I’ve had people tell me they are between books, looking for something new to read; a new author, a new genre. There are more writers than ever before: More good writers, more not so good writers. The choices of things to read are enormous. The purpose of interviewing a writer is to give you, the reader, a chance to hear from the writer directly, to hear the writer’s own voice.
Tony Piazza was employed in the film industry during the 1970’s as an actor and stand-in. Later he earned a degree in Biology and worked in scientific research. He now dedicates his time to writing.
How about these questions Tony? What is the most overrated virtue?
I’d say, “Patience”, because it never comes easy, even with the best of intentions.
What is the one thing other people always seem to get wrong about you? Because I was an only child, I was spoiled. Nothing is further from the truth, as those who know me will attest to. My mother came from a family of twelve, and she raised me as if I had 11 siblings.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? I would change the negative attitude that prevails amongst society. Why can’t good news sell newspapers?
What pet peeve do you have about other people? That they feel that they have to be perfect to be liked- there is nothing wrong with being you.
Is there any occasion when it’s OK to lie? Not in my book- unless, I’m writing a mystery or spy novel, and then all my characters lie.
What is your philosophy of writing? I always write a story that I would buy if I were a reader trying to make a selection. In order for my books to be interesting to others, they must first be interesting to me. I also never write with profit in mind. My one aim is to entertain. If I get it right, and receive a positive response from my readers, then that is payment enough.
What’s the name and genre of you book? The title of my novel is, “Anything Short of Murder”. It is a classic murder mystery set in the Hollywood of the 1930’s.
Who is the audience for this book? In general, mystery lovers; especially those who enjoyed the type of hardboiled detective thrillers that were written in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It is in essence a tip of the hat to such writers as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.
It did not start off with a sequel in mind, but since its release I have received numerous requests from its fans to do one, and so I am in the process of doing one now. I have about a quarter of it done.
Describe your protagonist physically and emotionally and describe the challenges the protagonist needs to overcome and the motivation for overcoming them. Tom Logan is in his thirties; handsome in a rugged sort of way; and usually one to come out on top when fisticuffs are involved. He is wary of life, but covers that with a sense of humor. He is thoroughly moral, and a believer in justice. In fact it was this honesty that had got him thrown off the L.A. police force and forced him into private practice as a gumshoe in Hollywoodland.
Describe your antagonist physically and emotionally, and talk about motivation. That will be a little difficult to answer because this is a mystery, and the name of the game is to guess whodunit. If I describe the villain then readers would cry foul. Believe me when I say that there are plenty of characters with various motivations for killing the victim. The question is which one will act upon it. And the way I weaved the story, I guarantee that it will keep the reader guessing to the very end.
Quote a passage from your book that you love.
I was getting a quick bite at one of those high profile delis on Hollywood boulevard; you know, one of those places reputed to cater to the stars. Of course, the only star I ever saw go into this joint was usually attached to the uniform of a beat cop. Anyhow, I was biting into my pastrami, sitting in my usual spot at the counter, when a rather slinky blonde cozies up to my side and whispers something rather encouraging in my ear. It isn’t what you think, but something equally tempting; she offered me fifty dollars in cash. A commodity I have recently been short of. I responded, “Lady, if it’s anything short of murder, I might be interested.”
Elaborate on the meaning of the passage. This is not Ibsen, so elaborating on the meaning of this passage would be, for a lack of a better term, meaningless. However, it does set the tone for the rest of the novel which lends itself heavily towards nostalgia. This was written for those that enjoy watching Bogie and Bacall, or Nick and Nora Charles. This is more Peter Gunn than Peer Gynt.
What surprising things did you learn while writing this book? Quite frankly, writing the book was the easy part; promoting it has been time consuming and difficult. Although it has created new experiences which I have been enjoying, such as doing radio interviews…one ran an hour and a half, and was live!
How has your upbringing influenced you writing? If it wasn’t for my parents, especially my mother, I don’t think I would be talking to you as a published author. She impressed upon me the value of reading and since that one summer many years ago, when she borrowed some books and sat down with me, I haven’t stop reading. The extra time that she sacrificed awakened a love for books that has never deserted me. And of course with anything you love, the next logical step is to produce that same entertainment for others to enjoy.
Where do you live and how does that influence your writing? I live with my wife on the beautiful, California Central Coast. It is an area populated by artists and writers. I belong to two writing organizations, Sisters in Crime, and SLO NightWriters, which are located here, so needless to say, I get plenty of motivation. And it is a quiet area, and that more than anything else is conducive to the writing process. It helps me focus.
Do you prefer fermented or distilled? I like to think that my writing is 100 proof. Nothing distilled or watered down about it.
If you have a career outside of writing how does it fit into your life as a writer? I use all my experiences in life as a framework for my stories and characters. For example, in “Anything Short of Murder” I’d surrounded Logan with characters of a “type” that I’d worked with during my career in the film industry. They may not be specific individuals, but composites of those I’d known. I also drew upon the technical knowledge that I had amassed spending my time daily on the film set. I have a stand alone adventure novel being published this March, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon.” The story takes place on the Hawaiian Islands. The locations used in the novel were areas I have spent time on. Having walked the walk helps bring realism to your novels.
Do you have a special routine you go through before you begin writing? No special routine, just a goal of 2,500 words or more. This is what I set per chapter, and I usually accomplish that in a day.
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That’s the interview. Thanks for listening.