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.
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?
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