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THE WICKED WIVES: Interview with Noir Suspense Thriller Author Gus Pelagatti

Gus Pelagatti is a practicing trial lawyer with over 47 years of experience trying civil and criminal cases including homicide.  He’s a member of the Million Dollar Advocate Forum, limited to attorneys who have been recognized as achieving a standard of excellence as a trial expert.  He has spent years researching the true story of the 1938 insurance scam murders, interviewing judges, lawyers, police and neighbors involved in the trials.

Gus was born and raised within blocks of the main conspirator’s tailor shop and the homes of many of the wives convicted of murdering their husbands.

His latest book is The Wicked Wives.

You can visit Gus’ website at www.guspelagatti.com.

To get your paperback copy of  THE WICKED WIVES by Gus Pelagatti: http://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Wives-novel-based-story/dp/1936780631/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315865476&sr=1-1

To purchase an e-copy of THE WICKED WIVES for your Kindle for $2.99: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wicked-Wives-novel-ebook/dp/B005784LB4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1315865476&sr=1-1

To purchase an e-copy of THE WICKED WIVES for your Nook for $3.99: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wicked-wives-gus-pelagatti/1013204282?ean=2940013218611

Follow Gus Pelagatti on Twitter: https://twitter.com/guspelagatti

Like Gus Pelagatti on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/guspelagattiauthor


Q: Thank you for this interview, Gus. Can you tell us what your latest book, “The Wicked Wives” is all about?

“The Wicked Wives” is based on the true story of the 1938 Philadelphia poison scandals. Seventeen wives and a like number of conspirators were arrested for poisoning husbands to death for insurance money.

A gang of men would seduce lonely, disenchanted wives, persuade them to insure their husbands and taught them how to poison their husbands without alerting the physicians, undertakers and police.

“The Wicked Wives” is a story made for Hollywood, combining murder, corruption, treachery, love and lust during the economic depression.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Cast of Characters in “The Wicked Wives”

The Wives

Lillian Stoner: The beautiful, blonde, snobbish society wife abandons her bankrupt husband Reggie to exchange sex for money with Bill Evans, her rich political uncle. She depends upon her lover Giorgio to feed her opium habit, and she conspires with him to murder her husband for insurance money.

Eva Russo: The risqué redheaded nymph loves sex with men, the night life and gambling. In fact her unpaid gambling debts lead to punishment by the mafia. She buries two husbands for insurance money. But the one thing she desperately desires she can’t have…Giorgio.

Joanna Napoli: The bosomy gift shop owner is madly in love with Giorgio and is willing to do the unthinkable to marry him … join Giorgio in a conspiracy to murder her drunken husband.

Rose Grady: Another of Giorgio’s playmates who conspires with him to bury three husbands and leaves the fourth to die at home before fleeing the city to avoid arrest. Her past earns her the name “Kiss of Death Widow.” She always wears mourning black and a veil.

Sadie Lamb: She owns a boarding house with her husband and rents rooms to three male borders. Sadie loves to play musical beds with her borders for a fee. Eventually all three borders and her husband have to be treated on the same day by a physician for a venereal disease. Giorgio persuades the borders to join a conspiracy to murder Sadie’s husband for insurance money.

The Bad Guys

Giorgio DiSipio: He is a mastermind conspirator — a stunning lothario and local tailor who preys on lonely, disenchanted and unfaithful wives by convincing them to kill their spouses for insurance money. He is known to sexually service at least four women on the couch in the rear of his tailor shop in one day.

Boris “Rabbi” Feldman:
A colorful flimflam man and Giorgio’s number one co-conspirator. He introduces many lonely wives to Giorgio and helps to seduce them. He knows where most of Giorgio’s skeletons are buried.

Bruno Bianchi a/k/a “Giant”: The Giant is a tall man with gray hair and a mustache who sits in the passenger seat of a Buick driven by a mysterious lady in black dressed as though in mourning. She wears a thick black veil over her face to hide her identity. Giant systematically assassinates the poison conspiracy witnesses while the lady in black drives the get-away car.

Deputy Mayor Bill Evans:
He is the corrupt head of the Philadelphia Republican Party who is hell bent on protecting his niece Lillian Stoner from murder charges. He hates first Assistant Tom Rossi who won’t help him to protect his niece Lillian from murder charges.

The Good Guys and Gals

Tom Rossi: He is the First Assistant D.A. assigned the job of arresting and prosecuting all conspirators including wives in the poison murders. He also wants to be elected D.A. but incurs the wrath of Deputy Mayor Evans when Rossi refuses to protect Evans’ niece Lily from murder charges. Evans sets political machinery in motion to have Rossi disbarred as a lawyer.

