become friends with other writers, aspiring or established. Tony Faggioli is an up-and-coming writer who recently released his first trilogy, a set of action-packed horror novels with a big supernatural component. And, I am proud to say, a personal friend. I'm so happy to welcome Tony here for a ten question interview.



1) Kyle. Napoleon. Tamara. Parker. The Grey Man. Which character was the most fun to write - and which was the most challenging? Which character surprised you the most, as you came to know them, and why?

Napoleon was the most fun to write, hands down. He allowed me to vibe with my inner Ed McBain, which was cool. Police procedurals have always been my thing, so the scenes and dialogue came natural to me. In so many ways, though, his struggle transcends the crime genre, so that gave me room to play in the sandbox and dig for new toys (ideas). Kyle was the most challenging. He's the most human and therefore the least transparent, both to the reader and to me as the writer. It makes sense, right? If a friend calls you to tell you that they've cheated on their spouse/significant other and they need to talk? The conversation is going to be tough sledding. Tamara did nothing bad to Kyle, nothing that comes anywhere near his being able to justify his actions. So right away you have a lead character that the reader is going to think is a douche bag...now how in the world do you get them to root for the guy? That was tough. My answer, in the end, was to remind the reader (and myself) how much they have in common with Kyle. Temptation is a bitch. In the right set of circumstance? Any of us could struggle. Some of us badly.
2) Your series features recurring appearances by angels - and demons. Who's your favorite demon (in these works, not in general), and why? 

That's a hard question. Hm. Across the whole series? Man. I liked Bonespur in Book 1 - she freaks people out even though she only has one scene. But...I think The Lantern Man wins out. He has…a lasting effect on people. At my book signing party my wife displayed this really cool lantern that she found...and people who’d already read the books? They literally steered clear of it. I kid you not. That lantern is in my living room now. I've had three different people come to my house to visit and they want nothing to do with it when they walk in and catch sight of it. The Lantern Man is just so evil. I mean, how bad do you have to be to qualify as The Bread Man's superior? It's nearly beyond comprehension. 
3) Which writers have had the most influence on you? I can see Proust and Stephen King - who else? 

I already mentioned McBain. I also have to add Robert B. Parker. I love, love, love the Spenser for Hire series. In truth, here's a little secret for your readers: Napoleon's partner, Detective Evan Parker? That's from marrying Ed McBain's real name (Evan Hunter) with Robert B. Parker. It was a nod from a no name like me to two giants in their field, both sadly gone now, who filled so many hours of my reading days. Besides them? I gotta go with Hemingway and Chekov. When I find myself trying to avoid telling the truth about a particular character? Ernest is there to slap me. When I get way too wordy and think I need twenty words to say something that can be said in five? Anton is there to point out how. 
4) You do some pretty disturbing things to many of your female characters. Does your wife read your work and give you the side eye? How about your pastor and members of your church? Has it sparked any interesting discussions from people who never saw this side of you?  

I'll never forget when my beloved cousin (my muse) was midway through Book 2. She was in town, visiting from Pittsburgh, and she looks at my wife and says, "Okay. Um. Ya gotta tell me: how do you sleep next to him at night?" I was knocked speechless (no small feat) and my wife just kinda laughed nervously...and made NO comment!  lololol I mean...really? After twenty years of marriage my wife pretty much knew I was half nuts to begin with. Her bigger problem was with the sexual content of Book 1 in its original form. It was pretty graphic. I think I was trying to visually justify Kyle's actions to the reader (i.e. if you were titillated, then how could you blame him for being titillated?). Then came the day that I gave out a half dozen copies to some of our friends from church! Oh man. My wife was not pleased. One of the women from church said she had to "stop and scrub out her eyes" after reading a few sections. Sigh. Anyway, it was a misguided manipulation of the reader and luckily my editor called me out on it straight away. So I changed it. It has definitely sparked some interesting discussions, from both male and female readers. But my main theme stayed intact. Here are all these female characters in the books being victimized...but did you notice (spoiler alert) that none of them are saved by men? Not one. Go back and look. They each kick ass and stick up for themselves.  Except for The Bread Man's mother, maybe, and even she goes down trying to do the right thing (not willing to cover up the death of her abusive husband, who she probably loathed). 

5) Building on that, you have children who are proud of your writing career, but, I presume, are not allowed to read this series yet. At what age would you allow them to read it - and what is your plan if they sneak a peek before then? 

My son turns sixteen next spring. He will get to read them then. If for no other reason than the fact that I want him to see that the objectification of women comes at a cost. A married man committing adultery. A psychopathic killer. They’re miles apart…but both are murderers. The latter is killing life. The former? Love. Yes, I know, women cheat too. But that’s someone else’s story to tell. 


