Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Meet Tony Piazza, Author of the Mystery "Anything Short of Murder"

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!

Welcome Tony!

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 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!"

--KSR Writer


  1. Tony, I enjoyed your interview. Your book sounds interesting, and I look forward to reading it.

  2. This was a great interview! Tony HAS to write as he has so many wonderful stories in him from his "life's experiences". He has developed quite a following who are looking forward to his next book.

  3. Love it very intresting!!! Cant wait!!

  4. Hey, Tony. I love your "shucks, no big deal" attitude. That's the mark of someone who is worth listening to (or reading.) Bring copies to the NightWriter meeting on Tuesday.

    Love your excerpt. I was using a pay phone when an older man slipped up and whispered an offer in my ear. I smiled and motioned to my husband and three children waiting in the car five feet away. His offer was $5. My husband was furious. He said I was worth at least $20.

  5. Tony, very good interview. Liked how you linked your experience to your writing. The writers' advice is especially appropriate: write so others will read your writing. For the joy of it. The excerpt has the feel of a Philip Marlowe voiceover in those great film noir days in Hollywood. Now to put your book on my growing list of "must reads."

  6. I really enjoyed reading your interview, Tony. You are not only a talented story-teller, you are an inspiration! I wish you continued success, and am looking forward to reading your latest book.

  7. Oh dear me! You were in Magnum Force, Tony? I watched it as a kid, and it made me love Clint - forever. You know here, as kids, when we said "the actor did this or the actor did that," we meant the lead actor only. We didn't ever give thought to other's roles. I may have to watch the film again and identify you.


  8. Wonderful interview and I love mysteries...looking forward to reading the book!

  9. Absolutely awe-inspiring and congrats on your success--I've always been a huge fan of the French author Jules Verne and one of my favorite novels is Around the World in 80 Days (the 1956 classic film adaptation with David Niven is quite breathtaking and worth viewing). I'm very grateful that Tony was able to share his selfless love, passion and appreciation for the classics through the Classic Film Union & his recently published novel--so many fans of classic films are very grateful for the opportunity to have him as a valued member of the CFU communnity. Thank you for allowing so many classic movie lovers to become inspired and appreciative of the candid cinematic insights into the Reel Murder Series, classic detective noir in general and your published book--more importantly, I've come to realize just how much life, heart, soul and passion emanates from an individual who loves and appreciates classic films as I do!

  10. Thank you everyone for leaving the comments! The winner of the free copy of "Anything Short of Murder" is "Mindprinter." Please contact me with your email address by Nov. 18th, otherwise we will pick a different winner. Thanks! KSR Writer