Total Pageviews

Monday, August 29, 2011

Talking to Grant McDuling about His Children's Book, Ollie Saves The Day

I am a full time writer, having written 35 books so far, many of which have gone on to be best sellers with sales well over the million mark. Most of these books were ghost written for clients all over the world.

I live in Brisbane, Australia but have lived and worked in Ireland and South Africa, the land of my birth. I am passionate about the craft of writing, I am embracing new technology and love writing for the Kindle. My other passions are electronics, radio and music. I am a proficient Morse Code communicator too. My other passion is the navy, and I have served in two navies so far: the South African Navy and the Australian Navy.
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
The majority of my books are I business books. However, I have written a novel that has been picked up by a movie company, four books on investing in the real estate market, a book on motorcycles, and a children’s book.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
This is the story of an Irish migrant family and their struggle to buy their own stud farm in Australia towards the end of the 19th Century. Kieran O'Reilly, the 14 year old son of a horse breeder and trainer, is delighted when his father, Dermot, secures a deal to rent a run-down stud farm on the Darling Downs from Old Man Purcell, a wealthy and unscrupulous Englishman who is shedding his farms to buy into a local brewery.
The rent is high and much needs to be done on the farm. And to make matters worse, Purcell has laid down stringent conditions to the deal, the most crucial of which is a payment deadline.
Time is running out. What the O'Reillys need is a winner. Follow Kieran's exploits, and learn why he lands up fighting in a war far away from home. Find out too how his fortunes change as he strives to do what must be done.

What is it that causes the average person to tingle with excitement when hearing the sound of a highly-tuned motorcycle at full cry? Why is it that the curious mixture of petrol, lubricating oil and burnt rubber smells so appealing? And why is it that the motorcycle ranks in the minds of many as nothing less than an object of sheer beauty?

In this book, classic bike enthusiast Grant McDuling aims to provide some of the answers. This book has been updated with the addition of 46 pictures.

Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps  

Most writers dream of one day being able to go it alone — of being able to write full time without having a boss to answer to. They know too, that the only thing that can possibly top that adrenalin rush they get from seeing their work being published is that wonderful feeling of contentment and achievement that can only result from knowing they are in total control of their existence.

Most know deep down that chances are this will remain a dream. Yet they continue to dream.
This book is all about making that dream come true. It’s about showing you the way to turning your writing ambitions into reality — and to earn real money as you do so.

This book has been written so it is easy to understand. It will give you a new perspective on the business of writing. It will make you think about writing in a whole new light. By the time you finish reading this book, you’ll be in possession of the most powerful, easy-to-understand and implement recipe to kick-start your career as a full time writer.

and,  Ollie Saves The Day, plus a whole bunch for other authors. I am currently working on another novel.
What ages do you direct your books?
Classic Motorcycles - An Enthusiast’s Guide. Classic Motorcycles:
It depends on the book, so they are directed to all ages. Ollie Saves The Day is aimed at young readers who love reading and playing soccer.

Tell us more about your children’s book, Ollie Saves The Day. 
Ollie loves soccer. All he wants to do is to play for a team … a real team. He loves nothing more than to kick his soccer ball at his local field.

He dreams of playing for the Sandown Rovers one day, but he does not think he is good enough. In any case, none of the local boys ever want to play with him. All of that is about to change when the Rovers play against the Rams, who are at the top of the league and would be hard to beat. At stake is a place in the semi-finals.

This book is available from as a Kindle book only. ASIN: B004UGMZ1W.

Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?
Certainly. It is all about giving someone a fair go and accepting them for who they are. It is also about following your dreams and staying true to yourself. I wrote this book without pictures because I believe young children should be encouraged to read longer stories so that they do not lose the art of concentration; I think there is a strong chance they will develop shorter attention spans due to modern technology.
What is your favorite thing about your book?
So many young children love sport but have conflicting emotions due to peer pressure. I think not much has been written with soccer as a theme even though it is the most widely played sport in the world.
Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
I drew the cover picture.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
I have found the main difference is length of scenes. I tried to keep each relatively short without talking ‘down’ to the reader. I think it is important to treat young readers intelligently. By that, I mean they invariably have a far higher level of intelligence than we give them credit.
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published?
Absolutely! This must be the hardest genre of them all. Competition is fierce, so that is why I have published exclusively for the Kindle. This way I can ensure publication at a price that I think suitable. 
Why and when did you begin writing?
I began writing around 1964 when I was just 10. I started a ‘newspaper’ which I sold. My Dad was a career journalist and I delighted in being taken to his newsroom to watch the action.
What is your writing schedule?
I write from 8:30 until 4:30 each and every day of the week. I write for a living on a full time basis.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I am writing a novel called The Vortex and the Leach. It is a thriller with a little paranormal tinge. I am also writing short pieces like letters, blogs and brochures for some clients here in Australia. In between that, I run an international ghost writing group that has a few hundred members.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
The big thing is to just do it. Writing is a craft that takes practice. The more you practice the better you will become. The thing is to stay true to yourself and resist the temptation to write for a market. Write what you want to write about, how you want to. The other thing I would recommend is to remember that writing is a business, so develop your business skills too.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Get as much information and advice as you can. You really do not need to reinvent the proverbial wheel. And, it was with this in mind that I wrote Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps (ASIN: B004T4LH28), in Kindle format.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
I spend time on my amateur radio station communication with people all over the world. I also enjoy gardening, listening to classical music and visiting my grown up children. Then, in addition to that, I like to spend time serving at sea with the Royal Australian Navy.
Anything else you would like to add?

Check out my blog at:
Grant McDuling is a Brisbane-based writer who has written 35 books so far. He has published three as Kindle books.  Grant is a well-known ghostwriter, having written for a range of clients all over the world, Many of his books are now international best sellers with sales in the millions.

Grant has been writing since 1978 and now is a full time writer. His other interests include amateur radio, computers, electronics and classical music. He is also working hard at improving his golf swing.
A beautiful place
called Crystal Castle,
in New South Wales
and about a 2 hour
drive from home.
Here is a link to
their site:

A place called Coolangatta,
which is a sea-side town
at the southern end of the Gold Coast,
 about 1 hours drive from where I live.
 It is one of our favourite holiday spots.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Retired Psychology Professor, Lesley Diehl, Dumptser Dying. No, that is Really the Title of Her New Book!

I retired from my life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed my country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter, I migrate to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office.  Back north, I devote my afternoons to writing and, when the sun sets, relaxing on the bank of my trout stream, sipping tea or a local microbrew.

Tell us about the genre of your work. 
I write cozies, stories set in small communities featuring an amateur sleuth, someone who comes to the detecting process reluctantly.
Why did you choose this genre?
I think it chose me.  I am a country gal and I like village life.  I do not have the credentials to write a protagonist who is a police officer, so my sleuths must be amateurs.  Also, I want to accomplish something other than solving a murder in my work.  I try to use the murder, which is always a personal thing for me, the outcome of hate or love, as a vehicle for propelling my protagonist into reassessing her life.  She might have done this at some point anyway, but the murder compels her to do it now.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
My first book was A Deadly Draught, published by Mainly Murder Press and set in upstate New York in a microbrewery.  This past February Oak Tree Press released Dumpster Dying with a rural Florida setting.  My story “Murder with All the Trimmings” appeared in the Thanksgiving Anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry through Untreed Reads.  They will also be publishing a short story of mine for Mother’s Day, “Mother Needs a Lift” and I have sold another book length manuscript to them, Angel Sleuth.
Tell us about your books, and especially tell us about your latest published book, Dumpster Dying?
Dumpster Dying.  ISBN 978-1-61009-006-3 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and order from independent book sellers; trade paperback (my newest book)
Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster.
Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state.  They are more like pot metal to Emily Rhodes, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster.  With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer.  She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer. 

