To celebrate the release of Buffalo Soldiers in the coming days, the second in the Upstate NY Mafia Tales, today I have author Nicholas Denmon over to answer a few of my questions. For Nothing (book one) was one of my favorite books of 2011 (okay I think we can say favorite books ever), and its sequel Buffalo Soldiers is nothing short of breathtaking. I am super excited for the release of the sequel and honored to have him over to share some of his insights about his novel.
Allie: The main focus of For Nothing (book one) was Alex Vaughn and Rafael Rontego, and the way the world is perceived on alternate sides of the law. Buffalo Soldiers branches out a bit, introducing your readers to a slew of new characters that offer points of view from every corner of the mafia lifestyle. And you transition so fluidly from one character to the next. Do you have a favorite that you were really able to connect with, or that is in any way based on anyone in your life?
Nicholas: I think each character has bits of me in them, just shades really though. I am really drawn to the bad guys in my novels. What made them who they are? In this novel, the journey of Ivan Nivsky is really one that I enjoyed. He has lived such a hard life and does some really horrible things. But deep down you get a sense that he wasn’t always this way. There is a real strong loyalty factor that this character has, especially to another ‘bad guy’ in Rafael Rontego. The thing about these types of characters is that their bonds are forged in such terrible fire that it really is difficult for those of us with normal lives to understand how someone who does such bad things can have such honorable characteristics. This dichotomy is really fun for me to explore as writer.
Allie: Your Buffalo, New York references are so intricate, it makes me want to visit, if only to bring me closer to the events in this intriguing series. Can you tell us about your time there?
Nicholas: For me, Buffalo is simply home. In the first novel of the series, For Nothing, I showed the dark, cold, wintery side of the place. In this one the novel takes place in the autumn and the city has a real splendor during that season. For as harsh as the winters can be, the autumn has breath taking beauty. My fondest memories are standing there looking at leaves in shades of purple and burnt orange and blood red. It catches the eye and holds it. I have never seen its equal anywhere else I have ever been.
Allie: Readers reacted to the complicated character Rafael Rontego (especially the females, if you get my drift) in an astounding way. Based on your reviews, everybody loves him. Do you think there is a particular character in Buffalo Soldiers that may have a similar effect on your readers? (Ivan. Say Ivan. Please, say Ivan!)
Nicholas: Haha! Yes, Ivan I think has that ability. He has suffered tremendous heartbreak through his life. Throughout a long prison stint it was love that sustained him, an unrequited love, to be more specific. If you have ever loved but not been loved in return, Ivan can be a sympathetic character. At the same time, he is a grizzled mob veteran and the shell, the armor, around his heart is very thick. I think those diverging characteristics bring a depth to the character and I think we start to hope he might one day realize that he can be loved in return.
Allie: You’ve mentioned that you have at least one love story in you. This being my blog and all (don’t think we haven’t noticed how many romance fans read your work, including me), can you elaborate on that, or any of your other stories? Can you share anything about what you’re working on now?
Nicholas: Yes I can. I am working on the third and final novel in the An Upstate New York Mafia Tale series, but I am also working on a love story called The Hundred Heartbreaks of Harlan Halifax. It is more of a slice of everyday Americana, but even our normal lives can produce the most tremendous of love stories. I believe that Harlan Halifax’s story might be one of them.
Well then. I’ll be looking forward to that. It’s always a pleasure, Nick. Thanks for stopping by.
Look out for my review of Buffalo Soldiers very soon!!