© 2013 Clive Eaton
Joe Perrone Jr. worked as a sportswriter for the Passaic-Clifton, NJ, Herald News, as well as a freelance advertising copywriter. He was also a professional fly-fishing guide for ten years in the Catskill Mountains of New York (the last three of Joe’s Matt Davis mysteries are actually set in Roscoe, NY, the fishing village where Joe was a guide). He has had several fly-fishing short stories published in the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, and wrote freelance feature articles for a number of local newspapers when he lived in New Jersey.
The author is perhaps best known for his Matt Davis Mystery Series, which includes As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises (the most recent in the series). Joe's first novel, Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening, was published in 2008, and is an evocative coming-of-age novel set in the turbulent '60s. In addition to his five novels, Joe has authored two non-fiction works, A "Real" Man's Guide to Divorce (First, you bend over and...), published in 2009 and Gone Fishin' with Kids (How to Take Your Kid Fishing and Still be Friends), co-authored with Manny Luftglass, and published in 1997.
As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also available as audio books through Audible.com and iTunes. Two other Matt Davis Mysteries, Twice Bitten and Broken Promises will be available in audio books later in 2013, as well as will Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening, which is currently being recorded and will for sale in August.
In 2012, Opening Day was awarded an Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion.
Joe lives in Western North Carolina with his wife, Becky, and the couple's two cats, Callie and Cassie.
Book title: Broken Promises: A Matt Davis Mystery
86-year old Maggie McFarland is found dead, shot through the heart at close range, on the grounds of the old burned-out Artemis Hotel in the small fishing village of Roscoe, New York, where Matt Davis is Chief of Police. There is no apparent motive for Maggie’s murder and no ready suspects. Most know her as a renowned trout fly tier and friend. The only clue is the shell casing from the bullet that killed her; and surprisingly it dates back to World War II. With that bit of knowledge and very little else to go on, it’s up to Matt to solve this most unlikely crime. Underlying the main plot is a secondary story of the town’s struggle against an energy consortium that is trying to bring a wind-turbine farm to the area and the conflicts it creates among the townspeople.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
My favorite activity is fly fishing. But, when I can’t be on the water, I enjoy cooking, watching golf, viewing movies, and tying trout flies. I also enjoy music (anything but hard rock) and playing various parlor games.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I have always been a writer of some sort, going back to grade school. But, most certainly I was inspired by a number of English teachers I had along the way in high school and college. I guess the serious “stuff” started when I was lucky enough to get a job as a sportswriter with a major newspaper. It was pure serendipity, because up until that time, I had no real training or experience in formal writing. With an Associated Press style book in hand, I learned “on the job,” as they say. My novel-writing career got its start, however, when I read a book by Larry McMurtry called All My Friends are Going to be Strangers. As best I can remember, it told of a writer who was blocked, and who determined to write just one paragraph a day until he could get going again. The idea resonated with me, and my wife, Becky, bought me a half dozen spiral notebooks. I literally started out intent upon writing at least one paragraph a day of my memoirs from my college days. Before long, the one paragraph became one page, then several, and so forth. Over the next two or three years, the memoirs morphed into what was to become my first novel, Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening. I re-wrote and edited that book at least three more times over nearly twenty years, before publishing it in 2007.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
After writing and self-publishing three Matt Davis Mysteries, I was looking for a different kind of idea for a new one. There was an old abandoned house that I had seen for over thirty years when I was fishing in the Catskills, and I was fascinated by what its history might have been. After talking to local residents and finding out more about it, the house provided the germ of an idea that eventually became Broken Promises.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) Matt is addicted to fly fishing and chocolate.
2) Matt became Chief of Police of Roscoe after very nearly being killed on the job, while working his last case as a homicide detective in New York City.
3) Matt has a friendly, running battle with the town’s fictional mayor, Harold Swenson, who’s always trying to find a way to add a feather to his own cap.
What research did you need to do for this book?
Most of the research involved the time period of the early 1940s in America, particularly as it pertained to the war and armaments at the time. I also researched the fire-fighting capabilities of the Roscoe Fire Department way back in 1944.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
Several of the characters in the book (and the series) are actual residents of Roscoe, as well as personal friends of mine from North Carolina. I use their real names and alter their personalities and behavior with their permission, of course.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
Right now I am resting on my laurels, and taking a break from writing. However, as soon as I can recharge my batteries, I plan on getting back to work on a literary novel that I began about seven years ago. Its working title is Changes, and it is the story of a man struck by lightning, and the attendant conflicts that arise as a result of his injuries. I expect to write it from two distinct POVs: his and his adult daughter’s. I’ve already written a few chapters, and I’m anxious to resume work on it. “Matt” will have to take a break for a while.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I have developed a method by which I write for anywhere up to three or four hours per day (on those days when I am so inclined). However, before I write one single new word, I go back over what I have written the previous session and edit, edit, edit.
