Friday, February 13, 2009

TAKE TEN: Author Don Greco

A heartwarming story of love and acceptance, author Don Greco gave the world a literary treasure with Abramo's Gift. Here he talks about the book and what he hopes others get from his debut novel.

Donald, Happy New Years and thank you for talking with Conversations. Before we get into your novel Abramo's Gift, I want to talk about the response you have had to the book so far. Have you been surprised at the feedback from readers?
I have been pleasantly surprised both at the universal approval it has received and the insight that some readers have into its content. When one writes a story, it is very gratifying to see that some readers derive life lessons and personal comfort from it. When one is a little known writer as I am, it is nice to know that readers like what I do and are glad they took the time to read my story.

I know from your interview on Conversations LIVE! Radio that you didn't even tell many around you that you were even writing, let alone going to have a book published. How has the support of your family and freinds encouraged you to forge ahead?
It’s satisfying to realize that people you have been very close to all your life enjoyed reading your story. But it was also fun to see how surprised they were upon receiving a novel in the mail from this strange person they thought they knew so well. Now most of them are impatient to read my next novel, so that sets a new goal for me.

Let's rewind a bit to the actual storyline of Abramo's Gift. I can't help but realize that there are some similarities between you and the main character Abramo Cardone. Both of you have had to deal with personal tragedy. How did the story develop for you?
It developed from a sense of longing, for the love that was lost… in my case, my wife, Angie. In that sense, Abramo Cardone also has that longing for the love that he lost. Some of the most poignant stories are those about people who are lonely and anguished yet then find grace and comfort when they least expect it. That belief was the genesis of my story.

Other than Abramo, which character resonated with you on a personal level?
It’s hard making a choice, but I think Mrs. Reid is a good one. She is hurt and lonely and realizes that all her great wealth cannot buy her happiness. She lost a husband and an only son and has had to endure in silence the false rumors that circulated about her son possibly being killed in Army service in less than honorable fashion. She’s honest, reverent, and kind, but has a short fuse in her righteous anger. But her great heart, and her willingness to change and grow ends up being her salvation in the story.

One of the things I got from the book was the importance of walking in your own truth, that is, facing challenges and hardships head-on instead of trying to mask it with something else. Out of curiosity, how did you deal with your own grief, and what can others learn from Abramo and your examples?
When something terrible happens in your life, people close to you try to help you cope with your grief. But because grieving is such a solitary process they often don’t know what they can do to help. When my wife died suddenly, a dear friend of ours gave me the best advice. She said that I had to learn to let people help me, and not to shut them out. She told me, “Your friends love and care about you, and they want to do something to comfort you and help you heal…but often they don’t know how. If you let them try to help you, they will feel better and so will you.” It was the best advice I ever had, and it helped me get through the worst time in my life.

The world of publishing is a very competitive one. How much research did you do about how to be successful in the industry before deciding on trying to break into print?
Not much. I thought my only job was to produce a good story, and everything else would fall into place, but I was wrong. Consequently, I have been following a steep learning curve regarding the business aspect of marketing a book.

Have you been surprised at how much of the book's success still falls on the author even after the book is available in stores worldwide?
Since my greatest challenge is getting my books into bookstores anywhere, I’m not sure I can answer this question accurately. But I think that books are like your children: you will always be a parent, and you will, likewise, also be a father or mother to your stories.

Your book was chosen as one of Conversations' "Best Kept Literary Secrets" of 2008. For those that are just finding out about the book through this interview, what would you hope they get from the story you tell in Abramo's Gift?
I would hope that ordinary people would realize that they can achieve greatness in their own quiet ways, not by wealth or high attainment, but by finding love and grace in the people around them.

What would you say to those who may have a story in their head and heart but haven't taken the time to try and share it?
First of all, if it’s only a matter of taking time, I urge the imaginer to find the time and give it all the energy he can muster. Most stories are told in their own best time. If one has a good story, he should not let it fade away. Stories have a way of doing that. Often times, a story can be told at only one period in a person’s life. As years pass, the imaginer changes, his tastes and circumstances change, and so the story sometime changes, or becomes more anemic and obscure in memory. When that happens, the story is lost, and may never be resurrected again.

Having said all this, the reality of life is such that not everyone can write good stories. So if you are one of those people who cannot put stories in your imagination into pen and paper, and if you believe your story is wonderful, then by all means tell it to someone else who may have the gift of finding words to tell your story. Both the imaginer and the writer, not to mention the readers, would have a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment for your efforts.

Thank you for your time, Don. What is next for you in 2009?
This year I want to concentrate on making my story, Abramo’s Gift, known to as many people as possible. If I can do that, and if readers like my novel and my writing, then I’ll feel comfortable putting forth a new novel in 2010. It’s as good as the current one, but a different kind of story.

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