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Interview with Isidore Farrugia from Gabriel Valjan’s new mystery-suspense novel, ‘Turning To Stone’



character interviewTitle: Turning To Stone

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Author: Gabriel Valjan


Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing

Purchase link:

We’re thrilled to have here today Isidore Farrugia from Gabriel Valjan’s new mystery-suspense novel, Turning To Stone. Isidore Farrugia is a fortyish-something detective living in Naples, Italy.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Detective Farrugia.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I do think that the author did a great job because I was in quite a mess, doing undercover narcotics work within a Camorra clan. Most readers know about the Sicilian mafia, but not much has been written about the Neapolitan criminal organization, or about the ‘Ndrangheta, which hails from my native Calabria. Each criminal enterprise has its own structure and Tomasso, another character in the novel, explains it well, although he gets a little poetic at times. As for me, the only quibble I had with the author is that he had me get shot at more than once. I took two bullets in a place that made me the butt of unwanted jokes from my colleagues. Please, give me a little dignity. It had better not happen again.

TurningtoStone_FlatforeBooks (1)Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

He was kinder to me than I am to myself. I’m a driven individual, often temperamental, although Claudio Ferrero, the journalist undercover like me in Turning to Stone, but with the ‘Ndrangheta, would pick a choice word to describe me. This time around, Gabriel managed to show me at my best. I began my career doing undercover work in Taormina (Sicily), where I made a name for myself before I started working narcotics. The author got it: undercover work is a combination of acting and gardening in that you’ve got to play a role and spread the manure just right because the stakes are high, and they were in this outing of the Roma Series.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?


Worse trait?

Stubbornness. There are stronger words in Italian and even more in Calabrese, but I am pigheaded. Plain and simple: I am the one with long ears. I’ll get fixated on something and I won’t let go.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I can’t think of a particular actor, but if I could pick someone who could convey my energy and my moodiness then I would pick Idris Elba, but he’s too dark-skinned, though my mother was Spanish and dark and my father, Calabrese, and darker. Elba’s Luther has some of my energy, although I’ve been far more violent than him – by necessity, of course.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I do. Her name is Noelle. We met in Milan. Readers learned about her and my first experience with yoga in Book 3 of the Roma Series: Threading the Needle. Now, there the author put me smack in the middle of a thorn bush. In Threading, I had the Italian version of Internal Affairs on my back and the media chanting my name – all because I’d accompanied Bianca to a meeting and some college kid got gunned down in an alley. It wasn’t the first time I helped her. I flew all the way to Boston (Book 2: Wasp’s Nest) to warn her that a professional killer was after her. Hey, I think there’s a pattern here. Perhaps, the author doesn’t like me, but he gave me Noelle. No complaints there, and I’m more flexible, too. Win-win.

At what point in the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I was deep undercover with the Camorra and I had to go to a meeting, which I don’t want to spoil for readers, but let’s just say that it went horribly wrong.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Tough question; come to think of it, it’s not one that would have occurred to me, to be honest.  Who among my fellow characters would I not want to be?  There are admirable traits among all of them, but I guess that — it’s still weird contemplating it — it would be Dante, because he has to put up with Bianca. She has formidable computer and research skills, and I admire her composure and utter equanimity under pressure.  What gets under my skin, though, is that she can be a bit abrupt sometimes, a little too direct, which strikes me as a very American trait. At times, I think she gets obsessive to the point that she is secretive and withholds information from the rest of the team. I do love her in my own way, but I don’t know how Dante does it. Perhaps, Bianca and I are too alike and I see myself reflected back at me. I know my answer sounds more like I wouldn’t want to be Bianca, but that isn’t the case. I just don’t know whether I could be Dante and have her around me 24/7. I’ll say this, though: they complement each other, but she is too much work for me. What’s that word in English I’ve heard used to describe people like her?  Don’t tell me, I’ll think of it. Ah, yes, I’ve got it: high-maintenance.

How do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?

We grew closer as a team, but my gut tells me that something bad is on the horizon. Bianca has become introverted, as if she were hiding something. Then, I heard that she was going to Boston, which says right there that something is wrong between her and Dante. Bianca says it’s work, but I know her. She is running away from Dante. She can say it’s Rendition, but I don’t believe it one bit. Gabriel always includes the first chapter of the next book in the Series at the end of his novels. Book 5: Corporate Citizen looks promising. But, why did it have to be Boston? I’m telling you that Gabriel has it in for me. So, my Italian is not exactly RAI, but Silvio, our translator, can help out. Oh, before I forget, Silvio has a pet in Turning. Tell me, who walks a cat?

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

  1. Please don’t have me shot at again. Please. I feel like Sergeant Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon. ‘I’m getting too old for this…’
  2. I’d like for him to bring up some of past work in Calabria. I’m proud of that time in my life. It was my work on the San Luca Vendetta that caught the attention of the late anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. The ‘Ndrangheta is impenetrable, but I got in and did my job.
  3. We both know that Alessandro has bad luck with women, but please find him a girlfriend soon. He’s got that puppy-dog look and it’s breaking my heart.

Thank you for this interview, Detective Farrugia.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Yes, you will. Readers can learn about me in the first three Roma Series books, and join me in Turning To Stone for an adventure in Naples. Loki, Bianca’s mysterious contact, is now giving her baffling anagrams. They seem to lead to a charismatic entrepreneur who has a plan to partner with organized crime to manipulate the euro and American dollar. Against a backdrop of gritty streets, financial speculation, and a group of female assassins on motorcycles, we discover that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.

author pic

About the Author:

Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing. His fourth book, Turning To Stone, came out 15 June 2015. Gabriel writes short stories, which are available online and in print. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Connect with Gabriel Valjan on the web:



Twitter: @GValjan


Pinterest boards for the Roma Series books

Book 4: Turning To Stone |

Book 3: Threading the Needle |

Books 2: Wasp’s Nest  |

Book 1: Roma, Underground  |

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