Thursday, December 23, 2010

Interview with author Garasamo Maccagnone


Today, my guest is author Garasamo Maccagnone.

Born in 1959, Garasamo Maccagnone studied literature and journalism at Macomb College, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University. Garasamo has enjoyed writing since the age of sixteen. He is inspired by the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and Jack London, and is currently working on his next book, The Fish and the Fox. Garasamo's most recent work, St. John of the Midfield, was inspired by a meeting with a former world class soccer player named Jordan Mitkov.  Garasamo has owned a soccer club and coached and trained players for over twenty years. He lives with his wife, Vicki, and his three children, Garrett, Anthony and Sophia, in Shelby Township, Michigan, where his daughter plays soccer for the Michigan Gators.


Penny: Tell me a little about your book.
Garasamo:  St. John of the Midfield is narrated by Mario Santini, the father of a youth soccer star. He recounts his meeting with Bobo Stoikov, a world class Bulgarian soccer star, who escapes communism to play in America. During his escape, he is injured, and must rely on coaching to make a living in America. Though the story weaves a few different threads, the lives of Mario, Bobo, and the sinister Sonny Christopher all intertwine near the end. The result is tragic and the ending is unexpected.  
Penny: What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Garasamo:  I worked with a Bulgarian soccer trainer for years. The idea incubated in me ten years earlier and then festered until I had no option but to write the story down.
Penny: Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Garasamo:  I write during the day full time. I coach part-time in the evenings for various sports organizations.
Penny: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Garasamo:  I was hooked in 10th grade after reading The Great Gatsby in Mrs. Balch's American Literature class.
Penny: What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Garasamo:  First and foremost, I want them to be entertained. I'm not trying to pioneer anything.  It's more about taking the reader on a satisfying journey with believable characters and action that isn't contrived.
Penny: Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Garasamo:  I like general fiction, though I have written one children's book entitled, The Suburban Dragon.
Penny: What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Garasamo:  Doing the hard-core writing is stressful to me. Often times, I really have to push myself to sit at the computer. More than anything, I had the editing process. It takes much longer than the writing and by the time you're finished with the book, you don't even want to pick it up to look at it. You've just been around it for too long.
Penny: Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Garasamo:  The man who inspired the story, Rocco Mitkov, actually played in Bulgaria and escaped like the main character. After that, the story is all my imagination.
Penny: How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Garasamo:  Mario Santini is a lot like me. He wants to good but in the end, due to his heritage, or his natural inclinations, he reacts sinfully, and suffers a great deal emotionally from his actions.
Penny: What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Garasamo:  With St. John, I basically lived the story for 10 years.  As a youth soccer coach, I was writing scenes from first hand experience.
Penny: Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Garasamo:No. I look to the Bible. David massacred and crucified all of his enemies. David has an affair with Basheba.  Moses kills a man and I believe Noah's daughters have an incestuous relationship with him. There is more violent crimes or sex scenes in the Bible than I could ever write. I'm not in to being provocative simply for the sake of it.  The scenes need to be genuine and must lend to the story.
Penny: What about your book makes it special? 
Garasamo: Bobo, who speaks with a childlike sincerity, introduces the apostolic metaphor to Mario and Luca in chapter three. As Bobo sees goodness in Luca, which he believes to be the main attribute for a great interior mid-fielder, he compares him to St. John, who Bobo feels was the most like Christ. Thus the book moves beyond the simplicity of your basic sports novel. It takes on its own course and strays away from the typical.
Penny: What is your marketing plan? 
Garasamo: I've been advertising in various well know soccer on-line magazines. I've done two viral campaigns and plan on marketing on fb or another social network.
Penny: Where can people learn more about you and your work? Please go to www.amazon.com or www.Garasamomaccagnone.com
Penny:  Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Garasamo: Be content in writing a great story. Don't look to be the next innovator or pioneer of literature. There's too much of that going around.  Your story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end along with credible characters and believable dialogue. If you do that well, you'll entertain a lot of people. Peace.





