I remember that feeling when I first held a copy of my book in my hands. It was like holding a little piece of magic. This week I’m sharing that experience with fellow Rainstorm author, Ronald DeStefano as his book, Shoegazer, is hot off the press. Let’s find out a bit more about Mr DeStefano:
Without giving too much away, tell us about your new book?
Shoegazer is my attempt to write a mystery in the style of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. But the character arc of the tough, smart-mouthed private eye is one that I didn’t think would translate to modern day particularly well. My protagonist, Max Donovan, is an under-achieving, part-time employee at a bar whose world is turned upside down when his boss is found murdered on the same morning that his friend and car go missing. Having no job to report to and no vehicle, Max decides to figure out what happened on his own, using what few details he knows, going around town to get his car back and learn what happened to his friend. This is, of course, just the beginning of what ends up being a bizarre journey for Max.
Where do your ideas come from?
I don’t think there’s any one place that ideas come from. For Shoegazer, I was really trying to do something simple. So what I did was come up with the basic premise and just started writing, figuring out the details as I went along. It wasn’t until I reached the end that I realized who had done what, who had been involved and why they were doing what they were doing. That can be a frustrating way to write, I have a few drafts that are unrecognizable to the final version, but it was the only way I could do the story. I felt that if I had planned all the details out ahead of time, then the conclusions would be too obvious. This is all a long way of saying that my ideas come about in the midst of writing. And when I’m trying to sleep. And in the shower.
Who is your most fascinating character, and why?
Max’s pseudo-investigation leads him to a bar called Revolver. And while there he meets a five-piece rock band by the name of Ethereality. I think Ethereality is the most fascinating group of characters I’ve written. In talking to them, Max realizes that they are the victims of the brain-altering experiment and have been tricked into believing that they had died and been resurrected and were currently walking around in the afterlife. And, because of this, Ethereality feels no responsibility or drive to achieve anything. Everyday for them is a holiday and so they spend their time drinking, playing music, and discussing their philosophies of life and the nature of the afterlife. Anytime you can write contemplative characters, that’s an enjoyable thing to do.
Are any of your characters based on people you know or have met?
No, not specifically. I don’t really subscribe to the Kerouac philosophy of writing where fiction is a translation of reality. But you can’t help basing certain things off of real life. Any parent you write is in some way a reflection of your own, secondary characters are reflections of your friends and people you’ve encountered in the past, etc. But, there isn’t one character I’ve written that I say arose out of a real world counterpart.
Which is your favourite chapter/scene, and why?
Chapter Fifteen. It’s the moment in the story where Max understands why all the people in town are acting the way they are. He sees firsthand the process by which the people around him come to believe they had died and are born again. Plus, I got to write one of those boring educational films you watch in health class, except mine describes why earth is where people come to be reborn. How many chances am I going to get to write something like that?
How do you plan to promote your novel?
The digital space is the way things seem to be done nowadays. I’m on Twitter: @ronalddestefano, and have a blog I try to maintain as often as possible: ronalddestefano.com. And if I can plug one more thing, I’m in a band called Kid Everything (facebook.com/kideverything) and we’re arranging with some local bookstores to let us play acoustic sets where I’ll have copies of my book available.
What can readers expect from you next, and when can they expect it?
I have another novel completed. It’s by far my longest and most ambitious work—110,000 words, more than 400 pages in book format. For this one, I’m trying to go the traditional route and land an agent to represent me. It seems to be a futile exercise in today’s marketplace, but I’m giving it a try. I’m also in the process of writing a comic book with an artist friend of mine from college.
Describe your current work in progress in less than 15 words?
A comic book where an alien race is attempting to steal earth’s sun.
What is your writing routine and how do you balance your writing with your other commitments?
I’m a late night writer, early morning editor. So pretty much when everybody else is going to sleep, I get in a few hours of writing. And then when I wake up, I look over what I had written and make any necessary changes.
Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Not really. There was a period in my writing where I was unable to finish anything I started. That’s mostly what I experience, it’s more of a writer’s fatigue. When I hit the 1/3 point in a novel, I have a sudden bout of insecurities and I start to question whether or not the project is worth following through on and the usual mental tug of war that most writers go through. But I’m not usually stuck plot-wise. I don’t usually sit down to write unless I have an idea of what I want to write about.
Name one of your favourite books and how it has influenced your life.
By far my favorite book of all time is Don DeLillo’s White Noise. For me, it really introduced the idea of abstract thought and ideas in a way that was both thought provoking and entertaining. It really showed me what fiction could do, how it could stir ideas and emotions in a reader through a bizarre and postmodern plotline. I try to read it at least once every year. But everybody I recommend the book to ends up not enjoying it. And so it feels more personal to me. Like it was written just for me.
What’s been the most memorable event in your life to date, and why?
This is going to seem a bit obvious, but the moment Shoegazer got accepted for publication was probably the most memorable event in my life so far. I have been writing since I was 17, after picking up a copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke, and I had written a few novels over the years to no success. And so to finally have something accepted for publication, after eight years of rejections, was a pretty big deal for me.
Where would you choose as an ideal holiday destination, and why?
I know this is a stereotypical American answer, but I would like to travel around Europe, hitting all the typical touristy places. As an American, all of our buildings and cities were built in recent memory, so there’s no history attached to any of it. I think it would be nice see an area that dated back further than the 1700s.
What secret will your readers will be surprised to hear about you?
I was arrested my freshman year of college and I spent an entire day in jail. Me and a friend were throwing things out of my 15th floor dorm window and when the cops came knocking on my door, I took the fall, thinking the punishment would be a slap on the wrist. But then they cuffed me and my friend, drove us downtown, processed us, and threw us in the slammer with drug dealers and murderers. It was a pretty awful day.
First and last line of a novel you would love to write?
This is a tough question. I think Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is unique in that it has both the best opening line to a novel I’ve ever read (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”) and, by far, the greatest closing line as well (“It’s a far, far better thing that I do…”). So I’ll say that I wish I had been the one to have written it.
Quick Fire Questions:
5 star hotel or backpack? Hotel. I don’t like bugs.
Espresso or latte? Espresso.
Plotter or panster? Panster. I find every time I try to write from an outline, I lose interest or ending up rewriting the outline to reflect what I’ve written.
Drummer or lead singer? Drummer. Guitarist, actually. But I can’t sing.
Favourite real person? Martin Scorsese. He’s someone who understands the medium he works in, is able to tell personal stories that are entertaining and reach a wide audience. That’s every creative person’s dream. Plus, his movies are amazing.
Favourite fictional character? This is going to make me sound like such a dork, but Batman is my favorite fictional character. Just by how many different reincarnations of the character there have been in movies, television, and comic books—there is no real end to the amount of interpretations the character lends itself to. And his Rogues Gallery are by far the most interesting antagonists in all of fiction.
Burger and chips or Michelin star? Burger and chips.
Theatre or cinema? Cinema, hands down.
Sports car or campervan? Sports car.
Safari or Cruise? Safari.
Great interview, Ronald! Thank you so much for gracing my blog. I wish you all the best with Shoegazer . It has been placed firmly on my reading pile.
Ronald DeStefano is the author of the end of the world romance, Say Nothing or Say Anything, and the existential mystery novel, Shoegazer (Rainstorm Press). He has had work appear in Dark Fountain, Sub Text Underground, and Poictesme, and will be featured in the forthcoming Rainstorm Press Anthology. He plays guitar in his spare time and is 1/2 of the musical duo, Kid Everything. He currently resides in Upstate New York.
You can buy Shoegazer here
Read Ronald’s blog here
Link to listen to his band, Kid Everything: http://kideverything.bandcamp.com/
Follow Ronald on Twitter: @ronalddestefano