A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult
than it is for other people. -- Thomas Mann 

Reviews and an Author Interview

 

 

Former Staten Island resident

Lawrence J. De Maria has penned

"Sound of Blood," his first thriller

 

Sunday, October 30, 2011
 
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Mention the name Lawrence De Maria and one conjures up images of U.S. Marine, award-winning journalist, private-industry account executive — not to mention a devoted husband and dad — and, as of late, author of “Sound of Blood,” his first thriller featuring Jake Scarne, a rogue cop turned private eye.

A Renaissance man of sorts, De Maria recounts it has always been his desire to pen a novel.

Why not? After all, he’s been writing all of his life and throughout his career has met and interacted with a slew of fascinating individuals — to put it mildly — many of whom became the inspiration for his latest work.

To say the former president of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce has worn a lot of hats is somewhat of an understatement: He covered the stock market and real estate beats at the New York Times and headed the Times’ Pulitzer-nominated market coverage during the 1987 stock market crash, wrote hundreds of stories — many for page 1 — and in so doing faced some unsavory characters in this country, South America and in the Caribbean. But lest we forget that De Maria, realistically speaking, got his start as a reporter with the Staten Island Advance.

De Maria exclaims that, throughout the years, everyone’s question was always “why don’t you consider writing a novel?” And since De Maria knew heaps about financial scams and was a fan of thriller novels by Ian Fleming and Robert Parker, he simply took his cue from there.

After some six months of writing, De Maria went the traditional route of getting an agent and chose to rewrite the book — it’s in longer form now — and had it edited.

“I wanted Jake Scarne to be human,” says De Maria, “with a back story that contained some tragedy, but some triumph as well. He has a temper — just ask the city councilman he held by the heels from a City Hall balcony.

“He cuts corners to get the job done, drinks a little too much, likes to gamble and is a sucker for dangerous women,” says he.

The mystery novel mixes sex and mayhem with financial chicanery, he adds.

“Some of the financial frauds I created, hoping they weren’t too ridiculous, have actually occurred in the interim,” says De Maria.

“Incredibly, there have been some schemes uncovered that even I couldn’t dream up, and I have a pretty weird imagination,” he adds.

As for locales that prove unhealthy for a variety of good and bad guys: New York City, Argentina, Seattle, Miami, Georgia, Antigua and the Florida Keys.

The former Staten Island resident now lives full time in Naples, Fla., with his wife, the former Patricia Tighe of New Brighton, who is one of 12 children. The couple has two sons, Larry, a senior vice president and co-head of infrastructure research at William Blair & Co., and Chris, who works in Hollywood, where he helps produce commercials and makes his own short films — one of which won an award at the Staten Island Film Festival. Chris writes screenplays, including one based on his dad’s novel, in which they collaborated.

There’s something for everyone in “Sound of Blood,” including a powerful love story.

“It didn’t start out that way. But, like most authors, I wound up falling in love with the characters. So it seemed natural that they’d fall in love with each other. It’s almost like I didn’t write those scenes. They did,” De Maria continues.

What about the startling ending? “They wrote that themselves, too,” says he.

Piqued your interest? “The Sound of Blood” may be purchased online at Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble.com or at www.lawrencedemaria.com.

“Real women, real villains and real heroes make Lawrence De Maria’s Sound of Blood a great read, with a shocking ending. As with Jaws, you won’t want to go near the ocean – but the land isn’t much safer.”

Janet Evanovich, The New York Times #1 Bestselling Author

“The bodies pile up on morgue slabs from coast to coast in the Sound of Blood, a sweeping thriller that mirrors today’s headlines (and actually predicted them!). A father’s search for the truth about his son’s murder and an investigator’s dogged pursuit of the killers lead to the collapse of a vast international financial empire. But there is more to Sound  of Blood than murder and mayhem. At its core are some things missing from most of today’s fiction: real characters and a terrific love story.”   

John Crudele, Columnist, The New York Post

 

“The financial frauds at the heart of the Sound of Blood would have been called preposterous – until recently. Now, after Madoff and other Ponzi schemers have been exposed and billions of dollars have vanished, Lawrence De Maria’s thriller reads like today’s headlines. The book’s hero, a private eye named Jake Scarne, eventually brings down a murderous financial conglomerate. But not before Federal investigators and homicide cops from Miami to Seattle to the Caribbean – and some very angry mobsters – join in the hunt. And not before Scarne is forced to make a decision that shocked even me.”

