1. What (and how many) works have you released? What are they about?
There are presently six books I have written in publication. First and foremost, I consider myself a historical fiction writer concentrating primarily in the areas of geopolitical and theological intrigue and suspense. Novels such as 'The Den of the Assassin', and its upcoming sequel 'Predators Games' are heavily research driven and address the realities of how technology and global finance are providing opportunity for nations who do not view the United States or our allies favorably to potentially create a new-world-order.
As politics and religion are so closely connected, my interest in the world today has led me to try and understand society's understanding and use of faith, particularly as science expands our understanding of the human condition and the universe we live in. This interest has led me to writing the theological thriller 'Cloning Christ', which I must admit, was a spiritual joy to write, as well as its upcoming sequel, 'Quest'. On this note, I believe in utilizing science to enhance mankind's experience; however, I want it to be known that it is in my Christian beliefs that I accept and embrace science as a means to better our lives. This is part of faith, and I am resolved in my faith as a way of my life, not simply a temporary belief system of convenience that exists when things go bad in our lives.
Of all the books I have written to date, my latest release titled 'Chasing The Cyclone' is perhaps the one that has the deepest meaning to me. It is a story of a father's tireless and unbowed attempt to reunite with his abducted son, who is taken to the other side of the world, despite incredible obstacles he faces to locate and reunite with him. And yes, it is a story inspired by my own experiences as a targeted parent, but it also speaks of the circumstances so many other targeted parents of international abduction face. What I am most proud of about this indisputable love story - and make no mistake, this is a love story in the purest sense of mankind's capacity to love, though it is wrapped in the form of a heart-wrenching, electrifying thriller I honestly wish I did not have the ability of writing - is that 'Chasing The Cyclone' is a blueprint on abduction prevention for the millions of other parents each year targeted for a potential child abduction, as well as a map on how to potentially recover your child. To know that this novel is providing entertainment value to others while being a call-to-arms against abduction while also offering others hope is very satisfying. It is the ultimate experience for a writer; to make an impact on the lives of others.
My non-fiction works include 'In Their Own Words', which is a time-line of events right before, during, and after the September 11th attack in New York City from the experiences and perspectives of the first responders. This book was published as a very special edition, and it honors the men and women who gave unconditionally of themselves that day, as they are prepared to give of themselves each and every day. They are extraordinary individuals, and I have been fortunate through my life to know many first responders. At the top of my list of heroes is my brother John, a proud firefighter with the FDNY who fortunately survived that terrible day.
'The World Turned Upside Down' may perhaps be the most important book I have written because it is the most current and informative resource guide on international child abduction prevention and recovery. I co-authored this book with my friend Carolyn Ann Vlk, who is also a child abduction prevention advocate. What is also important about this extensive book is that I made it available for free via the Internet as an e-book so that others who may need the information contained in it will have immediate access to it. Additionally, as it is published as an E-book, it can and will be updated as topical and important information on this subject is researched and published. 2. How did you get the idea for your work? What lured you to your topics?
The idea for writing 'Chasing The Cyclone' was easy: my child was internationally abducted in accordance to the international laws established by the Hague Convention. I, like hundreds of thousands of parents in the United States who experienced international abduction before I even knew the term, came to realize that it is near impossible to have a child returned who is abducted and kidnapped abroad. In fact, the accurate total return rate of abducted children taken from the United States and Canada who are returned is around 5%. In my family's case, I know just how fortunate and lucky we were. But that wasn't enough: I made a promise to my God that if I was able to reunite with my son, and to know he was safe, then I would do whatever I can to help other children and their parents who are facing abduction. And that is something I have done.
