We were very pleased to have the chance to talk with Daniel Annechino, author of A Piece of You, book three in his Sami Rizzo series. You can read our review of this most enjoyable book.
Mr Annechino is currently on a two month long virtual book tour that runs from December 2015 through January 2016. If you have a chance, be sure to check out the full tour schedule here at iRead Book Tours, to see the variety of reviews and articles available.
What genre do you write and why?
I chose the mystery/thriller genre mainly because I really enjoy creating over-the-top villains andlove to keep my readers at the edge of their seats. But I also chose this particular genre because of its popularity and mass appeal. I sometimes feel that the genre chose me because I am fascinated with the mind of a serial killer and the circumstances of their lives that made them walk down such a dark path.
How long have you been writing?
After successfully publishing a nonfiction book in 1992, I penned my first novel in 1993, but couldn’t get a publisher or agent to give me the time of day. I wrote a second novel and experienced the same results. I gave it one more try but the publishing world also passed on my third attempt. So, I gave up on writing for nearly fifteen years. But my inability to get published gnawed at me year after year. In 2008 I completed yet another novel and this time I got lucky andfound a publisher. Moral of the story: If writing is your passion, don’t give up because rejection is a prerequisite to success.
What do you think changed in the 15 years between your writing and publishing?
Did you continue to write on and off during that time?I think that the birth of self-publishing and E-Books have opened opportunities for many unknown authors who would otherwise never get a publishing deal. I’m a living example. After my long break from writing, I self-published They Never Die Quietly. It sold a few books here and there but an acquisition editor from a major publishing company read my book, loved it, and offered me a deal. They went on to publish my second and third novels. No, I did not write at all during the 15 year hiatus.
Have any of those earlier manuscripts been published since?
The short answer is, “yes.” I wrote I Do Solemnly Swear long before I signed a publishing deal for any book. It had been rejected everywhere quite a long time ago, but when I signed deals for my first two Sami Rizzo novels, I resurrected I Do Solemnly Swear from the dusty shelf in the closet, submitted it to my editor, and he offered me a deal. I guess it’s fair to say that I Do Solemnly Swear hitched a ride on the success of They Never Die Quietly and Resuscitation, Books 1 & 2 of the Rizzo series.
I Do Solemnly Swear sounds like an exciting political thriller. Did you consciously switch from political thriller to mystery suspense as a preference?
My response to the question above answers part of this question. My attitude and opinion of genre is rather unconventional. In my mind, the thriller genre is like an umbrella or main category. Under that umbrella are sub-genres like mystery, police procedurals, political thrillers, serial killer novels, suspense, medical thrillers, espionage, etc. So from my perspective, as long as I write under the “Thriller Umbrella,” I’m staying true to my chosen genre.
With the series underway, will you be writing more political thrillers as well?
I haven’t made that decision yet. If the third book in the Rizzo series does well and I also benefit from “backlist sales” (From the first two Rizzo books), I’ll likely write my fourth Rizzo book.
Did you intend for Sami Rizzo to be featured in a series, or did it grow into one as you write? I love how characters a writer creates can influence the direction the story takes!
Nope. When I wrote They Never Die Quietly, the first Rizzo book, I had no intention of making ita series. But in all honesty, it wasn’t Rizzo who influenced my decision; it was the sales numbers. Had the first book done poorly, there wouldn’t be a second and third.
Do you find yourself in the middle of a scene often when new ideas storm your mind? How do you handle them when that happens?
When I’m writing, new ideas, plot twists, subplots and a whole lot more bombard my mind nonstop. So that I never lose an idea, which could potentially weaken the book, I immediately make a footnote at the bottom of my working document. Then, when I’m finished writing for the day, I cut and paste all the ideas to a separate document I call, “Food for Thought.” During the editing process I revisit these ideas and I weave those that work well into the story.
I picture writers having a vast collection of ideas for future books. Is that true of you too? Can you share how you manage your ideas? That is, post-its everywhere? Computer program, a page in a notebook?
When I’m writing a book I’m focused on only that book and try not to get distracted by future projects. Naturally, lots of ideas pop into my head and I retain these ideas for future evaluation.How long do you spend developing a character before you write about them? Is it done ahead of time or do you get to know them as you write?
When I start a book, most of my characters are skeletons. They slowly develop as the story progresses. I’ve tried it the other way—developing characters before I write a book—but it just doesn’t work for me. Most of the time I don’t fully develop characters until I’m knee-deep in the editing process. As Sol Stein, one of the most esteemed editors of the last century once said, “There is no such thing as good writing; only good rewriting.” And this holds true to characterization.
Are you a detailed outliner or a “free” writer or both?
I’ve tried in vain to use a detailed outline, but it never works for me. In fact, it makes the whole writing process even more complicated. The flow of the story determines where I go and what happens from page to page. I’m a “Free Writer” to the 10th power!
Is the next book another Sami Rizzo Mystery?