William Albracht, U.S. Secret Service (Ret.)

 

“From Miami to Staten Island, Lawrence De Maria’s Sound of Blood grabs you by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t let go – a thriller that delivers on every page, with enough heart and financial intrigue for three books.  When you buy it, put in an order for his next one, too.”

 David O. Stewart, award-winning author of

The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution


 

Kindle Author Interview: Lawrence De Maria

 

October 10, 2011

 

Lawrence De Maria, author of Sound of Blood, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Sound of Blood?


LAWRENCE DE MARIA: Although not a roman a clef, my novel does incorporate characters and scenes from my own experiences as a journalist, particularly as it relates to financial scoundrels and schemes. However, I do not consider it a financial thriller, per se. Rather it is a wide-ranging adventure yarn with a powerful love story. My protagonist, Jake Scarne, is a private investigator with an interesting background (war hero, ex-cop, with Sicilian and Cheyenne heritage) who takes things very personally when he or his clients are wronged. The book is, hopefully, the first of a long thriller series, with recurring characters, strong men and woman—and a worldview.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: Sound of Blood is written in the third person, which allows me to get in the mind of all the characters, including the villains, most of whom I try to humanize. For example, many readers have commented that my two major assassins are delightful people when they are not killing people. And the two crucial women in the book, Emma Shields and Alana Loeb, are powerful foils and, I believe, could have carried books on their own. ALL my characters are opinionated, and most have a sense of humor, or at least of the absurd.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: The kind of person, male or female, who prefer characterization and action over National Geographic or Better Homes & Gardens descriptions but who also don’t mind having to look up a word or two (easy to do on Kindle!). They would like movies like Chinatown, Body Heat or one of the Bournes, rather than Transformers VII.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: I believe it started when I got my first library card. I was about 10. It’s a cliché, but the whole world opened. My first books were boys’ adventures, Civil War history and sci-fi, naturally, but then I read Gone with the Wind (and have since re-read it a half-dozen times). The sheer narrative power of Margaret Mitchell’s prose stunned me. I wanted to write like that. My first real job was as a reporter on the Staten Island Advance, which I took almost as a lark. My first story landed on Page 1 and I was hooked. My years at The New York Times convinced me that I could write at a high level, but I always knew my strength lay in making things up (something some readers of the Times assume is taught there—not true!). After some fits and starts, I decided to write a novel in 2006, and the words flowed so easily I have been kicking myself for not starting years earlier. I have almost total recall, so my experiences in the Marines, as a stockbroker, as a reporter, movie critic and businessman come back to me almost instantly. I fish, hunt, golf and play tennis—and played college baseball—so I can write about a lot of things with some authority. To this day, I read everything, and now even review books for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: With Sound of Blood, I had a general idea of the characters and plot, but didn’t know where it was going. So I got up in the morning and started writing. After a while the book wrote itself. I don’t outline, although when I’m deep into a book I may break it out in chapters and rearrange things. I constantly edit and rewrite. This is where my reading of other books comes in handy. I NEVER steal from other authors, but when I come across a particularly telling passage or a beautiful scene I almost instantly realize that I could do something better in a certain part of my novels. So I go back and give it another shot. I don’t stick to set hours to write. But when I sit down I lose track of time and usually never get up before two or three hours have passed. This might happen at 6 A.M. or 6 P.M.—or 3 A.M.! I am constantly thinking up new plots and action scenes, and have more of both than I know what to do with. But all are in files on my computer. And I write with an eye to movies. Not specifically to sell to Hollywood, but because I think a plot and characters that are easy to visualize make for compelling reading. For the same reason I also experiment with screenplays, because that genre tends to concentrate the mind. Why use 500 words when 100 will often do the job?

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: I mentioned Margaret Mitchell. Then John Fowles moved me with the beauty and complexity of his writing. More recently, in my own genre (if I can be so bold to say that) Robert B. Parker and James Lee Burke stand out. And, of course, Salvatore Lombino—a.k.a. Ed McBain and Evan Hunter! But I also owe a debt of gratitude to Ian Fleming, whose prose is vastly underrated. Incidentally, I have all the Spensers, Robicheauxs and Bonds, and a bunch of McBains. I revisit them often, like old friends.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: The Magus.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: Mostly through emails, Facebook, Twitter, et al. But nothing concerted yet. I have spent most of my efforts lining up reviews and blurbs (I got a great one from Janet Evanovich!). I may soon hire a publicist and/or internet specialist. I intend to have three books on Amazon by year’s end, and will start producing many more in 2012.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: I just reviewed a biography of Jeff Bezos on www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com. I will never again underestimate the power of his brain, or Amazon. Sound of Blood is available through other e-outlets, but I expect Kindle to dominate the market in the foreseeable future. Moreover, the Kindle publishing process is user-friendly. On a personal level, I originally went the traditional agent route. She loved the book—but “mainstream” publishers ignored us. Since I suspect that Amazon and others will soon be the new “mainstream,” it was a no brainer to e-publish.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

