[Read Breakaway Daily’s review of The Big Wide Calm.]
If Rich Marcello could choose only one creative mentor, he’d give the role to Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers. This is not only because he currently resides in New England, where Jonathan started, but because of his life as a contemporary fiction author, poet and songwriter, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs he’s written. Rich grew up in New Jersey surrounded by song and word.
For a while it seemed right to travel the musician’s path, especially during his stint inhis college folk group, at The University of Notre Dame, where he wrote and recorded his first original songs. But, as is true for many musicians, graduation led him down a different road, one on which he found his love for high technology. There, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.
During his time in technology he never stopped creating art, and eventually his love for song and the written word grew to the point where he walked away from his first career to pursue poetry, song, and fiction with the same enthusiasm and discipline he demonstrated in business. In The Color Of Home, his literary voice melds all three together with honest generative dialogue, poetic sensory detail, and “unforgettable characters who seem to know the complete song catalog of Lennon or Cohen.”
His second novel, about a girl trying to make it in the music business, is called The Big Wide Calm and I was fortunate to be able to ask this up and coming author the inspiration behind his latest work that is now a best seller.
Interview with novelist Rich Marcello | by @JameyBeth, Breakaway Daily
As this is your second book, were there things you wanted to do differently with this book as opposed to your first?
Yes and no. Since this is the second of three books I’m writing about different kinds of love, thematically I tried to remain consistent. On the other hand, The Big Wide Calm has a young female protagonist, Paige Plant, and is written in first person, present tense. I spent a great deal of time speaking with women, young and old, to make sure Paige’s voice was true. As a writer, it’s important for me to be able to characterize both men and women of all different ages and backgrounds. Naturally, it’s a little harder to characterize a women, especially one as strong as Paige, but I’m happy to say I’m really proud of how she turned out.
Who is your target audience, or who do you think would enjoy reading this book?
Folks who like coming-of-age stories, though this one is a millennial coming-of-age story. Folks who like literary fiction with a philosophical slant. Folks who like strong female heroines. And finally, folks who love music.
Did your love of music and your musicians background contribute (or help you) in writing this book?
Yes. It was important in characterizing Paige to get the songwriting process right. While The Big Wide Calm is really about a young woman learning to truly and deeply love, the world she learns to do that in is filled with music. Because I’ve been a musician for many years, I was able to place Paige in that world and fill it with authentic details. In some ways, placing Paige in a world I knew so well helped me focus more on the deeper, more emotional components of her character.
What is some of your favorite music?
I like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Mumford and Sons, Ani Difranco, The Civil Wars, to name a few.
What is your writing process like?
I write every morning for five or six hours. I’m a big believer in the notion that the best writing comes when you move from one dream-like state ( sleeping) to another (writing fiction). For that reason, mornings are best for me. I also write the first pass of scene quickly, almost like I’m channeling the scene from my mind onto paper. The I rewrite and rewrite. Finally, I live on a lake in Massachusetts and I have a separate building which overlooks the lake. It’s a great work environment.
How were you able to get into a female head-space to write the character of your heroine Paige Plant? Love your Robert Plant reference here!
As I mentioned above, I really wanted to push myself as a writer and characterize an aspiring young female singer-songwriter. I spoke to many different women while I was writing, including female musicians, and let them read scenes and chapters of The Big Wide Calm. Also, my daily editor is a woman. I read scenes to her each day, and got immediate feedback on what was working and what wasn’t. She was a tremendous help.
Any final thoughts for Breakaway Daily’s readers?
Thanks for taking the time to read this interview and for checking out my novel, The Big Wide Calm. It’s the second of three books I’m writing about different kinds of love. The first, The Color of Home, was published in 2013, and the third, The Beauty of the Fall, will be published in 2015/2016. I hope you enjoy The Big Wide Calm, and I hope you get a chance to check out The Color of Home, and The Beauty of the Fall. Thank you.
Sincere thanks to Rich Marcello for taking the time to do this interview with me and for sharing his wonderful stories with us.
Find out more about Rich Marcello and follow his social networks by visiting his official website.