Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thomas Benigno - An Author Interview at the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on bestselling Author Thomas Benigno. He is the author of The Good Lawyer. Thomas is a Mystery & Thrillers writer.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction

Website: Thomas D. Benigno
Twitter: @ThomasBenigno
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:

Thomas Benigno is a practicing attorney on Long Island, N. Y. After graduating Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan in 1979, at the behest of his Criminal Law Clinic Professor, Barry Scheck (who later obtained fame for representing O. J. Simpson) he was fast-tracked to a position as Associate Attorney with the New York City Legal Aid Society in the Bronx.

While there he sought out and tackled the grittiest of cases, even representing the infamous Spiderman Rapist. If you ask him why he repeatedly took on the defense of child molesters and rapists, he'll sound off two reasons: 1) no other attorney would take these cases, and 2) he was young and out to prove himself.

The year before he left Legal Aid to go into private practice he was featured in a two page spread in the New York City Legal Aid Society's Annual Report for his success in winning what seemed like an unwinnable case-a teacher's aide charged with molesting three of his students. At a party held in his honor he was handed a beautiful plaque commemorating his court victory-a plaque he never hung up or put on display ever.

Two years later he left Legal Aid, and within eighteen months after that, left the practice of criminal law behind forever having never lost a trial. Currently he practices real estate and business law, enjoys acting in staged productions on Long Island, appeared as an actor in two movies, one an award winning short film, and even produced (along with others) a Broadway show (Burn the Floor and its U.S. tour).

He is married to the same beautiful woman since shortly after graduating law school and has three adult children. THE GOOD LAWYER is a novel inspired by real events while he was working as a Legal Aid Attorney in the Bronx.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon being released in 2016. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

September 2016

Nick Mannino, The Good Lawyer, (a former Bronx Legal Aid Attorney) is now middle aged and on a dangerous quest to find a serial killer who cryptically litters the south shore beach of Long Island with the bones of his victims stuffed into burlap bags.

A complex and compelling character, Nick has a disturbing family history. Living off a bequest from his mafia uncle, his wife having left him, his two children grown and gone, he lives alone in a big house high on "the hill" in Garden City, Long Island.

But as hard as he tries, he can't make peace with his past, his constant court battles nothing more than a futile effort to hide and deny a haunting truth about himself and a sinewy bloodline soiled with unspeakable crimes.

Then this brutal serial killer turns on him, and worse, his family. Is this payback for a life of luxury begot from his mafia uncle's dirty money?

Has his young and ambitious South Bronx years-the crimes he was forced to commit-the innocent lives lost-come back to haunt him? As much a thriller as it is a mystery, it is also a love story and a novel of family secrets and crimes beyond forgiveness.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche?

It's hard to gauge. Books sell because they're commercially marketable and are promoted well. Is John Grisham even on Twitter? He does have a large following on Facebook though. Bottom line as I see it, social media can be another powerful avenue of promotion if targeted well like any advertising portal.

I started with paid promotions on Facebook and Twitter and it grew from there. I haven't paid for a promotion on either for at least a year, and don't plan on doing so in the future. I will continue to invest in Amazon ads and Bookbub ads which always prove profitable. Incidentally, my Goodreads following grew on its own.

Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Thus far I have been an Indie writer (who's novel fortunately has been downloaded about 500,000 times) so all my personal appearances have all been local and via Skype on line. That may change in time. I also practice law full-time, which I do not plan on giving up. So you see my time is limited. Sorry for my overuse of the word "time" but I'm also approaching my 62nd birthday.

I have nothing scheduled, but that also may change after my 2nd novel is released.

My Facebook page for strictly book news. Just click in Thomas Benigno, author. My Twitter page @thomasbenigno for my rants about my life, my novels, politics, and just about anything. Forgive me if we disagree.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

Long Island Author's Group but you might say that I am a non-practicing member.

I have had wonderful editors and have a wonderful agent. I get most of my guidance on a personal, first hand basis. I also read a lot, but it doesn't determine what I write but it has undoubtedly made me a better writer. Both of my novels have come from a very personal place, from the heart, and I hope that never changes. After reading one of my novels it its my great hope that you are enriched in some way.

Between your book writing, law practice, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?

Stephen King gets up every morning and writes from 9-12 (his book On Writing). He is a born writer, and makes a most difficult and impossible task of completing a novel look easy. I consider myself very disciplined and responsible, but that is not how I have approached writing. That is probably because I am not a born writer. I am a born lawyer who writes. I love being a lawyer. I love helping people, and fortunately, it is a career that has proven lucrative for me. That is not to say that I have deviated at times from the practice of law.

