as our guest Rich DiSilvio author of suspenseful thrillers,
historical fiction, and nonfiction. He has written articles and
commentaries for magazines on various topics and four books. His
passion for history, art, music, and architecture has yielded
contributions in each discipline in his professional careers.
Rich's novels include his latest release, My Nazi Nemesis, which is a suspenseful Cold War and WWII thriller that has earned five 5 star reviews from Readers’ Favorite; A Blazing Gilded Age, a searing work of historical fiction, featuring icons such as Teddy Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan and Mark Twain, that was praised by HISTORY/A+E and noted biographer Roger Di Silvestro; Liszt’s Dante Symphony, which is a thriller/mystery, replete with ciphers, spies, and a gripping tale that covers the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Germany from its Prussian roots; and DiSilvio’s celebrated magnum opus, The Winds of Time, which is a non-fictional tome that analyzes the titans who shaped Western civilization.
Rich's work in the entertainment industry includes projects for historical documentaries, including James Cameron’s The Lost Tomb of Jesus; Killing Hitler: The True Story of the Valkyrie Plot; The War Zone series; Return to Kirkuk; Operation Valkyrie, and cable TV shows and films such as Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union, Celebrity Mole, Monty Python: Almost the Truth, and many others.
Rich has written commentaries on the great composers and conceived and designed the Pantheon of Composers porcelain collection for the Metropolitan Opera. Subsequently, the collection retailed throughout the USA and Europe.
His artwork and new media projects have graced the album covers and animated advertisements for numerous super-groups and celebrities, including, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Yes, Queen, The Moody Blues, Cher, Madonna, Jay-Z, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper, and many more.
Rich lives in New York with his wife Eileen and has four children.
Norm: Good day Rich and thanks for participating in our interview.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what keeps you going?
Rich: Thanks for
inviting me, Norm. I had dabbled with writing songs and poetry from
my high school days up until I had children. That’s when I penned a
few short children’s stories but never sought publication.
forward to when my oldest child was going off to college, and that’s
when I realized that time had flown by so fast that I wanted my
daughter and her siblings to have a more authentic account of
Being a voracious reader of biographies and history for many
years, I had set out to write a brief account for them, focusing on
the titans who shaped our Western world. It started as a personal
endeavour, that I naively assumed would take a few months, but
blossomed into a five year stint.
That 732 page tome ended up being my first published book, The Winds of Time. The glowing reception that work received, and the thrill of writing it, is what drew me to this craft. And despite switching gears, and turning my pen toward creating novels, that bug remains deep within me.
Norm: What do you want your literary work to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?
Rich: Well, my
first work, as noted, was a serious work of non-fiction with the
objective of provoking thought, since my intent was to not only relay
historical facts but also debunk many aspects of history that have
been either intentionally revised for propaganda reasons, or
misinterpreted or unknowingly misrepresented by historians, past and
However, once I switched to writing novels, that allowed me
to infuse humour into my works, which I enjoy.
My newest release, My Nazi Nemesis, has a very serious and dark undertone, being that it recounts vividly the horrors of the Holocaust at Auschwitz, and involves the ugly sides of human nature, yet the protagonist is probably the most witty and charismatic character I ever created. And readers’ reviews seem to verify that.
However, while I love to entertain, I do have serious historical and philosophical leanings that saturate all of my works. I believe there is so much that people never get the chance to learn in life, for various reasons, and I enjoy sharing that knowledge. And fiction allows you to do that in subtle ways, which makes learning, for many people, enjoyable rather than tedious.
Norm: How long does it take you to write a book and what is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Rich: Time for each
book varies. As mentioned, The Winds of Time involved a great
deal of research and analysis, hence taking five years, including
However, my novels flow rather quickly, anywhere from three
to four months for the initial draft. Then several months more for
editing and revisions.
As for scheduling, once I get immersed into a work, I go at it like the possessed, finding whatever available time I have to work on it, since once the creative juices get flowing, I fear walking away and losing that magical burst of energy. Sometimes a day or two passes, but I generally work at it until I know I’ve captured a particular segment of the story, then quit for the day.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Rich: What I found
most useful is that writing opens up the mind to new avenues and
horizons, which one would normally never know unless one commits
himself to this creative task. Taking that journey is, for me,
Many times I walk away from a session
wondering, Where the hell did those ideas come from? There truly is a
magical element to writing that I love. Additionally, I find that
reading history and biographies not only enhances knowledge but also
stirs the imagination. So that is very helpful.
Most destructive is when I sit and try to keep writing when I know my brain is not firing on all cylinders. So I’ve learned to not even sit down and begin writing unless my mind is fired up and kinetic.
Norm: I notice you wear many career hats, are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing? Does your writing career ever conflict with your other careers?
Rich: Yes, perhaps
my biggest problem is being interested in many things. I’ve owned
my own businesses and worked for others over the years, and at times
it gets frustrating that I can’t write full–time.
But fortunately I’ve had breaks in schedules, which afforded me ample time, otherwise I was forced to wake up early or stay up late to squeeze in an hour or two when busy.
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing? As a follow up, do you have a specific writing style?
Rich: I believe
both environment and upbringing always find ways into a writer’s
head and their work, whether blaring or subtle. People see and react
to the environment, and even their own families, differently.
that amazing, since even in a single family, each child is brought up
by the same parents, yet often times they all walk away with
different perceptions, opinions, and morals. So, one’s environment
and innate DNA dictates the individual, and it’s hard to suppress
that in one’s actions or work.
