Thursday, March 24, 2011

Awesome Author: Interview with Steve Piacente (Bella)

This new author that I interviewed I met quite unexpectedly.  I am sure you already know how I got to snag Bella from a book giveaway, but what I have not yet told you is along with the book, I was also able to develop a friendship with its awesome author, Steve Piacente.

Steve is very down to earth and has a lot of zeal, especially in promoting his book that is as equally awesome as its author.  Read my review of Bella for proof.  This is what I enjoy most in blogging about books:  I not only get to read amazing stories, I also get to make friends with lots of people, bloggers and authors, who have very interesting personalities and are very eager to share their love for reading and creating stories.

Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know yet. 

The Bella self-publishing project is very much a family affair.  One of my daughters designed, and her boyfriend coded it. His brother is an artist who drew the sketches that accompany the excerpts. My older daughter is in public relations and helped write our press releases, and my wife has come up with some great marketing ideas, like our “message in a bottle.” See:

What made you decide to write a story that revolves around the Pentagon and the military? 

I’m going to disagree slightly with the premise of the question. To me, the story revolves around the relationship between Bella and Dan. I was less interested in the military backdrop than the ethical decisions that drive the action, both on the battlefield and in the bedroom. I have always been fascinated by actions people take when they think no one is watching. 

You wrote this book and published it yourself as well.  What made you decide to go indie, and how did the self-publishing process go? 

There used to be just one way to enter  the literary castle. You wrote your book, wooed the agents, and hopefully landed one who could get you a publisher. If you didn’t get the agent, you didn’t get into the castle, plain and simple. Technology’s changed the landscape, to my mind for the better. We self-published Bella and are in the process of getting it before average people without the help of any middlemen. That means real people will decide if the novel is worth reading. That said, an author takes on a big challenge when he or she moves from creative writing to creative marketing. We have taken on that challenge by crafting a web site that features a video trailer, an interactive reader map, and illustrated excerpts. We are also well represented on Facebook - please friend us: -  YouTube and Twitter. Finally, I am writing a how-to blog on self-publishing (Back Story) that tells how we’ve reached this point. The most recent post features a TV interview that was actually a lot of fun: 

When you decide to write another book, are you going to self-publish again? 

I’m having a lot of fun so far, and it’s been a wonderful challenge, but I’m going to reserve judgment on that one for the time being. 

Do you personally know any real-life version of Bella?  If yes, did you ever – at anytime you’ve known such person – think that you would be using her for a character in a future book? 

Over a long reporting career, I covered several tragic events, including the murder of Adam Walsh in Hollywood. I have always been interested in how people respond to profound grief – in the Walsh case, parents John and Reve channeled their grief into action by lobbying the state legislature in Tallahassee to pass tougher child protection laws. Others in similar situations became very withdrawn and shunned the spotlight. The Bella character is a mix of people like this that I covered during my reporting days. 

How were you able to balance your writing with other aspects of your life? 

It’s tricky, because inspiration strikes at the oddest moments. I like to write in the early morning, while it’s still quiet and peaceful. That’s not always possible. In the end, I think it comes down to being organized and a bit disciplined. 

Scenario:  A fire broke out in your house’s kitchen.  What is the first thing you will save? 

Assuming everyone’s out of the house, I would save the picture of my wife and myself, taken more than three decades ago when we were in our teens. 

The fire now reaches your library.  What are five books you will take with you on your way out? 

That’s easy. We don’t have a library. If we did, however, I would snag: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, American Pastoral by Philip Roth, Rabbit at Rest by John Updike, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. 

Will we ever see your reporter Dan Patragno in another novel? 

Yes - In one of his first assignments, rookie reporter Dan stumbles on a decades-old secret. It began simply enough - two boys were planning to sneak a few beers in the woods. They knew to be careful; 1959 was no year for underage black kids to get caught drinking in rural South Carolina. Before the first sip, they came to a clearing. A black man was on his knees, surrounded by white men in robes. One shed his mask – the local judge. One boy bolted. The other, Ike Washington, froze. Dan learns that Judge Mac McCauley weighed things in that moment and offered young Ike a choice; join the man about to die, or begin hustling the black support McCauley needed to advance in state politics. In trade, Ike would enjoy a life of power and comfort. Decades later, with Dan on the story, McCauley is a U.S. senator and Ike is poised to become the first black congressmen from South Carolina since Reconstruction. Instead, he winds up in the same forest where the hanging took places years earlier, a long rope in hand. The night is noisy, but all Ike hears is the name his rivals have bestowed upon him: Bootlicker. Our plan is to publish Bootlicker, the prequel to Bella, in late 2011. 

Thank you so much for joining us, Steve! 


For an added treat, watch the trailer for Bella by Steve Piacente:

Take a look at some amazing illustrated excerpts of the book here. For more info on Steve Piacente and his book, you can  find him on: 

The official website of Bella

News:  Steve will be on Book Expo America (BEA) in New York in May.  If you are attending that event, you can catch him in a booth on Writer's Row at Jandis Center, they will be giving away Bella bookmarks!  And his book will be sold at a special expo price of USD 10.00.


  1. Great interview! Really interesting to hear about self-publishing and the summary for Bootlicker, in particular, has got me very hyped for that book.

  2. Fantastic interview! Your set of questions are really cool! I haven't gotten around requesting for interviews lately...Maybe I'll do it next month! :-)

  3. Awesome review! Loved the fire questions and answers!! I love to see what an author's must-save books are. And I also loved that his entire family helped him out with the book. Very cool, thanks Nina and Steve!


I just have to tell you, ARGH feeds on awesomeness, so if you can, drop him some awesome here, and I promise to give some awesome back :D

Right now, because of my really busy schedule, I'm cutting back on receiving awards. So until further notice, me and ARGH would not be accepting awards. But thank you for thinking of us, we really appreciate it!