Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting to know author Joe Perrone, Jr.

Today I am fortunate enough to have the pleasure of speaking with a well-rounded and versatile author, Joseph Perrone, Jr. He is the author of five books already, and is preparing his sixth in time for the holidays. I am very excited to have had the chance to speak with such a talented and entertaining gentleman. Joe, thank you for agreeing to answer my questions!
Collette: Wow, Joe, you are a fairly well-versed writer! Can you tell us how that came into being? When did you start writing?
Joe: I started writing poetry in the 5th grade, then, working on my school newspaper at Eastern Kentucky University.  After that, I began serious writing when I took a position as a sportswriter for the Herald-News in Passaic, NJ, in 1969.  Subsequently, I wrote feature articles for local newspapers, and freelanced as an advertising copywriter.  In the '90s, I wrote fly-fishing articles for numerous publications, and published my first book, co-authored with a friend, Manny Luftglass, called Gone Fishin' With Kids (How To Take Your Kid Fishing And Still Be Friends) in 1997.  

Collette: Where do you get your ideas?

Joe: Ideas come from many sources.  For instance, I got the idea for a literary novel, called Changes, in 2006, when I was mowing my lawn and a thunder storm struck.  I decided to write about a man who was struck by lightning.  I went inside and wrote the first scene, and have developed a plot over the last few years that I will implement this spring.  Other ideas come to me in my dreams, or while I'm fishing.  The bottom line is that they may come from anywhere, and it's important to be constantly aware. 

Collette: Were you inspired by someone to write the genres you’re writing in?

Joe: Well, if you're referring to the Matt Davis Mystery Series, the answer is no.  I had already published Escaping Innocence (A Story Of Awakening), which began as a memoir and morphed into a novel, and the constant examination of my own youth had become a bit burdensome.  So, for a change of pace, I sat down at the computer one day and decided to write a murder mystery.  That book was As The Twig Is Bent, and became the first in what is now the Matt Davis Mystery Series.

Collette: What is your writing process?

Joe: It varies.  I have a "sticky" note on my computer screen that urges me to "Write at least two pages per day."  When I am working on a book, I make a point of sitting down at the computer at least once each day, and making an effort to fulfill that obligation.  However, oftentimes I will awake in the middle of the night (much to my wife's chagrin) and rush downstairs to my computer and write about what I was just dreaming.  Other times, I will go for a walk, and just open up my mind, hoping that some ideas will pop to the surface.  If they do, I rush home, and either begin writing, or jot down notes so that I won't forget.

Collette: In the middle of the night? That’s some urge! Do you write full-time?

Joe: Yes.  I never dreamed I'd be able to say that, but, unequivocally, the answer is YES!  I am actually making a living as a writer.

Collette: Yay for you! That’s wonderful to hear J. Do you have other employment as well?

Joe: I also provide reasonably-priced publishing services for self-published authors, including book design and layout, Ebook formatting, cover design, and advertising.


Collette: Okay, so moving on to your varied books. You write in multiple genres. Can you tell us a little about your mysteries first? As the Twig is Bent came out in 2009, followed by Opening Day: A Matt Davis Mystery in 2010. What influenced you to try your hand in the mystery genre?

Joe: Well, as I mentioned previously, I wanted to try something different, so As The Twig Is Bent was somewhat of a "self-imposed challenge."  I sat down with those famous words "It was a dark and stormy night" in my head, and wrote the first scene in which a businessman is flying home from a business trip in a terrible thunderstorm.  At the same time he is praying NOT to die, his wife is home being raped and strangled, and praying TO die. 

Collette: How long did they take you to complete?