Actually, I’m just about finished with the first draft of my 6th novel, More Than a Soldier, and it’s a dramatic departure from all my other books. Long story short, my uncle was an Army Ranger captured in Italy by the Nazis during World War II. He and two other Rangers pulled off a daring escape and my uncle spent five months hiding from the German soldiers trying to survive wandering the Italian countryside. Remarkably, after enduring a visit to hell, a group of French soldiers rescued him.
It’s an amazing tale, totally based on a true story, but I’m writing it as a novel so that I have the creative license to respectfully embellish the story. I am taking great carein making the story as historically correct as possible.
If there is one thing your readers got from your books, what would you like it to be?
Briefly stated, “Good always overcomes evil.”
What is the last great book you’ve read?
Just finished The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Set in Vietnam during the war, O’Brien’svivid descriptions of everyday life on the bloody battlefields of Vietnam pull you into the story and don’t let you go until you read the last page. The characters are well developed and the story is compelling. But what engages the reader most is his unique style of writing. Above all, O’Brien is a gifted storyteller.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I did up until Thomas & Mercer published, They Never Die Quietly in 2010. I had been an Account Executive for San Diego Gas & Electric, but when I started writing my next book I realized that I just couldn’t serve two masters. I took the plunge and retired from my “day job” a few years early. Since 2010, I have five published novels and am almost finished with number six. To me, writing requires my undivided attention. Many writers are productive holding a full-time job and writing in their spare time, but it just doesn’t work for me.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but writing is not as glamorous as it might seem. Few writers reach a level where they make tons of money and get invited as guests on talk shows. It’s a demanding, difficult career choice and it requires tremendous tenacity and discipline. It isn’t a job for the faint of heart. But I can tell you this: if crafting a story with vivid characters and page-turning suspense is your passion, then there are few jobs that offer more satisfaction.
Thank you so much for your time, Daniel. Best of luck with your upcoming books!
Book #3 – Book Description for A Piece of You:
Homicide Detective Sami Rizzo is at it again! She never dreamed “America’s Finest City,” would be tormented by yet another serial killer, but for the third time in the last five years a depraved maniac is stalking the streets of San Diego. Based on her qualifications and prior successes dealing with multiple murders, who else would Captain Davison assign to head the investigation?
Different from Sami’s past experiences, this fanatic is like no other. His methods of killing defy everything profilers think they know about serial killers. As an intense investigation begins and bits and pieces of evidence emerge, no one can understand his motivation. He’s merciful, yet brutal. And just to make things even more confusing, all of his victims are blood-related. Is he settling a vendetta? Did he randomly pick a name out of the phone book and begin a rampage? Or is there a deeper story?
Based on very little evidence and a lot of gut instincts, Detective Rizzo pieces together a complex puzzle and narrows the field of possible suspects. She learns that the killings may connect in some way to powerful people within the judicial system and doesn’t know who to trust. Ultimately, she comes face to face with the killer for a battle of brain and brawn. Can she outwit the shrewd killer, or will she be his next victim?
Buy the book: Amazon
Book # 2 – Book description for Resuscitation:
Two years ago, Detective Sami Rizzo narrowly escaped a brush with death at the hands of a serial killer. After apprehending the killer and bringing him to justice, this life-changing event compels her to resign from the police force. In her heart of hearts, however, she struggles with the decision. But a second serial killer—a well- respected doctor gone astray—uses his charm to seduce his victims and then performs horrific surgical experiments on them.
In a final act of depravity, he scatters their mutilated bodies throughout San Diego County. Feeling a sense of duty and obligation, Sami Rizzo appeals to the police chief and mayor, and they reinstate her as a homicide investigator. As the body count grows and the killer’s experiments become more and more brutal, Sami follows one dead-end lead after another, while trying to deal with a sickly mother and a turbulent relationship with her lover. But then the killer makes a crucial mistake: one of his victims survives. Sami does everything to protect the barely alive victim, but the killer has a different plan.
Buy the book: Amazon
Book # 1 – Book Description for They Never Die Quietly:
They Never Die Quietly tells the story of Homicide Detective Sami Rizzo, who is assigned to head a task force investigating serial killings in San Diego. Simon, the highly intelligent, cunning, and deceptively charming villain, redefines the depths of human evil. He believes God has given him absolute authority to purify his unholy victims through a ritual that ends in a grisly crucifixion.
Driven by warped religious beliefs and guided by his dead mother, very much alive in his subconscious, Simon abducts “chosen ones” and holds them captive in a Room of Redemption. There, the victims helplessly await their crucifixion. Detective Rizzo urgently yearns to solve the case and gain the respect of her male colleagues, but her obsession to apprehend the killer on her own clouds her thinking. When Simon outsmarts Rizzo and captures her, determined to make her his next victim, she must employ all her resources—both physical and intellectual—to outwit the villain at his own game.
Buy the book: Amazon
Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor specializing in full-length fiction, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, in 1992 while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly.
His second book, Resuscitation (Thomas & Mercer 2011), a follow-up to his first novel, hit #1 in Kindle sales in the UK and reached #26 in the USA. He is also the author of I Do Solemnly Swear (Thomas & Mercer 2012) and Hypocrisy. A Piece of You is his fifth novel, the third in the Detective Sami Rizzo series. A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.