Today, ForeignCorrespondent has a chinwag with Don Massenzio, author of the acclaimed Frank Rozzani Detective Series as well as several other books. His newest book, Extra Innings, was released just last week. You can read Don’s bio at the end of the interview.
Q. Tell us a bit about your latest release, Extra Innings.
A. Well, this book is a major departure from my usual crime/detective drama genre. It has elements of supernatural/paranormal devices and really isn’t at all about crime.
Here is a blub that sums up the book:
Joe McLean hates his life. A lonely, divorced, middle-aged man, stuck in a cramped apartment, the only bright spot in Joe’s life is cheering on his hometown baseball team. Now, the local stadium, the place of many childhood and adult memories is being replaced. Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and have some memorabilia from his happier past.
That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken. Can Joe take a different path in life? Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the truth about the adage, you can never go home again?
Follow the twists and turns in this supernatural story, Extra Innings, to find out.
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. I was a voracious reader as a kid. I lived in an urban neighborhood with no kids to play within an old two-family house. We had an attic apartment with a bookcase full of old books. I would read books from the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew series and then would try to write my own stories. I think I was in 2nd grade when this really kicked in. Of course, I’ve been an editor/writer throughout my business career but didn’t have the guts to publish my first work of fiction until I turned 50.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?
A. Go ahead and publish. Don’t wait. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should throw a junky first draft of a rambling manuscript up on Amazon. Make sure your product is good before you publish it. Use a professional editor and cover designer. If you don’t, your work won’t receive the recognition that it should.
Q. What do you think makes a good story?
A. It starts with compelling characters in an interesting situation. The reader needs to relate to the main character and react with them as they journey through the plot of a book. The main character must be believable and genuine, and the situation must be realistic with conflict and resolution. That doesn’t necessarily mean that every story should have characters you like and a happy ending. Sometimes a tragic character that makes mistakes that end up in a negative resolution to a story can be compelling.
Q. If your book became a movie, who would be your first choice to play the lead roles?
A. I actually thought about this. My two characters from my Frank Rozzani detective series are the title character, Frank Rozzani, a transplanted ex-police officer from New York that moves to Florida, and his sidekick/partner, Clifford “Jonesy” Jones. Frank is a blue-eyed Italian. Bradley Cooper would be perfect in this role. Jonesy is a surfer/lawyer/computer genius. Matthew McConaughey, in his younger days, would be perfect.
Q. Do any of your characters have qualities/characteristics that are similar to yourself?
A. Frank Rozzani plays jazz piano, as do I, and grew up in my hometown and went to the same high school. Jonesy is a wise-ass, that’s me too.
Q. Is being a writer a curse or a gift?
A. Always a gift from my perspective. The only aspect that is curse-like is that I’m always people watching and observing my surroundings. I have so many story ideas and character traits in my mind; I’m not sure I’ll ever get them all on paper.
Q. Where do you write?
A. I have an office at home that I use when I’m home. My past job required that I travel 45 weeks per year. This meant that I was writing on airplanes, in airport lounges, and in hotels. Anywhere I could get my computer out during my free time, I was writing.
Q. How do you market your book? What avenues work best?
A. I’ve tried just about everything. My blog is one indirect avenue. I’ve put ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. I’ve also attended many author events. The ads work in establishing a brand, but I’ve found that word-of-mouth and the use of the Kindle Scout program were likely the most productive.
Q. Is anything in your books based on real-life experiences or are they all solely the product of your imagination?
A. When my family and friends read my books, they are always telling me that they recognize characters and anecdotes. I write what and who I know in many instances. It’s inevitable that those who know me best will recognize those things.
Q. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A. This is an easy one. It would be my dad. He died when I was 24 years old. He never saw me have success in my career or have children. He taught me so many things, but he never got to see me use those things in my adult life. I miss him every day.
Q. What books have most influenced your life?
A. From a fiction standpoint, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is at the top. Stephen King’s On Writing is a nonfiction book every writer should read.
Q. If it were mandatory for everyone to read three books, what books would you suggest?
A. To Kill a Mockingbird is one. It is a timeless book. The Stand by Stephen King is another. It is a study in complexity and character development. Also, anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His Sherlock Holmes collection has been copied and remade so many times. What I realized in reading his work is how great his descriptive narrative was as he wrote about areas ranging from the English Countryside to the Wild West of the United States.
Q. If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?
A. Stephen King. He is prolific, intelligent and he understands the mechanics and art of writing and can speak to both effectively. Also, he likely has some fun stories that I’d love to hear.
Q. What do you think makes a book “a great book?”
A. I mentioned the timeless quality of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a book that I read first in high school. I read it again in my 30s and again, most recently, before the ‘sequel’ Go Set a Watchman came out. The book spoke to me differently at each age. This is especially true the last time I read it. I am in my 50s, and my daughter was seven or eight at the time. That made me the same age as Atticus Finch, and my daughter was the same age as Scout, the main character. As she talked about the trials and tribulations of having an ‘older’ father, I wondered if my daughter felt the same way and I was very conscious of how I acted around her. It’s a book that one can pick up 100 years from now and still relate to the themes and the struggles of the time.
Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York. He’s an avid reader and prolific writer with ten published books and numerous short stories and serials.
He started writing fiction to combat the long hours of travel, and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate life. He has spent the past few decades writing and editing both business and academic publications.
His first published fiction book, Frankly Speaking, is the first in a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The series is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from the 70’s television show, The Rockford Files.
Don moved to Jacksonville, Florida several years ago where he currently lives with his wife, daughter, and three dogs.
Social Media Links:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authordonmassenzio/
Facebook Business Page: https://www.facebook.com/dsmpublications/
Business Blog: https://dsm-publications.com/
The Frank Rozzani Series
Book 1 – Frankly Speaking: http://getbook.at/FranklySpeaking
Book 2 – Let Me Be Frank: http://getbook.at/LetMeBeFrank
Book 3 – Frank Incensed: http://getbook.at/FrankIncensed
Book 4 – Frankly My Dear: http://getbook.at/FranklyMyDear
Book 5 – Frank Immersed: http://mybook.to/FrankImmersed
Boxed Set – Books 1-3: http://mybook.to/Books1to3
The Brad Rafferty Series:
Book 1 – Blood Orange: http://getbook.at/BloodOrange
Book 2 – Blood Match: http://mybook.to/BloodMatch
Short Story Collection:
Random Tales – Volume 1: http://getbook.at/RandomTales
The Ultimate Guide for Independently Published Authors: http://getbook.at/UltimateGuide