Joe: The fishing book took exactly a year, and was motivated purely by avarice.  As the manager of a fishing department in a large retail store, I was constantly bombarded with requests for such a book.  Since no such book existed at the time, I decided to write one.  My partner put up the money and provided much of the technical information, and I wrote the book.  We've sold nearly 10,000 copies to date, and it's still in print.  I began writing Escaping Innocence (A Story of Awakening) in 1987, while working at three jobs, one of which was as a limousine driver.  I worked on that book, off and on, for over 20 years, and completely re-wrote it twice, in addition to various edits.  As The Twig Is Bent was started around 1998, but wasn't finished until 2009.  I would estimate it took the better part of a year-and-a-half.  Opening Day took almost exactly one year, but that was because by that time I was pretty much writing full time.

Collette: That’s great! Can you describe your research into your subject?
Joe: For As The Twig Is Bent, I actually interviewed a NYC homicide detective for an entire day.  Originally, I had a set of questions written down, but I quickly added dozens more as the day progressed.  For many of the technical aspects, including some medical terminology, etc., I consulted with several nurses, as well as doing research on the Internet.  I have two friends who are retired police officers, and one who is a retired FBI agent, and I have consulted with them numerous times.  For legal matters, I consult an old friend who is an attorney.  Right now, I'm working on the third Matt Davis Mystery, entitled Twice Bitten, which involves poisonous snakes and Pentecostal snake handlers.  I've done exhaustive research via the Internet, including emailing back and forth with a gentleman who is part of a church that practices snake handling.  The Internet is an invaluable source of information, and I am constantly using it to shore up facts regarding a particular locale or activity, etc.



Collette: You also have non-fiction titles, with Gone Fishin’ With Kids: How to Take Your Kid Fishing and Still Be Friends, which was released in 1997, and A “Real” Man’s Guide to Divorce: (“First You Bend Over And…”),released in 2009. What inspired you to write those two books?
Joe: I've already discussed the fishing primer, but the divorce book was inspired by life experience.  Need I say more?  I waited until nearly 30 years had passed from the time of my own divorce, and consulted with my children and step children before writing it.  In fact, it is dedicated to them.

Collette: I agree about the Internet. It makes life so much easier to be able to research from home. Okay, so are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?

Joe: Many of them are.  I usually obtain permission from friends before I write them into a book.  Just to name a few: Frank Kuttner (in Opening Day and my next book, Twice Bitten) is the owner of a fly shop in the town of Roscoe, NY, where each of those two books is set.  Frank is a very good friend, and is now somewhat of a celebrity in his town as a result of his being in the book.  Chris Freitag, Matt Davis's partner in As The Twig Is Bent, is a retired police captain, a friend, and a valuable source of police information.  Very often, I will have an acquaintance in mind when I write a character, however, I don't always use that person's real name, and they may not be aware that I have used their persona as that of the character.

Collette: Haha, Frank must love that. J So then, do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?

Joe: Absolutely.  However, I can't tell you which ones!  But, yes, I do inject a good deal of my own personality into certain characters.  As someone a lot wiser than I once said: "Write what you know!"  Great advice.

Collette: Very true! You also have a fifth book, this one humorous, Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening. Can you tell us a little bit about the background in that story?

Joe: As I said earlier, it began as a memoir of my coming of age that quickly morphed into a novel.  Actually, the writing of this book was the beginning of my becoming a serious writer.  While driving the limousine, I had a good deal of free time at the airports, waiting for riders to arrive.  I had just finished reading a Larry McMurtry novel, All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers, about a young author who determines to write at least one paragraph a day.  It was that concept that inspired me; that and the fact that my wife, Becky, went out and bought me a half-dozen spiral notebooks to get me started.  I began just like that, and before long I was writing 5 and 6 pages a day.  It took me two-and-a-half years to complete the first handwritten draft.  I did two complete re-writes over the next 15 years or so, and re-edited it at least two more times.  It's still the book that's the closest to my heart, and as time passes, I love it more.  It's finally starting to catch on and has received some wonderful reviews.  I think it would make a terrific movie.
Collette: Maybe you should start pitching it to the filmmakers! Are you still writing? If so, what will your future projects entail?

Joe: Absolutely.  I hope to finish the third Matt Davis Mystery, Twice Bitten, in time for Christmas.  Then, I plan on getting back to work on Changes.  After that, I will probably write another Matt Davis Mystery.  Then?  Who knows?
Collette: Do you have a favorite genre to write or do you write what stories come to mind?