As for writing style, that varies from genre to genre. In poetry I tend to be more literary, for example, while in fiction I tend to be more commercial. I like my characters’ voices to be natural, more “real” than polished gems of high art.
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer?
Rich: In my first novel, Liszt’s Dante Symphony, I was more focused on plot, which happened to be rather sophisticated with an unorthodox structure of intertwining two separate, yet connected, story lines.
In A Blazing Gilded Age, I concentrated more on character
development. Being a much larger work, at 508 pages, this novel
generated enthusiastic reviews for doing so, for not only were the
main three brothers and their mother well received, but so too was
the villain, Archibald Desmond Huxley, the clever yet depraved coal
Meanwhile, my latest thriller, My Nazi Nemesis, does have a very unique plot, with twists and turns, however I also enjoyed developing Jack Goodwin’s character, since he narrates most of this dark tale. As one reviewer stated, “DiSilvio's plot is cunning and ingenious, and his characters, especially the very resourceful Jack Goodwin, won’t be easily forgotten.” — Jack Magnus for Reader’s Favorite
Norm: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Rich: For non-fiction that’s impossible, too many. But for fiction, I would say Dan Brown and Nelson DeMille. Brown for his historical nuances and intrigue and DeMille for his earthy characters.
Norm: What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
Rich: That’s the
10,000 dollar question. I see conflicting stats, some stating book
readers/buyers have decreased drastically, while others indicate it
has only been a shift due to our new paradigm. Some say that readers
had shifted from buying books to going to libraries due to the poor
economy, or don’t have the desire to read, being inundated with so
many forms of rich media.
Meanwhile, some recent sales stats indicate
that book buying has increased. One thing is undisputable, with POD
and self publishing nowadays, millions have turned to becoming
authors, flooding the market.
Everyone has a story to tell, the problem is, too many are poor writers, hence putting a bad taste in many readers’ mouths.
Readers pay good money and invest a decent amount of their time to read a book, and if it’s a major disappointment, that doesn’t bode well for all the very talented indie writers trying to make a go of it. But the good news is that many of the prejudices against indie writers is softening up, even by major publishing houses and organizations, as they realize many sparkling gems lie in the field of dung.
Norm: Could you tell our readers a little about your most recent novel, My Nazi Nemesis?
Rich: This novel takes place in the Cold War 1950s and 60s and features CIA agent Jack Goodwin, who tells his daughter Eleanor about his traumatic past in WWII, when, as an OSS officer, he met her mother, Veronika, who had been dragged away to Auschwitz and suffered unimaginable horrors.
Jack managed to rescue her and they wed, but they soon encountered a
prying, yet handsome, SS officer, Alois Richter.
A toxic love triangle formed, leading to a deadly face-off, where Alois unexpectedly murdered Veronika in a fit of jealousy, thus igniting the action-packed hunt that Jack and Eleanor would embark upon. Yet more unexpected twists and turns derail the mission, yielding a very shocking and deadly conclusion.
Norm: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of the book?
novel had a most peculiar origin. I had dreams about the opening
scene, which plagued me for two years!
Yet it was only a mere scene,
nothing else. It was so persistent and compelling, however, that I
had to sit down and try to develop a plot and additional characters
to make it a full story.
I have long been fascinated by the horrors and insanity of the Holocaust, so I was compelled to include that into the tale. Additionally, I had visited a friend in St. Louis, Missouri, and was inspired to somehow include that city and the Gateway Arch into the story line. So, once again, yes, environment does play a role in creation.
Norm: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Rich: My intentions
for this particular novel were to make it more action-packed, with a
captivating protagonist (for the entertainment thrill), yet as
mentioned, incorporate serious elements of the Holocaust as well as
the tensions that the Cold War had on Americans.
Additionally, to show how the human mind, morals, and willpower can collapse or rise amid adverse situations. Thankfully, the reviews thus far have been stellar, receiving five separate 5 star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, and many 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. So it appears I have indeed achieved them, thus far!
Norm: What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?
Rich: As noted,
I’ve been an avid reader of history and biographies for decades,
having read thousands of books and magazines, and watched countless
documentaries. I have a formidable library and consult it often,
while also going to the public library when needed.
I take infusing
history into my works very seriously and try my best to get it right,
having even visited the Holocaust museum here on Long Island to see
there fascinating, yet disturbing, displays and listen to and talk to
It’s something that affects you profoundly to the core, especially realizing that genocides and radical Jihads continue to plague us today. That’s why the savage butchery of the Holocaust has appeared in two of my novels and my non-fictional tome. It mustn’t be forgotten, nor should the brutal but necessary remedies to rid the earth of it.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Rich: The best place is at my WEBSITE, since they can sign up for the monthly giveaway, read an excerpt, play the quiz, or get autographed books at a great discount. Yet, naturally, I’m on Amazon and Goodreads, as well.
Norm: What are you future projects?
Rich: I also have a book for middle-grade readers in the works, which I’ll probably publish under a pseudonym, yet as for my core adult audience, nothing is slated just yet. However, I have contemplated a sequel to My Nazi Nemesis, if its success continues and warrants one.
Norm: As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Rich: Well, no one has asked about a sequel. Yet I understand that completely, since My Nazi Nemesis does wrap things up rather neatly. However, some cunning ideas float in my mind that could keep the thrill ride going.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
Rich: Thank you, Norm. I truly appreciate your invitation and enjoyed this interview.