I was in real estate management and development, acted in a dozen plays on Long Island, a couple of short films, and even produced a Broadway show (invested in many).

Now back to how I write. Currently as an Indie writer, I am not on a deadline. I struggled for years on what to write after the growing success of The Good Lawyer then the Jones Beach killer surfaced on Long Island and I started my second novel, while at the same time realizing there was more I wanted to share with my readers about my own life and my family's (specifically, my mother).

Considering the subject matter (my mother's protracted abuse as a child, ages 9-13, by her oldest brother) you would think that it would prove difficult to write about. She passed in December of 2014. Maybe so. It's hard to say. Regardless, it's something I just had to do, and I believe I did so tastefully (in a not hard to read fashion) and with a positive message of resilience, survival, and determination. We'll see. So to finally answer your question. I write whenever I have the time, wherever I am, and passionately (I'll sit for 6 hours and not get up from my chair).

The blank page of page 1 is the hardest page for me. Once I get passed it, it's like I'm on a freight train sometimes. Needless to say, I edit incessantly for many months afterward then it goes to my editor. I used 2 for each of my novels. I took me 18 months to get a first draft of The Good Lawyer done. It took me 3 1/2 months to finish a first draft of The Criminal Lawyer, completed in June of 2014, in and out of editing up to only about 6 months ago.

What has been your experience in giving your books away for a discount? Have you been involved in any type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Wonderful. Everyone should do it. Every successful writer has. Writers should not be afraid to do it, though many are. I am quickly approaching 500,000 sales of The Good Lawyer. The DaVinci Code sold 43 million copies. There is a huge reading public out there to continually tap into. Amazon.com KDP select giveaways, Bookbub--all good. What was your main goal in doing this? Sell books. It's about marketing to the largest audiences in your genre and related genres (important). When your paying for ads, watch your cost. Go to www.alexa.com and check to see the audience rank the blog site or bookseller site has. If it's high-over 250,000-maybe you shouldn't waste your money.

I wouldn't worry about obstacles. Count your blessings with sales and keep promoting your novel. Don't let it sleep, and if you sell your rights for cheap, understand that you are giving up control on pricing and promotion.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

If you are going the self-publishing way, Amazon's Createspace is the only way to go. Take advantage of all the promotional vehicles available there.

How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

Let's get back to Stephen King. It may not be the best way, but it works for him, and in my limited experience, it has worked for me. Regardless, it's the way I write and I'm stubborn about it. For the first half of my novel I just sit down and write. I have a story in my head, but I don't know how it will end, and I don't know all the turns it will take. This does not work for most and I don't recommend it for most. For the second half of the novel, I have a sketchy outline. With The Criminal Lawyer, like The Good Lawyer, there were tie-ins that had to be made to clues and evidence. The more creative I became with the plot, the more the challenge. In the end I was very proud with how it turned out. I am not writing horror or the supernatural so everything has to make complete sense-a convincing by-product of a gripping realistic storyline. With some exceptions, I'm not a fan of great dramatic leaps.

Only Dragonspeak. I wrote my last novel in long hand, as I did my first, then I dictated it into Word using Dragonspeak, and edited and rewrote from there.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

I have to compile it from my emails and Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads fans. Not sure how I will deal with it. I may just announce on all mediums. That might work best.

Please don't take me the wrong way here. I don't mean to sound boastful in any way, but I have been blessed. They found me at the same time I found them.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I rely on my reading audience and have been lucky thus far--over 2550 reviews on Amazon with a 4.2 rating to date. Thank you my readers!

Author's Book List
The Good Lawyer - A Novel

A young, ambitious lawyer is eager to prove he is better than the mobster dominated family he grew up in. Working as a Bronx Legal Aid Attorney he learns how to twist the system, how to become an unbeatable defense lawyer. But it's 1982. The Spiderman rapist is on the loose and New York City is a city in fear. When an outraged victim commits suicide right before his eyes, searching for absolution and determined to prove his client's innocence, he knocks the pegs out from under the prosecution's case. Digging deeper, horrifying revelations about his family's past collide with the true identity of the sadistic sociopath behind the real Spiderman's rampage. In the process, this good lawyer comes face-to-face with his greatest conflict and deepest fear: to win, really win, must he sacrifice every principle he believes in and embrace his family's mafia past to become judge, jury, and executioner?

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1 comment:

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