Friday, February 22, 2013

A Conversation with Crime Novelist Robert Ferrigno

Omnimystery News: Author Interview
with Robert Ferrigno

We are delighted to welcome crime novelist Robert Ferrigno to Omnimystery News today.

Robert's new thriller is an ebook exclusive, The Girl Who Cried Wolf, published earlier this week.

We recently had a chance to talk to the author about his work.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us something about The Girl Who Cried Wolf that isn't mentioned in the publisher synopsis.

Robert Ferrigno
Photo provided courtesy of
Robert Ferrigno

Robert Ferrigno: I started writing the book while I was deep into writing a trilogy of futuristic political thrillers. The trilogy involved a couple of years of research which was profoundly depressing and I wanted to have a part of my mind occupied with one of my contemporary noir thrillers because my bad guys always make me laugh. It worked. The three dangerous goofballs who kidnap the girl always cracked me up … and then they scared me.

OMN: Do you write any of your own personality traits into your books?

RF: There's bits and pieces of me in all the characters. Mack, the heroine's boyfriend, is a cynical tough guy with a short fuse who never quits. Remy, the heroine, finds strength she never thought she had in the midst of danger and adversity. The three bad guys reinforce each others' worst instincts … all of which I relate to and can write to. Each of the characters are involved in high-stakes moral decisions and that, to me, is the most important part of life and what good crime fiction is all about.

OMN: Tell us about your writing process.

RF: I usually start out instinctively … with an idea, with a character and I turn it around for a while, sometimes a long while, until the general plot reveals itself. Then I get more structured. I write long character bios: what they eat for breakfast, what they watch on TV, what their closet is like, their verbalisms (Glenn, one of the kidnappers fancies himself a ladies' man. When he meets a pretty woman he looks into her eyes, says "Hi, my name is Glenn. Like a quiet place in the woods.") Things like that help me nail a character. Eventually I start storyboarding things. I have a large corkboard in my office filled with 3x3 post-it notes. Each of the notes has one sentence, like "Remy driving her Porsche and putting down the locals." One note equals one scene. Then I arrange and rearrange the post-its on the corkboard. They're color-coded, red notes for a violent scene, blue notes for a love scene, yellow notes from cliffhanger scene, etc. That allows me to look at the board and see the rising and falling action and how the exposition plays out.

OMN: How do you fact-check your books?

RF: I used to be a reporter, so I do plenty of internet research but I also have a lot of people I can draw from in terms of asking advice or to check my work to see that it's accurate. I have a friend who is a former cop and SWAT trainer, and he makes sure my police procedures and weapons usage is correct. I prefer direct contact with knowledgeable people. When I did a book that featured a ballroom dancer, I contacted dance studios until one of the agreed to let me come in and observe for an evening, maybe ask questions when things got quiet. I rode with an auto repo man on midnight runs to find out what that was like. Most people are eager to share what they know if they are treated respectfully. The most exciting research was spending time with a woman who made a living in Southern California competing in bikini and wet T-shirt contests at bars. The research could have been completed in a couple nights, but my wife may me wrap it up after a week.

OMN: Let's imagine The Girl Who Cried Wolf has been optioned for film or television. Who do you see in the key roles?

RF: Remy, the kidnapped heiress, is Emily Blunt. Mack, Remy's tough boyfriend, is a young Bruce Willis. Detective Hobbes, the cop who believes Remy's really been kidnapped, is Forest Whitaker. Glenn, the charming kidnapper, is Channing Tatum. Cleo, the renegade FBI agent, is Charlize Theron.

OMN: What kinds of films do you enjoy watching? Did any of these films inspire any of your books?

RF: My first novel, The Horse Latitudes, was inspired by The Third Man, a 1949 film starring Orson Welles. In the movie, a pulp fiction writer (Joseph Cotton) goes to Vienna to attend the funeral of his friend and discovers that his friend (Orson Wells) faked his death to hide a series of terrible crimes. In The Horse Latitudes a man searches for the killer of his ex-wife who he's still in love with, and finds her very much alive and very, very bad.

The Girl Who Cried Wolf was loosely inspired by an O'Henry short story, "The Ransom of Red Chief," about three kidnappers who snatch a little boy from a wealthy family and hold him for ransom, but find out that he's such a brat that they pay the parents to take him off their hands.

Some of my favorite recent films are: LA Confidential, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Let the Right One In (Swedish original), Attack the Block, The Fighter, True Grit, The Matrix, The Dark Knight and Coraline.

OMN: What are your interests outside of writing crime fiction? Do any of these activities find their way into your books?

RF: I play poker (Hold-Em), videogames (favorite game is Bio-Shock), collect comic books with atomic bomb covers and play with my kids and my dogs. I intend to use poker and video games in a future book.

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Robert Ferrigno spent five years gambling full-time before getting restless and using some of his winnings to start a punk rock magazine called "The Rocket." 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. He later flew with the Blue Angels, drove Ferraris and went for desert survival training with gun nuts. Great fun but he wanted to write novels so quit his day job and started work.

He currently lives in Washington state.

Learn more about the author and his work by visitiing his website at RobertFerrigno.com, where you can also read the prologue to his new book.

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The Girl Who Cried Wolf by Robert Ferrigno

The Girl Who Cried Wolf
Robert Ferrigno

Be careful who you kidnap …

Getting kidnapped on a visit to Seattle wasn't in Remy Brandt's agenda. A tightly-wound L.A. entertainment attorney, Remy has meetings to take and orders to give, but the three knucklehead environmentalists who snatch her have other plans.

Remy wakes up in the middle of a national forest, resting on a platform strung between the branches of a gigantic cedar tree. The kidnappers demand that her hedgefund-manager father deed over his old growth timber holdings. Remy demands a triple-espresso and a bowl of fresh raspberries.

It gets worse.

Her father is dodging subpoenas for insider trading and can't be reached. Her boyfriend, left for dead by the kidnappers, can't get the FBI interested because at age 16, Remy faked her own kidnapping, and ran off with the pool boy. It's up to the boyfriend, an ex-cop with a short temper, to find her.

The kidnappers should be worried about him … they should be even more worried about Remy.

Amazon.com Print and/or Kindle Edition  Barnes&Noble Print Edition and/or Nook Book  Apple iTunes iBookstore

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