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Augustus Cileone won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest sponsored by Oak Tree Press, for the novel, A Lesson in Murder, about homicides associated with a Philadelphia Quaker school.
His second novel, Feast or Famine, a satire, deals with a traumatized man dealing with his Catholic Italian American upbringing in the 1960's and 1970's.
His latest novel, Out of the Picture, published by Sage Words Publishing, is a mystery loaded with movie references, and deals with social outsiders.
He has been honored for his writing by Annual Art Affair, Hidden River Arts, the annual Writer’s Digest writing competition for two plays, The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, the Montgomery County Community College’s Annual Writers’ Club Poetry and Fiction Contest, Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards, and the Annual StoryPros International Screenplay Contest.
His short stories appear in the anthologies entitled South Philly Fiction and Death Knell V, and in the literary periodical Schuylkill Valley Journal.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Philadelphia? I think it’s because of the strong loyalty its people have for anyone associated with this historic town. Everyone pulls for each other to do well.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I think it was being excited as a reader that led to the writing. I remember in eighth grade that the teacher had us read books that were not the typical ones one would find on the curriculum. Now this was in 1966. I read To Kill a Mockingbird and Seven Days in May, and loved them. I actually liked writing essays in school which analyzed literary works. That led to me wanting to tell my own stories in college.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? I started to write short stories in college, but I had no idea as to how to get published. I submitted them to major magazines, like The New Yorker, but they were not worthy of publication at that point. They were more like exercises. I guess it was only when I wrote my first novel that I was serious about getting published.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? My family members were not readers, so the urge to write came from my schooling. I did use my Catholic Italian American upbringing in South Philadelphia in the 1960’s and 1970’s as the focus of my second novel, Feast or Famine, to address the need for religious and social rules and the urge to break those limitations when the desires of the individual had to be met.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? Always before. I feel the title gives the work a direction as to content and theme.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? Two of my novels and one short story would fall under the mystery genre category. I love the puzzle aspect of mysteries, trying to find the clues and putting them together to find the solution. But, my second novel is more of a coming-of-age work, and I have written short stories and plays that are not mysteries. So I’m not sure I would classify myself as a mystery writer.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? I have always loved movies. I have taken film studies courses for years at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute just outside Philadelphia. Since I have always been interested in mysteries, I thought it would be fun to write a mystery centered on characters and a plot involving movies. I also wanted themes having to do with outsiders and animal abuse.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? I enjoy writing dialogue, so I get a feeling of satisfaction when I can write a sharp, telling exchange of words between characters.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I think initially I was sending out work too quickly for consideration for publication without enough objective feedback and revision. I think acquiring a professional editor early on would have prevented premature submission.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? I guess most people would say the time they were first accepted for publication was the most rewarding. However, with me it was the subsequent acceptance of my fiction which gave me a feeling of validation.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I guess I was not ready for the degree of self-promotion that is now necessary for current writers. I am old school, and I was not aware of the need for the extent of participation in social media. I still have a great deal to learn about the business aspect of the publishing industry, which I am sorry to say can trump the importance of talent.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? It’s been said before, but I would say write about those areas in which you are emotionally invested.
Who is your favorite author and why? I don’t have a favorite author. I have favorite works by a variety of authors. They would be: Moby Dick; The Great Gatsby; The Stranger; The Sun Also Rises; and Brave New World. These are book that explore the human desire to understand our place in the universe and the different ways people deal with that knowledge.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? I am donating the royalties I earn from most recent novel, Out of the Picture, to Kitty Cottage in East Norriton, PA. It is an animal shelter where I do volunteer work. You can find out about this organization at http://kittycottage.org.
Out Of The Picture by Augustus M. Cileone
Vince Singleton, a writer, part-time English professor at Philadelphia Sacred Covenant University, and huge movie fan, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He witnessed the accidental shooting of his wife by a policeman during a robbery. Vince, however, suspects that her death was intentional. Now, an old friend of his is found dead amid unusual clues. Vince helps the lieutenant working the case, despite his wariness of policemen. Faculty members associated with animal abuse are murdered and strange items are discovered near the bodies. Vince determines that the clues refer to movies, and, with the help of his daughter, his journalist brother, and a female professor, tries to find the killer before another person is taken … out of the picture.
Nothing can go wrong in the close-knit community surrounding Philadelphia Sacred Covenant University in North Philadelphia, USA or can it?
Vince Singleton is retired, but works 3 days a week teaching in the English Department and his co-worker Gina Alimentare makes it bearable with her Italian American homemade cannoli, rum cake, or ricotta cheese cake just to name a few. Even though they have a good working relationship where humor is battered about, Vince just isn’t himself some days and gets under Gina’s skin “What’s the matter with you?” demanded Gina. “Is your crazy barometer reading high today? You know, Patterson asked me to make allowances for your weirdness, but, sometimes you can be annoying as hell.”
Well-developed characters surround Vince Singleton and his daughter Hope. Post-traumatic stress is just one complication Vince faces since the death of his wife Jewel. When his long time college buddy who encouraged and helped him land his teaching position is murdered even his ongoing therapy sessions with Dr. Michael Probst don’t stop the panic attacks.
Vince finds solace with his furry cat friend named Jellybean, as he is compelled as a film enthusiast to get involved in the murder mystery when the clues tie into movie trivia. The pressure is mounting to find this killer before next victim is found dead.
Do the animal rights activists play a role in this evolving mystery?
Cold Coffee Press endorses ‘Out Of The Picture’ by Augustus M. Cileone for the artful writing style that draws the reader into the murder mystery and keeps the reader guessing until the end. This book was given to us to review in a Kindle/PDF. The review was completed on July 12, 2015. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press. http://www.coldcoffeepress.com
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