Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others. His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first in what will hopefully be a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files. Prior to finishing this book, his published work was comprised of short stories that will be merged into a collection in the near future. He now resides in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife, children, and two dogs.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
For the Frank Rozzani series, I wanted to start with a main character who’s name I could use to link all of the books in the series together. Thus, Frankly Speaking was the first book. For the second book, I ran a contest from my newsletter and Let Me Be Frank emerged. The titles for the next two “Frank” books are set based on the story lines.
Can you tell me about your latest book? What is it about?
Let Me Be Frank, the second in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series, follows the characters into the investigation of the murder of a young girl. Frank and his team trace her path to Jacksonville Beach, the site of the murder, and gather clues along the way. The answers to the mystery have big implications for characters within the Frank universe.
How much of the book is realistic?
Interestingly enough, I had an author that is a retired New Orleans police officer read the book and he said that it was very realistic. In addition, others with areas of expertise touched on in the story were consulted.
How do you start to write a book? What is the first step?
I like to create a mind map. This is a technique that I took from business where I pictorially map out the outline of the book chapter by chapter. It has been a huge help in completing my last two novels.
What books have most influenced your life most?
To Kill a Mockingbird is at the top. Also, The Stand by Stephen King, the writing of John D. MacDonald, Harlan Coben, early James Patterson, John Grisham, and Elmore Leonard.
Do you see writing as a career?
It is a dream. The financial aspect needs to equal reality to make the dream happen.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I think it is a snapshot of where my writing was at that time. I wouldn’t go back and Photoshop old family photos (much as I would like to). I learn from my previous efforts and move on.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It came from my love of reading. I think, for any art form, if you enthusiastically enjoy it, you aspire to do it.
What is your overall opinion of the publishing industry?
It is evolving. There is a certain degree of snobbery toward self and independent publishers. Authors like Hugh Howey, however, have helped to debunk this. I do think, however, there is a lot of room for improvement in much of the product and, apart from my writing, it is my mission to help self-published authors improve. As for the snobbery in traditional publishing, I think it will diminish over time. The music industry has adapted. I think publishing will as well.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am currently working on three main projects; the next book in the Frank Rozzani series (due out in March or April of 2015), a collaboration with a military friend of mine on a terrorist thriller novel, and a non-fiction writing tips book for independently published authors.
Do you ever get tired of looking at words?
It depends on the words. I write for a living in the business world and those words can be dry and boring. Luckily, my writing and reading outside or work counters this.
Who designed the covers?
I have a cover art artist that did a great job on my first book and I keep going back to him. He gets it.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The middle. I think many authors struggle with this. You have exciting events at the beginning to set up the story. There is, hopefully, an anticipated conclusion as well. It’s getting from the beginning to end that makes the journey tricky.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I did a great deal of research for my book and learned a lot about some of the areas that were included in the story that I have never visited.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I have tons of advice (that’s why I’m writing a non-fiction book to help them). Short of that effort, I would say, keep writing, keep reading, keep perfecting.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love getting feedback from you. I have several ways you can get in touch with me through my newsletter, my web site (www.donmassenzio.com) and my blog. I want to please readers and, of course, find new ones. Your feedback is always welcome!