Tony Faggioli was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California, where he majored in Public Administration and interned in Washington, D.C. at The White House. After college, he transitioned to corporate America before deciding to start his own business. One day, he realized that nothing brought him anywhere near the amount of joy as the writing he did from grade school through high school. So, at age 35, he decided to rekindle his passion. Since then he's written four novels and begun his fifth. He's a happily married father of two kids, two dogs and a pretty awesome goldfish. 





Catch him in person at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California on Sunday, January 8 at 4 pm.  


Tune in tomorrow for Part II of this ten question interview.

Got questions for Tony?
Ask them, below.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Seven (7) Things I Learned From Hamilton

Lin-Miranda Miranda in Hamilton via Wikimedia Commons
I'm a stubborn bitch who prefers to see the show first, then listen to the music, later, when it comes to musicals.

But. So many of my friends have been buzzing about Hamilton I couldn't hold out until it is scheduled to come to my area, late next year. I downloaded it from Spotify and have been playing it on repeat for almost a week. Who needs Xmas carols?

1) The buzz is right, it's terrific. Beyond terrific. That said, for those who incline more to Rogers & Hammerstein or Elton John & Tim Rice style musicals, wrapping one's head around the rap and hip-hop can be an initial challenge. There's so much here (and there are some weepingly poignant ballads, too).

2) Listening to songs from a complicated and detail-rich Broadway musical out of sequence will leave you confused AF. All gratitude to my writer friend Samantha Joyce for providing me with the Idiots' Guide to turning OFF default shuffle.

3) It is a hella lot more comfortable reading or listening to history than living it in the moment. In the moment, it is terrifying and painful.

4) I am a sentimental wuss and bawled my eyes out over several of the songs. Which now happens every time I listen to it. I can't wait to actually see the show. (Anybody want to trade Los Angeles tickets for a slightly used kidney?)

5) There seem to be a couple of different ways politicians relate to their country. The "A dot Ham" way, putting aside personal gain for the sake of country, or the "A dot Burr" way, seeking government office as a convenient tool for personal gain or ego stroking.

Let us hope that just as Aaron Burr's style was only temporarily ascendant, that in the longer, bigger picture, the USA won't stand for it.

6) The music winds its way into your bones, and is full of clever hooks, but the lyrics are freakin' brilliant. And pointedly, they show how the Founding Fathers didn't exactly hold hands singing kumbaya, before, during, or after independence from England. Take these excerpts from Cabinet Battle #1 (handle with oven mitts, they are HOT!):

JEFFERSON:
'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'
We fought for these ideals, we shouldn't settle for less
These are wise words, enterprising men quote 'em
Don't act surprised you guys, cuz I wrote 'em
<snip>
Oooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York's in Debt -
Why should Virginia bear it? Uh! Our debts are paid, I'm afraid
Don't tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade
In Virginia, we plant seeds in the ground
We create. You just wanna move our money around

HAMILTON:
Thomas. That was a real nice declaration
Welcome to the present, we're running a real nation
Would you like to join us, or stay mellow
Doin' whatever the hell it is you do in Montecello
<snip>
A civics lesson from a slaver. Hey neighbor
Your debts are paid cuz you don't pay for labor
"We plant seeds in the South. We create.
Yeah, keep ranting
We know who's really doing the planting
<snip>
Madison, you're mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you're in worse shape than the national debt is in
Sitting there useless as two shits
Hey, turn around, bend over, I'll show you
Where my shoe fits

7) Everyone believes themselves to be the hero of their own story, from Alexander Hamilton to Aaron Burr to Mike Myers' character Dr. Evil, to more recent politicians.

I need to keep in mind that Hitler and his henchmen thought he was a good guy. And he did have his good points: teetotaller, vegetarian, pet lover. (Well, until the end when he poisoned his dog.) Alexander Hamilton was a passionate patriot, but he was also a very flawed human being, too.

Our nation has survived rough times, and crooked politicians. We've survived Grant's administration when the nation was being tooled by robber barons much like current Cabinet nominees. America has never lived up to its lofty ideals: our history with American tribes is horrific, and then there was the whole slavery thing, and Jim Crow?

I am going to work as hard as possible to look on the next phase as an opportunity to do better. To stand up for those who are marginalized and most in danger in the next administration: Muslims, both native born Americans and immigrants, our other immigrants, our LGBTQ people, our disabled people, our POC, for all our people. To speak truth to power, because that is the only way things change.

To not turn my back when I see people in danger. To practice kindness, as much as possible.

What are you going to do in the next phase of America?