Everyone, please welcome Joseph Racconti to the blog today. His suspense/thriller novel, The Blood Cloth Syndicate, was published in 2014, and just became an audiobook this month. We have a nice chat about side characters, chickens, ancient mysteries, and much more.
Joseph is also giving away 5 Audible copies of his book. For the giveaway, you have to read through the interview and find out how to snag a copy. That’s right, we’re making you work for it! But you’ll enjoy it as Joseph is a pretty interesting author!
What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?
Out of all of the authors that have ever lived, I have to pick one? Hm…I think I would have to go with Charles Dickens. He’s my absolute favorite author. I think he’s brilliant. I wouldn’t have anything particular in mind. I’d just like to have an organic talk with him about religion, writing, society and whatever else happened to come up. I imagine it as the kind of talk that goes until 5 in the morning without you noticing.
If I could get more than one it would have to be Dickens, Poe, Wilde, Twain, C.S. Lewis. We’re all sharing a table and have had a little bit too much to drink. With the exception of Lewis of course.
Oh, and we’re drinking Guinness and Jameson.
Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?
I have still yet to read, “The Republic” by Plato. I have no idea why I haven’t read this yet. I’ve wanted to for years.
In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?
I do painfully extensive research when I’m getting ready to write a novel. I can’t even explain to you guys how much goes into it. I think it’s detrimental to me at times. I can get hung up on it.
Anyway, to answer the question, I look for things that have happened throughout the world around the same period of time. I research a lot of unsolved mysteries, world mysteries, assassinations, lost cities, etc, etc. With a little bit of imagination those things can be linked. A lot of times they can get tied together pretty convincingly.
I’ve had a lot of fun conversations with people dealing with what really happened in the past and what I made up.
In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?
I want my readers to love to hate my villains. I like to think that I write my bad guys differently than I read in other books or see in movies. My bad guys are something to fear. You won’t find them giving long speeches or suddenly discovering that they’ve been wrong all of this time. They believe they’re the good guys and will do anything they need to in order to reach their goal.
I think the most satisfying remark I’ve ever gotten from a reader about one of my antagonists was in a random message that read, “Jen is a ****.” It was a four letter word more popular in England than here in the States. Although it was blunt and may have lacked finesse it let me know that I had been successful at making people loathe her.
In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?
My favorite part of advertising is giving stuff away. I love giving people things. Everybody loves free stuff and I get to be the person that gives it to them.
The hardest part is getting people to pay attention to a new author in a world that has been flooded with authors. In a time where anybody on the planet can throw anything onto Create Space or Amazon KDP there’s a lot of sludge that you have to crawl through in order to find the pieces of work worth reading. It’s never easy to convince somebody that yours is one of them when so many people say that.
Since I mentioned giving stuff away for free, I’d love to give 5 of your readers a free audiobook. If they want to like my Facebook page or start following me on Twitter so they can shoot me a message, I’d be more than happy to get that out to the first 5 of them straight away.
What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?
My writing area is pretty well put together as far as the different things that I’ve collected to inspire me. My wife and I love to travel and always try to bring “non-touristy” things back. I have a few items from each place that we’ve visited so far.
I also have some stuff that other people have picked up for me along their travels. They’re all on display museum style. Ha ha. It’s very important that they’re all in their place and are not messed with.
As far as my notes and things like that go; forget it. It’s a total train wreck. I try so hard to keep my things in order, but it never works. I can’t tell you how many calendars that I’ve bought. I’ve probably picked just as many day planners. I’ve had numerous folders that were supposed to keep my research all together, my outlines all together. It just never works out. It always ends up with scribbled ideas and half sentences on scraps of paper. They all get shuffled together and jammed into drawers or hung up haphazardly.
When it comes to writing, I can write just about anywhere, but not well. I do most of my outlining on the go or while doing other things. I tried to write on a plane once. I think it was a 3 hour flight to Quebec City and I managed to get about 600 words. Most of the time was spent deleting various parts of it repeatedly.
The perfect writing scenario for me is being at my desk in the total silence. It used to be at my desk in the total silence chain smoking. I quit smoking about 6 years ago, but to this day sitting down to write makes me crave a cigarette.
Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?
The most recent fanboy moment I’ve had was over, “The Fifth Gospel,” by Ian Caldwell. I think I probably just about drove my wife insane going on about how wonderful it was every time I made a little progress in the book. He’s definitely claimed the spot of my favorite current author.
Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?
The first person to come to mind for me when I think of breakout side characters is Neville from the Harry Potter series. His arc from The Sorcerer’s Stone to The Deathly Hallows is so well done.
As far as my characters go, I’ve had two characters get way more attention than I had anticipated from, “The Blood Cloth Syndicate.” One of them is named Jimmy and the other is Andy.
Jimmy is hardly in the book and for some reason people did not like that. They wanted more of him. They said they loved him and became emotionally attached to him quickly. I’m not sure why.
The other character named Andy though, is the big one. He’s the little brother of another character in the book and people absolutely freak out over him. I don’t think I have received as much feedback on any character as I have Andy. I’ve even gotten a few requests to do a novella with Andy and his brother that’s set before, “The Blood Cloth Syndicate” takes place.
I’m not against it. I’ve kicked a few ideas around in my head, but I think it may have to wait until I finish the entire series that that book is a part of. We’ll see.
Care to share a bit about your chickens, garden, and dreams of a little homestead or farm?
I love homesteading. Aside from writing for a living that is my ultimate goal. My family has always gardened and different members have had a few chickens now and then, but for the most part we’ve been city people for lack of a better term.
I like raising my chickens, gardening, canning, chopping wood, and everything else that goes with that. I really enjoy going out and foraging as well. A couple years ago my wife and I went out and picked mulberries and ended up making 50 jars of jam in one sitting.
It was a lot of work, but it was nice. We sat and talked, laughed. The kind of stuff that people don’t do too much anymore. I remember when I was a kid and we would grow green beans. Everybody would sit around and string those things for hours.
I’d recommend that everybody does a little bit of something along those lines. Sometimes the world is spinning so fast I think we’re all going to fly off. Slow down a little bit. There’s a lot here for you and you don’t want to miss it.
A group of people forged in the fire of ancient Israel, the shadowy remnants of a French claim to power and one of the most controversial relics to ever exist.
Brothers John and Jimmy have a big night planned with one of their childhood friends, but when they arrive at his house to find he is missing, their plans take an unexpected turn. Information they receive while visiting their grandfather, and last remaining relative in a nursing home, spurs the reunion of old friends who discover their relationships were not by chance.
Places to stalk Joseph Racconti