This week I'm excited to host mystery writer Tony Piazza, who has strong tries to Hollywood and is the setting of his book "Anything Short of Murder."
Tony will be giving away a free copy of his book to one lucky commenter!
Tell us a little about your background and something interesting about yourself.
I belonged to a modeling/casting agency back in the 1970’s and was hired by numerous film and television companies to work on a variety of productions during that decade. I landed “background” assignments, silent-bits, bit acting roles, and “stand-in” jobs. My biggest assignment was “The Streets of San Francisco” (5 years) where I was a stand-in for Michael Douglas and his replacement, Richard Hatch. I had a small role on the show as well, and an acting bit in the Clint Eastwood film “Magnum Force.” I have met and worked with Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Mel Brooks, Tony Curtis, and countless other actors and actresses. I even participated in a couple of stunts (car crashes) doubling for actors.
In the eighties I returned to school to earn a degree in Biology and spent about thirty years total after that in the field of Medical Research. I worked primarily in the SF Bay area at UOP, UCSF, and UC Berkeley. My specialty was electron microscopy. My last employment in SF was at the Veteran’s Hospital working with the Chief Pathologist doing biopsy work.
In 2003 my wife and I decided to make the big move (I had been born and raised in SF) to the California Central Coast where in-between acting as assistant to the QA manager at a food tasting lab I started writing.
December of 2010 my long-time dream came true; I published my first book, “Anything Short of Murder”. A murder mystery set in 1930’s Hollywood. March of next year my second book will be published “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon.” I am looking forward to its release. I certainly had fun writing it and believe that enjoyment will be sensed by its readers
I belong to two writer’s organizations; Sister’s in Crime and SLO Night Writers, and have been having a great deal of fun meeting and sharing with my fellow authors.
What is one of your favorite books and why?
I loved “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea” which you probably find surprising for a mystery writer, but it was the first novel I read from cover to cover and it really fired my imagination. Verne was a master of taking you to places that were full of wonder and amazement, and doing it with just the use of words. Interestingly, his travel was very limited. What he used was from his research in a library, but how he presented it made all the difference in the world. His views of science were positive and visionary. I believe it was what influenced me to go into the science field.
Why did you decide to write this book?
As I mentioned previously it had always been a dream of mine. I fell in love with books at an early age and with that came an urge to write one for myself. I grew up in an age of typewriters and carbon paper, and found (after several earnest attempts) that I didn’t have the patience for re-writes. It was the computer that made the difference, and blogging that became the genesis of my first book. I was writing about my experiences in the motion picture business on the Turner Classic Movie site, and wanting to do something different started a mystery contest where I would create a story and at the end my TCM friends would guess the murderer. I called it REEL MURDER back then, and designed it for the TCM audience who loved classic detective noir faire. I used 1930’s Hollywoodland as the backdrop and filled it with nostalgia and Raymond Chandler like dialogue. They loved it…and I received numerous requests to turn it into a novel. At first I just put them aside as polite comments, but as the number grew I eventually became convinced that perhaps this was my cue to once again make the attempt at accomplishing my old dream. The original serial was in 44 parts, but word wise too short for a novel; so I expanded it…added new characters and action, and changed the ending so that the solution in the blog was different than in the novel. Thus, “Anything Short of Murder” was born, and it has been doing well.
What was your experience like with self-publishing?
The experience is wonderful. I am working with Dog Ear publications and everyone there has been super. They have really delivered. I chose self-publishing because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of finding an agent, and I definitely did not want to lose my rights. I have a “say so” in every step of the publishing process and I have been satisfied with the results. Percentages of sales are also much greater than those offered by the big six and so I believe I have made a wise choice. Incidentally, time was also an element and that was why I didn’t even bother going to the big guys.
How have you marketed your book?
I have had cover in local and national press. I have placed ads in various media sources, especially those that cater to the mystery genre. I had done personal appearances and book signings at independent booksellers. I also used the social media to get word of my book out.
What advice would you give to other authors?
Seriously, if you are writing to become rich forget it…invest in a franchise! If you love to tell stories and share it with others, than write on. You have to love what you are doing and get joy just out of the fact that other people are reading and enjoying your work. This is the real payoff for a writer. “Anything Short of Murder” is in a bookstore library in Paris, France…how neat is that!
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
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.”
I love the excerpt and can't wait to read it!Where can readers find you and your book?
I have my own author’s website www.anythingshortofmurder.com. Also it is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon websites. It is additionally available in all e-book formats.
Thank you, Tony. It was a pleasure meeting you! Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of "Anything Short of Murder!"