Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Author Interview (Part I)- Chris DiGiuseppi and Mike Force, Co-authors of THE LIGHT BRINGER

I'm pleased today to welcome Lake Saint Louis Police Officers Chris DiGiuseppi and Mike Force, co-authors of the supernatural adventure novel, THE LIGHT BRINGER.

NOTE: Chris and Mike will be signing books today, Tuesday, September 20, at 6 p.m. at The Meadows in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri.  And on Saturday, September 24, they will speak at the Saturday Writers meeting at the St. Peters City Hall, from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m.

Donna: Thanks for taking the time from your busy work and writing schedules to visit Donna's Book Pub. First will you please briefly tell us a little bit about yourselves--your background, career path--anything you’re comfortable sharing. (The photos of Chris and Mike are from their THE LIGHT BRINGER blog.)



Chris: Everything happens for a reason and my story is no different. In 1991 I graduated from the police academy with high confidence that I was going to attain a job at one of the higher paying police departments. Nine months later my ambitions of becoming a police officer were dwindling as I had interviewed at approximately 15 different departments all ending in rejection. My first meeting with Mike Force was when he offered me the opportunity to become a full time police officer for $17,000 per year and although I was glad to have a job, I was disappointed that it wasn’t one of the higher paying departments. Looking back on it now I realize that it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I rose though the ranks to become the Assistant Chief of Police, attained my undergraduate degree in human resources and my graduate degree in business administration. I also graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command and the FBI National Academy which is one of the premier certifications in law enforcement. Aside from law enforcement, I became a published author with my friend and co-author, Mike Force, this past year with our debut novel, The Light Bringer. My family is the most important aspect of my life and I’m truly blessed to have them.


Mike: Like Chris, I have a strong belief that all things that happen, happen for a reason. I left high shool and joined the Marine Corps in 1969 primarily for financial reasons but also out of a strong sense of patriotism which stemmed from the values offered by my parents. During my next 22 years of active duty in the Marine Corps, I was afforded opportunities to finish my high school education, obtain a Bachelor's Degree and matriculated to service as a Commisioned Officer in 1981. After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1991, I spent a short amount of time self employed in the computer industry but missed the closeness of a small group working environment. I applied for and was selected for my current position as Chief of Police in Lake Saint Louis, Mo in March of 1992. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, A Master of Science in Human Resource Management and am a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Chris and I became published authors in 2010 and continue to try to bring our message to othrs regarding the importance of how we live our lives through writing and speaking engagements.

Donna: Thank you for sharing that. Sounds like you both have had incredible journeys to bring you to where you are today. My next question is about your book. THE LIGHT BRINGER is a supernatural adventure story. Alan Crane, the main character, is a police officer and former military man who has a special gift. What was your inspiration for THE LIGHT BRINGER?



Chris and Mike: After many years of dealing with death and tragedy we wanted to put together a story that challenged the reader to think beyond their own mortality. Alan Crane is a compilation of many different people we’ve met over the years who promote qualities of empathy and compassion for those who deal with the loss of a loved one. Our inspiration was also derived from those experiences with grief and despair along with the frustration of trying to understand death.


Donna: In THE LIGHT BRINGER Officer Crane is given the task to lead 16 people who have died to their spiritual fates. While your book is classified as fiction, the characters and situations seem factual. How did you balance fact with fiction in writing your book?


Chris and Mike: Those 16 incidents were based on real accounts that we’ve encountered over the years. Since we don’t have factual answers as to “why people die” we had to blend an element of supernatural fiction into the story in order for the reader to formulate their own answer. Aside from the 16 different incidents where people die, the emotion in the story is very real and taken from our own experiences.

Donna: You are right about the emotion being very real. Several times I got chills reading your novel. My next few questions will focus on the writing of your novel. You work together as police officers and you co-wrote THE LIGHT BRINGER. How did the collaboration process work?

Chris: It was a smooth process as Mike and I share the same values and beliefs. We utilized a working copy of the manuscript and a document where we kept notes on varying ideas. Having a co-author enhanced the story as we would bounce thoughts and concepts off each other which often sparked new creative ideas.


Mike: Chris and I developed the details of the story across time. As Chris said, often we would bounce ideas off of each other then develop the thought and share each other's ideas before settling on direction. Many of our ideas were discussed over lunch hours and then finalized at night.

