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The Sirens of Suspense

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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New York Times bestselling author Robert Ferrigno was born in South Florida, a tropical backwater rife with mosquitoes and flying cockroaches.

After earning college degrees in Philosophy, Film-Making, and Creative Writing, he returned to his first love, poker. He spent the next five years gambling full-time and living in a high-crime area populated by starving artists, alcoholics, thieves and drug dealers, becoming friends with many people who would later populate his novels.

He used some of his winnings to start a punk rock magazine called The Rocket, where he interviewed the Clash, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, etc. The success of The Rocket got him a job as a feature writer for a daily newspaper in Southern California, where he took the adventure-and-new-money beat. Over the next seven years he flew jets with the Blue Angels, drove Ferraris, and went for desert survival training with gun nuts. He ultimately gave up his day job to become a novelist, and has his first book, THE HORSE LATITUDES, was called "the fiction debut of the season" by Time magazine..

He is the author of eleven other novels, including his latest, THE GIRL WHO CRIED WOLF available February 19th on Amazon.

 

Find Robert on Facebook.

http://www.robertferrigno.com/

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The only advice that I feel compelled to pass on to anyone who has had an interest in writing is to pay attention and listen. The world is a writer's friend and is trying to help us. Even in the most mundane of jobs or quietest of lifestyles, inspiration can be found for exciting stories and complex characters.

My first five years out of college, I was a full-time poker player living in a high-crime area full of classic starving artists, alcoholics, and criminals. After that, I spent 10 years in Southern California, working as a reporter for a daily newspaper. That job gave me the freedom to write about anything I wanted, and the opportunity to interview a wide range of people, from auto repo men to hot oil bikini wrestlers to CIA agents to beach bums, all of whom ended up one way or the other in my novels. For example, when writing my earlier books, I tended to write about the California glitzy sleaze-balls, like the characters you would find in the Horse Latitudes or Heartbreaker, steroid-shooting bodybuilders, gun nuts, gangbangers with bad teeth and a plastic surgeon with a waiting room filled with the most beautiful women imaginable.

Now, as a narrative designer for video games and a resident of Seattle, I still come across a range of interesting characters in my daily life, but not Southern California crazy. The video game world is a place where people actually come to work in their pajamas or barefoot, or in what the real world would call “semi-costumes.” In my studio, it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. I’m a guy who basically wears nothing but black 24/7, so I have no room to judge even if I wanted to, which I don't. But whether its guys in kilts and Hello Kitty t-shirts or girls wearing hamster-head hats with a Zelda tattoo on her bicep, I can count on my video game coworkers to inspire a whole new collection of characters for my books. The video game world has a high-tech granola culture filled with brilliant, talented people that would have a hard time fitting in anyplace else. Nothing like sharing an elevator with computer coders who may as well be speaking in tongues for all I understand, or game artists whose cubicles are decorated with intricate paintings of dragons and demons and giant robots. The best part is we all work together to create amazing pieces of entertainment. I've worked on games ranging from horror games like Alan Wake to all-ages games like Star Wars and Disneyland. And yes, playing games is part of my job description. I've actually had my boss stop by to make sure I'm getting a proper amount of game-time in so that my skills don't atrophy. Sweet.

I didn’t have to look very hard for character inspiration while writing The Girl Who Cried Wolf. This is the first book I have written set in the Pacific Northwest, the world of Portlandia (which is actually somewhere between fact and fiction around here.) I see hard-core greens at the food co-op and listen in on the conversations. These are not idle chit-chat, but quite purposeful. In the city of Seattle, you can’t get plastic bags at the grocery store. The fact that reusable hemp bags breed salmonella is evidently the price we pay for eco-purity. Some people really do believe the world is a dirty place, and that our bodies are filled with toxins. I was raised in the Deep South, and some of the people here remind me of the religious fundamentalists I grew up with. They believe that life is an unclean proposition and there are a million pitfalls waiting to snag us, whether that pitfall is a plastic bag, a burger or a soda sweetened with corn syrup. Me, I believe it's best to make friends with dirt.

When doing my research for The Girl Who Cried Wolf, I interviewed people in various political movements. There is a group of Anarchists who wear black masks while staging protests against the prevalence of corporate culture, which is evidently killing the planet. Who knew? About a year ago, the windows of a Nike store in downtown Seattle were smashed by this group. Right afterward, they walked down the street into a Starbucks and ordered a double macchiato. In another case eight years ago, researchers at the University of Washington were working on growing genetically-altered food crops to feed hungry people around the world. A group of environmental activists broke into labs and greenhouses and destroyed years of research. When they were finally brought to trial, from their resumes you would think they are the most benign and well-educated individuals imaginable and, in many ways, they were. I'm fascinated by people with good intentions who feel driven to do bad things and still feel morally justified. These are the characters I used in The Girl Who Cried Wolf.

 

 

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WHERE WOULD YOU LOOK TO FIND THE BEST CHARACTES? Tell us or ask Robert a question by commenting below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win an e-copy of THE GIRL WHO CRIED WOLF!

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