Sunday, March 17, 2013

An interview with the authors of "My Name is Frankie"

It's my opportunity to feature the authors of a book with a powerful message. I've very interested in this book even though I haven't read it yet because I love memoir. I love reading and writing that has purpose besides the entertainment value.  "My Name Is Frankie" vividly portrays the 47-year struggle of a man dragged down to the lowest level by alcoholism, and the strength and fortitude to rise above his addiction. Frankie Maio and Tristi Pinkston have co-authored a true story which will have you experiencing a gamut of emotion. Be prepared to put the rest of your life on hold, because this is one book you will not put down until the last page has been turned." - Lisa Bennett, reviewer, blogger, and ghostwriter.
If you'd like to read an excerpt from the memoir and/or purchase. Here's the Amazon link.

Here are my questions for Frankie Maio
1. What made you want to write this story? I've added some comments in parentheses. 

Hopefully it will save someone so nobody has to go as far as I did. My story is sad, but true. Also, I think writing it was a healing process for me. (I also believe in the power of writing to heal.)

2. I've heard that people with addictions have a turning point. If you can, describe your turning point briefly (without giving away the story).
I was lying on the floor bleeding. I knew it was almost over for me. I started to pray to ask God to save me. I had a spiritual awakening and the craving was lifted from me. I knew then that God had come to me. 

3. You had an abusive father, but still sought his approval. Describe one of the best days with your father/and the worst.

I loved my father very much then and I still do now. We would go fishing together and hunting. He would take me for a ride in the truck and let me drive it. There were a lot of bad days - the worst time was the beating I got with the rope, which I tell about in the first part of my book. (The beginning of the story is powerful as this beating is described. You can read the first chapter on Amazon before downloading.)

4. What is your hope for this book?

My hope for this book is that it will reach out to millions of people to show them that the answer to happiness is praying to a power bigger than themselves. Also, if they think they have a problem, they should reach out for help. I hope it will sell so I can give back to people who need help. 

5. What do you want people to understand about alcoholism?

Alcohol is a dangerous drug. It is cunning, baffling, and powerful. It will take away every dream you have. If you have problems with the law and alcohol is involved, it's time to reach out and stop drinking. It destroys families and relationships, and it will kill you.

6. Now that you are free from the binding power of addiction, how do you like to spend your time?

I will be an alcoholic all my life. I will only be free one day at a time. I spend my time talking to people, going to the gym and doggie park, and fishing with my family and grandkids, and working on old cars.  

Tristi Pinkston who has authored numerous popular books was Frankie's co-author. She also answered questions for me that I think you'll find interesting. I met Tristi over ten years ago and have really admired her writing. 

1. What did you learn about addiction that you didn't know before your co-authored this book?

I had no idea just how very much an addiction takes over. Once you're an addict, your addiction controls you until you are able to break that chain and get help. I am amazed by all the people who have managed to put their addictions in the past - that takes so much strength of character. I gained a lot of respect for people who have overcome challenges of this type and recreated their lives - they are heroes. 

2. How long did you work on the book with Frankie?

We worked on it from the spring until the fall of 2012. 

3. What do you hope will be accomplished with the book?

I want people to understand that alcoholism is a real problem, and that it takes a tremendous amount of fortitude to break free from it. It's not just a matter of putting down the bottle - it's a matter of breaking yourself down completely to rebuild yourself. I also want people to understand that recovering alcoholics are heroes. They have accomplished something harder than most of us will ever be asked to face.  

4.  You've written other novels, but is this the first non-fiction book for you?  If so, do you have other true stories you'd like to tell?
I've written other nonfiction (three cookbooks, an inspirational nonfiction, and a series of reference books for authors) but this is the first memoir I've written, and also the first time I've had a co-author. I would love to tell other true stories - I'm interested in just about everything and everybody, and so I'm sure this won't be the last. 

5. I have a friend I would like to help write her story, so I'm interested in the mechanics of co-authoring. How did it work for you and Frankie?

Frankie had already written down his story, and someone had typed it up for him and helped him create a shape for it. He just needed someone to help him move on to the next phase. His brother Jerry found my website and contacted me, and I arranged to meet up with Frankie. We clicked from the moment we saw each other, even though we're about as different as two people can get. He gave me a disk with his story on it and I reworked it from the bottom up. As I finished each chapter, I sent it to him and he read it, and then we'd have a long chat on the phone to clarify details or change this and that. 

Through talking with Frankie on the phone and in person, I got a feel for his voice and the way he would phrase things, so as I wrote, I was able to stay true to that sound. That's one of the most important things in co-authoring - maintaining the tone throughout so it's not obvious who wrote which parts. 

After the book was finished, I sent it back to Frankie again and he read it from start to finish, putting the final touches on it. It went really smoothly - we had no disagreements or conflicts of any kind. I should also point out that we signed an agreement before we ever started to work on the project together so we each knew what to expect of the relationship going forward - I think that's key in any collaboration. (Thanks Trisit, for this information which I find really helpful in my own projects.)

6. How is writing a memoir comparable to writing fiction?
They're the same in that you have to put yourselves in the shoes of your characters and imagine what they are going through in order to tell the story properly. The difference is, of course, that Frankie is a real person and not imaginary, so I didn't get to create a happily-ever-after for him. The great thing, though, is that he created one for himself, and I got to share in telling that story.

7. What is your perfect day like?

A perfect day for me would involve no housework or cooking whatsoever, a massage, a long nap, a chef-prepared meal with no calories  ... but since those things don't happen, I'll share with you the closest thing I get to perfect days.  

I love it when I'm working as a team with my family and we're all committed to doing what needs to be done. I love feeling as though I'm making progress on my work and with my goals. I love feeling as though I'm moving forward spiritually. If I can accomplish all those things in one day, that is a perfect day for me. 


Tristi Pinkston said...

Thank you so much, Carole!

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Very interesting interview. The book sounds both fascinating and valuable.