Hope Daniels: She and Tom Rossi are in love and want to marry. But Hope is part Negro, which Evans uses to incite bigoted Philadelphia voters against Rossi’s quest to be elected D.A. Evans has Hope fired from her city job as a nurse for lying about her ethnic heritage on her job application. This action creates a dangerous crisis in her relationship with Tom.

Mike Fine, Chief of CountyDetectives: Mike is a lean and mean fifty-five year old Jewish detective who had to grow up tolerating anti-Semitism. He is willing to protect the life of his best friend Tom Rossi at all times.

Lynn Sullivan: She is Tom Rossi’s stenographer who is hopelessly in love with her boss although he does not realize the depth of her affections for him. But she never gives up trying to win the man she adores.

District Attorney Pat Connors: Pat is about to retire and lends advice to his heir apparent Tom Rossi.

Bertha Brooks: Bertha is another colorful character who is Lillian’s neighbor and an eyewitness to critical facts involving murder.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

For the most part, the characters are based on actual people who participated in the 1938 Philadelphia poison scandals.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

This novel was based on the true story 1938 Philadelphia poison scandals.  So my research uncovered the various plots for me.

Q: Can you tell us why you chose to set your story in South Philadelphia?

My parents owned a tiny row-house in South Philadelphia located within two blocks from the main conspirator’s tailor shop. The shop was the scene where many conspiracies were plotted and where many wives were seduced.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?


Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

One of the wives, Eva, did not promptly pay a gambling debt to her

bookie, Nicky ‘Fits.” After forcing a loaded .38 pistol into her mouth, Eva

wet herself. Next, Nicky punched her in the nose and the orbit of her eye

causing Eva’s nose to bleed and her eye to become obviously red and

swollen.  Now, Eva was planning her revenge… on Nicky “Fits.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Eva unhooked her bra and gave him a wink.  Michael wasted no time

in burying his face between her breasts. He feverishly licked at her nipples.  “Bella putana,” he said. “Bella putana.”

She giggled. “Relax baby doll.  This doesn’t have to be your last supper.”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I do something other than writing for  hours.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Watch a movie based on a good book.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

The Carpetbaggers, (1961) by Harold Robbins.  Robbins was a pioneer in introducing literary sex to the fifties and sixties.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Keep trying to get reviews. Never give up!

Thank you so much for this interview, Gus.  We wish you much success!


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Interview with House M.D. Expert & Author Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Co-Executive Editor of Blogcritics, an Internet magazine of pop culture, politics and more owned by Technorati Media. Always a pop-culture geek, Barbara was raised on a steady diet of TV (and TV dinners), but she always found her way to TV’s antiheroes and misunderstood champions, whether on TV, in the movies or in literature.

Barnett’s regular column, “Welcome to the End of the Thought Process: An Introspective Look at House, M.D.” features insightful episode commentaries and interviews with the House cast and creative team. It is the place for intelligent discussion of the hit television series starring Hugh Laurie.

Barbara has had an eclectic career. With an undergraduate degree in biology and minors in chemistry and English, she pursued a PhD in Public Policy Analysis after spending a few years working in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Her first professional writing gig was with a food industry trade magazine, and although it wasn’t exactly like writing for The New Yorker, it completely hooked her on the profession of writing.

She also writes lots of other things, including technology (from a non-geek perspective), the movies, politics and all things Jewish. Based in the north shore suburbs of Chicago, Barnett is married with two brilliant children and a dog. Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is her first (commercial) book. She hopes it’s not her last.

Visit Barbara’s website at www.barbarabarnett.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Barbara. Can you tell us what your latest book, Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is all about?

CZ is a comprehensive exploration of the hit television series House, M.D. It’s written in two parts. In the first, I take apart the show’s storylines, character histories, bits of social commentary and more. My aim is to understand the series narrative, central character Dr. Gregory House and all in his orbit. I look at everything from the series connections to Sherlock Holmes to the music, sets, etc. I also look the often provocative social commentary: what does the series say about ethics, religion and God, patient rights and more. The second part of the book is an episode by episode dissection. It summarizes each episode, but also hones in on the highlights: how was House a jerk, what was the episode’s ethical dilemma? What was House’s eureka moment? What was the most important relationship moment? But even in this section, I delve deeply into many of the episodes with “Closer Look” essays.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

I’ve written a very widely read blog called “Welcome to the End of the Thought Process” for Blogcritics Magazine since 2007 (I recently became the magazine’s co-executive editor). I wanted to find a way to dig even deeper into the episodes, story arcs and characters than was possible within the scope of a blog.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

In addition to watching every episode numerous times, I also consulted with psychologists (House suffers from an entire constellation of emotional issues), Holmes bloggers, medical texts to understand the diseases encountered in the series, as well as pain management sites to understand better the nature of House’s chronic pain/drug issues.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Not everything is as it seems: a jerk is not necessarily a jerk; the “ethical thing” is not necessarily the “right thing,” and perhaps also come away getting to know this fascinating fictional character a little better.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

From the Introduction to Chasing Zebras:

Dr. Gregory House is an unrepentant jerk. He’s rude, brusque, and harsh — suffering no fools and taking no prisoners. He’s not conventionally pretty; he’s not young. In addition, he’s crippled, limping along with a cane. Yet, he’s the central character on the hit television series, House, M.D. (just House, for short).

