Monday, February 18, 2013

Interview with Frank Nappi


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Nobody Has to Know is a dark and somewhat daring psychological thriller that, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. Nobody Has to Know is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies, and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love. On a more profound level, Nobody Has To Know illustrates how the landscape of our past influences our present and how, sadly, some of these more indelible moments hold us prisoner for the duration of our lives. It has also been described as a cross between Fatal Attraction and The Last Seduction.

Do you have a favorite character?
Well, all of the characters in this novel are severely flawed, with the exception of John Volpe. Consequently, it is difficult for me to really “embrace” any of these individuals. However, as far as fulfilling my creative intentions, I’d have to say that Cameron Baldridge evolved into the multi-faceted character that I had hoped for. Cameron is deeply mired in past tragedy and grapples with very self-destructive proclivities but is essentially a decent person who is victimized by poor judgment. I believe that Cameron is an appropriate vehicle through which many of the novel’s themes may be conveyed.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Sure, minor characters sometimes burgeon into more prominent figures. The important thing is that all characters, minor or major, become real. In any great work, one that resonates with the reader, there needs to be authenticity with regard to the characters. If a reader does not invest in the characters, the author’s message is lost. It is my experience that “real characters” think and act just as real folks would. There is nothing contrived about their existence – their words and emotional responses to situations are emblematic of those of real people. This can be accomplished in part through the use of flashbacks, which become windows into the psyches of these individuals. If a reader knows where a character has been, where he is presently becomes far more plausible.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I have been published in the traditional fashion three times. And for Nobody Has To Know, my agent and I pitched the manuscript to several legacy houses, many of which were interested. The one reservation they had, however, was with the social taboo of a teacher becoming romantically involved with a student. Many editors suggested changing that aspect of the story, something that I absolutely refused to do. As a result, I decided, with the help of my agent and assistant, to publish directly through Amazon. It was certainly the right decision, as the book has received much praise, including a glowing endorsement from Nelson DeMille.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
This is always a most interesting question to answer. I have heard so many authors delineate the process by which they write a novel. Many of the traditional methods include outlining, character sketches, and timelines. None of this applies to me. And while I do not think this is an indictment of any sorts, I do feel a little left out. I have yet to talk to an author who does what I do. My process is far less formulaic. And it varies each time I pursue a new endeavor. Most of what I do early on begins and remains in my head. There is no paper involved. The only variable is how I actually begin. For instance, my first novel, Echoes From The Infantry, began with a very complex character who suffers from the insidious residue of WWII. He was fully developed in my mind before I ever wrote one word. The fictional framework came later on. In the first Mickey Tussler novel, it was just the opposite. I had already written a first chapter before I ever really knew exactly who my protagonist was going to be. The same is true for my latest novel, Nobody Has To Know. Things tend to evolve with me at their own pace. This is the beauty of the writing process. Stories come from so many different places and are executed in so many different ways.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
Silence is a must. Just the sound of my fingers tapping the keyboard is all I need.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
My agent and assistant have really helped me promote the book through a wide variety of venues, including Blog Tours, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. It has been a fairly time exhaustive endeavor, but well worth it.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Believe in your work. Find some readers you can really trust to provide you with objective feedback and perfect your story. Once you have reached the level at which you believe the work is viable, pursue a reputable avenue to get your book out there.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I love the beach, especially in the off season. I spend a lot of time there. I am also a rabid baseball fan, so many hours are spent watching my two sons play the greatest game there is or lamenting the fate of my New York Mets. Country music aint so bad either! Naturally, many of these things have a tendency to creep into my novels. The most obvious case I suppose is the baseball backdrop for my Mickey Tussler series. There is always, I believe, a lot of every author is each novel he/she creates. However, I suppose in light of the subject matter of my latest book, I should issue the disclaimer that not everything that appears in a work of fiction is rooted in personal experience.

What’s next for you?
I am presently working on the third installment of my Legend of Mickey Tussler series and also playing with an idea for another thriller. Both works are very different but equally enjoyable to write.