One thing I also want to mention to anyone who is reading this is that even though international parental child abduction is classified under federal criminal kidnapping laws, the reality is that so few abducting parents are extradited back to the child's country of origin. So, if you're thinking, "Okay, if my child is internationally abducted by the other parent who is trying to disappear and remove my child's right to the child's entire family, I will call the police because the other parent has broken serious state and federal laws." Well, I have news for you: sadly, nothing is going to be done. And there is one other thing that comes to mind and it is that parents should also know that if they have custody of a child illegally removed from the country by the other parent, which is child abduction, they themselves could be charged with abduction if they go to the country where the child is located and simply try to bring that child back. It is insane.
3. What scene, topic, or section was the most intense (or visual) for you to write?
When you enter into Dorothy's tornado, I don't think there is one spin that is more intense than any other. And this is true of 'Chasing The Cyclone': the reader and the story's main protagonist, Paul Francesco, become one as they race into a deadly, perfect storm. So, I will not be specific as to a particular scene or topic as I would prefer for readers to experience what it is like to chase the cyclone of abduction; however, what I will say is this: I have always found the element of landscape to be a critical component that sets the pace in all novels. I am pleased with my use of landscape and location in 'Chasing The Cyclone', and do not believe readers will be disappointed.
4. In the event your book became a screenplay, who would you like to see included in the casting?
I would like to answer this question, and I know the answer, but this will have to wait as perhaps something may be shared in the near future.
5. If you could meet anyone or see anything (characters, locations, events, abilities, creatures, etc) from your novel, who or what would you choose?
When I was traveling in New Zealand, the circumstances of me being there was awful. So I did not see the beauty of the country the way I would have liked to. Since that time, I have been back to New Zealand on several occasions - and I see this country in a very different light than when I was Chasing The Cyclone.
6. How did you go about selecting your cover?
When a loving parent has a child abducted, they will do anything possible to protect their child. In international child abduction, a targeted parent is going to run into the most dangerous of storms, but it doesn't matter. What does is their child's safety, and they are willing to sacrifice everything - including themselves - to make sure their child is safe. So my cover is designed to have the reader look into the deadliest of storms because if they choose to go after their abducted child they will be Chasing The Cyclone. 7. Do you have any upcoming projects? When can readers expect from them?
My upcoming writing projects include the sequel of 'The Den of the Assassin', which is titled 'Predators Games', and the second book in the 'Cloning Christ' series, 'Quest'. In addition, I am very excited to have my first comedy published. 'The Production' is a satire on the worlds of publishing and film, and I must admit, I have laughed so hard reading what has been written thus far! My beloved and wise grandmother Ida often said to me, "Life is so mysterious that if you take it too seriously it will drive you delirious." Well, all of my writing has evolved around serious, topical subjects, so it has been really neat and fulfilling to write this satire.
There are also several film and television projects I am very excited about. But that will have to wait for now.
8. Why did you become an author?
A long time ago, and right before my son was born, I fought another serious cancer fight. I was not sure if I was going to survive it. And so, despite whatever material niceties I would have left him, he would not have ever really known who I was. So I started to write while dealing with my cancer fight. What I did not know at that time was that I got up every day with a sense of purpose: to complete another few pages. As the days passed, I was becoming more determined to finish this novel, but what I did not know was that my love for my son and my desire to be in his life saved my life. Writing really saved my life. And that is why I am such a big proponent of literature.
9. What do you love the most about being an author?
There are two things that immediately come to mind. Selfishly, I love the routines I have established over the years. There is a great sense of romance and intimacy - and I am a hopeless romantic. Researching my stories means traveling all over the world - and I love that. And then there are the locations I write portions of my books: Paradise Cove at Malibu Beach, the enchanting Pelican Inn in Muir Woods, the Map Room at the New York City Central Library, the Student Union beer hall at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Columbia University's Butler Library are all very special to me, as is the Vatican Library I have been privileged to research and write in. It's all a great romantic adventure, and I love it. However, what I have found with the release of 'Chasing The Cyclone' is something more important than fulfilling my own desire and cravings. 'Chasing The Cyclone' is a book that really helps other parents in many ways. And that is really cool."
