Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Murder Takes Time by Giacomo Giammatteo: Interview & Excerpt


There was only one rule in our neighborhood--never break an oath. But oaths are easy to take and damn hard to keep.

Now I'm staring at my best friend, lying on the floor in a pool of blood, my bullet in his gut. Where the hell did it go wrong?

To understand that you'd have to go back to the beginning, back to when the three of us ruled the neighborhood.
 Kindle  |  Goodreads

Chapter 1

Rule Number One―Murder Takes Time 

Brooklyn, New York—Current Day

He sipped the last of a shitty cup of coffee and stared across the street at Nino Tortella, the guy he was going to kill. Killing was an art, requiring finesse, planning, skill—and above all—patience. Patience had been the most difficult to learn. The killing came naturally. He cursed himself for that. Prayed to God every night for the strength to stop. But so far God hadn’t answered him, and there were still a few more people that needed killing.
The waitress leaned forward to refill his cup, her cleavage a hint that more than coffee was being offered. “You want more?”
He waved a hand—Nino was heading towards his car. “Just the check, please.”
From behind her ear she pulled a yellow pencil, tucked into a tight bun of red hair, then opened the receipt book clipped to the pocket of her apron. Cigarette smoke lingered on her breath, almost hidden by the gum she chewed.
Spearmint, he thought, and smiled. It was his favorite, too.
He waited for her to leave, scanned the table and booth, plucked a few strands of hair from the torn cushion and a fingernail clipping from the windowsill. After putting them into a small plastic bag, he wiped everything with a napkin. The check was $4.28. He pulled a five and a one from his money clip and left them on the table. As he moved to the door he glanced out the window. Nino already left the lot, but it was Thursday, and on Thursdays Nino stopped for pizza.
He parked three blocks from Nino’s house, finding a spot where the snow wasn’t piled high at the curb. After pulling a black wool cap over his forehead, he put leather gloves on, raised the collar on his coat then grabbed his black sports bag. Favoring his left leg, he walked down the street, dropping his eyes if he passed someone. The last thing he wanted was a witness remembering his face.
He counted the joints in the concrete as he walked. Numbers forced him to think logically, kept his mind off what he had to do. He didn’t want to kill Nino. He had to. It seemed as if all of his life he was doing things he didn’t want to do. He shook his head, focused on the numbers again.
When he drew near the house, he cast a quick glance to ensure the neighbors’ cars weren’t there. The door took less than thirty seconds to open. He kept his hat and gloves on, walked into the kitchen, and set his bag on the counter. He removed a pair of tongs and a shot glass, and set them on the coffee table. A glance around the room had him straightening pictures and moving dirty dishes to the sink. A picture of an older woman stared at him from a shelf above an end table. Might be his mother, he thought, and gently set it face down. Back to the kitchen. He opened the top of the black bag and removed two smaller bags. He set one in the fridge and took the other with him.
The contents of the second bag—hair and other items—he spread throughout the living room. The crime scene unit would get a kick out of that. He did one final check, removed a baseball bat from the bag, then sat on the couch behind the door. The bat lay on the cushion beside him. While he stretched his legs and leaned back, he thought about Nino. It would be easy to just shoot him, but that wouldn’t be fair. Renzo suffered for what he did; Nino should too. He remembered Mamma Rosa’s warnings, that the things people did would come back to haunt them. Nino would pay the price now.
A car pulled into the driveway. He sat up straight and gripped the bat.

How do you describe your writing style?

Sparse—especially on description of setting and of characters. I tend to let the details leak out slowly. You’ll get some details from me. Hair color, maybe eye color, general build, but it is more likely a scar or a birthmark, things like that. I’m not going to tell you my protag is 6’ 4” and 225 lbs.

I try to let the characters describe the setting, and let the dialogue tell readers about the characters.

I think that’s how life should be. Wouldn’t it be so much better if we experienced someone’s personality before we judged them based on appearance?

Tell us about your family.

You have hit upon the magical question for me. I am so lucky. I had the greatest parents in the world, and they instilled in all six kids a love of family that lasts to this day. My wife and I got married at 17, but that was 43 years ago, and she has been a member of the family since day one.

And the family keeps growing. We have three kids of our own and 3 grandkids. We also have an animal sanctuary with 41 of the best “friends” a person could want.

It hasn’t all been roses though. My youngest son was addicted to drugs for years. Those were the most difficult times of my life. But he’s been clean for three years, and now runs a rehab center and dedicates his life to helping others.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do  you use any set formula?

