Today we put Tony Piazza, author of the critically acclaimed Tom Logan series, on the hot seat of questions. What he reveals just may surprise you! Ready, Tony? Go!
- What in your writing have you dropped along the way?
I would say, being overly descriptive. I’m a retired research scientist, and one of my former responsibilities was to record my observations in minute detail. That’s important when you’re dealing with a search for facts, but I’m afraid it also carried out to my fiction writing. For example, if I was to describe a room, I found myself painting a picture of it in High Definition. Every piece of furniture, the color of the walls, the thickness of the carpet, etc. Fortunately, my editor put me straight right off, and the blue pencil came to play. I am now aware of this, and consciously try to scale down my descriptions as I’m writing – only including what I believe is pertinent to the story. That’s not to say that I don’t still paint pictures, but they are less HD and more impressionistic.
- What (in your opinion) is the perfect length for a book?
That isn’t easy to say. It depends on the story you need to tell. If it’s an intimate story, a novella may suffice, or an epic, a tome. I believe it should be as long as you need to present your narrative accurately without over bloating it with unnecessary subplots that add little to the storyline. I want to add; modern readers don’t seem interested in long reads. I think it has something to do with the social media trend. Text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have conditioned readers to read less, and they seem “turned off” by novels – even moderately short ones. It’s not words, but pictures they prefer and hence the popularity of graphic novels. At a local book fair, I had my books displayed. At one point, a young student came up to my booth, pointed at one of my novels, and stated she would never read it. When I asked, “Why?” She replied, “Too many words.” The book was only 400 pages of moderately large print!
- What’s the strangest fan question/request you’ve ever gotten?
An absolute stranger asked me on Facebook if I could send her my book for free. There had been cases in the past if, for example, someone wanted to offer a review, or was financially strapped and sincerely wanted to read my story, that I would send them a free one. But this was different. It was requested, as if to say, “I’ll only be interested if you give it to me for nothing.” I just ignored the comment, but a fellow author who saw it jumped to my defense. He replied that this person had no idea how much time, energy, and passion it takes to write a book. He stated, “Would you give a year or two of your hard work away?” He was right. As it is, I price my books the lowest allowed by the publisher. In the instance of my e-books, you can purchase a cup of coffee for more dollars than I charge – and I only get a fraction of that. Granted, I write because it is my passion, and I never went into it, expecting a profit. It is rewarding enough knowing someone is reading and enjoys your story. But this request bordered on the arrogant and insensitive, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you today.
- When did you first know you were going to be a writer?
It was when I was probably eight or nine years old. I read Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and fell in love with books. And like anything that becomes a passion, you want to play a more intimate part in it. Therefore, I decided I would become a writer, and having parents who encouraged my wishes, on one birthday, I got a typewriter. Completing a manuscript in those days was not an easy task. One mistake you were back to square one. I never did get a manuscript finished then, but I did have the most extensive collection of wadded up typing paper you could ask for. Years past, and I did complete some short stories and other writing assignments for school, but nothing was submitted for publication. It was only after the advent of computers, Word Perfect, spell check, etc., that I once again returned to my passion and finally had my dreams come true.
- What is your favorite genre to read?
I have no one favorite genre. My interests extend across the board. It’s just a matter of what excites me at the time. I’ve read and loved (not surprisingly) mysteries, but also science fiction, fantasy, horror, classic literature, westerns, biographies, history, and the Bible.
- What are you writing now that surprises you?
Personal stories that reveal a little something about my soul. I’ve done that in a couple of instances, and it feels strange. As a man growing up during the 60s generation, it wasn’t macho to let people into your sensitive side, and as a person today I still play by those rules. But, due to the nature of these journals, I had to reach inside and produce something. What I delivered surprised me.
Thank you for your insights and your honesty, Tony. You’ve given all us writers—and readers—lots to think about. It was an honor to have you here with us today.
Here’s more information on how to find Tony’s wonderful books, as well as stay in touch with him:
Tony Piazza is an award-winning, bestselling Central Coast mystery writer, film historian, presenter, and veteran storyteller well-known for his passion for writing and movies.
He is the author of six mystery novels, “Anything Short of Murder,” “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon,” “A Murder Amongst Angels,” “Murder is Such Sweet Revenge,” “Murder Will Out,” and “Murder in the Cards,” all available through Amazon and wherever excellent books are sold. Piazza’s new book, “Bullitt Points,” from SansTree, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the classic Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt” and the involvement of the Piazza family in the production.
Piazza regularly worked as an extra and stand-in on many Hollywood movies and television shows shot in San Francisco during the 1970′s, including “Towering Inferno,” “High Anxiety,” “Magnum Force,” and “Streets of San Francisco.” He now blogs regularly about his Hollywood experiences at authortonypiazza.com.
His inventory of stories reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood from that era: Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Darren McGavin, Paul Newman, Karl Malden, Michael Douglas, Raymond Burr, Walter Matthau, Fred Astaire, Robert Vaughn, and Leslie Nielsen.
Piazza is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and California Writers Club.