Today we're talking to Frank Nappi on his tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the thriller novel, "Nobody Has to Know".
Frank will be awarding a $50 Amazonn GC to one randomly drawn commenter, so comment today AND follow this tour (if you click on the banner above, it'll take you to a list of tour stops)! The more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a really cool prize!
Thanks to Frank for answering all my prying questions!
Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?
Nobody Has To Know is actually the first time that I deviated from what I typically write. My agent had suggested to me some time ago to try something a little different, a little risky if you will. It took some time to come to fruition, but Nobody Has To Know was a most exhilarating, eye opening departure from my usual historically based fiction that has been categorized as YA crossover. The process by which I crafted this novel was far different from the others, and engendered in me a new found respect for others who write faithfully in this genre.
What research is required?
No research required for this one. As is the case with all of my work, just being a student of the human experience offered ample material with which to work.
Name one thing you learned from your hero.
Cameron Baldridge offers a frightening glimpse into a world both chaotic and threatening. His proclivity for self destructive decisions reminds me, as it does all of us, of just how drastically life can change with a poor choice. And, for all of us who have come close to making one of these choices without actually carrying through, Cameron provides a safe distance from which we may watch what could have been.
Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?
I don’t think I do anything too quirky or idiosyncratic. Unless of course you consider that I can only do my very best work if I am seated at my desk, with my 12 inch Batman posable figure, F. Scott Fitzgerald magnetic finger puppet, Mr. Met Bobblehead doll and musical Rocky Drive-In Christmas ornament all around for support and inspiration. I don’t know. Is that weird?
Plotter or pantser?
A little of both I would have to say. I am anything but formulaic but of course there are times when an idea strikes and it must be recorded.
Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
Two orange New York Mets stadium seats obtained from Shea Stadium before they knocked the old place down. If I look long enough, I can still see me and my dad sitting there, sharing the sights and sounds of the game we both love so much.
Anything new coming up from you? What?
Well, I am presently playing with another thriller since the reception for Nobody Has To Know has been so warm. I am also working on a third installment of my Mickey Tussler series.
Do you have a question for our readers?
Yes. How important is it for you as a reader to like the main character in the book you are reading? Can you still enjoy and appreciate a story that features as its protagonist a less than likable person?
Cam knew he should not have encouraged her - should have never pursued her. It was the first thing he was told before he took the job. It wasn’t so much an admonition as it was a statement of fact.
“Remember, you can be friendly with these kids, but you are not their friend,” his mentor, a seasoned veteran of twenty nine years, warned. “Especially the girls. That’s just trouble waiting to happen.”
Cam shrugged it off. He had heard that warning before. Besides, he had no interest in teenage girls, especially the ones sitting in his classroom.
“No problem there John,” he had explained at the time. “I have it covered. I have no time for any of that. I’m involved already. College sweetheart. It’s cool. Really. We’ve been together for years.”
“Is that right?” John commented. “Then what’s the deal? I mean, twenty five isn’t old friend, but seems to me you should have taken it to the next level by now.”
Cam flushed and stood more awkwardly now. John marveled at his protégé’s attempt to free himself from the moment’s grasp.
“I don’t know,” Cam replied. “Why does everyone ask me that? I really don’t know. I guess the timing has never been quite right.” He paused briefly, gleaning some obscure meaning behind the raised eyebrows of his friend and mentor, then continued to speak, like an actor who had just been cued from offstage.
“But that should change soon. Hayley and I will probably be engaged by Christmas.”
Cam should have remembered John Volpe’s words. He should have listened to logic, and tucked away those feelings. He should have done a lot of things, like remembered his master’s thesis – the one that explored La Femme Fatale. He knew all the names. The sirens of Greek Mythology. Mata Hari. Memo Paris. Daisy Buchanan and Mattie Silver. And of course there was Nabokov’s Lolita. She was the one he remembered most. “All of them,” he had written, “are so very beautiful, so alluring, yet deadly – life draining vampires who possess the power to transfix the opposite sex with their feminine wiles, leaving these spellbound males weak, vulnerable and ultimately barren.” He should have remembered. He should have considered how much he loved teaching and his genuine affection for everyone at Hillcrest High School. He tried. But all he could see was her. For some reason, all he could think about was her long dark hair, and what it would be like to touch it – to let the soft strands cascade across his own body. And the wet shine of her lips. My God, what would it be like to feel those as well? To press his to hers. She was so beautiful, so exquisite, so young.
So many times, during their little chats before and after class, he stared into her blue eyes, marbled with gray flecks, and was lit by her electric smile, all the while wondering how it was that this universe managed to give birth to such a perfect creature. She was perfect. She was just as Nabokov had described his Lolita -- the nymphet, a mystical, magical, sweet smelling creature budding with sexuality, ripening on life’s vine, right before his very eyes. Yes, the forbidden fruit. Oh how she tortured him. The curve of her mouth; her slender waist and fully formed hips, both attenuators to the rhapsody of her walk; her sweet smell and the softness of her tan skin. Everything about her called to him desperately. It was a familiarly paralyzing feeling. The girl was also familiar. He could recall, as a kid, humid summer evenings with his friends, racing around on damp lawns under a gray sky that had just begun to soften into the pitch of night. Freeze tag was the game most often. Some complained it was a bit juvenile, but there were all sorts of variations, including a wrinkle that included their favorite alcoholic drink of choice.
