Frank is currently participating in a Virtual Book Tour from April 15-26 organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.
On this site, Frank will be answering several questions regarding his background and his two books- The Legend of Mickey Tussler and Sophomore Campaign.
Frank will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask a question after reading this interview.
Can you share some background information about yourself with my readers?
I have taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. My debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA’s silver medal for outstanding fiction. My follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story “A Mile in His Shoes” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. I released Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story last spring and this fall released my first thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. I am presently at work on a third installment of my Mickey Tussler series and his next thriller. I live on Long Island with my wife Julia and my two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.
As a fellow teacher, I am interested in learning more about your teaching background. Did your decades of teaching experience have an impact on your career as a writer?
It is more the other way around, although I have to say that I believe that being good at one helps me to be better at the other. My experiences in the world of writing and publishing have allowed me to offer some valuable insights into the writing process for my students. I always feel as though I can speak with great conviction about those things that really “work” in the realm of crafting stories because I am teaching from a place replete with much experience.
We’re all familiar with English teachers having us analyze all kinds of symbolism within a book, even if the author probably didn’t mean anything by it. Do you teach your students to purposely use symbolism in their writing? Or should writers just naturally write and let symbolism take place if it happens?
The question all English teachers are asked, with great passion, is “how do you know that (fill in author name) meant for the reader to see that as a symbol”? I think that all real students of literature realize that there are no absolutes. Many authors will deliberately employ symbols and motifs in their fiction for a directed purpose. Other times, it does, as you suggest, occur on a subconscious level. The important thing to realize is that artists are always looking for ways to convey messages in creative, figurative ways. This is what separates great fiction from good fiction.
Why did you decide to write The Legend of Mickey Tussler: A Novel as the first book of a series?
I wanted to tell a baseball story — the genesis of the endeavor is my pure love for the game of baseball. I always thought that to combine my first love, which is baseball, with my passion for writing, would be a wonderful creative amalgamation. However, I did not want to re-tell the classic, trite tale that has been told before — you know, the young talented nobody who is discovered and then makes good on the diamond. So that was a real impediment. However, I soon had the epiphany that if my character were unique — special in another way too — that would add a compelling wrinkle to the tale that has never been attempted. Conceiving Mickey Tussler as an Asperger’s kid was what unlocked the whole story and is it what makes him special, like all special needs folks I have had the good fortune of meeting over the past few years.
I understand that you are working on the third book in this series. How many more books do you anticipate writing?
This third book could be the final installment of my “MickeyTussler” series, but I plan on writing many more books.
Once you decided to write a series, how did you determine the end point for the first book, the beginning point of the second, the end point of the second, the opening chapter of the third, etc.?
This is always a most interesting question to answer. I have heard so many authors delineate the process by which they write a novel or a series. Many of the traditional methods include outlining, character sketches, and timelines. None of this applies to me. And while I do not think this is an indictment of any sorts, I do feel a little left out. I have yet to talk to an author who does what I do. My process is far less formulaic. And it varies each time I pursue a new endeavor. Most of what I do early on begins and remains in my head. There is no paper involved. The only variable is how I actually begin. For instance, my first novel, Echoes From The Infantry, began with a very complex character who suffers from the insidious residue of WWII. He was fully developed in my mind before I ever wrote one word. The fictional framework came later on. In the first Mickey Tussler novel, it was just the opposite. I had already written a first chapter before I ever really knew exactly who my protagonist was going to be. The same is true for my latest novel, Nobody Has To Know. Things tend to evolve with me at their own pace. This is the beauty of the writing process. Stories come from so many different places and are executed in so many different ways.
Fiction writers often use bits and pieces of their personal life to craft a story. What, if any, elements of the Tussler series come from your background?
Like all of my novels, my Tussler series is an amalgamation of fact and fiction. There is a very fine line between art and life, and at times, that line is blurred. It is always fun to keep readers guessing just which parts of my work are “true” and which parts are the product of my imagination. Certain people from my life have made appearances in my novels and of course there have been some experiences I have had that have also found their way onto the pages.
The baseball scenes were engaging and informative. Did you write these passages based on your personal experience or research?
Mostly from personal experience. Baseball is my first love. There is so much about the game that speaks to us as people on so many levels. I truly feel that more than any other sport, baseball is a true microcosm of the human condition. All one has to do is consider how many “baseballisms” have crept into our everyday language and dealings to know that baseball mirrors our daily struggles as people. To that end, baseball was a perfect backdrop for a compelling story
What challenges did you face when you included an autistic character during an era when little was known about this disorder?
Well, autism is the essential component in all of the books for the simple reason that my protagonist, Mickey Tussler, is an Asperger’s teen. One of the things that I endeavored to do is to show how someone with a limited scope and compromised social awareness deals with issues such as jealousy, violence, and yes, prejudice and racism. These issues are difficult enough for “regular” folks but near impossible for special needs individuals who are simple and pure of heart. The world would be a much better place if all of us looked at it through the lens of a special needs individual.
What events led to the signing of a TV movie deal?
It is a funny story actually – one that I didn’t actually believe was real. I received a phone message at school that a film production company wanted me to return the call. When I called them back and they began pitching the idea of turning Mickey Tussler into a movie, I thought one of my colleagues was playing a trick on me!!! It really took me some time to realize this was really happening. I’m glad I didn’t hang up them!!
What challenges did you encounter when your first book was transformed into a movie?
First of all, it is just plain cool to see your work on the screen. Flattering too. I also was most appreciative of the spotlight that the film cast on the book. That being said, the film is very different from the book, and just about all of the alterations are not so palatable for me. Authors make decisions for very specific reasons. Film makers and producers have other things that motivate them. And often, the creative differences compromise the integrity of the original work.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with my readers?
I love the beach, especially in the off season. I spend a lot of time there. I am also a rabid baseball fan, so many hours are spent watching my two sons play the greatest game there is or lamenting the fate of my New York Mets. Country music aint so bad either! I would also like to say a most sincere thank you to my readers for their interest. And a warm invitation for them to visit my website (www.franknappi.com) and drop me a quick note. I love reader emails! And, I answer all of them.
It was a pleasure having Frank visit today.
Remember to leave a comment and visit Frank’s other virtual tour stops:
4/15/2013 Deal Sharing Aunt
4/16/2013 Voicu Mihnea Simandan
4/16/2013 SECOND STOP Rogue’s Angels
4/17/2013 The Dan O’Brien Project
4/18/2013 Bookgirl Knitting
4/18/2013 SECOND STOP Bunny’s Review
4/19/2013 Sexy Adventures, Passionate Tales
4/23/2013 Queen of the Night Reviews
4/23/2013 SECOND STOP A Book Lover’s Library
4/24/2013 Farm Girl Books
4/24/13 SECOND STOP Sandra Bornstein
4/25/2013 My Devotional Thoughts
4/26/2013 Andi’s Book Reviews
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Before I wrote the interview questions, Goddess Fish sent me electronic copies of both books.