LH: Thank you, author Tony Perona, for taking time to
participate in this Book Spotlight interview on your first novel,
Second Advent. Please
start off by telling our readers a little bit about yourself and your
transition from executive to author.
TP: Thank you for spotlighting my book! As for personal information, I'm
48 years old, have been married to my wife Debbie for 23 years, and we
have two daughters in high school. After receiving my MBA in 1981, I
worked for 10 years for a division of General Motors, eventually becoming
their manager of advertising and public relations. During that time, my
wife also worked, up until our first child was born. Four years later, she
wanted to return to the workforce, but we weren't satisfied with the day
care options we saw. Our solution was for me to take a company sponsored
two-year leave of absence to care for the children. While I was at home, I
kept up my writing skills by doing freelance work as a newspaper
correspondent and columnist. Two years later, my leave was up and the
company could not reinstate me, so I became a permanent stay-at-home dad.
I decided to start my own company doing freelance advertising and public
relations work. I also tried my hand at writing novels. After many, many
Second Advent found an agent and a publisher.
Second Advent is a mystery, featuring "stay at home" dad Nick
Bertetto. Could you please briefly summarize the plot of the novel
(without giving away the ending, of course!)?
TP: Nick Bertetto is a stay-at--home dad and former investigative reporter
who returns to his hometown of Clinton, Indiana to investigate the death
(possible murder) of the town patriarch at the request of a parish priest.
Although Nick is a lapsed Catholic, he has great affection for the priest,
who was a friend to him when he grew up. Nick's investigation is
complicated by the fact that the patriarch left half of his estate to
"Children of the Second Advent," a group promoting the messages of the
Virgin Mary to a local visionary, to whom Mary appears pregnant. As "Our
Mother of the Second Advent," Mary says the Second Coming of Christ is
imminent. Because the priest is involved in the "Second Advent"
organization, he and the granddaughter of the patriarch are the prime
suspects, even though they have hired Nick to investigate. Before too
long, there is a second murder, Nick is threatened, and Mary sends Nick a
cryptic message through the visionary. Although Nick would like to stop
sorting suspects and go back to sorting laundry, there are too many lives
at stake to do that, including his own. He has to find a way to unravel
the secrets of Second Advent.
LH: You and Nick have a few things in common...what inspired you to write
TP: One of the old adages for writers is to "write what you know," and so
I chose to write about someone who had a similar background. I feel very
close to Nick, although he and I are not the same person. As for the
mystery itself, I was inspired to write about apparitions after learning
of Mary's appearance at Medjugorje and after investigating other
apparitions. The thought kept occurring to me, what would happen if an
ordinary person came in contact with something that looked very much like
a miracle, but could also be explained in human ways? Would that make it
any less of a miracle? Couldn't it still be a miracle?
LH: Faith and religious issues abound in
Second Advent. How has your own
faith journey impacted your writing?
TP: I think it's been more the other way around, that the writing has
impacted my faith journey. Writing this book helped me to come to grips
with my own spirituality, my relationship with God, and what I believed.
During the writing process I came to understand my faith in a much deeper
way than I thought possible. In the Acknowledgments page of the book my
first credit is to God for the talent, inspiration, and the breaks. I
really mean that. What a God we have!
LH: Will Nick Bertetto be back for another round of adventures? What are
your plans for future novels?
TP: Many people felt that Nick had the potential to be a series character
so we're giving it a go. The second book, ANGELS WHISPER, will be out in
hardcover in February, 2005. Like the first book, it has a supernatural
element - one of the characters claims to hear the angels whisper, and Nick
finds that by taking this person seriously, he is able to find clues to a
missing state congressman. But it's quite possible that the character is
either delusional or hiding his sources. To get the story, Nick must fend
off other reporters, rival congressmen, the mob, and his wife's nosy Aunt Hildy, all while driving the carpool and making plans to attend
Stephanie's preschool play. I'm currently at work on the third book,
SAINTLY REMAINS. In it, Nick will have to deal with the darker side of
LH: How do you manage the competing priorities of family, writing and
TP: It's really tough to juggle priorities, and I know everyone out there
faces the same things I do. In general, I pray that God will not let me
mess things up too badly. (I pray that a lot.) I just try to keep all the
balls in the air, assessing what is most critical at the time. I don't
know if that's really a strategy or a coping mechanism. If anyone knows a
better way, please write me.
LH: Tony, I look forward to reading your future books and thank you for
taking the time to talk with us about
Second Advent. Are there any closing
thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
TP: Thank you very much for the interview, Lisa. The only closing thought
I have is that I love to hear from readers, and they can contact me
through my website at www.tonyperona.com. If you like the book, please
tell everyone you know about it. Authors really depend on word of mouth.
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