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Saturday, June 6, 2015


Morgan St. James

At some time or another, many mystery or fiction writers have been heard to say, “I could kill him/her in a book.” That’s a great outlet we have as authors, because we can do away with someone who has wronged us and never have to serve a day of hard time. In fact, we might even make some decent royalties from the book.

Several years ago a nasty HOA president made life hell for my husband and me when we were involved in a construction default suit. As HOA president, I was the one who instigated the complaints to the developer and spearheaded a lawsuit that won our complex $1.9 Million.
Then I had to resign because of my travel schedule, and the man I later vowed to kill in print took over as President. Our complex consisted of a four-story 16 unit building plus our freestanding 3,000 sq. ft. house at the back of the property, complete with its own courtyard and backyard.

The new HOA president was a retired doctor and had always acted like he hated the fact that we had a nicer place than he and his wife did. When the default suit was settled, he made sure everything was fixed but our house. It was cracking all over, water was accumulating under the raised foundation, and that was just part of the problem. It cost us $10,000 in attorney’s fees to fight for our rights while he handled all of the disbursements to repair the 4-story building. We finally settled through arbitration, they cut some corners, and repairs to our house came to about $80,000—that’s how bad the problems were that had to be fixed.

Anyway, he caused us so much stress in addition to the ten grand which we could not recover, I vowed I would kill him in a book. I even had a title—A Corpse in the Condo. I haven’t written it yet, but it’s still on my to-do list along with some plot points. Oh yes. The jerk had the nerve to die before I could do him in. By chance, I saw his obit in the L.A. Times a few years back.
What triggers an author to “kill” for a story?

Well, that brings me to my latest book, co-authored with Dennis N. Griffin. Bumping Off Fat Vinny, a funny tale of pure revenge. This book is the poster child for the blog named Will Kill for a Story.

After New York Times bestselling authors Danny Garrett, a former FBI agent, and Margaret Stanton, who was a power player in the Beverly Hills real estate market, are retained by Vitali Publishing to co-author the memoir of Mob boss Tony “The Nose’s” widow Maria Mancuso, elation turns to thoughts of murder.

Hopefully, you as an author, have never had the desire to murder your publisher, but be honest. There are possibly times when many of you were really ticked off.

Well, Danny, Margaret and Maria were more than ticked off. They were totally bummed out when Fat Vinny Vitali (who topped the scales at around 400 pounds) refused to publish the manuscript they’d worked on for a year-and-a-half. He ranted and raved that he’d expected an investigative piece solving the unsolved mystery of who knocked off Maria’s husband. Never mind that he’d never said he wanted interviews with mob members and a whole raft of other things when he sat in on development meetings. He thought he’d get a blockbuster because he firmly believed Maria knew who murdered her husband. Instead he got what the contract called for—Maria’s memoir, the story of an abused Mob wife.

Worse yet, in a power struggle, he not only wouldn’t publish it, he threatened to tie the manuscript up forever unless they bent to his will. He wanted those interviews and the revelation of who killed Tony “The Nose.” What were the authors to do?

At first they tried to reason and cajole. That didn’t work. No matter what they offered, he wouldn’t release the manuscript even if they gave back their advance. He was determined to be the alpha dog in this struggle, and he’d do anything to show them how powerful he was.

Have you as an author ever dealt with a situation like that? I won’t say we did. Let’s just say we were inspired to write this book about wronged authors driven to attempt murder for their story.
With no routes left open, they conspired to bump off Fat Vinny to get their manuscript back.

What ensues is reminiscent of “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.” Every well-thought-out plan backfired due to some twist of fate. Like a cat with the proverbial nine lives, no matter how perfect their plan to speed his journey to the Happy Hunting Ground, Vinny was sitting at his desk the next day, as obnoxious as ever. And the clock was ticking, because their agent was in the middle of negotiating a movie deal that Vinny would have to sign off on according to their contract.

We used lots of twists and turns. As for the final surprise, it was inspired by something I experienced in Mexico many years ago.

Would I kill for a story? Not in real life, but as an author who loves writing about crime capers with a dash of humor, there are so many delicious opportunities just waiting to be written. Hmmm. A Corpse in the Condo. I may write that one sooner than I thought.

What is being said about Bumping Off Fat Vinny:

Bumping Off Fat Vinny is a fun read! Morgan St. James and Dennis Griffin have created great characters that are easy to love or hate. On the top of the “hate list” for me was Fat Vinny, himself. He was a bad man and deserved to get whacked. What his would-be killers went through trying to get the job done makes for a highly compelling and humorous story.

--Frank Cullotta, former Chicago Outfit associate and author of CULLOTTA and Hole in the Wall Gang.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bumping Off Fat Vinny. The plot is great and the characters are easy to relate to. I’ve had some experience with organized crime figures—including killers—and found the murder plots especially entertaining. My compliments to Morgan St. James and Dennis Griffin for producing a great read.

--Orlando “Ori” Spado, former associate of the Colombo organized crime family.

Morgan St James

Former interior designer, MORGAN ST JAMES lives in Las Vegas, is on the board of Writers of Southern Nevada and belongs to multiple writers’ groups. In addition to the Silver Sisters series, she also collaborates with other writers in addition to writing her own novels and short stories. Morgan currently has 14 books in publication plus over 600 articles about the business and craft of writing, with more slated for 2015. She frequently appears on the radio, author’s panels and is an entertaining speaker. Published short stories include contributions to two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, many anthologies including the single author anthology The Mafia Funeral and Other Short Stories, . Her workshops are presented at writers’ conferences, writers groups and other venues.

In November, 2014 she and true crime author Dennis N. Griffin launched the Writers’ Tricks of the Trade Show on Blog Talk Radio, and she is also the publisher of the Writers Tricks of the Trade eZine.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. Whoops. I said the nasty HOA president cost us $10,000 in attorney's costs. What was I thinking? It was actually a whopping $40,000, and that was not chicken feed!