Garasamo Maccagnone is a writer and entrepreneur. The founder of a successful airfreight business, Maccagnone now focuses on his literary career. He is the author of the novel St. John of the Midfield, the novella, For the Love of St. Nick, a collection of short stories entitled, My Dog Tim and Other Stories, and a children’s book titled, The Suburban Dragon. Sentiments of Blue is his latest short story collection. Maccagnone currently lives in Shelby Township where he is working on his second novel, The Sorrows of Pebble Creek.
Find the author online at http://garasamomaccagnone.com/.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Garasamo Maccagnone. Can you tell us what your latest book, “Sentiments of Blue”is all about?
“Sentiments of Blue” is a collection of five stories and five poems. The opening and anchor story, “Sentiments of Blue” takes place in a Michigan factory, where a young man must deal with the ruthless antics of a factory bully while dreaming of escaping the mundane blue collar work force his father set him up in. In, “The Conversion,” a promising hockey player coaxes his enforcer teammate with drugs and alcohol in order to protect him from a rival hockey thug.
Q: Can you tell us about your main and supporting characters?
In “Holy Thursday,” the narrator recalls a story that happened when he was a little boy. As the part of the Catholic tradition at their church, the boy’s grandfather and great uncle took turns sitting in the darkness of St. Veronica’s on Holy Thursday, the night prior to Good Friday. At the time, the boy lives with his grandfather and grandmother, due to his mother being hospitalized after the suspected suicide of his father. On Holy Thursday, the boy becomes frightened for his grandfather and rushes the church by bolting out of the house in the early morning darkness. It isn’t until his great uncle takes him into the church that the true nature of his grandfather’s livelihood and his father’s death is revealed.
In this story, the boy wants to be a hero. He believes his grandfather is in danger based on what he’s heard adults talking about and what’s he conjured up in his infant mind. With what he knows has happened to his father and mother, he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his love for his grandfather. In the end, though his intentions are good and understandable, the reader learns that there is more to the family history. Grandpa and Uncle Ramchey are mixed up in a crime racket.
The supporting characters are traditional first generation Poles. As both men are very loving to the boy, the grandfather is an abrasive type, who teases his brother for living with them and who bullies his wife. Their personalities collide so often, resulting in violence, that even on the holiest night of the Catholic tradition the two cannot hold back their passions. A fight ensues inside the foyer of the Church and the story unfolds from there.
If they were from my imagination, I doubt I could make them truly believable. I believe all writers, including Shakespeare, built his characters off of those he came in contact with. Great characters cannot be contrived. As writers are all thieves, the antipathy thickens in the households and amongst the devotees when it is clear we’ve stolen their characteristics and mannerisms for the sake of creating a great story. That is what a writer does. I tell all my friends, “If you see someone in my story that sort of reminds you of yourself, get over it.”
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you being a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
Before I write, I know the story in my mind, though admittedly, the plot isn’t always flushed out until after the first edit. That’s why we pay the editors the big bucks. They’re the ones who usually will guide you along and let you know what is working and what has failed. As you know, sometimes when you’re so close to something, you cannot see its flaws. The extra set of professional eyes makes all the difference when cleaning up the essential elements of a story.
Q: Your book is set in various locations in Michigan. Can you tell us why you chose this location in particular?
I’ve lived in Michigan most of my life. The setting and landscapes are familiar to me. Knowing the rituals, the traditions, and the dialect or style of speaking of the people you write about, lends authenticity to ones work. Though my next work will take place mainly out of the State of Michigan, I like writing about my home state and what I’ve learned there.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A pitcher named Chi-Chi Gomez is getting his ass whipped by an entire team after he deliberately threw a fastball at the head of the other teams best hitter. Tired of his antics, Chi-Chi’s minor league teammates sit back and watch, leaving Chi-Chi on his own to defend himself.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
Yes. This is a poem, entitled, “The Careers of My Mother,” that honors my mother’s unwavering love for my father throughout our lifetime together.
When I was a boy
she was a secretary.
Her nights were filled
with filing groceries,
taking phone calls,
around his office
to remind him of things
he always forgot.
Then, when I turned fourteen,
My mother earned her law degree.
As a defense counselor,
she became a dazzling chief litigator,
furious with her polished tongue,
bullying us with verbal assaults,
clearing his name with brilliant oration
while drilling her steely finger into my chest
with every point she made!
Today, she’s a nurse.
From the den I watch her
slowly lean over to turn him,
stroke his hair, cut the drool that sways
from the corner of his mouth
kiss the hand that trembles
between the tubes that feed him.
Q: Thank you so much for the interview, Garasamo. We wish you much success.
Thank you. Readers can join my Face Book page or reach me at www.garasamomaccagnone.com.