Friday, August 14, 2009

Author Interview with STEVEN RIGOLOSI

Steve Rigolosi lives in Manhattan and is the author of the Tales from the Back Page series of mystery novels. The third book in the series, Andorgynous Murder House Party, was released in June 2009. The premise of this series: Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the advertisements in your local newspaper—-those ads for fetish parties, transvestite boutiques, discount psychotherapy, wicca conventions, Gothic/Punk events, and lonelyhearts seeking to re-establish contact with a ship that passed in the night? Each book in the TALES FROM THE BACK PAGE series looks closely at an advertisement placed on the “Bulletin Board” of The Clarion, a community newspaper published on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Read on to learn more about Steve and his books...


Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

The late Norah Lofts. When I was a teenager, I read one of her books and was so impressed that I wrote her a letter. You can imagine my delight when she wrote back. We ended up corresponding for several years before her death; she was a truly great lady.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

I’ve been writing since I was in my 20s (we won’t mention my age now). My first effort was a haunted house book, as I was very into the supernatural genre at the time. When I looked for an agent, everyone told me that nobody was buying ghost stories. So I decided to try my hand at mysteries, another favorite genre. I also love capers, so my first book accepted for publication, Who Gets the Apartment? (2006) was a combination suspense/caper without a murder. I went into a deeper, darker direction, with more intense character study, in my second book, Circle of Assassins (2007).

Who is your favorite author and why do you like his/her work?

I would have to say Joyce Carol Oates. I find her prose hypnotic, and I think that a lot of people get so carried away by her output that they lose sight of what an excellent plotter she is, and how good she is at suspense. Her 1980 novel Bellefleur is probably my favorite book. My favorite mystery is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

The biggest challenge is, without a doubt, navigating the waters of agents and publishers in an extremely competitive marketplace. Like everyone else I know, I was rejected dozens of times before someone decided to take a chance on me. I’ve had good agents who worked hard for me and poor agents who didn’t do much, including one who basically ignored a letter from an established screenwriter telling her he was interested in optioning my work. I am with a small press, Ransom Note Press, that has treated me very well, but there’s no way I’d be able to pay my living expenses through my writing. That’s not a complaint but rather an acknowledgment of reality that helps me keep things in perspective. The other main challenge is just trying to get readers to try someone and something new, to move beyond the best-sellers and try a book by a new writer. But in an economy where money’s scarce and people are nervous, I can’t blame any consumer for wanting to stick with someone tried and true rather than a newbie.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My latest book is Androgynous Murder House Party, just published in June. It’s part traditional whodunit, part social satire. In addition to figuring out the identity of the murderer, the reader needs to figure out the gender and sexuality of each of the six main characters—Robin, Lee, Chris, J, Law, and Alex. I think the book will appeal to people who enjoy a solid plot, a first-person narrative (Robin Anders, the narrator, is an intense character), and a tongue-in-cheek approach to snobbery. It is available through the usual channels (B&N, Amazon). I recommend Amazon because they are offering it at a nice discount!

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I just submitted a short story to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, but I haven’t begun work on my fourth book yet. I am talking with my publisher about whether or not it should be a sequel to Androgynous Murder House Party, with the same series character. I have a couple of other ideas I’d like to try, but I really need some time to sit back and think about them. It’s tough to find that time because I do have a full-time job and a long commute. As with the other books, the new one will build to a point in my head where I’m ready to sit down, plot it out, and do the first draft. I’m hoping that process can start by this fall!

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Always have a hook for your book—be able to describe it in a couple of sentences. And don’t quit your day job.

What writers organizations claim you as a member?

Unfortunately, I don’t belong to any. The problem is trying to balance my day job with the writing. I just don’t think I could give time or energy to any groups or associations, though I probably am missing out on excellent networking opportunities. I do, however, take part in Deadly Ink every year, and I never say no when someone asks me to do a lecture or book signing. I hope to get to Bouchercon one of these years…

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

The next one will be at the Brick Township (NJ) Public Library on October 24. There will also be other mystery writers there, including my friend Cheryl Solimini, author of the terrific Across the River.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

My life is not particularly exciting, so I would like to use this space to make a plea to readers: Buy books by new writers (i.e., authors you’ve not read before) and by people who aren’t on the best-seller lists. And please support the work of small/independent presses.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

No blog for me, unfortunately, but I do Twitter at . And I have a very basic website at You can reach me at srigolosi AT yahoo DOT com. Thank you for taking the time to read this!


  1. Your books sound really interesting, Steve. Anytime there's a book that delves into a place or situation that's completely foreign to me it means a nice escape as a reader! Thanks.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. I just finished Androgynous Murder House Party and LOVED it!! The protagonist's "voice" is wonderful, and the plot is fun and twisty-turny. Thanks, Steven, for a great read...

  3. Steve,

    I liked Circle of Assassins very much; in fact, I wrote a review which I don't know if you ever saw:

    And Androgynous Murder House Party sounds interesting.