LAWRENCE DE MARIA: Just do it! Have several people (not all friends and relatives!) read your book, both for general feedback and for typos. Pay a lot of attention to the typos, but take the feedback with a grain of salt, unless a real factual or legal problem is pointed out. Remember, it’s your book and your voice, not anyone else’s. Take no prisoners when you write. People today are exposed to everything in the media and on the Internet. Don’t worry about what they may think about you, especially if you write FICTION. Again, just do it!

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lawrence De Maria, who began his career as a general interest reporter (winning an Associated Press award for his crime reporting), eventually became a senior editor and financial writer The New York Times, where he wrote hundreds of stories and features, often on Page 1.

A regular contributor to the weekly Market Place column, he headed the Times's Pulitzer Prize-nominated coverage during the 1987 stock market crash.

After he left the Times, De Maria became Executive Director of the Forbes newsletter division, where he wrote and edited investment reports, and helped manage the Forbes pension plan.

Then, following a stint in corporate America—during which he helped uncover the alleged $12 billion Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme and was widely quoted in the national media—he returned to journalism as Managing Editor of the Naples Sun Times, a Florida weekly, until its sale to the Scripps chain in 2007. (Currently he is a contributing editor to the Naples Times, a monthly offshoot of the weekly.)

De Maria, who has just e-published a thriller, Sound of Blood, is also managing director and editor for Urban Scram, a San Francisco internet startup in the travel industry, and is a director and reviewer at the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Visit his website, find him on facebook, and follow him on twitter.

Are you a Kindle author? Would you like to be interviewed for this blog? You can! See details on my Kindle Authors Wanted page.

Discover new writers! Subscribe to the FREE Kindle Author Newsletter.

Cogito Ergo Sum| Darrell Delamaide 

 

Nov. 4, 2011 - Sound of Blood

 

This richly satisfying thriller by Lawrence De Maria is not for the reader in a hurry for a quick crime fix. De Maria, a former New York Times journalist who now lives in Florida, wants you to savor New York and Florida in their full glory and seediness as he tells his tale.

There is a murder, a fiendishly clever one, at the outset, and there is suspense as private investigator Jake Scarne tries to unravel the financial and criminal skulduggery behind it. His nemesis is Victor Ballantrae, who shares traits of financier Allen Stanford and Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, though not even the entire family of his client, the father of the murder victim, is on his side. Scarne's biggest problem is Alana Loeb, Ballantrae's second in command and an alluring woman with a mysterious past.

These are not cardboard characters. De Maria fleshes them out with quirks and flaws and endearing characteristics -- even the two psychopathic hit men employed by Ballantrae. The action flows easily from Manhattan to Miami to Antigua as the author glides smoothly from billionaire magnates to homicide detectives to slick financial manipulators and to bona fide mobsters.

De Maria takes us to a Florida we know from John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard, but his Jake Scarne has as much of the hard-bitten Bogie of "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" as he does of the easygoing Travis McGee. Scarne doesn't want to play the sap, either, but the flesh is weak and Alana's allures are often overpowering.

Sound of Blood has many fresh ingredients as well. The author masterfully weaves in financial fraud ripped from the headlines of the past two years. Ballantrae's jack-of-all-trades assassins are a gay couple. There is little room for a happy Hollywood ending as the plot moves with the inexorability of a tragedy toward its climax.

The author savors some things too much. A key golf match between Scarne and Ballantrae skillfully captures the conflict between the two but runs a bit too long for the non-golf aficionado. There are a few too many random characters running in and out of the plot.

But none of this really slows the reader down. With compelling plot and characters and an authority in depicting worlds at once exotic and familiar, De Maria carries us along on a ride that is thrilling and even cathartic as Jake Scarne battles evil that is not found only in fiction.


Darrell Delamaide is the author of the recently released The Grand Mirage