Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed live about 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story, by Meagan Paese on her great radio show, The History of Rock and Roll, which is broadcast on Knight Radio from the studios of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. We chatted about the book and Meagan spun some Beatles tunes from the 1965-1966 era, when the book takes place. To hear this entertaining and informative show, go to the website www.thehistoryofrockandroll.net. You can also check out past shows such as the one I contributed to. Thanks, Meagan!
This week I had the pleasure of being a guest on Teaflix Tuesdays, a live video show hosted by Dr. Angie McCartney, Sir Paul's stepmom, and his stepsister Ruth. We chatted about the Beatles thread that runs through all of the T.J. Jackson Mysteries, and the thought process behind 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story, which I'm happy to say the ladies thoroughly enjoyed. Their show is light and entertaining, and I was made to feel most welcome. So, thanks to the McCartneys - I think you're brilliant!
Here's the link to the show:
Recently I had the pleasure of being a guest on two fantastic podcasts which centered on my novel 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story (Ionian Press) and my continuing Beatles thread in the T.J. Jackson Mysteries series (Fire & Ice Books).
First, The Talkback with Adam Mace is "a show about ordinary people and their extraordinary passions." Hosted by NYC-based theater director and playwright Adam Mace, the show provides fresh guests, topics, entertainment and inspiration. We had a great time discussing my books and all things Beatles in Episode 75, entitled "John Lennon: 40 Years Later."
Then, I appeared on the Get Back to the Beatles podcast on the Boston Podcast Network, co-hosted by Boston radio personality Chachi Loprete and Prof. David Gallant of Suffolk University. These guys are Beatles experts on every level, and David even teaches a Beatles college course! Along with fellow Beatles author Mark Brickley, we had fun comparing Mark's nonfiction book Postcards from Liverpool to my historical fiction, and explored the challenges/rewards of working in these genres when applied to the Fab Four. Here are the links to both podcasts, and I hope you become a fan of the shows, as I have!
Recently I did my first-ever author exchange, with my book, 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story, going to Texas, for Patricia Gallo Stenman’s Diary of a Beatlemaniac. All things considered, I think I got the best of the deal!
Patti’s book is her actual diary which she kept from 1963-1967. Besides giving insight into the complex workings of a teenage girl’s mind, it is a chronicle of the Beatles’ conquering of America from the Ed Sullivan Show in February of ’64 to the groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper album in ’67(BTW, she saw them live THREE times). As the years progress Patti grows up, finding her way in a blue-collar Italian family in Philadelphia, while attending a restrictive all-girls Catholic high school. There are too many poignant moments in the story to count, but I can tell you that although she was a few years ahead of me in school, I laughed out loud at some of our shared Catholic school experiences. I also found many similarities between Patti and her “Beatle Buddy” girlfriends at the time and my Marnie Culpeper character in 30 Minutes. We’re talking total Beatle devotion here, folks.
But as the reader will see, Patti was no fantasy-crazed airhead. Her entries are insightful, and it’s fascinating to see her naïveté slowly fall away as she matures. One can also understand why a career in journalism was ultimately in the cards for this introspective young lady, and how her determination and ingenuity would lead her to not only befriend a member of the Beatles’ circle (actor Victor Spinetti, who appeared in all three Beatles films) but to have a published column in the Philadelphia Daily News while still a teen.
When I guess I’m saying here is that if you really want to know (or remember) what it was like growing up during Beatlemania, you’ve got to check out Diary of a Beatlemaniac (Cynren Press, available on Amazon. Also visit the website diaryofabeatlemaniac.com). You will not be disappointed. I’m glad I’ve gotten to make the acquaintance of this fantastic author and fellow Beatles fan!
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to do an interview with Daniel Sam,, AKA Plastic EP, a musician/comedian/interviewer, from Melbourne, Australia, who has a Beatles related Facebook page. "Plastic" has interviewed many musicians, DJs, members of the Beatles inner circle, Beatle book authors, etc. over the past few months, but I was the first novelist to chat with him. Of course, the subject was my historical fiction novel 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story. It was great fun connecting LIVE with this man on the other side of the world, where we were actually one day apart! Plastis is quite a character, and our interview has well over 1,000 Facebook views and counting. You can check it out by clicking
As Plastic would say, "It' a Ripper!"
