MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Tony Ruggiero writes science fiction and fantasy with an edgy realism designed to make people wonder: could it actually be true and could it be happening right now? His eye opening approach within the genre has run the gauntlet of responses from laughter to having people look over their shoulder more often. Either way, Tony is a very happy man. His published novels include OPERATION IMMORTAL SERVITUDE, ALIEN DECEPTION, and SATANIC CREATURES WANTED: HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY. His books are published by Dragon Moon Press (who will also be publishing a short story of mine soon as well). His web page is www.tonyruggiero.com and his email is email@example.com
TONY RUGGIERO: Hi Michael — I would like to thank you for this opportunity to talk with you as well as your readers.
VENTRELLA: One of the more difficult tasks authors have is convincing potential readers to try someone new. Tony, what do you say to readers to get them to check out your books?
RUGGIERO: If discussing my vampire series, I suggest that if they want to read something different in a vampire novel then they will want to look at the “Team of Darkness Chronicle” Series which begins with OPERATION IMMORTAL SERVITUDE. In this day of vampire stories that show a more “friendlier” vampire, I believe that my series (which has been described as “What If Anne Rice and Tom Clancy had a baby?”) has maintained the traditional lore of vampirism, yet added an approach that not only includes a military aspect, but also a point of view where the vampires see themselves as a creature of God and have a purpose in life to fulfill.
For my science fiction work, if you are a fan of space opera type stories, you will like my ALIEN DECEPTION and ALIEN REVELATION books. These are written in the classic space opera tone that has always been a favorite of mine, but I have added a bit of a twist by setting it in a current and real life scenario that involves Earth politics but also reveals that it doesn’t matter if it is alien or human politics, the same problems exist. It also begins as a light hearted story, but becomes precarious for our two protagonists, Greg and Sarah.
VENTRELLA: Do you think that your web page helps or do people generally already know you by the time they visit it?
RUGGIERO: I think it is a combination of both. We live in an age where information on the internet is a main way of communication especially for writers, so I think this is a good way to have people see their work. But I think it is also important to meet as many people as possible in person and that is where the life blood of science fiction conventions comes into play.
VENTRELLA: You are currently posting a work in progress on your web page, chapter by chapter. Tell me a bit about that story.
RUGGIERO: I was posting some chapters for a new novel called COVEN, which is a thriller-type novel that deals with witches in a modern day setting.
VENTRELLA: Have you completed the entire book and are just serializing it, or are you posting the chapters as you write them?
RUGGIERO: I stopped posting chapters because the book went into editing and my editor and I thought it was best to stop until we are done and then relook at it at that point.
VENTRELLA: What are the copyright considerations? Won’t your publisher consider it an “already published” work?
RUGGIERO: I plan to hopefully publish COVEN soon. If I do it with Dragon Moon Press, I have a very good relationship with the publisher and this will be a non-issue. The publisher realizes that as a small press, you have to work harder than a traditional press and find innovative ways to garner reader’s interest and if this means posting a good part of it on the web for free — then that’s what we need to do.
VENTRELLA: Have you had any formal writing training? Do you think that is necessary?
RUGGIERO: No formal training. I do have a master’s in English, but I believe that most of the writing skills are developed through practice. Three words of encouragement — write — write — write! I am a firm believer in learning through practice. If you have the desire to get formal training, then I am sure that it can’t hurt, but is it a prerequisite? I don’t believe so.
VENTRELLA: How did you end up with your current publisher? Do you have other long term goals to grab a more “mainstream” publisher?
RUGGIERO: Sure, I am always looking for that mainstream publisher. In terms of small press publishers, I have been with several over the past 10-12 years. I remember selling my first story for $5.00. My current relationship with Dragon Moon Press has been by far the best and I look forward to continue working with them in the future.
VENTRELLA: What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
RUGGIERO: It’s another option. If it fits your needs then you should do it. My only thought is that it should not be your first choice. Self publishing involves a cost to you and I think you should avoid that if you can. The distribution issue can also be another reason why you should look elsewhere first.
VENTRELLA: What’s next? What are you working on now?
RUGGIERO: I have two novels in the editing process: COVEN and a new science fiction novel called LAST CHANCE, which includes vampires and werewolves. I have sporadically been working on the next and last vampire novel called OPERATION END GAME. I have been teaching a full load so I am a little behind on the vampire novel which I hope to catch up with for a 2010 release.
VENTRELLA: What is your writing style? Do you tend to rely on outlines first or do you just plow right in?
RUGGIERO: Both and neither. I really don’t have a set pattern. Sometimes I just start writing and then develop an outline later. I also have a large dry marker board where I cram all those ideas on and then try to sort them out.
VENTRELLA: People say authors should “write what they know”. How has your military background influenced your writing?
RUGGIERO: It has certainly helped especially in the way that the vampires interact with the military. But it also helps with writing about diverse cultures and developing relationships. The fact that in the military also helps me to develop a good approach to the writing process by scheduling and setting time aside to accomplish writing has also been a big help.
VENTRELLA: What was your biggest mistake so far in trying to make it as an author?
RUGGIERO: Thinking that the writing was the hard part. It’s really all about selling your work to publishers and readers. Unless you’re a “name,” you have to constantly sell yourself and try and not come off as being too pushy. I think a lot of writers fail at this and they come on too strong and they alienate the reader.
VENTRELLA: Do you have any specific advice you would give a writer trying to make it in the publishing business that they may not have heard before?
RUGGIERO: Have hope and use common sense. Sure, always set your sights on that big contract, but don’t let disappointment make you file it away forever where no one will ever see it. I think it’s better to please 100 readers then to please none. If you do not make that big New York contact, then spend time in the small press realm. Dragon Moon Press has seen its share of writers that have made the transition from small press to big press so it is possible.