In your own words, please describe your book….
I’d describe Spiral as the story of a small town boy who tries not to fall for the girl who is falling from grace. It’s a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the life of a starlet as she struggles with personal loss, suffers media scrutiny, and seeks security in her insecure world.
What is the genre?
This book was designed for the older end of Young Adult, but it really can apply to all ages, with some parent supervision for the Middle Grade readers. It is a Contemporary Romance and a bit Chick Lit, but it deals with some very trying situations and moral dilemmas that anyone my age and older would be drawn to.
What inspired you to write this book?
I used to write plays for students at my first school, and one play I wrote was about a family at a holiday dinner, where all sorts of characters would be present – the zany aunt who acts younger than she should, the nerdy cousin, the teenage mean girls. I needed a lot of characters to cover the 14 kids in the class, so I threw in a celebrity cousin and her assistant for good measure. It definitely added a twist on the usual family dinner premise. The play was a huge hit, and my little actors and actresses really made it come alive. One summer, I returned to it and began writing a Middle Grade book based solely on the play. My interests in YA and celebrity news kind of took over, though. The finished product contained very real, mature struggles that young Hollywood actors and actresses face, including articles that read like a gossip site’s news feed.
Will this book be a standalone or part of a series?
Spiral is the first volume in a three book series. The series will follow Jack and Cherie into the following year. Book 2, Twist, will mature with them, and it will take a very dark turn by the end that the audience will never expect. Twist is near completion, and I’m so excited to write book three, Unravel! It will be a real challenge to write the third installment.
What message would you like to convey with this book?
Oh boy…I didn’t want to get on my soapbox, but here goes: As a teacher, I regularly look out for the welfare of children, advising them when I think they are making mistakes, sabotaging their learning and friendships, or destroying their reputations. I am very worried for the young people in Hollywood who lack the benefit of a strong, positive adult presence in their lives. Too many people write these celebrities off as spoiled, arrogant brats who deserve what they get, but I disagree. I think they suffer from a fundamental lack of ethical and strict adult supervision. If they could be an undergrad in college, they qualify as a kid who still needs guidance and consequences. I hope this book sends the message that all is not what it seems for young Hollywood and sometimes these kids just need someone else looking out for them. Someone who says the word they probably never hear: NO.
What books are similar to this one?
L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad, Stargirl by Jerry Spinell
Where can readers find your book?
Can you tell us some about the writer behind the book?
I’m Italian, so my childhood revolved around family dinners, and my experiences inspired the opening scenes to Spiral. I am married to a wonderful husband who somewhat influenced Jack’s development as a character. As I mentioned, I teach, and I love teaching Theater to kids – I actually majored in Theater Arts at the University of Miami. As a teacher, reading kind of comes with the territory. I recently read Wonder, the first book to ever make me cry.
During my free time, I shop, am obsessed with baking cupcakes (it’s an art form, I swear!) and go to the gym, where I take spin and Zumba classes regularly. I’m a huge animal lover and would love to be the kind of writer who uses her influence to support shelters and bring awareness to animal welfare causes.
Tell us one thing about you we wouldn’t know?
I have an uncanny talent for video games. I sort of grew up on Nintendo – my sister is five years older than me, so I was younger than the average player and learned early. I will challenge anyone to a game of Mario Kart, and I will probably win. You’ve been warned.
What has been the best moment in your writing career?
Holding the proof copy of Spiral in my hand, the first of many books I plan to publish. I looked at it and said, “We did it, Daddy.” My father passed from an awful bout with brain cancer a few years ago, and he had always wanted to see me become a writer. I really did this for him; otherwise, I probably would have gone the traditional route of finding a publisher and an agent.
How do you come up with the titles of your book?
I usually look for a single word that can represent many different themes in the book. For instance, Spiral represents Jack’s spiral out of control as much as Cherie’s, and it also represents the whirlwind that is created over any significant news story surrounding a celebrity. They’ve come fairly easily so far, but that’s not to say there weren’t a few “working titles” that got the axe.
How long does it take you to finish a novel?
Spiral took me about a year to write. Twist is proving to be more time consuming, perhaps because I am writing from the perspective of Cherie, too. I’ve been writing one book, called Testament, since 2008.
How can readers connect with you?
I would LOVE to hear from readers. I think all any writer wants is for readers to ask questions and share their feelings and opinions. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or let’s tweet! @dirterazzi
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Twist, Spiral’s sequel, and a YA Paranormal book titled Testament. It’s about Lucifer coming back to set the record straight and reclaim power over the world, and it is so much fun to write. When Twist is published, I will begin working on Unravel, the third and final installment in the Spiral Series. When the Spiral Series is over, I have big plans to start a New Adult series called Bitchiquette.
Do you have any other books already released?
No, Spiral is my debut novel, my “first born” as I affectionately refer to it.
Thanks for letting us interview you!
Anytime! I really enjoyed participating and can’t wait to connect with readers!