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Interview with Garasamo Maccagnone, Author of ‘Sentiments of Blue’

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Garasamo Maccagnone studied writing in the 80’s at Western Michigan University and Wayne State. He is the author of the well known novel, St. John of the Midfield, the Christmas novella, For the Love of St. Nick, and the collection of stories entitled, My Dog Tim: and other stories. Maccagnone’s latest release, Sentiments of Blue, is a collection of five poems and five stories.

You can visit Garasamo online at http://garasamomaccagnone.com/. You can view a video trailer for Sentiments of Blue at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6Tgw6Ui4LQ

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Garasamo. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I’ve written and published, The Suburban Dragon, which is a children’s book,  St. John of the Midfield, For the Love of St. Nick, My Dog Tim: and other stories, and Sentiments of Blue.

Q:  What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

I published The Suburban Dragon in 1994. A local publisher, who liked the story, had 10,000 copies printed. I went around to local schools and sold the book. The kids loved it.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

In all cases, related to complete works of mine, I assumed the works would be of little interest to mainstream publishers so I sought out avenues to publish on my own. As a young writer, I had sent short stories out to various magazines and had them all returned. The process was so time consuming and costly. I decided to just work for myself.

Q:  How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

To give you an example about publishers, I’ll use The Suburban Dragon to give you an idea of how chancy this business is. Twenty years ago, I wrote the book. Kids who read it in their classrooms, used to send me pictures of their interpretations. I have stacks of them at my house.  The book was well received by critics and sold countless copies in the Midwest. A few years back, I sent the book to a mainstream publisher to see if they had any interest in a larger distribution and they sent it back without any interest. I’m not sure they even opened my package.

Here’s a book with a twenty-year track record and no one will look at it. You just have accept it and move on.

Q:  How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

Since The Suburban Dragon was a hit with all the kids, I was at peace with myself. I’m not sure I actually celebrated when the publisher first sent over the book though I’m sure I took my wife and kids out for dinner, since they were the inspiration for the story.

 Q:  What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

My illustrator and I used to go to the schools and do a skit for the kids about the dragon. I would talk to the kids about not being afraid of dragons while he put on a dragon’s head and crept behind me. The kids thought it was so funny.

Q:  If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

No. The course I’ve taken, allows me freedom. I’m not bound to anyone.

Q:  Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

I’ve been published many times as I told you earlier. As an author, I’ve tried to diversify my portfolio to an extent, writing in different genres for the sake of curiosity, and for the sake of being challenged.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

Back in the old days, only professors with a patronage published, and they were usually by small university print houses. I would have had to teach for ten years, get tenure, kiss the butt of my department head, before even getting a chance to see my work in print. Then, I would have had to read my stuff at small gatherings, libraries, coffee shops, dope dens – the beatnik circuit.  That wasn’t for me.

In the early days, I should have worked with better editors. I’ve learned that in all cases, regardless of the publisher or the marketing of the book, the most important relationship is between the writer and the editor.

Q:  What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since being published?

I like when I receive correspondences from overseas about a book of mine. It’s nice to know someone from another country is enjoying your work.

Q:   If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

I’d have like to been a professional baseball player.

Q:  Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

I’ve been a copy writer, broadcast engineer, business owner, CEO, coach, and teacher through this whirlwind of a life as a writer.  Though I’ve held various other jobs, I always think of myself as a writer.  I do see myself as having the best of both worlds.

Q:  How do you see yourself in ten years?

Fatter.

Interviewer’s comment: Come on.

You asked. Seriously, I’ll be doing the same as now. I like to mix in real life work as I write. It helps authenticate the characters I create. You must know them to write about them.

Q:  Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Concentrate on your content. We don’t need anymore junk out there. Make sure you hire an editor that doesn’t coo in your ear. If you’re hyper-sensitive to criticism, get out now.

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