Kindle Author Interview: James DeSalvo

James DeSalvo, author of Miss Mary Pennynickle's Tales of Torment for Toddlers, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Miss Mary Pennynickle's Tales of Torment for Toddlers?

JAMES DeSALVO: Miss Mary Pennynickle's Tales of Torment for Toddlers is a macabre set of short-short stories and poems. I think of it as the other side of children's stories, the side that never gets told.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

JAMES DeSALVO: For Miss Pennynickle, I built on the ideas of stereotypical characters in childrens' stories. The actions that each character takes helps to differentiate them for me. I tend to see the stories as I write them. They are short enough that it is fairly easy to keep them separate.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

JAMES DeSALVO: My ideal reader is anyone with a dark sense of humor. Ironically, it is not for toddlers.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

JAMES DeSALVO: I used to write quite a lot in high school and college. I put those stories away and found them.

I kept whining to my friend Todd Dezago (a great writer of graphic novels and comics) and he told me to shut up and write. Now all I do is put pen to paper and write. I don't care what comes out.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

JAMES DeSALVO: I try to write what ever comes to mind. I'll see a word or phrase mentioned and that can act as a trigger. Usually, the most important thing to motivate me to write is to fill in the blank of "What if...?"

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

JAMES DeSALVO: That depends on what work I'm writing. For Miss Pennynickle I was inspired by Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl, and Roman Dirge. I have a series called Connie Cobbler: Toy Detective. I consider them to be what I call 'tween noirs. My inspiration for those would be Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, and all of the great writers who brought us Nancy Drew.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

JAMES DeSALVO: There are so many. I'd have to say The Shining. It just gets under your skin and stays there.

I haven't read it in over two decades and I can still imagine the horrors in that book.

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

JAMES DeSALVO: It simply cut and pasted a royalty free image, typed in the title, and converted it to a jpeg.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

JAMES DeSALVO: I started a community page on Facebook. I enter a daily diary entry from a diary kept by Miss Mary Pennynickle when she was growing up. She was very disturbed. I have created inexpensive business cards, let friends read the stories and spread the word, and posted newer stories on my website. Also, I joined several communities on the Internet where you can shamelessly promote your work.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

JAMES DeSALVO: It's a great way to get your work out into the world without waiting. My book is shorter than most, so I could send it out faster. I also can get quicker feedback. I have published Miss Mary Pennynickle's Fairytales of Foreboding through Kindle as well.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

JAMES DeSALVO: Learn the formatting. There are plenty of websites where people can learn how to format, as well as downloads to format ebooks. Do your research, get friends to read your work, then have them reread them. Ask for suggestions and fix any mistakes. Then just DO it.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


James DeSalvo has been a teacher for the past twenty years. He has published articles for several newspapers and continues to write. He is also an actor, having done several shows both regionally and Off-off Broadway (He is also one of the few actors never to have been on Law and Order). He has been a crime victims rights advocate and continues to support crime victims. He lives in New York State's Hudson Valley.

He is the author of Connie Cobbler: Toy Detective, as well as Miss Mary Pennynickle's Tales of Torment for Toddlers and Miss Mary Pennynickle's Fairytales of Foreboding.

Visit his website and read his blog.

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