Donna: It is obvious that you share a close friendship as well as a working relationship on the book, and that is evident in your writing. Next, can you please tell us about your publication journey. How long did it take to write your book? Find an agent? Edit and revise? Find a publisher?

Chris and Mike: It was a long journey that started with a draft manuscript and a good friend who was a published author. Our friend, Tom Hill, read the manuscript early on and encouraged us to keep moving forward. He introduced us to our Literary Agent, Linda Langton, who worked with us for about a year and a half on edits. The editing process was hard and tedious as we combed the story over and over for content, flow, characterization and voice. Between April and June of 2010 our agent applied to approximately 30 different publishers hoping that someone would take us. In November of 2010 we were offered and signed a contract with HCI Books. From January through June of 2011, we built up our network and marketing plan while working with the publisher’s editing department to finalize the book. The Light Bringer was released on July 1st 2011 and had a great kick-off. We’ve been on the local best sellers list among St. Louis independent book stores for 5 out of 8 weeks.

Donna: Sounds like your persistence, planning, and hard work paid off, and congratulations for the wonderful success you've had thus far. The book trailer for THE LIGHT BRINGER is haunting and professional looking. What can you tell us about the production of the book trailer?

Chris and Mike: The book trailer was a great marketing tool and very effective. It was done by a good friend of ours named Jim Modglin from Blue Ocean Media, www.blueoceanmedia.com, who we highly recommend if you’re considering this. Timing is critical when releasing the book trailer. We released a short 30 second teaser a few months before the book was released to raise initial interest and followed with a full trailer a couple weeks prior to book launch. The book trailer allows a sensory appreciation and helps bring your story to life.

Donna: A few more questions about the writing of your novel. What’s the best writing advice you’ve received? The worst?

Chris and Mike: The best advice we’ve received was by our mentor, Tom Hill, who told us that everything revolves around networking. Meet as many people as you can and push others up – this leads to true success. The worst was probably an article that we read that said there was no value in book signing events. We’ve found that book signings are a great marketing tool that not only builds publicity but also fosters a valuable relationship with those people in the book stores who you want to champion your story. We’ve had many different opportunities arise from book signings and have been encouraged by the feedback that we receive as during conversations with readers.

Donna: You are so right about networking being critical for success. Regarding the writing of your novel: If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?

Chris and Mike: Networking is the key so I would have started building our network and organizing it years ago. The old saying, “It’s who you know,” is very true when it come to success in the literary world.

That completes the Part I of my interview with Chris and Mike. Check back on Thursday for Part II.

And don't forget, Chris and Mike will be at The Meadows Shopping Center in Lake Saint Louis this evening, September 20, at 6 p.m. and on Saturday at the Saturday Writers meeting from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. More on that in Part II on my interview.

12 comments:

  1. Donna, thanks for the great interview and for mentioning Saturday Writers! Mike and Chris will also have books that day to sign and sell. Looking forward to Part 2!

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  2. Great interview, Donna. I think you may have mentioned this book and these authors some time ago--I have visited their website and read about the book. They are both interesting people. I'll be back for the second part of the interview on Thursday. :)

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  3. Becky,
    Thanks, and thanks for reminding me their books will be for sale on Saturday. I'll mention it in the post on Thursday.

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks. I did mention them when their book first came out.

    Donna

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  4. Good interview, I enjoyed learning about them and their road to success as writers.

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  5. Hi Janet,
    Thanks. It's always to hear success stories.
    donna

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  6. Hope tonight's signing was a rousing success!

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  7. WOW! now I really can't wait for the SW meeting, Saturday. I hope I make it as I have planned (got a babysitter and everything. :)

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  8. Congratulations to Chris and Mike. Thanks for a great interview, Donna. I always enjoy hearing about journeys to publication.

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  9. Hi Carol,
    Me, too.

    Hi Margo,
    Glad to hear you'll be able to make the meeting. I bet Katie is getting big!

    Hi Clara,
    You are welcome. They are great guys who deserve their success.

    Donna

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  10. Donna, thanks for the intro to Mike and Chris. Their book sounds interesting. I appreciate their info on their writing journey and marketing, too.

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  11. Hi Karen,
    You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by.
    donna

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  12. Sorry I'm seeing this so late, but glad I caught it. Their book sounds interesting and I will definitely check out more.

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