A Deadly Draught ISBN 978-0-9825899-2-2 at, Barnes and and order from independent book sellers; available in trade paperback and on Kindle and Nook. 
Money is always a problem for Hera Knightbridge’s microbrewery, but now drought makes water scarce for all the breweries in the Butternut Valley.  Worse, Hera discovers a rival brewer murdered in his brew barn, making Hera the authorities’ favorite suspect.  To clear her name, her only choice is to join forces with an unlikely partner, the new assistant deputy sheriff, Jake Ryan, her former lover from law school days.  There is unfinished business between these two, and it surfaces repeatedly as they pursue a killer who finally turns on the indefatigable Hera as the next victim.
 “Murder with all the Trimmings” available on and as a short story or as part of the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry.
Thanksgiving dinner is served by Aunt Nozzie with a side of murder and a turkey replacement.  Since only the women in the family are still living, the high level of estrogen circulating at this family get-together is both hilarious and killing.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

Many place names are real; often I concoct others by putting together common names from the area.  For example, I created the name of the town on the Big Lake in Florida in Dumpster Dying by using the state tree (Sabal Palm) and joining it to Bay, thus Sabal Bay.  Characters’ names pop into my head.  I do not know where most of them come from.  The name of my protagonist in A Deadly Draught is Hera Knightsbridge.  I like the last name for someone who hand crafts beers.  The first name was one that came to me.  In the sequel to the book, which I am now writing, I explain her name, but you will have to read the book to find out its origin.

Sometimes I am forced by my editor or agent to change the name because it begins with the same letter as others in the book.  So I comply, but secretly I always think of that character by the name I originally gave him or her.

My protagonist in Dumpster Dying is Emily Rhodes.  Little did I know that the real Emily is a ten- year-old girl in Okeechobee.  She showed up at my library book party with her social security card and her birth certificate to show me it was her real name.  She was so excited I had named a character after her.  It was the best moment of my writing life.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

In my newest book, Dumpster Dying, Emily Rhodes was created out of one of my “what if” situations.  What if two people were not married, but lived together for many years?  What if everything was in his name?  What if he died and the only will found left everything to his ex-wife?  What if no one in the community in which they wintered in Florida knew any of this? And what if she couldn’t tell anyone because the community was so conservative the people would turn their backs on her?  And then, to top it off, what if she was accused of murder?  And better yet, what if I made this humorous?  What does this make my protagonist?  She is a retired preschool teacher who, because of the murder and her partner’s death, must finally at age 55 find herself, her background, and her identity.  Oh yeah, what if she had a baby out of wedlock years ago and now the grown child shows up on her porch?

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

Emily seems to have a number of antagonists—a sleazy lawyer, a Bible-thumping judge, the widow of the dead rancher who accuses Emily of having an affair with her husband, her fellow bartender who finds little to like about winter visitors. Not to mention one tobacco chewing detective whose idea of work is driving to the nearest bar, and another detective who cannot figure out if he likes her or wants to arrest her.  
What is your favorite thing about your book?
There is some kind of magic that occurs when I write about rural Florida.  I love it, but the having been raised on a farm in the Midwest, this is not unlike coming home.  I am especially fond of cows and they have special cows here in Florida’s heartland—Brahmas who have huge, floppy ears and necks so wrinkled they look like they belong on ninety year olds.  They even walk with a special walk, kind of arrogant like.  This place works on me and I find myself writing the craziest stories.  I love to write funny and this place makes me do it.  I do not lift characters out of this setting, but it is somehow easy for me to put together someone who could live in this place.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
I like mysteries because I like puzzles.  Putting the plot together is fun and challenging for me, and sometimes surprising too.  Many times I do not know who the murderer is until close to the end.  Sometimes I think I know and find out I have it wrong!
Why and when did you begin writing?
I have always written.  When I was a kid, I would write songs.  I had no musical training, but I liked to make up tunes and write words to them.  My dad played the radio when he milked the cows.  It was tuned either to the Grand Ole Opry or to classical opera.  I did both.  Even though I did not know any language other than English, I would make up the tunes and the words and sing opera.  Oh, did I say I was an only child?  Alone on a farm you learned to amuse yourself.
What is your writing schedule?
I write in the morning and afternoon.  I have learned not to write at night because it revs me up such that I cannot get to sleep and I am not a good sleeper anyway.  My muse has a bad habit of visiting me in the wee hours and nagging me about plot lines.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I have a number of manuscripts yearning for my editing attention and I am trying to finish the sequel to A Deadly Draught.  I have begun work on a serious traditional mystery set in upstate New York that focuses on the eastern coyote.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Write, write, write and edit, edit, edit, but do not do it in isolation.  Find a writing group that you trust.  You may have to try out several to find one right for you.  Find a critique partner; again, you may have to try out a number of them.  Join professional groups.  The best one for advice, feedback, information is the Guppies associated with Sisters in Crime.  You may create in isolation, but you need contact with the profession and those in it to make your work the best it can be.
Remember, there are many roads to publication.  Explore them to find out what fits your writing.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Writers need to be flexible and to develop a thick skin.  I look back on some of my writing from the past, writing I thought was great, and now I see how much my style has changed, and it needed to change.  If I had been unwilling to hear criticism and to change what I was doing, I would not be published today.  Writing is something you learn to do, not something you instinctively know how to do.  You need a passion for writing, but you must also embrace the idea that you are learning a craft.  Learn the rules, and then you can break them.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
I love to cook.  I like to walk and hike especially in upstate New York where I spend my summers.  Glenn and I love to dance to country western music and island music.  We also spend long conversations talking about writing.  And, of course, I love to read.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
When a little girl from Okeechobee came to my book party in the local library and brought her social security card and birth certificate to prove she had the same name as the protagonist in Dumpster Dying, I thought that was my “made it” moment.  I was so touched.  I cannot imagine any better feeling.  And she thought she was thrilled, I was delighted.  I got a big hug too!

