Author Marc Cavella might have begun writing at the tender age of ten, but he’d never taken it seriously until 2015 when he decided to leave a Clinical Psychology doctoral program to focus more on writing books. Speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction, the California-based author, who is looking for a cabin to rent in the general vicinity of Georgia and the Carolinas as one of the stories he is planning to work on is set there, says he generally writes at night right after he finishes with work. ‘I don’t really have a schedule though. If I get inspired and I’m not near my computer, I’ll write notes on my phone so I may work on them later,’ he lets us know. Stressing that becoming an author was a conscious decision he made, Mr Cavella, who holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and another one in General Psychology, tells us that very few things have been as intellectually stimulating and challenging for him as writing a novel has been. ‘And I’m the kind of person who loves intellectual challenges, so it felt like the right move at the time. Thankfully, it still does,’ he says with a smile.
Spinning Wondrous Yarns
Speaking about his published works, the author says that his first book entitled ‘Tabernacle’ tells the story of Edward Jones, an incredibly successful salesman who sells a product that none of his clients actually wants. ‘His company offers him a massive commission to take on a new client, a beloved Mormon schoolmaster named Jared Young. Edward’s going to do everything he can—like passing off a destitute young boy as his own son and buying armloads of professional-wrestling t-shirts—in order to close the deal and earn the biggest payday of his career,’ he shares.
Be that as it may, his latest book, a novella entitled ‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’, is the first part of a trilogy of novellas focusing on a fictional regional wrestling promotion called Ozark Championship Wrestling (OCW) during the 1970s. ‘This one tells the story of Ricky Risotto, a wrestling manager and booker who’s been working for OCW since he was sixteen years old. He’s been charged by the company with making sure that the champion loses the title at their big upcoming show, but it’s really more of a character study about a man who’s marginalized and underappreciated by both OCW and larger society,’ he explains.
ENGAGE WITH EXPRESS: Fancy reading Marc Cavella? Well, you can buy yourself a copy of Tabernacle and The Ballad of Ricky Risotto right off the bat by clicking on the books’ cover images below.
A Pukka Planster
On being asked if he plots out his stories or tends to develop them while writing, Mr Cavella says he thinks it varies. ‘With Tabernacle, I had the idea for a character who was a salesman, selling products that nobody wanted,’ states the author, adding, ‘It was based off of an old article I had read back in 2008 about these sorts of nefarious insurance policies from the Middle Ages—I’ve looked for that article a million times, but I still can’t find it—and that’s how I came up with the idea for Edward Jones.’ While the author at the time did know what he wanted to happen in terms of the plot and the associated themes, he says he wasn’t particularly sure how he was going to get there. ‘I basically made it up as I went along,’ he lets on.
With The Ballad of Ricky Risotto, however, Mr Cavella pretty much had both the plot and the character in mind right away. ‘But I still discovered a few new wrinkles and avenues to explore while I was writing it that I hadn’t initially planned for. For example, I had no idea that I was going to create a character named Lance Sacramento, who’s loosely based on a character on Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and that he was going to be the character I focused on for the second novella in that OCW trilogy,’ the author explains. ‘But I really love those little surprises, and they’re a huge part of what makes writing so interesting to me,’ he adds.
‘I Like Authors Who Make Their Readers Think’
Over the course of the interaction, the author lets us know that he loves reading and that he likes all kinds of genres. He says, ‘I tend to choose the books I read without regard to who the authors are, but I do find myself time and again drawn to the works of authors like Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner.’
Stating that he is a huge fan of true-crime authors like Nicholas Pileggi and Vincent Bugliosi, he says his work, nonetheless, tends to focus a little more on the legal aspects of crimes as opposed to the crimes themselves. ‘And I’ve recently started to read Flannery O’Connor again. But generally speaking, I tend to enjoy writers whose work doesn’t insult the readers’ intelligence, you know? I like people who write challenging works that make you think, and I love authors who can write something that seems entertaining and slick on the surface while simultaneously delving into deeper questions and themes,’ he tells us.
‘I’d Wanted to Become a Poker Player’
Conceding that writing and juggling other tasks can be difficult, Mr Cavella, who can speak a bit of Spanish but not English Spanish texts, goes on to say he thinks it all boils down to discipline. ‘You really have to make writing a priority in your life as much as possible if you want to get things done. That’s been my experience, anyway. For example, I know that I want to write five sessions a week and have a minimum of 2500 words completed in a given week. I may not finish all five hundred words in one sitting, but I’m going to write five hundred words in that day if at all possible. It can take a little bit of skill to balance writing with your other hobbies and responsibilities, but it’s definitely achievable,’ he explains.
The author also says that he has a couple of activities that he enjoys. ‘I like going to the gym a few times a week to get the stress of everyday life out of my system. I love to play cards and go to casinos whenever I can. In fact, I’d considered becoming a professional poker player for a little while back in my twenties,’ he shares with us with a guffaw, adding that he loves to watch movies—everything from classics like On the Waterfront and Goodfellas to more modern films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. ‘And one day I’d like to sign up for flying lessons so I can get my pilot’s license.’
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When asked if he has got any work in progress, the author tells us that he is working on The Man From Coronado: A Lance Sacramento Story, the second novella in that OCW trilogy. ‘The story takes place in 1972 and focuses on Lance Sacramento, a wrestler who appears in The Ballad of Ricky Risotto. We’ll follow Lance as he returns home from Vietnam and struggles to find his place in the world,’ he explains, letting on that along the way Lance meets up with a rowdy motorcycle club and becomes a security guard for The Rolling Stones on their Stones Touring Party tour of the United States.
Besides, Mr Cavella, who would love to be able to write full-time but enjoys where he is right now as he doesn’t feel pressured, says that he is also currently about 40,000 words into Place the Flowers, which is the sequel to Tabernacle. ‘Edward Jones is retired from the sales game and now has a beautiful family of his own, but he’s tempted out of retirement when an old work associate offers to split a record-setting commission with him,’ he lets us know. ‘I’m pretty excited about this one as well,’ he adds.
The Parting Message
And does he have any message for budding authors who lose motivation if their works don’t do well? ‘I would say that they shouldn’t give up or feel down on themselves if a few of their works don’t do as well as they’d hoped,’ Mr Cavella responds, emphasising that the writing marketplace, being competitive, makes it really difficult for writers to gain a foothold or find an audience unless they are affiliated with a major publishing house. ‘And even then, it’s still an uphill battle.’
The author also avers that the most important thing is to make sure one is writing the books one wants to write. ‘That’s the most rewarding thing for me personally. Tabernacle and The Ballad of Ricky Risotto are both exactly the books that I wanted them to be, and I didn’t have to make any compromises in order to write them. So I think that it doesn’t matter how many books you’ve sold, as long as you stay true to yourself and write the books that you want to write. That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment,’ he says, signing off.