I'm ready to post my weekly blog when suddenly James Baroni, author of The Legend of Rachel Petersen (see Brayton's Book Buzz from this previous Monday) storms into my apartment, grabs me by the collar and throws me into the transporter. Before I can recover, he flicks the switch and we're off to...
Hec if I know. Before I can tell him it'd be a nice sunny and warm day in Iowa, I find myself lounging on a private beach somewhere with the ocean before us, brie, crackers and shrimp cocktail, and a bucket of wine coolers between us, a Reggae band somewhere in the distance, and a seagull I hope won't crap on us or steal the food hovering above us. As Baroni flips away the shell of the crustacean I finally remember the usual round of questions...
1. Who is James Baroni and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
James Baroni is the proverbial “Jack of all Trades and Master of None”... until he puts his mind to it. Born under the sign of Taurus, I have a taste for fine food, music and the arts. Now with a paranormal novel on the market, the people in this town wonder what I will do next to top that achievement.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I think I surprised an awful lot of people when they read in the local newspaper that I had written a book. I was always known better for working with my hands, such as remodeling houses, as compared to being a serious writer.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a professional wrestler?
Ever since an early age, I always enjoyed great literature and thought, “I could write a story”. To me, writers always had that aura of charm and mystique, while enjoying that dignified persona of an intellect; perhaps just in the way they mastered the language and exemplified their imagination. I admired writers while being envious of them in the way the public adored them. Having just said that, I realize now that I must have subconsciously harbored a desire to achieve their status, to be recognized as a writer, and I challenged myself to reach that plateau, which I feel I have accomplished.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I would love to break bread with the greats such as Harold Robbins, Steinbeck, Twain and of course King and Spielberg, so I could pick their brain and learn to think as they do. How do they come up with an original idea, how do they write in general. Just to be in their presence would undoubtedly be an adrenalin rush.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
My book would take you away for the three hours it takes to read it, if only mentally. If you were ship wrecked, after enjoying my novel, then you could burn the book to cook the fish you caught.
6. Share the Baroni process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
I just start writing, page after page until I tire. Then when I start the next writing session, I rewrite a lot of what I wrote and add more pages. To some, it may seem an unorthodox process, but I usually always start at the beginning and fine tooth comb every word then add more. When I’m satisfied with the beginning couple of chapters, I’ll start the next ones in the same manner. When I feel the book is done, I read it from front to back several times, looking for any ways to improve it. Most of my characters are based on people I know or see on TV with an added bit of embellishment, or I make them up the way they need to be to fit the role in the story. I do research historical facts on Google, but I never use an outline. The story is written as it comes to me. I write when I have the time and I am in the right frame of mind.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Learn to do what works for you. Try different ways, such as an outline. However, the most important point is to put words on paper, or on the monitor; that is the basic start. Research how to write! Proper grammar and punctuation is a must.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Live each day as if it is your last day, for one day you will be right!
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
I wrote The Legend of Rachel Petersen in a manner that left an open avenue for a sequel. Several readers have already expressed hope that there will be a sequel, which makes me feel good.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
My loving wife built me a website, which I invite you all to visit, www.jtbaroni.com. I graciously thank you Stephen for this interview; a few of your questions were quite unexpected! Another Bartle and James, my kind Sir? The shrimp were exquisite!
Read A Spooky Ghost Story And Help Sponsor a Leader Dog!
Hello! And a big thanks to Stephen for having me as a guest on his blog!
I am pleased to announce that my book, The Legend of Rachel Petersen, has been released through Damnation Books, and I plan on donating a portion of my book’s proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This organization has been training Leader Dogs and placing them with blind people, free of charge, since 1939, and they have achieved this amazing feat all from donations.
I know all too well, both their generosity and the impact of their invaluable services. Furthering that statement, I also understand first handedly how strongly the visually impaired faithfully depend, trust, and rely on their dogs, whereas my older brother, Gene, has been blind since birth, and is on his third canine companion. As kids, my brother and I were constantly hand in hand. We went everywhere together. I was, in fact, Gene’s first Leader Dog!
We don’t get to visit each other as often as we would like, since Gene resides three hundred miles away in Philadelphia. However, the times I have visited my brother, I was impressed on how well Gene’s dog guided his blind master through the streets of The City of Brotherly Love. It’s absolutely amazing how smart these animals are. The people in Michigan do a fantastic job in training these Leader Dogs. Valor, Gene’s latest dog, is a beautiful Black Labrador Retriever, and when my brother puts the harness on Valor, that dog knows it is time to work. He even seems to enjoy riding the subway.
I live in a rural area of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and being the avid outdoorsman that I am, I spend a great deal of time in the woods, mostly within walking distance of my home. Last year, I came upon a lone grave in the woods, which inspired my paranormal tale. From years of weathering, the inscription was barely legible, it read, “Rachel Peterson, 1801 to 1899”. I changed the spelling of the last name and made my ghost character a young girl, which I feel gives the story a more realistic touch, while making the tale that much spookier.
But what is really ironic, and eerily enough, my story revolves around 39-year-old sports writer Christian Kane, who becomes outraged when The Pittsburgh Post Gazette overlooks him for a well-deserved promotion. Kane quits the Paper and moves to the country to write fiction. Inspiration flows from a grave he stumbles upon in the woods, with the headstone having the dates 1851 to 1853, which means the girl died during the Civil War. He is then compelled to pen The Legend of Rachel Petersen, a fascinating and horrific story based on the dead twelve-year-old girl laid to rest beneath the weathered tombstone. His book quickly climbs the Best Seller lists; then Hollywood makes it in to a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous, but only to have Rachel rise from the grave, seeking revenge on him for slandering her name! Or does she?
The Legend of Rachel Petersen is available both as an e-file at Damnation Books, http://www.damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=135, or in paperback at your favorite online bookstore such as Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Rachel-Petersen-J-T-Baroni/dp/1615725431, or visit my website, www.jtbaroni.com and check out my movie trailer on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVOmw2vH4gg. However, I forewarn any potential readers, I wrote this story with a mature audience in mind; it does contain adult content, and one scene in particular may be disturbing for young readers. Two specific stories majorly influenced my plot structure, The Devil’s Advocate and The Sixth Sense; both of which are my all time favorite movies. Therefore, two unforeseen twists come out of nowhere at the end of the story and smack you upside the head.
I would like to graciously thank everyone who helps support my cause; raising a puppy to Leader Dog status is extremely expensive, averaging forty five thousand dollars per sponsored dog.
In conclusion, thanks again for having me, Stephen, and I hope everybody enjoys my novel!