Tell us a bit about your family. I was born in Rome, Italy to a family of five kids. My mom is Italian and my father is French. As kids, my dad used to work for the Vatican as a project manager and liaison for one of the Vatican’s fund-raising efforts. I remember as kids my dad would bring one or two of us to school on his bicycle before going to work. The traffic in Rome is madness and he would weave in and out of cars going into all these crazy directions, and along the way we would see Roman ruins, the Pantheon and other historical landmarks.
What is your favorite quality about yourself? I’m extremely driven. When I commit to a project, I know I’m going to go through with it until the end. I can usually tackle several projects at once. For example, right now I work full time for the Army, I run a photography business with my wife and on top of it all I’ve been working to promote Amidst Traffic. I can usually tackle a couple different projects at once.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself? When I set my mind to a project, my personal drive sometimes turns into an obsession, and I can’t let go. If I become consumed from an idea or a thought while in bed, I have to get up and work on it right away otherwise I just won’t sleep. It can cause for some tense moments, too.
As a result, I’m also really impulsive and impatient. Because I’m so driven, I want things to happen now. Immediately. So writing is a great venue to teach me patience, especially during book promotion.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? In 2008 I deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army public affairs as an Army journalist and got to cover stories of all kinds about Soldiers working overseas to rebuild a country in the midst of war. For that work, I received the Army Journalist of the Year award and received a coin by Honorable Pete Geren, who was the Secretary of the Army at the time.
Telling the stories of Soldiers is always a very emotional and touching subject for me. Every time I see Soldiers being welcomed home or returning to their families after a long deployment, I feel it in my heart. I know how it is, and I feel like I’m reconnecting with my own family, my fellow citizens every time.
To get recognized and awarded as a journalist for telling their stories for a year is always really touching when I think about it.
What is your favorite food? Listen. The truth is that Pizza is everyone’s favorite food. I don’t care what you say. So a better question is, what’s your favorite type of pizza? And my favorite pizza in particular is Neapolitan, which is the way it’s still made in Naples today (where it was born). Neapolitan pizza is baked in a wood-fired oven in less than ninety seconds (yes, no exaggeration) and made with all fresh ingredients. I don’t think I could live in a city that didn’t have at least one Neapolitan Pizzeria in the area.
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? I’ve lived in Italy, Pittsburgh and Texas and this fall I’m getting ready to move to Chicago, where I’ve never been before. Out of the places I’ve lived, I can honestly call Pittsburgh home. It’s a city with a town feeling to it where there’s a lot of art, a lot of culture and a ton of passion (especially for sports). I’m not sure if Chicago will change my mind, but I will always consider Pittsburgh home.
“Amidst Traffic” is a collection of high-caliber, interconnected short stories with a literary flair:
A short-order cook digs a hole in his back yard to escape nightmares of mutilated children; A woman covers her body in tattoos to hold on to emotions that continue to slip away; A soldier who returns home from Iraq struggles with the idea of gratitude, which, if resolved, may save his marriage; A man begins a game of watching strangers to see what it feels like to play God.
All of these stories, and others, are linked somehow. With each tale, more lines and connections begin to form. What initially feels like chaos, gradually begins to take order. A purpose exists that is unveiled by the end.
Every story is crafted with a sense of compassion for the human spirit, while seeking answers about the conflicts we live through in everyday life. The characters in these stories will make you care about their struggles and hope for their redemption.
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Genre – Short Stories / Literary Fiction
Rating – PG13
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