Today, I would like to welcome author Frank Nappi to the blog, as he shares more about himself and his latest amazing book, 'Nobody Has to Know.'
What was the inspiration behind this book?
The inspiration behind this book is similar to the inspiration behind all of my work. Any facet of the human condition that appeals to me and beckons for further exploration is enough to set my imagination on fire. For instance, the catalyst for my first novel was a fortuitous encounter with two very special WWII veterans - Mr. Bill McGinn and Mr. Eddie Hynes -- during a Veterans Speaker Program that I initiated at Oceanside High School for my classes. After hearing them speak about the insidious residue of war, I was inspired like never before. The stories they told me, and our subsequent friendship, became the basis for my award winning novel Echoes From The Infantry. My Mickey Tussler series was inspired by my love of baseball and my interest in special needs folks and the obstacles they face in a sometimes unenlightened society. Nobody Has To Know came to be as a result of my many years of teaching in a high school and my observation of so many young folks who struggle with fractured psyches. So many poor, destructive decisions are folks make are the result of a a patchwork of misfortune and pain that just cannot be eradicated.
What message do you hope to send with the story?
Well, very little in this life is black and white. People tend to make snap judgments about others and situations when they have little or no knowledge of what precipitated some delicate, often controversial situations. The message in Nobody Has To Know is that the landscape of our past often becomes instrumental in who we are presently. For better or worse, we are products of our early experiences. And while there are ways (therapy, support groups, etc.) to mitigate some of the more unfortunate occurrences from our past that we may have to face eventually as adults, often there is no panacea. And the results sometimes are disastrous.
Do you think illicit affairs between teachers are students are more prevalent today than they used to be, or is the media just jumping on more stories and exposing them?
Although today’s youth is far more uninhibited and a lot more “worldly” at an earlier age, this sort of thing has been going on forever. All of us have heard stories before of teacher/student romances. I suppose that the thought is an inherent byproduct of the teacher mystique as seen through the eyes of a student.
I have been teaching for 18 years and get at least one marriage proposal a year. Of course, those are usually from kindergartners. Have you ever had a student openly have a crush on you?
Hmmm. You certainly know how to make a guy work, huh? In the interest of full disclosure and total honesty, yes, it has happened, although I am not so sure how open it was. I don’t think it was -- at least I hope not! This sort of thing is really a slippery slope, especially when a teacher is young. Most professionals, however, learn quickly how to diffuse any potential awkwardness or impropriety. It is when other factors are at play - as in the case of Cameron Baldridge - that these harmless flirtations morph into something far more menacing.
I remember having a crush on my gym teachers in kindergarten, and maybe one student teacher in high school. Did you have crushes on any of your teachers?
You know what...no, I never did. Most of my teachers were either men or elderly women. It made it easier I guess, but does that mean I was cheated???
Does your role as a creative writing teacher influence your writing at all?
It is more the other way around, although I have to say that I believe that being good at one helps me to be better at the other. My experiences in the world of writing and publishing have allowed me to offer some valuable insights into the writing process for my students. I always feel as though I can speak with great conviction about those things that really “work” in the realm of crafting stories because I am teaching from a place replete with much experience.
We're all familiar with English teachers having us analyze all kinds of symbolism within a book, even if the author probably didn't mean anything by it. Do you teach your students to purposely use symbolism in their writing? Or should writers just naturally write and let symbolism take place if it happens?
The question all English teachers are asked, with great passion, is “how do you know that (fill in author name) meant for the reader to see that as a symbol”? I think that all real students of literature realize that there are no absolutes. Many authors will deliberately employ symbols and motifs in their fiction for a directed purpose. Other times, it does, as you suggest, occur on a subconscious level. The important thing to realize is that artists are always looking for ways to convey messages in creative, figurative ways. This is what separates great fiction from good fiction.
Any other writing advice to share with us?
May I quote Hemingway -- “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
What are some of your other works? And on what projects are you currently working?
I have published four novels. Echoes From The Infantry is about a WWII soldier who remains mired in the psychological cloud of combat for years after the final shots are fired. My Mickey Tussler books trace the improbable rise to popularity and local stardom of a 17 year old autistic baseball player in the 1940s. And of course Nobody Has To Know follows the self destructive path that teacher Cameron Baldridge chooses. Presently, I am working on the third installment of Mickey Tussler and another thriller.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I am milk phobic, something whose origins trace back to a rusty milk cart, an expired container of Farmland and a despotic third grade teacher. I get shivers just thinking about it!
Anything else you wish to share?
I love the beach, especially in the off season. I spend a lot of time there. I am also a rabid baseball fan, so many hours are spent watching my two sons play the greatest game there is or lamenting the fate of my New York Mets. Country music ain't so bad either! Naturally, many of these things have a tendency to creep into my novels. The most obvious case I suppose is the baseball backdrop for my Mickey Tussler series. There is always, I believe, a lot of every author is each novel he/she creates. However, I suppose in light of the subject matter of my latest book, I should issue the disclaimer that not everything that appears in a work of fiction is rooted in personal experience.
Thank you so much for your time!
Nobody Has To Know, Frank Nappi's dark and daring new thriller, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. NHTK is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies, and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.
Purchase Nobody Has To Know on Amazon.
"A haunting, briskly-paced page turner that explores the darkest recesses of the human psyche while propelling the reader through an intricate series of hair-raising twists and turns. Nobody Has to Know is a masterfully written tale that is expertly told. Frank Nappi knows how to entertain the reader from start to finish."
-- #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Nelson DeMille
Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story "A Mile in His Shoes" starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, including Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the just released thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. Frank is presently at work on a third installment of his Mickey Tussler series and his next thriller. He lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.
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