Today I have the opportunity to welcome author Phil Pisani to The Maiden's Court! His novel, Maggie's Wars was released in November 2013 and I had the opportunity to interview the author about his writing and the book.
From your bio, it sounds like you have always had a love of reading. When did the love of reading turn into the desire to write?
I always admired the authors I read and marveled how they put together words to form sentences and sentences to paragraphs and ultimately into a wonderfully constructed story. I always yearned to be able to be creative like them. While studying in Italy, I began trying my hand at writing and it felt very natural and I loved it. So it was there the transformation took place - my third year in college. It was then my love of reading metamorphosed into writing.
What was the writing process like for you? What was the most difficult part of the process? Did anything surprise you?
In the beginning I felt I was too long winded in words and couldn’t unlock my insides. It is very difficult to get within oneself and write viscerally and I think that is the challenge of any artist. Unless one writes truly or creates truly, everything becomes linear. I don’t know how it happened, it seemed more of a gradual process where I kept digging deeper to get there. Once there, the surprise came. My writing was clearer, shorter and seemed it had more strength and dimension.
Of all the possible genres, why choose to write historical fiction?
Prior to Maggie’s Wars I wrote short stories and screenplays and was co-author of a non-fiction book, which caught the eye of a professor in an upstate New York college. He had a story to tell and wanted me to tell it but did not want his name revealed because of the sensitive matters. Since many of the events took place at the end of WWII and I wanted really to reveal these events, I felt weaving the events around fiction would be the best road to take.
There are many, many novels set during World War II. What would you say sets your novel apart from others within this time period?
Two things, first as mentioned earlier, the events that unfold in the story are true and really never have surfaced in any other novel or non-fiction book for that matter. In addition to this, the novel portrays a female war correspondent which is rare. Secondly, I crafted it using two different points of view, one from the female correspondent and the other from the male soldier. Collectively, I feel these two points would set it apart from other novels of that era.
What is one interesting tidbit that didn’t make it into Maggie’s Wars that you would like to share with us?
Well, it’s not a tidbit. The publisher felt it too long so they made me cut it in two. Eventually, Maggie goes on and reports in Korea and the beginning of Vietnam. So that will be in the sequel.
Do you have any future writing plans? What topic or time period would you be interested in writing about?
As noted above I’m finishing up the sequel to Maggie’s Wars. I’m also doing a rewrite on my novel Sins of Liberty, about a Mexican migrant worker who finds out America isn’t what he thought it would be and struggles to return to Mexico while pursued by the authorities.
Phil Pisani grew up on the north side of the railroad tracks in an upstate New York blue-collar industrial town in a rough neighborhood filled with the most colorful characters in the world. Factory and tannery workers mingled with bar and restaurant owners, gamblers and gangsters, good people and bad people, brash rogues and weak loudmouths, all spawned by the early immigrant movement to America. Italians, Russians, Slovacks, Irish, and Germans formed a rough and tough section of town where few from the south side dared to venture. He learned to fight at a very young age, both in the ring and on the streets. Fights became badges of honor. He also was a voracious reader. His mother worked in the village’s library. After school, or fights or sandlot football games he would curl away into the adult reading section. Enjoying the polished blonde oak bookshelves, tables and chairs, he would choose a book from the stacks and delve into its smells and contents. Reading soothed him.
He studied history and humanities in Pisa, Italy, and Oswego State in New York and later earned a MA in Political Science from Binghamton University.
He worked as a labor investigator for NY and rose in the ranks through the years but never stopped writing or reading. He currently lives in Albany NY, with his wife Joanne.
Book Blurb from Maggie's Wars:
"Combatting wars on two fronts – one of fame and the other love – Maggie Hogan never wavers as a rare woman reporter on the battlefields of World War II, the Nuremburg Trials and the beginnings of the cold war. But she makes the mistake of falling for an officer, complicating her ambitions. Learn of what one woman feels she must do in order to make it in a man’s world, no matter what. Maggie’s Wars is a story about the ultimate battle between love and prestige, and how you can’t win them both."
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