In the midst of this current national tragedy, we are all concerned about ways to make things better. Finding avenues to discuss these problems isn’t always easy, but popular literature — especially for our young people — can be an effective and valuable tool. Ideally, a reader should be able to imagine his or herself in the shoes of one or more characters in a book and ask, “What would I do in this situation?” As a longtime educator, I always challenged my students to examine multiple perspectives in literature/social issues, even if it was sometimes uncomfortable. Perhaps this is because I’ve had the opportunity to teach in districts that were vastly different, both financially and culturally.
This is why I have made it a point to include the theme of understanding and appreciation of other races, creeds and cultures in my stories. If you know young people in the adolescent age group, I would humbly recommend these books from my catalog: Spirits of the Pirate House examines the history of slavery on the idyllic island of Bermuda, and its connection to piracy in the Caribbean; Roberto’s Return centers upon the struggles of acceptance in the U.S. of the famed Latino ballplayer Roberto Clemente; Curse of the Fairfield Witch deals with religious intolerance in the 1600s; The Voodoo Cult’s Treasure explores the sometimes difficult blending of cultures and religions in New Orleans, going back to the Antebellum Era; and 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story contains realistic depictions of both religious and racial injustice in the mid-60s American South. These themes are conveyed through characters such as Veronique “Ronnie” Goodwin in the T.J. Jackson books, and Marnie Culpeper/Myles Goldfarb/Tillie in 30 Minutes.
It is my hope that the situations presented in these books will make my readers think about things a little more deeply. As I see it, that’s the first step in improving our American society going forward.
This past Sunday we again took part in the Trumbull Arts Festival on the Village Green, and the results were fantastic. Due to a combination of great weather and a big crowd (not to mention some good books) we had our most successful sales day by far. Purchases of the T.J. Jackson Mysteries, The Rovers: A Tale of Fenway, and 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story, were brisk, with customers requesting multiple titles. We can't wait for next year's festival! Special thanks to event coordinator Emily Areson and those volunteers who helped with the setup and breakdown.
This past week I had the pleasure of making a personal appearance at the The Watermark in Bridgeport to discuss the story behind my latest book, 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story. We mixed in some vintage videos and a slide show with our talk, and everyone had a great time. We hope to return to The Watermark in the future. Thanks to Sue Kennedy for the invitation and her hospitality!
This past Thursday I again had the pleasure of doing a speaking engagement at the Bigelow Senior Center in Fairfield on my latest book, 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story. And it proved what I've always believed: The Fab Four are timeless! My audience obviously enjoyed the slideshow and videos we'd prepared, and found themselves singing along at times. I ended going way over my planned speaking time and nobody seemed to mind. Afterwards, a bunch of us posed for a group photo, and many copies of the book were sold. Yeah, yeah, yeah! Special thanks for the invitation to event coordinator Margaret Andrews, my wife Maria for manning the computer, a young volunteer named Noah for helping us iron out some technical glitches, and my best buddy Matty Paul for stopping in to add his insights and memories of the Fab Four. A splendid time was had by all.
I was pleasantly surprised to find my name in the acknowledgements for Jane Leavy’s fine biography of Babe Ruth, The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created (HarperCollins 2018). I was mentioned for the small role I played in her exhaustive research for the book as a link from my late friend and mentor, Bob Creamer, and friend Leigh Montville, whose Ruth biographies preceded Jane’s. As the person given the task of organizing Bob’s voluminous papers for inclusion to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s archives, I got to know Leigh, and later, Jane. What a thrill to see my books displayed alongside theirs in the Hall of Fame bookstore.
Over the years I have learned how important it is to thank everyone for their help on any book I write, whether it’s a T.J. Jackson Mystery or works of historical fiction like The Rovers: A Tale of Fenway or 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story. Jane is a class act all the way, and if you haven’t read her other fine biographies on Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle, you should. Each reflects her meticulous attention to detail and getting the facts right.
Although showing up in other authors’ books is always gratifying (thanks again T.S. O’Connell and Stew Thornley), I am always reminded that in this sometimes cold business, acknowledging the help or kindness of others goes a long way. So if you’re a Yankee fan or just love baseball and its lore, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Big Fella today. You will not be disappointed!
My thoughts on past, present and future ideas relating to my writing.