My relationship with author Dina Santorelli is a shining example of the ways online social network can be awesome. I “met” Dina—though we’ve never been in the same room together and actually haven’t heard each others voices—through author Siobhan Fallon. I’ve become a huge fan of Dina’s blog, and I’m actually in the middle of reading her debut novel, the thriller Baby Grand. My Kindle has been glued to my hands in fact, but I pried it away for a few moments in order to post this interview.
Title of book, publisher, pub date: Baby Grand (Stonesong, May 23, 2012)
Author bio: Dina Santorelli is a freelance writer/editor who has worked for many print and online publications, such as Newsday, First for Women, and CNNMoney.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her blog. Baby Grand, her first novel, is available on Amazon.
Give us your elevator pitch—What is this book about? In Albany, New York, the governor’s infant daughter disappears without a trace from her crib at the Executive Mansion. Hours later, newly divorced and down-and-out writer Jamie Carter is abducted from the streets of Manhattan. Jamie is whisked upstate, where she is forced by her captor, Don Bailino, an ex-war hero/successful businessman, to care for the kidnapped child in a plot to delay the execution of mobster Gino Cataldi – the sixth man to be put to death in six years by hardliner Governor Phillip Grand. What prevails is a modern-day thriller about family ties, loyalty, murder, betrayal, and love that’s told in deftly interweaving narratives that follow the police investigation of the missing Baby Grand, the bad guys who take her, and the woman who finds the strength to protect her.
What makes this book amazing? This is a toughie. Ask my agent: I have trouble tooting my own horn. I was trained as a journalist, so I’m accustomed to being invisible. Maybe the best thing to do is offer my latest five-star rating in place of my own estimation: “BABY GRAND is a winner! Dina Santorelli’s debut novel is a wonderfully written page turner. I couldn’t put it down — This is the kind of book that keeps you reading until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer… and the first thing you grab when you wake up! The characters are well developed and the story is gripping and well-paced. This one is destined to be a blockbuster! A fabulous start!” I almost burst into tears when I read that. I’m so, so grateful that the book is being so well-received.
Who will want to read your book, and does it fit into a particular genre? It’s a thriller, for sure, but there are relationship, crime, and political aspects to the novel as well. I wrote it to appeal to a both a male and female audience. So if you’re interested in a fun, fast-paced read, this book is for you. (So much for having trouble tooting my own horn…)
Who are your writing influences and why? Michael Crichton. Tom Wolfe. Tom Clancy. John Grisham. David Baldacci. James Patterson. I’m totally hooked on the Dragon Tattoo trilogy—The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is next on my reading list. I am drawn to edge-of-your-seat stories. Thrill rides. And I always wanted to write one. Always thought I could. It’s so gratifying to finally publish a thriller—to have others enjoy it as well is more than I could have asked for.
If you’re self-published, what made you decide to take that path? Ah, why did I self-publish? I actually wrote a blog post about this. In short, after securing an agent in January 2010, finishing Baby Grand in August of that year and editing a few times, we started sending the manuscript out to publishers last spring. By the end of the year, we had heard “no” from about 10 editors. I totally expected this. As a freelance journalist, I know that rejection is part of the writing business. What I didn’t expect was how antsy and frustrated I would feel. Although I’ve known for years that traditional publishing would be a long, arduous road, and I thought I was willing to wait it out, the explosive growth of self-publishing became very difficult to ignore. I started to question what exactly I was waiting for.
In the end, I think finding a publisher is a matter of finding someone who loves your book as much as you do, as much as your agent does. I believed that person was out there. Still do. But the question I had to ask myself was: Am I willing to wait? And the answer for me, and this book, was no.
The minute I made the decision to self-publish in January of this year, I felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. One of my former professors said to me when I told her of my decision: “A wise, brave choice”—exactly the kinds of choices I have been making, or at least have tried to make, throughout my professional career. As I told my agent, “Let’s just do it!”
What’s the best thing about publishing? The people. I’ve been a writer for more than 20 years, and along the way I’ve met such incredibly smart and generous individuals, many of whom have become good friends.
What’s the hardest thing about publishing? Without a doubt, marketing. Trying to get noticed in a sea of traditionally published and self-published titles. You’re not a needle in a haystack. You’re a needle somewhere on the planet. Google Earth would have trouble finding you.
What are you working on now and when will readers be able to get their hands on it? I’m currently finishing up my second novel, a stand-alone thriller, tentatively titled, In the Red. I hope to have it done by the end of the summer. Then I’ll be writing the sequel to Baby Grand.
Any secrets of success you’d like to share with our reading audience? Just be yourself and trust yourself. For me, it all comes down to what FEELS right. And that’s the path I usually choose. That little voice inside hasn’t let me down yet.
Anything else you’d like to add—words of wisdom? If you want to be a writer—I mean, really want to be a writer—you should never give up, never call it quits, never take no for an answer. Believe in yourself and your abilities. My husband—my wonderfully level-headed, pragmatic husband—likes to say, “Dina, be serious, you can believe and believe and believe, but the truth is that not everyone is going to become a successful novelist.” My answer to that? Well, somebody will. And who’s to say that somebody won’t be me? Or you?