Want to know more about Lesley, check out her website and blog at: and
Sleuthfest 2009 short story winner; "Murder with All the Trimmings" from UntreedReads
All comments are welcome.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Visiting with Prolific Author/Writer, Joseph R.G. DeMarco and His New Book, Murder on Camac

I grew up in South Philadelphia, which was the Little Italy of Philadelphia at the time. The Godfather could just as easily have taken place here as in New York. That part of the city still retains some of its Italian flavor, but recent years have seen great changes there. The diversity in the area, with the influx of new groups, is wonderful and means that South Philly will remain vital. I am eager to see just how the neighborhood will work its changes on the new arrivals and how much they will change the tone of that area. Growing up there definitely gave me a certain perspective on life, as did my Italian roots. It shows up in my work and in choices I make in some of that work.

My Catholic school education gave me yet another way to look at the world.  I can never forget the priests and nuns who were a major influence in my formative years. Of course, the Church itself made a lasting impression and maybe that is why my first mystery novel, Murder on Camac, centers around a years-old controversy in Papal history.

After university and an almost PhD in PoliSci/International Relations, I went into teaching for a while. I decided that I wanted something different and returned to school for a second Master’s Degree in Information Science. That led me to work as the head librarian in a prep school, which was an education in itself. I had always had respect for librarians, but never so much as after I had begun working as one.

Coming out was another major event which gave me yet another perspective on life and the world. Things are still difficult for people even now, so I feel privileged being able to live honestly and authentically and to be able to work for improvements in the community at large. The writing I do has most definitely influenced by this aspect of my life.

My training as a writer went on concurrently with all the other education and beyond that. That training is a combination of formal lessons and workshops and “on the job” learning. I have studied writing at various universities and in private workshops. I have improved my playwriting skills at different theater schools – one notable institution; the HB Studio in New York was a stunningly wonderful experience. I have also had the good fortune to have been invited to participate in serious workshops such as the Prague Summer Writing workshop (which may have a different name these days). Spending several weeks in that city learning at the feet of great writers was something I will never forget.

All along the way I kept writing and getting published in a variety of newspapers and magazines including: The New York Native, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), The Welcomat, KLIATT, Chroma, Il Don Gennaro (a national Italian-American magazine), and a number of other publications. I also worked as a columnist for The Advocate, In Touch, and Gaysweek.

In 2004, I took the reins at Mysterical-E (a magazine dedicated to mystery and the mysterious) which had already been around for about nine years. The first issue under my editorship was launched in March 2005 and we have been publishing quarterly ever since at

Though my literary tastes are varied, I tend toward mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and other genres. I do read more widely than that, however, including literary fiction and plenty of other forms. Right now, however, I am steeped in research for a book and will be doing some nonfiction reading. I enjoy history, especially material having to do with people and events that are not as widely known but often more significant than some we know well.

Tell us about the genre of your work. 

Both my most recent works A Body on Pine and Murder on Camac are mysteries. I do write in other genres as well as doing some nonfiction, but these latest works are in the mystery category. They take place in Philadelphia and feature a gay detective who has a complicated life.
I have also edited an anthology that came out June, called A Study in Lavender, and are tales set in the world of Sherlock Holmes with a gay twist.

