Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi, my name is Michael A. Sisti, but I usually go by Mike. I am 77 and truly believe the seventies are the new fifties.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up there until age 16, when I moved to northern New Jersey. This is where I spent forty years of my life.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I married very young and raised a family of six children. I attended many colleges for specific courses, including creative writing and public speaking, but did not seek a degree until age 60 when I received a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, followed by a Master’s degree in Communications.
My career was focused on branding and marketing, although I launched many companies through the years. It began with a venture to sell fireworks at age 11 in Brooklyn where they were illegal. That experience instilled the entrepreneurial flame in my soul, and I have been founding companies ever since.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Based on my study of the current publishing market, I recently began to review material I have been writing over the years. This plethora of material provided the basis for five new books that I am in the midst publish between now and the end of 2017.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
In the early sixties, I began writing advertising copy and public relations releases as part of my function in the marketing field. I like to tell everyone that writing advertising material was my introduction to fiction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
During this period described above, I was being compensated for my writing, so at that time I considered myself a writer. And of course, that writing back then paid far better than writing books pays now.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
For a five-year period, I went over to the dark side and worked for Corporate America. And this position as a senior marketing communications executive led to a life-changing experience that became the basis for the fictionalized novel I wrote.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Having a difficult time finding a title that satisfied my editor, I came up with the descriptive title, Executive Crumple Zone that explains what happens to employees in that same situation as the character lead.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing speaks with a satirical voice with lots of humor sprinkled into the story. This breaks up the angst and tension of the situations that my readers encounter on the journey through my stories.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Most of my books are biographical fictionalizations, or situations and stories I have known or witnessed. As a result, there is at least one liter of my blood in each book.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
So far, my books have been set in locations where I lived. In the future, I may travel to research some new book ideas.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
With my graphic arts training in marketing, I have the ability to design my own covers. My wife Sara is an expert in type design, and she often designs the text pages and provides input on the covers. I hire various illustrators for the graphics.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The first three novels I published describe the culture conflict between an entrepreneurial mindset and a corporate bureaucracy. This contrast provides a learning experience for young people entering the workforce.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I read lots of books by new authors, but they are mostly story tellers rather than novelists. I was fortunate to learn the difference through a tedious process with my editor. He taught me how to make a story into a novel. My favorite author is Pat Conroy. He had that ability to put the reader into a charming city like Charlestown or a magnificent southern mansion, and experience the ongoing activity.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My first book was published by a small publishing house owned by Renaissance Man, PieroRivolta, who published my book despite it not being within his genre. And his editor Chris Angermann saw the potential of the manuscript and worked with me to the conclusion.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as a parallel career. I still do some consulting and volunteering, but I spend a large proportion of my time writing and marketing my books.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My biggest critic (my wife) thinks my newest novel, Executive Roadkill is my best work yet. So, the only thing I can think to change would be to have it written by a famous author. Then it would have sold many more copies and entertained many thousands more people.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
This latest book is a sequel to my first book, and it is much more passionate in its writing. The effort taught me to release that passion and not hold back.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
My lead character is an ordinary man with a sense of humor and a creative mind. He is not the typical Hollywood leading man. I see a talented, unknown actor in the role.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write every day, even if it’s just to stay sharp. Make each book the best it can be, spending the money and resources to make it perfect. And be prepared to spend much more time marketing than writing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Communicate with me and the other authors you read. Tell me/them what you liked and didn’t like about my/their books. And please write a review, unless you hated the book.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
20,000 Leagues under the Sea
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I have trained my mind to see humor in everything, and I write about it. (My new humor series includes scores of anecdotes that I observed.) I also cry at anything emotional, so I probably need to adjust my medication.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Michael Angelo. He was every kind of genius, and I would love to learn how his mind worked.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I like to cook and I like to play golf. And unlike most people, I also enjoy public speaking.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like intense, well written/produced TV dramas that are shown on the premium channels: Billions, Ray Donovan, Homeland, Outlander, and others.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like food. I like to cook, experiment and eat dishes from all over the world. I like all vivid colors. And I like pop music play by big orchestras.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
That would leave reading and speaking, which I also like.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“There’s Nobody Here” (I will be cremated and my ashes spread.)
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
There is a blog as part of my multi-faceted website, but I post mostly when I travel.http://michaelsisti.com