Here’s the way this usually works. I get an email from a publicist about an upcoming book or project that one of their clients is working on. If I’m interested, I send a list of questions to that publicist, who then passes them on to the client, who answers them and sends them back to the publicist. Then, the publicist sends them back to me. Voila! We have an interview.
Jimmy Petrosino cut out the middle man. He got in touch with me a few weeks ago to tell me about his new novel, “The Dean’s List,” which is about a college Fraternity that operates as an organized crime syndicate. We exchanged a couple of emails, set up an interview and then it was done. No fuss. No muss.
We talked about his first foray into novel writing, his taste in movies and why I’m not more popular on the internet.
SCP: Let’s start with a very basic question. Who are you?
JP: I’m just some Jersey guy who loves to make stuff up.
SCP: How did you become a writer?
JP: It started off as therapy. Being able to express negativity down on paper. Whenever I was angry at someone I’d write. Killing people in a story is very therapeutic, at least for me it is.
SCP: How much of your personal experience went into the book?
JP: Some. Police and mafia stories I heard growing up, stuff I seen on the news, and my own feelings on certain things. But mostly I’d just play the story out in my head. Wherever it went it went.
SCP: You describe the Dean’s List as a mix between the Godfather and the Social Network. Where did the idea come to combine those two ideas?
JP: I always thought a fraternity acting as a crime family would make for a cool story. I actually wrote the screenplay version back in the 90’s but it sucked. So years later I decided to turn it into a novel because I just thought the story could go to a much better place. I would describe it as The Godfather meets School Ties (1992 movie with Brendan Fraser and Matt Damon). But then somebody who read the revision in the past year said it was more “The Social Network.” So I was like “cool. Sounds better.” Besides School Ties is kinda outdated (just saying that makes me feel old).
SCP: I’ve never seen either “The Godfather” or “The Social Network.” What does that say about me?
JP: Not seeing “The Social Network” says nothing about you BUT not seeing The Godfather says we can never be friends!
SCP: Obviously, all writers are inspired by those who came before them. Who are your favorites?
JP: I liked Stephen King growing up. I would watch all the movies first then read his books. This will probably piss off the writing purists out there but I always liked the movies better. The Shining is one of my all-time favorites.
SCP: What writer do you think your style most resembles?
JP: I write stories in a frenetic pace, almost like how I read. Dean Koontz’s style is kinda like that. But to compare myself to Dean Koontz is an insult to him. Although both of us do have love for Golden Retrievers!
SCP: What have you been reading recently?
JP: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Cool book but what do you expect, we are talking about Abe, guy made the top hat fashionable way before Slash ever did.
SCP: I once decided to write a book while I was on vacation and was actually shocked at the end of those 6 days that the whole thing wasn’t finished. I’ve never even re-opened the file since then. I guess what I’m trying to say is… I’m lazy and unmotivated and scared of committing to a long term project. Or, to put it another way, how was the writing process for you?
JP: This is how the process went for me; In my teens I would write poems about my feelings which were usually messed up. Then it turned into short stories. Then screenplays. Then novels. It was almost like I started in A-ball and worked my way up to the Majors, not that I’m in the Majors, I still have a long way to go but I can honestly say I’m a Triple A player people need to look out for.
SCP: Were you singularly focused?
JP: When I wrote the novel version of “The Dean’s List” I just banged it out in like 2 months, usually at night because I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know if I had insomnia or if it was me constantly thinking about the book that caused me to stay awake.
SCP: Were you working a day job at the time?
JP: Part time for my brother’s company, Mountain Spring Waters of America. I’ve also been lucky to have supportive parents who believed in my writing so to say I went the poor struggling artist route would be like John Lackey telling you he’s a vegan.
SCP: How long did it take to get the whole thing written?
JP: Years if I count the revisions and there were MANY. That’s how it went for me. Doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the timetable for another writer. Patience and persistence is the key in this business. And if I were you I’d open up that file and get to writing. Going back to a story after a long wait is actually encouraged.
SCP: What’s next for you?
JP: I finished a young adult thriller about a teenage boy who suffers a near death experience. Also a sequel to The Dean’s List is in the works as is another crime book called “The Perfect Circle.” I actually have the screenplay version of it done. I have ADD so I havta work on a bunch of things at once! Another book I’m looking into is based on my dad’s family—his father and uncle were famous NYC detectives back in the day and the nephews of LT. Joseph Petrosino who is like Italy’s version of Dick Tracy (a park in Little Italy is named after him). My grandpa actually dealt with some of the same criminals you seen on the show “Boardwalk Empire.” But another interesting part of my dad’s family is he had cousins who were mobbed up. So here you have a family tree made up of cops and mobsters which makes for cool stories.
JP: Be friends with Kim Kardashian. No seriously, you just gotta put time into it. I will say using #hashtags and posting links on my FB page helps as does being friends with others who have lots of followers. Twitter is interesting, when somebody sees a person with 30 followers they aren’t gonna follow unless you’re a hot chick or a close friend but if you have 8000 followers then people follow because they think you must tweet interesting or funny things which I do once in a blue moon!