Why did you choose this genre?

My reading and writing tastes run the gamut from science fiction and fantasy to the various subgenres of each (especially alternate history and time travel) to mystery. Since I was a kid mysteries have fascinated me. Maybe, I chose it, because there is something mysterious at the center of everything. There is usually something that we have to dig for and strive to understand before things make sense.

Secrets, things done in the shadows, plots conceived in back rooms all have consequences that may or may not have been anticipated. People are affected, crimes are committed, and this inevitably sets in motion a search for what is really going on and why.

Mystery novels begin with a world out of order (or soon to be thrown into chaos), with people in need of someone to set things right by finding the truth and delivering justice or what may pass for justice. The detective or sleuth often has to go to some dark places to find that truth and some of those places are within himself. I like the idea of making order out of chaos, of turning over hidden things to get at the Truth, of seeking justice, of being able to comment on things around you through the eyes of the characters.

There is a lot of satisfaction in coming upon a situation and being able to do something to make it right, or at least to stitch things back together so that not everything is lost. That is the role of the sleuth, whether he or she is a private investigator, a police officer, or an amateur sleuth. They are people driven by the search for the truth, by a need to set things right, and by a desire to make the world whole again, even if it is only their small part of the world.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

Some my stories that have been anthologized are:

“Great Uncle Ned” appears in Charmed Lives, it is a ghost story and one of which I am particularly fond.

Scars” was included in Heat of the Moment, and was published in e-format in May.
“Adventurous Italian” in Men Seeking Men, is based on something that happened to me but it is embellished, of course.

More stories of mine, “Enthralled” “Arriverderci” and “Model Behavior” appear in each of the three volumes of the Quickies series.

My essays have been published in anthologies including Gay Life (Doubleday), Hey Paisan!(Guernica), Paws and Reflect (Alyson), Queer and Catholic(Taylor & Francis), and others.

Being a serious student of sociological issues, my work is published in a variety of academic venues including an article in The International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family (Macmillan, 2002), two articles in the Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinites (ABC_CLIO) and articles in The Journal of Homosexuality (Haworth),  The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and others.

My article, “Gay Racism,” which first appeared in PGN, won the Best Feature writing award from the Gay Press association, and was subsequently anthologized in We Are Everywhere, Black Men White Men, and Men’s Lives. 

Could you tell us more about your books, and where they may be found.

A Body on Pine (ISBN: 978-1590213452) or at

When Marco Fontana enters his friend's spa on Pine, he does not find the peaceful retreat he expected. Brad, the masseur, is missing. The spa is splattered with blood and a dead client lies sprawled on the floor. After a thorough search turns up more questions than answers, Marco calls the police. They find Brad's body a short distance from the spa and before long Marco understands that what appears to be a simple case of murder is anything but. The police want Marco off the case. However, when the body of a popular journalist is added to the death toll, Brad's case is sidelined. Marco refuses to allow his friend's death to be ignored and convinces an overwhelmed young police detective to bring Marco into the hunt for the killer. He finds plenty to keep him busy. Abusive ex-boyfriends, stalker clients, politicians, scheming businessmen, and Eastern European mobsters swirl together in a dangerous mix, which finds Marco in some of the most serious trouble he is encountered so far. Life at home does not stop for Marco, either. While he searches for Brad's killer, Marco's stripper troupe, StripGuyz, brings him face to face with a stripper's abusive boyfriend and, with Jean-Claude, a new member of the troupe who innocently comes between Marco and Anton, upsetting the fragile balance existing between them.

Murder on Camac (ISBN: 978-1590212134)
When author Helmut Brandt is killed in an apparent mugging, Brandt’s partner, who suspects this was premeditated murder, hires P.I. Marco Fontana. Brandt's work on the death of Pope John Paul I angered people in and out of the Church and made him more than a few enemies. His death happens soon after Brandt claims to have incontrovertible new evidence implicating people never before suspected. Fontana does not believe in coincidences and takes the case. A former Catholic himself, he knows that uncovering Brandt's killer means more than exposing a thirty-year old plot to kill the Pope: it could also ruin the people named in the documents Brandt is supposed to have. Of course, if Brandt's enemies have killed once over this information, they will not hesitate to murder a P.I. who gets too close to the truth. Entering the arcane world of the Catholic Church, Fontana encounters forces determined to keep him from getting to the truth.