The rules of the game were basic: once touched, you could not move. You remained frozen in place, sometimes drinking to excess, until someone freed you from your current state. He could still remember waiting, silent and still, for what seemed sometimes to be an eternity. It was uncomfortable. Cam’s knees would ache and his arms would burn. It was interminable. He was always tempted to transgress, to flex his muscles under the cover of the deepening night. He never did. Even though he could move, he never did, for the spirit of and passion for the game always trumped logic and reason.
He played it all the time, with Maleigha. She was his first love. It was the summer before he began high school when he met her. She had just turned fourteen, and was visiting her cousin, who happened to be his next door neighbor. He was slightly older and they had spent that entire summer together, swimming and riding bikes. He often thought, even now, how odd it was how they seemed to click instantly. She came from a Latin American family that lived in a trailer in New Jersey. She was a singer, and a lover of jazz music. He was just a kid from Long Island who loved the Mets. Their cultures and upbringing differed greatly as well. Yet somehow, none of it mattered. It was part of the magic.
The days that summer were filled with innocent fun with a group of others. They sat around many afternoons listening to their favorite tracks from Rage Against the Machine and The Smashing Pumpkins while playing Super Mario 64 on his Nintendo. When they tired of that, the world outside offered more frivolity, including wiffle ball, Marco Polo, tag, and man hunt. They were rarely at a loss for entertainment. Those were good days. But night time was really special. At night, it was all about Maleigha.
Often, Cam would take her for walks through the nature preserve not too far from his house. She loved the sound of the crickets, and the gentle trickle of the shallow waterway that snaked its way through the underbrush. It was there they would hold hands and talk about the summer and the beach and about their feelings for each other.
“This is very different from where I come from,” she said, marveling at the moon through the treetops. “I really love it here.”
“Is Long Island really that different from New Jersey?” he asked.
She looked at him with bubbling amazement.
“Yeah, just a little,” she answered, shaking her head playfully.
“Well, it’s not that far,” he said. “Maybe your family can move here.”
She never looked so sad.
“I don’t think so Cam.”
“Well, you never know,” he continued. “Besides, you can always visit, right?”
She was thinking of her mother, and the last thing she said to her before Maleigha left.
“Have good time at Carla’s, behave yourself Maleigha, you hear? No trouble, okay? But by time you get back, we be all set to leave for Ecuador. No worries mi hija. It be fine.”
It will be fine, her mother kept saying. Somehow, Maleigha just could not see how moving to the other end of the earth would ever be fine. Not now. Not ever.
“Sure Cam,” she said through glassy eyes. “I can visit.”
He thought of Maleigha often. It was eleven years since he had last seen her, and he was now a twenty-five-year-old man with a beautiful fiancée and a promising career. Time had altered many things for Cam, but Maleigha remained a part of him. And although life had offered him a promising path to follow, other thoughts were now surfacing as well, like how this new nymphet of his, Nikki, knew very well, on some level, just how enticing she was. That’s why her sweaters fell the way they did across her round breasts, and why her clothes left very little unknown about just how shapely she was. It was the same reason why she twirled her hair when she laughed and why she giggled flirtatiously every time she said hello to him in the hallway. She was no child. No way. And he was no longer a man in control, but a tortured soul, slave to her essence, lost always in beautiful, woeful distraction.
There were moments when it was almost more than he could bear. When she touched his arm playfully, or blinked her eyes in that coquettish way of hers, it rendered him in agony. His heart would rebel feverishly, and his reality would divide instantly into two sectors – the ecstasy felt from the passing of electricity through that touch or flirtation and the devastation of a world that simply forbade any further advance. Those fires of love, or perhaps lust, burned wildly in the chasm between hemispheres and transformed quickly into waves of passionate thought. What would it be like, he wondered, to press his body up against hers? Just once. To feel, with all his being, her tight, silky skin next to his. It was a desire that ruled his soul.
Even so, he should have known better. Although only seven years separated the two, it should never have gone any further. It should have ended with those harmless flirtations, like their conversations about things they both loved, like the Mets and Kanye West, and the way he always saved her a piece of his Orbit gum or the many visits he made to Carvel, where she worked part time, just because he was “in the neighborhood.”
“You again?” she said laughing. “This is the third time this week. You sure must love ice cream.”
“What can I say Nikki,” he answered. “I’m addicted.”
Yes, he should have recognized the signs and just walked away. But he didn’t. Somewhere, deep within the darkest chambers of his soul, lurked the feeling that he had to have her – that his body would not survive in her absence. It was an uncompromising pang. Not even John’s advice and knowledge of all that he could lose were enough to extricate him from the blissful imaginings and real life longings. No. It did not matter. Nothing else mattered. Not any more. His world had been turned upside down in an instant, and he had reached the point of no return.
Nobody Has to Know book trailer:
Nelson DeMille's Endorsement:
"A haunting, briskly-paced page turner that explores the darkest recesses of the human psyche while propelling the reader through an intricate series of hair-raising twists and turns. Nobody Has to Know is a masterfully written tale that is expertly told. Frank Nappi knows how to entertain the reader from start to finish."
-- #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Nelson DeMille.