Interview With Joe Giordano, Author of Appointment with ISIL: An Anthony Provati Thriller
you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published
One of the positions I held before I became a writer, was to run a
business in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa out of
Athens. I developed a deep sense of history and the desire to write
an historical fiction about the Ancient Greek-Persian Wars. Thirteen
years ago, I tackled the task. My prose was terrible, I needed to
learn how to write. I attended classes at the University of Texas and
began writing short stories.
Years later, after a landfill's worth of
rejections, my work started to be accepted by small, online
magazines. Eventually, I developed enough confidence to write another
of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story,
published by Harvard Square Editions in October 2015. My experience
doing readings and with book clubs was so enjoyable that I felt
encouraged to write a second novel, Appointment
with ISIL, An Anthony Provati Thriller,
which Harvard Square Editions released June 15, 2017. I continue to
write short stories and have been published in such magazines as The
Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and
What skills did you develop writing short stories that prepared you
to write your first book?
As I mentioned above, my first historical novel about the
Greek-Persian Wars was terrible. Nonetheless, the task took quite
some time to complete. To develop a literary style and to shorten the
cycle time for failure and feedback, I tackled short stories. To
improve my craft, I analytically read great writers. I took classes,
but concluded that creative writing is misplaced in the English
Department. Certainly, language is the medium, but you don't learn
artistic painting from a Sherman Williams store. I picked up tools,
but instructors can't teach you to write well. Whatever success I've
had is a triumph of hard work over modest talent. To paraphrase
Edison, my writing improved 1% by inspiration and 99% by
Where did you find the inspiration for your storyline in Appointment
With ISIL? For the
main characters you created in this book?
Ben Fountain, author of the best-selling Billy
Lynn's Long Halftime Walk,
and a writing mentor of mine, told me that the literary thriller was
the "holy grail." I took on his challenge. The genesis of
the novel was my experience in the Middle East, an Islamic History
course I'd taken from the University of Texas in Austin, and a short
story, "The Unkindest Cut," published, by decomP
believe Norman Mailer said that every character he created included
at least five percent of himself. As Mailer wrote about both Jesus
and the Devil, that's quite a range. Fiction, unlike real life, must
be believable. To create a sense of verisimilitude, I draw from my
experiences and observations, including people I've met, but all the
characters in Appointment
note of interest for me was the title. While ISIL is a part of the
book's plot, in truth, a much larger part of the story takes place in
the US and deals with the mob. Because of that, I'm curious why
you chose Appointment
with ISIL as the
suppose that a less catchy but accurate title would've been, The
Adventures of Anthony.
In the novel, an Egyptian character tells Anthony that, "He has
an appointment with ISIL." Much of what comes before Anthony's
confrontation with Al-Nasir leads to the terrorist group's plots of
do you organize your time when working on a new book? Research?
Writing/editing? Pre-marketing? Was this process any easier the
second time around?
Once you've had a novel published, you know what's required, how long
it takes, and the sequence of events you'll follow. My time is spent
roughly 10% on research, 60% writing/editing, and 30% on marketing. I
invest a large chunk of research time at the onset of a project, then
specific details and events are investigated along the way. I want to
"know" my ending before I begin. Although many advise not
to edit as you go, I reread my work to spot missed opportunities for
expanding characterization. I create two files: a "scratch"
file where research and drafted chapters reside before I'm satisfied
to move them to the "book" file.
an author - what do you enjoy most about the writing process? What
feels most like a chore?
creative process is most enjoyable. Self-expression is fun. A writer
can't help but reveal himself in his work. Analogously, readers
take a sort of Rorschach Test; their interpretations are
idiosyncratic and often surprising.
concept of chore is rising at an uncomfortable hour, needing to make
a forecast, being constantly jet-lagged by steady overseas travel,
and putting up with a nitwit boss. Writing doesn't require any of
these things, so it's never a chore.
advice for young authors wanting to write books in this genre?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Criticism comes in droves. Don't be
deterred. Use rejection to incentivize improvement. Remember that
most writers take an unintended vow of poverty, you'll spend a lot of
time isolated reading and writing, and you'll pray that your work is
appreciated and accepted. These descriptors can also be found under
the definitions of cloistered nun and monk. Be careful what you
become good at, because that's what you'll do.
What comes next? Do you have any new story ideas in development?
next novel will be another Anthony Provati thriller with the working
and will include some of the characters introduced in Appointment
but each novel can be read independently. Drone
includes a victim whose family was "collateral damage."
Where can he turn for justice? Without a higher authority to
arbitrate, is the desire for revenge understandable?