Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DEBUT AUTHOR: Daniel Serrano

Daniel Serrano was born and raised by his mother in the tough streets of New York and Chicago. The eldest of three boys, Serrano witnessed gangs, crime, drugs, poverty, and even murder, as his family lived the urban Latino struggle. After drifting through menial jobs for years, he enrolled in the Weekend Program at Shimer College and studied the classics. Serrano went on to earn a law degree from St. John's University. As an attorney, he has spent the bulk of his career advising politicians and alleged criminals. He is currently at work on his next book. Daniel currently divides his time between New York City and Puerto Rico.


As a child, Eddie Santiago grows up on the mean streets of his Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago, where he witnesses his father's murder. Now in his thirties, after serving ten years in a state penitentiary, Eddie is coming home. With prison behind him, Eddie plans to seek refuge in Miami Beach. But new trouble begins when Eddie and his old friend/gangster Little Tony are pulled over by two cops, who rob Eddie of his money belt, which contains his life savings. Convinced it was a set-up, Eddie is determined to recover what is rightfully his, all the while trying to reform his childhood friend.

Along the way, Eddie falls for a Mexican beauty with a past she is trying to escape. But his romance is almost cut short when he is dragged into a drug war, becomes a murder suspect, and is forced to participate in an ill-conceived casino heist.
Desc: Urban lit meets classic noir in this auspicious debut from first-time novelist Daniel Serrano.

Click here to read an excerpt:

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

The main thing I owe readers is to entertain them, to take them on a journey into the exciting, challenging, complicated lives of my characters. I strive to give readers unforgettable people to care about and to think about long after they finish the novel. I originally wrote GUNMETAL BLACK as a cautionary tale for the young, although I have long since found that the story appeals to people of all ages from adolescents on up. My main hope is that readers come away satisfied by the story and affirmed in the intrinsic value of all human life.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned a million things about story-telling technique, both big and small, like how to make the story a page-turner, how you must constantly challenge your characters to make them complex. I also learned how much fun it is to paint beautiful, evocative pictures with words. Many readers say that the novel reads like watching a movie. But it is a lot of hard work to produce a book. You have to love doing it, because writing is mostly a solitary existence that requires stamina, and the courage to face the things that drive you. In the end, when people react to your book, when you yourself have a hard time putting it down, it is extremely gratifying.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

It is ironic because already I can see that you get to meet and connect with all kinds of new and interesting people, yet writing is mostly lonely and time consuming. Getting the book written, pouring all of your love into it is only the beginning. Modern publishing requires you to become a publicist and a hustler as well as a novelist. This takes time away from creation and anything else you want to do, like be with your family or work at other things. You have to have an almost obsessive compulsion about pursuing your own success, because nobody else will care like you do.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

The amount of work and isolation involved. Recently I read an interview of Junot Diáz. He'd just won the Pulitzer Prize for a novel that earned lavish praise and had been a bestseller. He was at the pinnacle of what every writer fantasizes about. Asked if he was happy, he answered that he would never be happy until the writing got easier.

Our theme this month is Time Management. How do you do to manage your writing time?

Not very well! I have always had trouble getting and staying organized and this affects my work at the keyboard. I tend to write in waves, which gets you there, but not as predictably as I would like, especially now that it's no longer a hobby, but a business involving deadlines and other people's expectations.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I've had some success, including this wonderful exposure in SORMAG, but I wish I had known to prepare a comprehensive publicity campaign. I also wish I had developed steadier writing habits, and that I had learned to manage money.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Yes, I used to work at the World Trade Center and I lost three years' worth of work on GUNMETAL BLACK, as a result of the 9/11 attacks. At first I was dismayed, I thought it was a sign that I was not destined to be a writer. But then I quickly realized that I was still here and that the decision to write or not to write was mine. I started over.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Make writing a habit.

What are you thankful for this year?

The health and happiness of my loved ones, my own health, and the fact that a long-held dream came true with the publication of GUNMETAL BLACK. I am also happy about the pending completion of my second exciting novel, BOOGIEDOWN, which is a murder mystery set in New York City and features Latina NYPD Detective Cassandra Maldonado as she investigates the murder of a hip hop mogul. BOOGIEDOWN will be published next Fall by Grand Central. It will be the first in an action-filled series featuring Cassandra investigating crimes involving the rich and famous, and living her own private soap operas along the way.

Five questions about books:

One book you've read more than once.

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

One book you couldn't put down until you finished.

Black Money by Ross MacDonald.

One book that made you laugh.

Women by Charles Bukowski.

One book that made you cry.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diáz.

One book you wish you'd written.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Readers can be on the lookout for my forthcoming website at

or, but for now they can reach me at Thanks!

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