I also do character studies of my main characters, including age, sex, height, weight, personal traits, etc., that I can refer to from time to time as I write. This has proved to be invaluable, especially since I write a series.
In addition, I have gotten into the habit of setting up the actual paperback formatting before I even start writing, so the book is already formatted when I write the final word and enter the final period. Usually, somewhere along the line, I also design the cover as I develop a feel for the book’s character.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I mostly need to be in a quiet surrounding. I have an office in my finished basement, devoted to nothing but my writing. Other than that, I only need a bottle of drinking water and my imagination. Oh, and of course my computer (and the Internet). I really don’t know how I ever survived without a computer or the Internet. I am able to do all my research from the comfort of my office. It is truly amazing how easy it is to look things up on the Internet, bookmarking interesting or helpful sites as I go. What I don’t need are interruptions like the phone. I always turn my cell phone off when I’m writing.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
I have been self-publishing since 2005, after spending nearly two years in a futile attempt to secure an agent. I came very, very close on two occasions (both fell through), but eventually decided that at my age (I was 60 at the time), I could ill afford to wait any longer –so I self-published. At this juncture in my life, I doubt that I would ever seek an agent or publisher again, but...I wouldn’t necessarily say no to one, either.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Trying to balance my time between writing and self-promoting my existing work and my publishing consulting business.
2) Maintaining an accurate “time line” or sense of continuity. I have a tendency to write action in both the present and the past, often jumping back and forth throughout the book. Trying to keep everything straight can be a challenge.
3) Trying not to fuss with my wife, who serves as my editor, story consultant, and of course my muse. She serves as a model for one of the main characters in my series (I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which one it is).
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
Basically, I just force myself to write “something,” even one sentence on any given day. I won’t get up from my desk until I’ve at least made a concerted effort to do that. However, I find that it can be counterproductive to force things, and instead it often helps to give myself a day or two off to recharge my batteries. Also, I keep a pad and pen by my bedside, and often get up in the middle of the night to write down ideas that have come to me while I’m asleep. I can’t say that I’ve ever been truly “blocked.” However, there are days when I just don’t feel inspired, and yet, if I sit down and turn on the computer I often have some of my best sessions. Go figure!
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Write good dialogue. If you are going to write effective dialogue, be sure to read it aloud and be certain that it sounds as natural as you can possibly make it. Good dialogue can make a mediocre book into a good one. Learn to be a good listener, and it will translate into your writing better dialogue.
What genre does your book fall into?
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
Ha! That’s funny. I actually sat down one day and said, “Hmmm, I think I’ll try writing a murder mystery.” With nothing but those famous words, “It was a dark and stormy night” in my mind, I wrote the opening chapter of As the Twig is Bent. In it, a man is flying home from a business trip in a frightful thunder storm. He is terrified of flying, and while he is literally praying to God that he won’t die, his wife back home is being systematically raped and strangled, and praying that she will. The chapter bounces back and forth from his point of view to hers, culminating in the victim’s husband actually passing the murderer on the street when he arrives home from his trip. That book did quite well when it was published in Kindle, reaching the #24 best seller spot in the Kindle book store in the police procedural category. Then, it was off to the races, turning the one book into a series.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Truman Capote for his sense of stark reality and being in the moment.
2) William G. Tapply for his ease with story telling and characters.
3) Mark Twain for his gift of dialogue and humor.
What was your favourite book as a child?
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost by Tom Winton. It was an easy read that captured my imagination.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Unfortunately, I am only able to use my trusty Kindle (first generation, no less) because of several eye surgeries that make it very difficult to read a paper book.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
You might laugh, but I’ve often thought about this. When I write, I am always envisioning what I write on the screen. There was a fellow who used to do a commercial for the US Army who would have been perfect, but he’s too old now. I think Kevin Spacey might be a good choice. Matt Davis is a “regular guy,” one who is not too good looking, but not bad looking either. He is a good husband, and he loves to fly fish. He is “any man.”
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
Ennio Morricone to write the score, and perhaps Yo Yo Ma to play it.
Drink – It used to be Mountain Dew, but I’ve matured. Now it is water!
Meal – Pizza
Holiday destination – First choice: Beaverkill River in the Catskill Mountains of New York to fly fish. Second choice: Cape Cod (lower Cape by Truro) to just plain relax.
TV programme – Major Crimes
Film – The Godfather
Method of travel – Automobile
Sport – Tie between tennis and golf (fly fishing is a way of life)
How can people connect with you?
Facebook: Author Joe Perrone Jr.
Where can readers find your book?
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