Joe: Well, right now, murder mysteries are selling very well, so pragmatically speaking, I will probably continue to write them.  However, I do enjoy writing humorous "stuff," and perhaps there might be another "Real" Man's Guide To...Something.  I just haven't decided what it will be.

Collette: Ooh, as a female I could come up with a few … just kidding J. Okay, so how often do you read?
Joe: Every day!  I primarily read non-fiction, or historical fiction, because right now I don't want to compromise my mystery writing by subconsciously incorporating another mystery author's ideas into my own books. 

Collette: That is great to hear! I often go for long stretches without reading a word and get very sad. What is your favorite genre to read?

Joe: I LOVE murder mysteries and medical thrillers.  I also like biographies and historical fiction.

Collette: Does your reading inspire you?
Joe: Absolutely.  Either I read something that is very well written, which inspires me to elevate my own writing to a higher level.  Or, I see something that is really terrible, in which case I'm inspired to "not be that guy."

Where can we find you online?
Website: http://www.joeperronejr.com
Facebook: Joe Perrone Jr.
Amazon: Author Joe Perrone Jr.
Amazon.uk: Joe Perrone Jr.
Smashwords: Joe Perrone Jr.
Goodreads: Joe Perrone

Collette: Where are your books available for purchase?

Joe: Amazon.com, Kindle, Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, and on my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com

Collette: What formats are your books available in?

Joe: Paperback, Kindle, various other Ebook formats

Collette: Do you have a release date for your next book?

Joe: Twice Bitten should be available in early December 2011

Collette: Thank you so much, Joe. It was a joy to be able to learn more about you. I wish you all the best with your writing projects!

Joe: Thank you, Collette!

So there is more from Joe. He is offering a giveaway located on his website under the FAQ link. Click here for details. This link will bring you to Joe’s website, where he sends an autographed copy to the person who submits the ‘best question’. The drawing occurs every month, so check it out today!

Having just finished Opening Day, I am also including my review. I have to say that if you're a James Patterson fan, you would really enjoy this story!


Reading just like a Patterson suspense, Opening Day does not disappoint. From the very start, Mr. Perrone weaves a mystery of epic and tragic events, starting with a body and ending with a bang. We have Police Chief Matt Davis, a former city cop trying to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and move to a slower pace. He has a wife who is his best friend, awesome friends who keep him entertained and offer stimulating conversation, a secretary who is as feisty as a spitfire, and a dead body that washes up on his favorite fishing hole. Weaved into the investigation is the tale of several runaways, poor girls with big dreams and hopes. The question is: when the body arrives, who is the victim? She is so severely decomposed they cannot even tell if it’s male or female at first. So, which one of these haunted young girls washed up in the fishing hole? Matt Davis has few leads on suspects. Is he local or just passing through? The mystery unfolds at a steady pace to a climactic ending that solves all of your questions and leaves you feeling very satisfied. Mr. Perrone entertains with his witty dialogue and very down to earth characters. I just loved his interplay with secretary, Nancy, and his friendship with fisherman, Frank. The setting was so well-depicted that I felt as though I was high in Catskills enjoying small town life. I highly recommend this book!

4 comments:

Dr. Niamh Clune said...

I always look forward to Collette's Blogs. Not only does she interview really interesting authors, she brings out the best in them. Thank You, Collette for sharing Joe with us and allowing us a glimpse inside his head.

Collette said...

Oh, Niamh, you are always so kind. Thank you for stopping by and visiting with Joe and I. He's got quite the talent! I hope you enjoyed :)

XOXO,

Collette

JLB Creatives said...

What a wonderful interview! Well done both of you. Collette you certainly have a gracious gift of being able to introduce authors and connect them with future readers. Awesome job, both of you!

Collette said...

Thank you again for your kind words! I hope you liked learning more about Joe - he's definitely one to keep an eye on.