Murder Takes Time, spans quite a chunk of time in terms of the main characters in the book. Was it your intention to do this, as this is the first book in a series, or was it the way you’d always intended to tell the story?
I don’t want to give out too many details for those who haven’t read it yet, but let’s say that because of the way the story unfolds and the actions of a particular character, this story presented a huge problem in determining how to tell it. After a lot of racking my brain—and a few glasses of wine—I determined that the only way to tell it was the way that I did.
What’s funny is that early in the process, when I was trying to go the traditional route of publishing, I had two agents interested but they insisted I tell the story in a linear fashion. I knew that wouldn’t work, so I opted to do it myself.
I think to sum it up best—I was forced to do the story this way because I had to draw out certain reader emotions that otherwise would have left the ending unsatisfactory.
Personal values and relationships are a key part of the story, were you particularly keen to use these to help tell the tale or did they evolve as you wrote?
Those personal values and relationships aren’t just a tool or a plot device to tell the story, they are the story.
I didn’t set out to write a mystery book. I was actually writing fantasy books. My kids kept pestering me to write a book that would use some of the stories about my life growing up. I tried to determine what kind of story that would be and ultimately decided it had to be wrapped into a mystery story of some kind.
I played the old “what if” game. What if we (my friends and I) didn’t separate when we were young. What if we stayed together as friends and let life interfere?
There are lots of nicknames for the characters. How did you come up with them, and are any of them based on people you know?
My whole family is laughing about this one. Because if you knew our family, or for that matter almost any large Italian family from one of the big Northeast cities, you’d know that nicknames were a fact of life. Nobody got called by their proper name. Everybody had to “earn” their name, just like in the book.
As far as the names being based on people I know. I tried to steer clear of real people in most cases, but some I didn’t. The character named “Doggs” was my older brother, down to the “colorful” language he used. Doggs was the only person I knew who could transform the “f” word into every part of speech. But just like the characters in the book, we never used that word around women. A lot different than it is nowadays. I’ve been married to my wife for 43 years and she still doesn’t hear that from me.
The one thing that was constant though, was the way the names were earned. That I kept true. A person’s nickname is what defined them, not their given name.
Who lives, who dies. Did you decide before you started to write or did you just see what happened?
I usually know all of the key points of the book before I start writing. I always know the ending, and I normally know things like who’s going to die. I did have one huge problem though, and that was how to kill one particular person. Since you read the book you know who I’m talking about. I ended up writing that scene three different ways and finally opted to keep it the way I wrote it the very first time, which is the way you see it now.
This is book one in the series. How many do you think there will be in total, and do you have any teasers for us in terms of the later books?
I know exactly how many will be in the series—six. One for each of the “rules of murder” listed in the book. The second one, Murder Has Consequences, will be out later this year. Murder Takes Patience is the third book, and it will be out next year.
In the meantime, I’ve got two other series that I’m working on; in fact, the next book that comes out, A Bullet For Carlos, is the first in the Blood Flows South Series. That features a female protag, which made for quite a change in how I wrote it. It will be out in September or possibly October. I’ll have the first book in the Redemption Series out next Spring. Old Wounds, it’s called, and it will feature yet a third protag.