Camac_street --- Camac is the Street where
the murder in Murder on Camac took place.
 One of the beautiful, tree-lined "tiny" streets
 in the Center City area of Philly.
Though he manages to gain access to the upper levels of the Archdiocesan hierarchy, Fontana realizes that the web of power and deceit is every bit as intricate, tangled, and deadly as he imagined. As the owner of StripGuyz Fontana, which has a troupe of male strippers, is no stranger to the seamier parts of the Philadelphia gayborhood. However, in this case, he finds that there is an even murkier side to life in the city of Brotherly Love.
You can find my website at:

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

I think most writers consider finding the right names an important part of creating each character, even the minor ones. After all, you put a lot of work into bringing a character to life in every aspect, so the name is more than just a pretty finishing touch. It says something about the character and who he or she is. Naming my characters takes a long time and often changes as the work progresses. I do a lot of research into names, the cultures they come from, the era in which they are most prominent, and more. For me, a character’s name means something beyond the supposed meanings of the names themselves. It has to be right and sometimes, in the middle of a book, I realize that a character has a name that does not really fit for any number of reasons. So the search commences again and a new name is found.

Sometimes this causes small problems that ripple through the manuscript – like making sure every instance of the name is changed or that nicknames match the new name. However, those things are small when you know you have the right name for that character.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

Marco Fontana was with me for a long time before he took form on paper. In fact, apropos of the question above, Marco used several names before I realized his name was Marco Fontana. I will not go into all of the names but suffice to say they were all great; they just were not his name.
It took a while discovering who Marco is as a person. I hardly knew Marco when he showed up a long while back. I only knew that he was a character I wanted to know more about. I wanted to know what kinds of life he had and what kinds of adventures he would get into. I knew I wanted to write mysteries, what I did not know was that Marco would be at the heart of them. Maybe he knew that before I did. Whatever the case, he hung around until I noticed him and discovered what a wonderfully interesting person he is and how exciting he could be. He is still evolving and revealing himself, like any person. Each work in which he appears shows a different facet of his personality or deepens other things about him.

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?
The antagonists in my Marco Fontana mysteries are all different. Each new book or story brings another antagonist front and center along with a new set of problems. Often they play off things about Marco or his life and help to reveal more about him as a person while they place themselves in the spotlight as well.

The idea of a recurring nemesis is appealing and that may develop at some point in the series.
Marco does have a longstanding problem, which is a nemesis of sorts. It is a case he has never been able to solve and it nags at him. That case is always on his mind and at some point; he will get to tackling it. Whether he will solve it or not is open to question. I know he wants to.

What is your favorite thing about your book?

I suppose there are two things, the characters and the world they live in. I see it and feel it. I know it well and not just because it is based on Philadelphia. I know it because I have remade the city in some ways to include some of the things I want to see here. There are places and institutions I have placed here in Center City Philadelphia which do not exist (yet) but which should. These places, like the fabulous gym complex, Olympus, do not change the character of the city. They grow naturally from what the city is, from the city’s character, and from what it could/should be like if money and vision converged.

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genres?

Every genre has its conventions. You do not have to adhere to all of them but readers stick with a genre because they like what it has to offer.

Though mystery is not the only area in which I write, it is a major part of my writing life, and so I think in terms of mystery and the mysterious in just about anything I do. Let us face it, everything either has some mystery to it or would be better if it did.

We never know everything about anyone, even our closest friends, even our relatives. Bingo! Mystery. We never know all the intricate details of every place we visit, every institution we deal with. Again, bingo! Mystery.

In some ways all genres have, if not a mystery to solve, a certain tension or question which the readers’ want answered. Will the protagonist reach his/her goal? Will the antagonist win? Will any number of subplots come to a satisfactory resolution? All, in their way, questions that the reader wants answered.

Why and when did you begin writing?

Telling a story has always been important to me. I grew up around some amazing storytellers and often met people who could also tell stories, including my late partner. They had family tales to tell, tales that were legends and family myths and they told them with verve. Of course, growing up Italian, life is drama, an operatic drama at times. Therefore, you cannot help but absorb not only the stories and the drama, but also the need to tell those stories.

