It is my great pleasure to introduce and showcase Dina Santorelli. Dina is a very talented and interesting lady and is the author of Baby Grand a modern day thriller about kidnap, family ties, loyalty, murder, betrayal, and love. To find out more about Dina and Baby Grand please read on:
Congratulations on publishing BABY GRAND, could you tell me what inspired you to write this novel?
I’ve always been a huge fan of thriller novels. I love the action, the suspense, the pacing. And for some reason I always thought I had it in me to write one. I had the idea for BABY GRAND for a long time, and I decided, gosh, about eight years ago that I was going to go back to college, to Hofstra University, and get my master’s degree and get to work on that first novel. I have many ideas for novels that I’ve accumulated over the years, and I just decided that BABY GRAND would be my first, simply because I knew how it was going to end.
Did you have to do much research for the book, for example visit locations or research particular themes?
I wouldn’t say I did THAT much research. My research for BABY GRAND consisted of googling things when I came to them – such as what a death row visitors’ room might look like – and then using that information, or not using it, to create my own vision. That’s where my journalism background came in handy – knowing how to research things quickly.
However, I did take a road trip to Albany, New York, back in May 2010 so I could get a feel for the city, particularly the governor’s Executive Mansion, which is an important setting for BABY GRAND. But again, I took notes and then maybe used them and maybe didn’t. That’s the fun of writing a novel. You can mix fact and fiction.
I see that you chose to self-publish the novel. Could you tell me how you feel about taking that route?
When I told one of my professors at Hofstra that I had decided to self-publish, she called it a “wise, brave choice.” I kind of agree with that assessment. I took a look at what was happening in publishing and what my experiences had been trying to publish BABY GRAND through traditional channels, and I decided to make a go of it on my own. I tend to be a self-starter, and as a journalist I am familiar with the ins and outs of promotion, and plus I blog and am a big social media user, so thought I could give self-publishing a solid try. And so far I’ve been happy with the results. The book has been extremely well received. As of today, BABY GRAND has 31 five-star reviews on Amazon, and it’s only been out a couple of months.
What do you view as the biggest challenge to being an author?
Marketing, for sure. It’s tough, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish. Getting noticed in a sea of titles. And because it’s so tough, we authors find ourselves constantly thinking about it. You’ll be lying in bed at 3 a.m. and say to yourself, “There’s something I can be doing RIGHT NOW to publicize my novel – a tweet, a blog comment, anything.” And it’s true. You can run yourself down or drive yourself crazy promoting 24/7. And many of us do, because we can, and we can do it inexpensively. Social media, in that respect, is a gift. But it’s important to use social media wisely and effectively, which is something you learn mostly by using it unwisely and ineffectively. Practice makes perfect.
Do you think it is important for a writer to stick to writing in one genre or do you view “variety as being the spice of life”?
I think writers should write whatever is in their heart. Right now, I’m interested in writing thrillers, but who knows? That may change one day.
I see as well as being a successful writer you have also interviewed some very famous people. Are you able to give an insight into this exciting work?
Over the years, as a journalist I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing all kinds of people. Most of the celebrities I’ve interviewed, such as James Gandolfini, Kevin Bacon, Tim McGraw and Larry the Cable Guy, were for articles written for FAMILY and SALUTE magazines, for which I serve as executive editor. Those are always a lot of fun, but I treat those interviews like I would any other. I make sure that I’m prepared, and that I’m respectful, professional, and accurate. In other words, I keep my gushing to a minimum.
And finally, do you have any advice or tips for other authors starting their journey?
Make time to write. It’s so important. I know it’s easy to let other things come first. Our lives are chock full of “important” things, but if you REALLY want to be a writer – I mean, REALLY – you have to put your writing right up there with all those other important things and commit to spending time each and every day developing your craft.
A freelance writer for over 15 years, Dina Santorelli has written for Newsday, First for Women and CNNMoney.com, among other publications. She served as the “with” writer for the well-received Good Girls Don’t Get Fat and most recently contributed to Bully, the companion book to the acclaimed film. Dina is the Executive Editor of Salute and Family magazines for which she has interviewed many celebrities, including James Gandolfini, Tim McGraw, Angela Bassett, Mario Lopez, Gary Sinise and Kevin Bacon. You can follow Dina on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and on her blog. Baby Grand, her 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, a handsome, charismatic 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.