Plots—for Murder Takes Time, it came out of debates in my family about what constitutes “good and bad” and “right and wrong.” The series is called the Friendship & Honor Series, and the first book centers around three boys who swear an oath to be friends forever. I’ll let your imagination take you the rest of the way.

Characters—my characters are almost always based on real people, or a combination of real people. I’m writing a post for my blog right now titled “Six billion ways to develop your character,” about how to make each character unique.

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

A bad review stings. There is no getting around that. But what you do with that review is what counts. I realize that the person who gave the review is not trying to hurt me; they are simply expressing their opinion about the book. Once you get past that, you can learn from what the person said. You might not agree with them, but as an author you have to take what they say into consideration because if they think that way, chances are quite a few others do, too. A bad review can be extremely valuable to authors.

I have been fortunate. In the six weeks since Murder Takes Time has been out, I have gotten 26 reviews on Amazon. They have all been either four or five stars. I know some bad ones are coming, but I’ll be ready to learn from them. And I encourage all readers to send feedback directly to me as well. If there is something they want to say in addition to a review, my email is listed on Amazon and on my website.

The bottom line is not everybody is going to like my book. I know that. My wife doesn’t read my stuff until I beg for her critical feedback. I often wish I hadn’t, but…

Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it?  If so, can you share it?

This book is the first in a series called the Friendship & Honor Series, and although Murder Takes Time is portrayed as a murder mystery or a thriller, it is really about friendship and honor.

Mamma Rosa, one of the characters in Murder Takes Time, has a saying—“God and Satan both have room for one more soul.”

To me, that is a magnificent reminder that it’s never too late for any person to choose a path in life. Several of the characters in the book are faced with these choices and the story hinges on the decisions they make.

My wife and I had first-hand experience with that when our son got off drugs.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to  your readers?

I received an email from one reader who started out by saying, ‘I didn’t know if I should write you…’

My advice: Don't be afraid to write authors. The most wonderful thing in the world is to get a letter from a stranger who enjoyed your story. And if you have critical advice to offer, say it; it might help the author in their next book.

I had a beta reader who voiced her opinion so strongly about a character in my next book that I ended up making drastic changes to him. At first I wasn’t sure, but now I know it was the right decision.

Hearing from readers is what makes writing worth it. This is, of course, all my opinion but if a writer has their email listed on the website or on Amazon, I would bet you’re safe writing to them.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

From my mother:
“Do your best. Make sure it’s your best. Then wear it proudly.”

What are you passionate about these days?

Besides my family, which will always be first in my heart, it is our animals. As I said earlier, we have 41 animals on our sanctuary and, despite the work involved and the money it takes to care for them, they make every day a joy. It is the most wonderful thing in the world to learn from them and see the way they deal with life.    

I live in Texas now, but I grew up in Cleland Heights, a mixed ethnic neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware that sat on the fringes of the Italian, Irish and Polish neighborhoods. The main characters of Murder Takes Time grew up in Cleland Heights too, and many of the scenes in the book were taken from real-life experiences.

Somehow I survived the transition to adulthood, but when my kids were young I left the Northeast and settled in Texas, where my wife suggested we get a few animals. I should have known better; we now have a full-blown animal sanctuary with rescues from all over.

At last count we had 41 animals—12 dogs, a horse, a three-legged cat and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy.

Since this is a bio some of you might wonder what I do. By day I am a headhunter, scouring the country for top talent to fill jobs in the biotech and medical device industry. In the evening I help my wife tend the animals, and at night—late at night—I turn into a writer.

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Winner's choice - One Print or Digital copy of Murder Takes Time.
Print option is limited to US/CAN Shipping. Ends July 28th 11:59 PM Central.
For Bonus Entries: a) Follow the author on Twitter b) Comment on this blog post


Debby said...

The excerpt certainly left me wanting more. Sounds like an intriguing book.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

Hi, Debbie. Glad you liked the excerpt. I was worried about the first chapter because it has strong violence, but it settles down after that. The surprise for me has been that women have been my biggest readers so far.


Darlene said...

I love murder mysteries. Thanks for the giveaway!

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

You're welcome, Darlene. Good luck.

Anonymous said...


bettycd said...

thanks for the drawing! Hope your summer is going well. Murder mysteries go well year round for me, but especially as a pool/beach read

ronnkelly3 said...

The book sounds fantastic...thank you so much for the giveaway..

Suz Reads said...

Thanks for this amazing giveaway! This book sounds great and I would love to win it!