I have also always had rich and colorful dreams and fantasies. I guess you could call me a daydreamer. These were fed by reading and television. I loved immersing myself in the world different authors created. I knew that I wanted to be able to create fantastic worlds, mysterious situations, epic tales, and more, just like my favorite authors.

What is your writing schedule?

Don’t ask. (But you did, so I guess I should say something.) I am best on a deadline. It focuses the mind. So, I try to give myself deadlines over and above the deadlines I have from publishers and from the magazine I run. When on deadline, I try to set aside as much time as I can to do research, to write, and to revise. Even just having a goal without a deadline is a good way to focus and work. There is something to reach for and achieve.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I am just finishing the edits on the anthology I mentioned: A Study in Lavender.

At the same time, I am working on a number of projects: two of them are the third Marco Fontana mystery, and a book that will come out between the second and third Fontana books, which is a collection of tales or early Fontana investigations, including some tales that show how he became Marco Fontana, P.I.

There are other projects, which are being planned and researched and some of which I have already started writing.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and be published?

The best advice: Read and Write, then submit what you write, then read and write some more.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?

Have patience when you send things to publishers.
Follow guidelines and do not second-guess publishers and editors.
What do you do when you are not writing?  

Are there times when a writer is not writing? I don’t really think so. Every step we take, every place we visit, and each person we interact with are all stored in memory. Whatever we read, watch, or hear all become a part of us, and eventually a part of what we create.

So, really, I am never not writing. I am always thinking about writing, characters, or situations, about plots and twists and turns. However, when I’m not actually at my computer, I’m reading, researching, making notes, watching TV, taking walks, dining out, being with friends. 

Two important things are reading and researching.

Reading is an important part of being a writer, so I try to set some time each day for reading. I sometimes have to tell myself to just read and enjoy but that is not always the case. I am sure all writers notice that their reading habits change as they grow and the way they read changes as well. I find myself reading with a different sensibility: as an editor and as a writer trying to learn something about writing and style.

When I was a child, I was a voracious reader. I read for the sheer joy of entering another world and time. I lost myself on other planets and in other timelines. I spent time in English manor houses trying to puzzle out murders and on starships exploring the galaxy. Those were wonderful times, some warm and comforting moments. Just my books and me. I remember curling up in cozy spots around the house and immersing myself in the world of the books I was reading. There were not too many distractions and I could easily drift into the world each author created. I realize now that I was reading with joy and not as a practitioner of the art.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

There are many moments like that. All the significant events in anyone’s life can be “made it” moments but for me there is one kind of moment that surpasses them all.

The usual moments for me include things like becoming an Eagle Scout. That was an achievement for a nonathletic kid such as I was. I had to do some athletic things I never expected I could, and some non-athletic thing I never thought I would. As they pinned that medal on my chest, I experienced a “made it” moment.

Holding my first mystery, Murder on Camac, in my hands, feeling the weight of the book and remembering all the work that had gone into it, and knowing that it was a reality, that was a “made it moment.”

When I graduated from Information Science school and had an unexpected job waiting for me, that was a “made it” moment. I worked hard at that degree, having gone back to school after teaching for some years. I took more courses than required and learned every aspect of the field. Marching down that aisle, I knew I had achieved something.

When I wrote an article for the local gay newspaper about racism in the gay community, it was nominated for a national award. My article was competing against some of the biggest names in gay publishing at the time. These were journalists with reputations. I felt I had no chance and decided it was not worth attending the awards ceremony. I later received an excited call from my editor that I had won. That article went on to be anthologized in three different collections. Definitely a “made it” moment.

The Gay Community Center
I helped found and which sits in the middle
 of the neighborhood
 where the action in
A Body on Pine takes place.
Of course, when various things I wrote got published: my first op-ed piece in a major newspaper, my first short story in an anthology, my first article in a nonfiction collection, the first time my work was placed in an encyclopedia. These were all “made it” moments. I am sure when I get the copies of my latest, A Body on Pine, that will be another “made it” moment.

After all the other made it moments, there are special ones that mean the most to me and which I never talk about.

Murder on Camac (ISBN: 978-1590212134)

A Body on Pine (ISBN: 978-1590213452) or at

Find out more about this author.