10. What or who inspires you to write?
My son. I love him dearly. So if you read any of my books, you may actually 'hear' a father talking to his son about how much he loves him.
11. What is the top cause you champion?
There are several social issues I am heavily involved with. Obviously, the first is my efforts to help stop children from being internationally abducted, or returned home. This is why I created the I CARE Foundation with renown lawyers Patricia Lee and Joel Walter, along with Dr. Alex Gimon and Gloria Nyberg. The foundation has done some really great things including assisting in the building of the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network" of pro bono lawyers willing to come to the defense of abducted children and their targeted parents. We have also heavily assisted in reuniting children who have been abducted or played a significant role in preventing a child from being abducted. In fact, one of our extraordinary lawyers who participates in our network, Ms. Alana Collins Bullis, was able to help a mother recently diagnosed with cancer reunite with her abducted child.
However, the real purpose of the foundation is to conduct research and share with the public our findings in order to pursue new laws that will help stop child abduction. So by mobilizing and educating lawyers across our nation about international child abduction and abduction prevention, we anticipate to have a serious and much needed impact on our courts as well as new laws. And with 100,000 to 125,000 children forecasted to be internationally abducted from the United States alone over the next decade, with an estimated 5% total return rate, the I CARE Foundation has a pretty big mission. But you know what? Step by step, the I CARE Foundation is making a difference. As you may anticipate, having a child internationally abducted and having been able to bring him home, I know first-hand the horror other parents of abduction face. So, I am trying to do my best to help others because when I was Chasing The Cyclone, I made a promise to my God that I would one day try to make a difference for others.
My work in the abduction prevention community is important; however, I am also aware that reading and writing and thinking really did save my life. So for a long time now I have been deeply committed to advancing literacy. I have made substantial donations to numerous public library systems while also advocating for the advancement of their community program agendas. In fact, I am a self-professed librophiliac!
12. What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in becoming an author?
Write every day and trust yourself. The publishing world is changing a great deal due to the advancement of the E-book. Many writers thirst for their independence because of the long-tail theory of product distribution. So success in publishing does not necessitate being part of a large publishing house so much as it means cultivating a following of readers. So dream - sharpen your skills - and write, especially since success as a writer is, first and foremost, found in the achievement of completing a good story.
13. What is the one thing your readers should know about you?
In each of my books, they may hear the voice of a father who loves his son.
14. If you could do anything for a career besides being a writer, what would you do?
If money was not an issue, I would love to be a highly respected library historian who gets to travel around the world and study how society's safe deposit boxes of knowledge - our libraries - have evolved and altered mankind's capability.
15. Aside from writing, what are your hobbies?
I love to scuba dive, golf, explore foreign cultures, and visit libraries. Is being 'Peter Pan' a hobby? I think it is. So perhaps being 'Peter Pan' is the hobby I love most.
16. What is …?
My favorite author is Miguel de Cervantes, the author of 'The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha'.
My favorite book is 'Unbowed' by Nobel Peace Prize Laurette Wangari Maathai of Kenya. Wangari passed several months ago, but the impact she left on this planet, including the women of Africa is immeasurable.
My biggest literary inspiration is to complete my next book … whatever book I am working on.
17. Do you listen to music when you write?
Generally, no. However, when I am writing, the words floating in my mind form a very different type of symphony.
18. Is there anything that helps you write or is unique about your writing process?
Before I start a book, I draw a map of my story. I do not work off of an initial outline, but a road map.
19. Which, if any, character do you feel has the most of your characteristics?
That's easy: Paul Francesco, the protagonist in 'Chasing The Cyclone'. This story took me 7 weeks to write, and I think that says just how close to the story I am.
My followers have been wonderful company on my shared literary travels! Unfortunately, it's time for goodbye in the name of bigger and better things. A few months ago, I scheduled holiday greetings in bookish manners through the first of 2013. After that, RR will be a ghost town left exposed for reference and archives. Sorry, but I better be heading out! :-( Happy reading, beloved bookies!