A little bit about St John of the Midfield: 
St John of the Midfield . . .
World-class soccer star Bobo Stoikov makes an escape from communist Bulgaria and finds his way to America. Landing a job as a youth soccer coach, Bobo builds a reputation for himself as a successful, yet unorthodox, coach who propels his team to the championship title. But things go far beyond the soccer field when arch rival Sonny Christopher seeks to destroy Bobo's reputation, along with that of his best player, Luca, and the player's father, Mario. Before he realizes how serious the situation is, Bobo finds himself in sudden death and soon realizes there is more at stake than just a soccer game.  

EXCERPT:

 Chapter 1

It didn't matter that he was one of the greatest soccer mid-fielders in the world. If he wanted to live in America, Georgi "Bobo" Stoikov and his older brother Jordan had less than fifteen seconds to decide if they were going to jump off the train or be returned and tried in the Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora as "Enemies of the State."

"Go, go, go!" Jordan screamed, pushing Bobo out of his seat toward the door. Bobo almost tripped down the aisle as the train rocked. A guard shouted for them to stop or he would shoot. Bobo and Jordan ignored his warning. They ran like Olympic sprinters through the car, through the open door, and were air-borne before the guard could raise his pistol.

There is no training in soccer that prepares anyone to jump off a train moving sixty miles per hour. As Bobo and I sat in Mancini's, one of suburban Detroit's better Italian restaurants, he told me about his escape to freedom and said it looked easy in the bootlegged American westerns he had watched as a kid.

"You supposed to tuck and roll," he said in his thick, gravelly Bulgarian accent. "I only tuck."

It had cost him dearly. When Bobo hit the icy snow, he skidded like a motorcyclist onto freeway pavement after being tossed from the seat of his bike. Bobo's back hit hidden rocks, jagged ice, and chunks of cement left in the ground from a sewer project. In the darkness of the Bulgarian wilderness, the two brothers lay some sixty yards apart, with Bobo at the bottom of a deep ravine, torn up, bleeding badly, unable to move.

"My back was broken," said Bobo, from the table in the non-smoking section the day he told me the story. Our waitress, a woman of around fifty, with rugged facial skin like the under-belly of a rhino, refilled our water glasses.

"My spine compressed. My brodder Jordan carry me on his back---hour at a time."

Bobo looked at me while he spun his fork in his pasta primavera. It was difficult for me to comprehend what this must have been like for the brothers. "Did they stop the train? Did they ever come after the two of you?"

"No. They figure we would die anyway. No one crosses Pirrin Mountains at that time of year. We were lucky---we made it through the mountain to Macedonia in five months."

"Did your back heal?"

"Once we get to Macedonia, we go to American embassy. From there, they fly Jordan and me to New York where I had to have surgery. The American coach prayed I would recover."

Bobo put his fork down and dropped his head. I knew he was weeping. "Jordan try to save me. He lost three toes on his right foot from frostbite. His soccer career was over too."

I waited for a second. I didn't know what to say. We both sat silent, each with our own thoughts. The restaurant became so quiet that I could hear forks and knives clinking against plates ten tables away.

 

Other written works by Garasamo include, The Affliction of Dreams, a collection of short stories and poetry,  The Suburban Dragon, a children's book, and For the Love of St. Nick, an illustrated short story about two boys who seek the help of St. Nick after the tragic loss of their mother. 

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great interview. I'll be back later to answer questions from your readers.

    garasamo

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  2. My pleasure, Gary. It's great to have you and share your story.

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  3. Great information, i am glad to check it out.

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  4. Soccer, thanks for stopping by. Hope you get a chance to read and enjoy this book.

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  5. Interesting interview. Enjoyed learning more about the author and the book. How neat to find another Michigander among the book authors. Will add the book to my TBR book list.

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  6. Susanne, glad you were able to stop by again and learn about another author you might enjoy reading.

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  7. Glad to see all the comments. When I came back the one night, there was only mine. Thanks so much for the great interview.

    Garasamo

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  8. Gary, sorry there weren't more, but oftentimes folks stop by to read, but won't comment. Hope the tour is going well.

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