Friday, January 3, 2014



1. When did you decide to become a writer?

Writing found me—I was thirty-four and taking a mandatory arts appreciation class at a local community college (I was trying to get a degree in criminal justice).
As our final, each student had to come up with some kind of artistic endeavor. I had always been a great reader, and thought, “I know…I’ll write a short story!”
So I did. Not surprisingly, it was about a young patrolman in a race to apprehend an increasingly violent (but as yet unidentified) burglar. My professor liked it and recommended I submit it for publication, which I did.
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine published it and I caught writing fever.

2. What authors influenced you growing up? What authors do you enjoy today?

My earliest influences were Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and Edgar Allan Poe.
I couldn’t get enough.
Later, I would discover H.P. Lovecraft, Oscar Wilde, Flannery O’Connor, Ruth Rendell, and Graham Greene.
It was their writing, as well as that of many, many others, that got me to reading in the first place. Without that I would never have progressed to writing.
Some authors I like today are Cormac McCarthy, Madison Smart Bell, and Robert Ghiradi.

3. You were a former policeman, and that influenced The Thirteenth Child. Will you continue to use your past as a theme in future books?

Yes, though not, strictly speaking, in an autobiographical sense. I’ve been around a while, done a lot of things, and been a lot places. Like most writers, I write what I know.

4. You were featured in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Readers Award. Can you tell the readers about the story that won you the award and how it felt to be the recipient of it?

I’ll answer the second question first—it felt GREAT! The story was called, “Ibrahim’s Eyes,” and concerned a survivor of the Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983.
Currently a clerk at a convenience store, we follow his preparations for a confrontation with some particularly murderous robbers who specialize in leaving no witnesses alive.
At the same time, we flash back to his tour of duty in Lebanon leading up to, and following, the bombing that cost 241 marines their lives.

5. Will you continue to publish your stories in EQMM?

So long as the editor will buy them.
I have a pretty good track record with EQMM, which I hope to continue.

6. What are some of the anthologies your work has been featured in (to give readers more to enjoy from your mind)?

“A Salesman’s Tale” in The Deadliest Games published by Carroll and Graf 1993; also in The Haunted Hour published by Berkley Mystery 1995.  “Don’t Fear The Reaper” in Law And Order, published by Berkley Mystery 1997.  “Falling Boy” was in Supernatural Sleuths, published by ROC Fiction 1996.  “Whistle” in Mystery-The Best Of 2001, published by iBooks 2002.
“The Vengeance Of Kali” in The Interrogator (a collection) Cemetery Dance Publications 2013, and “Tomorrow’s Dead” (Nominated for Edgar and Derringer Awards) in The Detective Megapack: 30 Modern and Classic Tales of Mystery and Detection by Wildside Press.

7. What was the inspiration behind The Thirteenth Child?

The idea began as a short story I wrote (never published) that featured a child vampire.
That story got me to thinking long and hard about the whole body of literature, from Dracula to I Am Legend.  Then one day it just hit me—how about a vampire that is in no way supernatural, but at the same time not human? Once I fleshed out that concept, the novel began to write itself.

8. Why did you make Gabriel unlike most popular vampires? Why stray from the path?

It was such a worn path, and I was particularly put off by the current crop of glam-pires, for lack of a better term.
They’re less frightening than Tinker Bell having a melt-down. Horror fans deserved better. On the site I go into a lot of detail regarding Gabriel’s history and background for those who might be interested.

9. Will readers get to enjoy any more stories featuring characters from The Thirteenth Child?

At the moment, I have no plans for that, though I have toyed with the idea of a prequel to TTC—Gabriel’s long history lays a lot of foundation.
Father Gregory Savartha has actually already appeared in a number of mystery/suspense stories, though this is his first outing in a horror setting.

10. You set the story where you live, in New Jersey. Was it your familiarity with the area or something else that made you choose it as your setting?

Familiarity, certainly, but it is also uniquely suited as both the region’s history and geography serve the story well for atmosphere and background. If any of the readers are curious about what, to some, may appear as a peculiar location for the story, let me suggest my blog “Gabriel Land” at .
You may be surprised by what you learn about South Jersey.

11. Were any characters based on real people?

Only Father Gregory comes close.  He is loosely based on a Catholic priest that I know, like, and respect very much.
Nick Catesby, the police chief, is nothing like me—he’s too tall and good-looking, though I am smarter—I created him, after all, not the other way round.

12. The Catholic Church plays a part in the story. What does the Faith mean to you or is it a symbol/metaphor for something else in the story?

I am a Catholic and it plays a large role in my life, but the inclusion of the Father Gregory character was in order to provide a counter-point to Preston Howard and Gabriel.
Preston is so intensely self-centered and arrogant that he is, at first, unable to see the real menace that Gabriel presents to the children of Wessex Township.
He can only view him in terms of a discovery that will vault him back into prominence; vindicate him against his detractors.
Without fully understanding what Preston is referring to, Father Gregory warns him, nonetheless, of the soul-threatening perils of pride and vanity; the importance of man’s role as protector of the weak and vulnerable.

13. Would you like to see The Thirteenth Child made into a movie? If yes, who would you like to play your characters?

Of course, but I have no idea who to cast.  I do know that I don’t want Tom Cruise in the movie…or anywhere near my couch.

14. Do you have any new books in the works? If yes, can you please give us some insights to them?

Tumblar Press is publishing my novel, The Purple Robe next year.
It concerns a young, and rather inept, Mexican priest who finds himself unwillingly assigned to investigate a cult in the Yucatan jungle.
The ancient woman who heads this group claims she is in possession of a sacred relic capable of miracles.
Even as the priest investigates, an American couple and a shady police captain are also trying to get their hands on it.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

I’ll try.
One: I’ve been married for thirty-five years which surprises me.  I think it surprises my wife even more.
Two: I was once a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Now I don’t even like to climb a ladder to clean the gutters.
Three: I was a high school drop-out.
Hopefully this will be a surprise to those who have read TTC (my greatest fear is that it won’t).
I did get a GED, however, and a few years of college under my belt later.
My advice—stay in school, kids!

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