Today I am spotlighting Gary Ponzo. His latest novel is called A Touch of Deceit, and it's doing well in the Kindle market. Really well. One of the reasons for this is that I believe his book offers something a little different than many others out there, and the fact that he incorporates his Sicilian background into the story also helps.
The novel opens well with the line, "There was a time when Nick Bracco would walk down Gold Street late at night and young vandals would scatter." I like this because it incorporates action right from the start and gives readers plenty of things to question such as:
1. Who is Nick Bracco?
2. What's so special about Gold Street?
3. Why were vandals afraid of him?
This keeps the reader reading, which is exactly what should happen. And from there the story moves along well and at a fast pace and Ponzo adds several cliffhangers at the end of chapters to keep the readers turning the page.
I liked the many visuals offered throughout the book such as, "The evil seeped through the door like toxic waste." He also sets up scenes where you think you know what's happening and it turns out to be something else.
The terrorist aspect of the book reminded me of a good episode of 24 and he switches it up and allows you to see what's going on through different perspectives with multiple POV.
Overall, I found Gary Ponzo's novel entertaining and full of suspense.
1. Tell me about yourself, how you became to be a writer, and why you are a writer.
I've always written even as a young child. I guess it became apparent I had some skill when my teachers seemed to pick my work to copy and show the rest of the class. The most memorable came as a senior in high school when I'd forgotten to write an English assignment and scribbled a couple of paragraphs while taking the bus to school. The next day my English teacher gave me an "F" on the assignment and wrote, "Who are you kidding" on top of the paper. Naturally I thought she was referring to the jumpy script from writing on a bus with worn out shocks. When I meagerly asked why I received an "F" she flatly told me I couldn't have written that work, it was simply too good. Of course I was flattered, but needed to prove my innocence. She told me to sit down in front of her and write two paragraphs of an action scene. I did it. When I was done she'd read the work and looked at me with a red face and said, "Why are you wasting your time in my class? You never raise your hand, you never join in conversation, you barely complete assignments--why are you not getting serious about this skill you have?" Of course it took me many years to take her advice to heart. Too many.
2. Tell me about your book – what inspired it?
My book is political thriller about an FBI agent, Nick Bracco, who recruits his cousin Tommy to track down a terrorist. Tommy, however, is in the mafia. It's this relationship between law enforcement and those who break laws which sets up the drama of the novel.
My inspiration was born out of working in my father's candy store when I was just sixteen. I used to work alone on weekends and my father had some Sicilian friends watch over me while I was working, especially at night. I guess I knew they were mafia at the time, but to me they were family friends. They'd sip coffee and talk about their kids, baseball, my school. I wanted to show how these people were actually very patriotic, so when a terrorist comes to America to bomb soft targets, these Italian Americans show how much they value their American side.
3. What’s your favorite chapter in your book, and why?
Probably the climax. When Nick finally does come face to face with this terrorist, he finds a way to straddle the line between becoming a vigilante and legally protecting his country. I think it's my most powerful chapter in the book.
4. How did you choose the title of the book?
I wanted to come up with something which would display the undercurrent of using the mafia to scour the underworld for these terrorists. The FBI become's desperate and actually hands over classified files to these Italian Americans to help find these assassins, so they use a Touch of Deceit. It also can refer to the time Nick Bracco lies to the president about capturing this terrorist so he won't acquiesce to the terrorist's demands.
5. How long does it take you to write a book, and what’s your daily writing schedule?
This one took me over a decade because I was still publishing short stories and trying to make a living and be a dad and a husband too. I write mostly at night when the family is asleep so I'm not interrupting anyone's lives for me to get my story down. But if I focused just on writing novels I could probably get one done in six months.
6. What made you choose your particular genre?
I guess it's what interested me. I'm Sicilian and I thought a Sicilian protagonist was interesting, but once I realized he would be an FBI agent, I knew my story would be a little different than most in that genre.
7. Are you working on another book now – if so, what would you like to tell the readers about it?
Yes, because of the success of A Touch of Deceit I'm furiously working on the sequel, A Touch of Revenge. A week doesn't go by without receiving a comment from one of my readers about the progress of the sequel. It's a very rewarding feeling knowing there are literally thousands of people waiting to read what I'm writing. I'm very blessed.
8. Where can you be found on the internet?
Strong Scenes Blog