Date Published: August 3, 2018
Publisher: L&A Publications
Most people make at least one really harebrained decision in their life. Just ask Tony Piza. Deciding he needs a “paid vacation” for a year after college, Tony lands a job teaching at a Catholic elementary school. Talk about the Moby Dick of miscalculations. His pathetic effort is making him look bad, crimping his love life, and leaving him feeling guilty. A new approach, fueled by his irreverent humor, makes him a hit with his students. But it riles the powers that be. A showdown seems inevitable. Whether he can survive it—well, that’s something else.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
I’d have to say keeping my word count down. I have a tendency to be somewhat verbose (which accounts for an appalling dearth of invitations to social events). In my defense, however, I practiced law for many years. The unofficial lawyer’s creed is: never say in ten words what you can say in fifty. That comes primarily from writing legal briefs, where you try to nail down every possible detail and scenario. Leave nothing to the imagination. Great for making your point to a judge; not so much for writing a novel.
For example, the first draft of “Mr. Pizza” was 113,500 words. The finished manuscript was 95,000. Try making 18,500 words vanish, and you’ll feel my pain. (My eyes are welling up. Just give me a sec. . . .Okay, I’m good.) Fortunately, it’s not nearly as big a problem for me now as it was when I first started writing fiction. But it still rears its head at times.
What songs are most played on your Ipod?
Hmm. My taste in music is all over the proverbial map. Being of an age where I’m on the cusp of giving Methuselah a run for his money, there’s a lot of 60s songs in there. But I also have a good selection of classical. And I love Brazilian jazz. (Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and such.)
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I do, indeed. In addition to my son (the ultimate beta reader) and other trusted family members and friends, I belong to a writers’ group. We have about ten members who are regulars, and we meet twice a month. Each of us reads an excerpt from our most recent effort, and the others point out what they feel worked and what didn’t. If you’re thinking about becoming an author, and you want to develop the thick skin needed to show your work to the public, join a writers’ group. You’ll have nightmares and intense feelings of unworthiness for the first few months, but that subsides—usually. Most local libraries should have information on groups in your area.
What book are you reading now?
I just finished “Where the Crawdads Sing”, by Delia Owens. A really good read, by the way. And I’m about to start “The Tuscan Child”, by Rhys Bowen. I just realized I’m only reading books by authors with “owen” in their name. Anyone have the number of a good therapist?
How did you start your writing career?
I always loved writing, and wrote poems and humorous (to me, anyway) essays over the years, just for my own pleasure. A couple of years ago I needed a change of pace, so I transitioned out of the law and into writing. My son and I co-wrote three children’s books, “The Adventures of Mophie and Picholas” series. Then I wrote a flash fiction piece for adults, titled “Psychology for Dummies”, and it won an award. Someone actually liked my stuff! Now what?
I taught at a Catholic elementary school immediately after college, and for the past several years there was this thought meandering in the recesses of my brain that my year of teaching could serve as a backdrop for a story about a cocky young teacher who’s in over his head. (Not that I was in over my head, mind you. Cough.) Thus, “Mr. Pizza”.
Tell us about your next release.
Fortunately, the reviews for “Mr. Pizza” have been terrific. (I’ve just recently started breathing normally again.) Several of the reviewers expressed an interest in seeing what becomes of our protagonist, young Tony Piza. I’d been leaning toward a sequel, because I felt there was more of his story to tell. So that’s what I’m going to do.
I haven’t finalized a storyline as yet. What I do know is that it’s going to pick up twelve years after the first book ends. He was only 22 in the first book, and I wanted him to get a little more of life under his belt. I’ll bring back a few of the characters from the original story, and add some new ones from this current period in his life. I’m hoping to publish at some point in the first half of 2019 (assuming I can keep that damn runaway verbiage under control).
About the Author
J. F. Pandolfi went to Fordham University as an undergrad, then taught at a Catholic elementary school before attending Fordham Law School.
Practicing law certainly had its moments, but to call it "utter euphoria"—well, that was a stretch. Plus, the voices that had taken up residency in his head (rent-free, the deadbeats) kept insisting that he share his writing with the world. An award for his flash fiction piece, "Psychology for Dummies", convinced him that the voices might be on to something. And so he called upon his fond memories as a teacher, which served as a backdrop to his debut novel, "Mr. Pizza".
J. F. also briefly believed he had won the New York City Marathon. Alas, it turned out to be a dream, apparently brought on by an acute case of restless leg syndrome.
A staunch supporter of the fight to eradicate adult illiteracy, J. F. was accorded a Special Recognition in Literacy Award for his efforts.