It’s a completely unlikely proposition. How do you sell the network on a series created around such an irredeemable bastard? Who would even want to watch it? Millions do.

House is one of the highest-rated television series on American television. More than that, it’s a hit around the world — from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Eastern Europe to the Middle East, and in lands as far flung as Australia and Hong Kong. In Canada, House has even outranked American Idol!

Eurodata TV Worldwide, which tracks and ranks television across the globe, reported in June 2009 that House was the most-watched television show worldwide, with nearly 82 million viewers tuning in from 66 countries. Why would more than 80 million viewers tune in week after week to see Dr. Gregory House verbally spar with his patients, staff, and colleagues at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital? There has to be something more to it (and to him) than just a brilliant jerk packing a stethoscope and a toxic tongue.

Is it the bizarre medical cases? That’s probably one reason, and the starting point for most episodes. Inspired by physician Lisa Sanders’ New York Times feature “Diagnosis,” the House writing team, with creator David Shore at the helm, conjure the most unusual of cases, fitting for an elite Department of Diagnostic Medicine.

Perhaps the series owes its success to the snappy dialogue: the quick wit and rapid-fire pace of the writing. The show’s scripts are certainly dense and swiftly paced: a stark counterpoint to the physically disabled and slow-of-foot Gregory House. And the humor, with its one-liner “House-isms” and snarky banter, supplies balance to the intensity of the weekly medical and character stories.

Or do people simply live vicariously through House’s unfiltered voice? He is certainly capable of saying things the likes of which we normal, well-adjusted worker bees can only dream. Some may be intrigued by House’s uniquely personal code of ethics. Or perhaps House’s personal struggles resonate with us.

Much credit in making House compelling television goes to the nuanced and genuine performance of Hugh Laurie, who stars as the genius diagnostician with serious personality issues. Through his expressive eyes and masterful acting, Laurie’s flawless interpretation of House’s frustrations, fears, hopes, and hurts guides us through House’s morass of bullshit and elaborate game playing and deep into his heart and soul.

It’s ironic that executive producer Bryan Singer, the director of the House pilot, had difficulty casting the role of the quintessentially American Gregory House with an American actor. It was not until Laurie, legendary British comedian (and novelist, musician, and actor), sent in an audition tape, complete with perfect American accent, that Singer found an “American” actor capable of handling the complex role. But perhaps that’s because Dr. Gregory House has more in common with a particular English literary hero than he has with any American television character.

Take a classic British literary hero, bring him into 21st century American medicine with a vengeance, and create a modern television phenomenon. The parallels to House’s literary grandfather — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 19th century detective Sherlock Holmes — are many and intentional. House . . . Holmes; Wilson . . . Watson. Holmes fiddled with his fiddle; House plays piano and guitar. Both House and Holmes reside at 221B. Holmes solved cases with associative leaps — a combination of genius and deductive reasoning, superheroic observational skills and deep intuition about the human psyche. So does House.

Like his Victorian ancestor, House applies logic, reasoning, an encyclopedic knowledge (of everything), plus his intuition to solve medical mysteries and save lives. Holmes uses cocaine to forestall boredom; House uses Vicodin for more than just the pain in his leg.

Unlike the British Sherlock Holmes, House is very much American. Yet, the Eton- and Cambridge-educated Laurie — a quintessentially British actor —completely captures the character. It’s no accident that Holmes fans have often suggested Laurie as the heir apparent to the role of Holmes.

But Sherlock Holmes isn’t House’s only literary or pop culture ancestor. House’s heritage includes a long history of literary and cinematic heroes and antiheroes. Part Byron, part Sherlock, a bit of Quincy, M.E., perhaps a hint of Dr. Kildare’s mentor Gillespie, some of the The Dark Knight’s Batman, and a generous dollop of truth-seeking antihero Fox Mulder (The X-Files), House joins the ranks of classic dark angels and iconoclast

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

The publishing industry is very tough these days and very much in transition. I was incredibly fortunate to connect with a wonderful agent who found the perfect home for the book.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I’m up by 6:30 a.m. and at the “day job” usually by 8:30. My hours at work are fairly long, but I usually take a two-hour stretch mid-day to write and tend to Blogcritics editing responsibilities. When I get home (usually about 8:00 p.m.) I write/edit till about 11:00 p.m.

Q: What’s next for you?

I have a project in proposal stage right now with my agent. I don’t want to talk much about it (bad luck), but it’s a pop culture treatment.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Barbara.  We wish you much success!

Thanks so much!

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