Please join me in welcoming Dina Santorelli to my blog. Her novel, Baby Grand, has both a rocking cover and takes place only a half hour away from my hometown. Albany, NY is someplace I visit frequently. I am going to have to read this based on that and the fact that I'm a sucker for an abduction tale.
Dina, Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a freelance writer/editor who has written for many print and online publications, such as Newsday, First for Women and CNNMoney.com. I served as the “with” writer for the nonfiction title, Good Girls Don't Get Fat (Harlequin, 2010), and am the current Executive Editor of Salute and Family magazines for which I’ve interviewed many celebrities, including James Gandolfini, Tim McGraw, Angela Bassett, Mario Lopez, Gary Sinise and Kevin Bacon. It’s a great gig.
Unbelievably awesome job, Dina. Count me totally jealous.
What books do you have available and if you have more than one, which is your favorite?
Baby Grand, my first novel, is available on Amazon.
In Albany, New York, the governor’s infant daughter disappears without a trace from her crib at the Executive Mansion. Hours later, newly divorced and down-and-out writer Jamie Carter is abducted from the streets of Manhattan. Jamie is whisked upstate, where she is forced by her captor, Don Bailino, an ex-war hero/successful businessman, to care for the kidnapped child in a plot to delay the execution of mobster Gino Cataldi – the sixth man to be put to death in six years by hardliner Governor Phillip Grand. What prevails is a modern-day thriller about family ties, loyalty, murder, betrayal, and love that’s told in deftly interweaving narratives that follow the police investigation of the missing Baby Grand, the bad guys who took her, and the woman who found the strength to protect her.
Authors tend to read and write in multiple genres. Which are your favorites? Do you write in one or more than one?
I LOVE the thriller genre and thought I might have a knack for it. Baby Grand, a thriller, was published at the end of May 2012, and already has gotten three 5-star reviews. So happy! My next novel, In the Red, also is a thriller, but has a bit of romance mixed in.
Who are your favorite authors and which are your favorite books?
I’m a big fan of thriller writers, such as Michael Crichton, John Grisham, David Baldacci and James Patterson. One of my all-time favorite books was The Day After Tomorrow by Allan Folsom.
Tell us about your writing. What is your process?
My process is basically to just sit down and start writing. I’ll have a general idea – I’ll know how the story begins and how it ends. (I can’t stress the importance, for me, of knowing the ending, because it keeps me focused, like a beacon in the darkness.) I put together an outline while I’m writing the middle of the book, and that helps guide me during those really tough writing days and gets me through that first draft. After that, it’s just constant revision. It’s in the editing that the magic of the novel happens—the first draft is pretty much just a skeleton. Most of the details are added during the editing process.
How long does it take for you to complete a novel and what is the most important advice you can give to a new author?
I had the idea for Baby Grand for many years, but started writing it seriously during my last semester of grad school in February 2009. I worked on it for four months, and by May I had about one-third of it done. I spent most of the next year procrastinating and stalling, mostly because I had been helping to write a nonfiction title, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, authored by Dr. Robyn Silverman. When that was done by the end of 2009, I landed my agent in January 2010 and knew I had to get cracking. Again, I stalled, and worried. I started my blog in March to help give myself a kick in the butt. Finally, at the end of June 2010, I forced myself to write 1,000 words a day. Every day. And I mean forced—come hell or high water. In six weeks, I had written 42,000 words and had a first draft completed. So, in total, it took me about six to eight months of serious writing to complete the first draft of Baby Grand.
The most important advice I can give to writers is to believe in themselves. Always. Trust their voice. A writer-friend of mine, Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone, once said: “Don’t give up. Try to say things in a way only you can say them, and then just keep at it until someone notices. And eventually someone will notice.” I agree completely.
Are you independent or traditionally published?
With an agent, I originally intended to traditionally publish Baby Grand, but in the end I chose to self-publish. I believe that all it takes is for an editor to fall in love with your book to snag a traditional publishing deal. Although I knew that editor was out there, self-publishing became too tempting to ignore. As I told my agent, “Let’s give it a try.”
Do you have aspirations to be either or both?
What I really want is for my books to be out there, to be read. For Baby Grand, I think self-publishing is the right road. For my next book? Who knows.
What has been your biggest writing challenge?
One of my biggest writing challenges was getting past that “middle of the book” malaise. After writing 100 or so pages of Baby Grand, I found myself floundering—I had lost my way and became worried, felt myself straying. I had started quite a few other books before Baby Grand and had quit, or forgotten about, or gotten bored with, them, and I refused to have that happen again.
How did you overcome it?
I had to find a way to push through, to not give up. That’s where the outline was critical. It provided a blueprint that I was able to follow through to the end. For example, if I was looking at a blank page—and we all know how nerve-wracking that is—that said “Chapter 51,” my outline would tell me that Chapter 51 was all about moving the plot from Point A to Point B. I would have something to work with. I no longer felt like I was alone and drowning. Instead, I felt like I had been given a life preserver and was pulling myself to shore. Sure, it was still hard work, but it beats feeling lost and disoriented.
What’s next for you? Tell us about any upcoming projects
After I finish writing In the Red, I’ll be writing the sequel to Baby Grand. After that, I might switch gears and try young adult or literary fiction. I’m not sure yet.
When you aren’t writing, what is your favorite pastime?
Reading, watching films, spending time with my family. My kids have been a trooper through all this. We became the fast-food family there for a while.
How can readers find you? Insert FB, Twitter, and blog links here.
Readers can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and on my blog, Making ‘Baby Grand.’ Please be sure to say hi. I’d love to meet you!
Thank you for interviewing with me.
Thank you, Belinda!