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What Happens When A Reporter Writes a Novel?

What Happens When A Reporter Writes a Novel?


I know how to write fiction, but I don’t know how to make up stories. Well, I don’t know how to make up stories out of whole cloth, I should say. Mystical, real cloth, yes, whole cloth no.

What Happens When A Reporter Writes a Novel?
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My novels, like my life as a take-no-prisoners, tell-the-truth columnist for the New York Daily News have both begun with an actual event. And then like the investigative reporter that I am, I followed the trail until I found out the truth behind the event or (in my case) bizarre experience into which I’d been thrust.

Then and only then can I begin to create a story—a tale built around the truth.

But I’m not giving enough credit to the stars here. See, I believe that both of my novels, The Sixth Station published in 2013 and Book of Judas, out September 19, 2017, almost had nothing to do with me. They’re sort of like a news event that I cover—I’m in it, but didn’t start the damned thing.

For each book I was led by the hand like a willing lamb to slaughter. And after going through what I went through to dig out the truth in both cases I do feel like I almost was being, if not slaughtered, well, at least put through hell.

With all the craziness I’m about to tell you about, I had to keep one thing familiar to me. That would be my character, Alessandra Russo. She just happens to be a New York City reporter, who is very much like I am in real life—with a bunch of years and sometimes hair—shaved off.

Russo can’t help getting herself mixed up in bad situations any more than I can. It’s the nature of a journo: Investigating a story can sometimes be dangerous, and is always wrought with complications and risks, but you do it because, well, because that’s just what you do to breathe.

The Sixth Station began when my husband and I took a road trip. But not a road trip like normal people to Disney World or anything. We took a road trip through Turkey. It was all going great until I got to the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. While I am very spiritual I am not particularly religious person, so what happened next was a complete shocker.

Being in that house knocked me flat. I started having visions and was told from somewhere or other that I had to track down this story whatever that would be.

 The research took me six years in which I drove through five countries alone, climbed a mountain in France twice, was escorted through parts of France by a motorcycle gang, stayed with monks in a monastery in Manoppello Italy, and spent time with a crazy, cloistered nun who lives up the mountain from that monastery. Oh, and right, I also took another road trip; this one through Italy with an 84-year old exorcist priest from the Vatican.

I did all this until I believe I found what I’d been searching for: a relic in that monastery with the DNA of Jesus on it.

Then the hard work began—the research that doesn’t involve adventure—just intense concentration to detail and an unforgiving quest to find out the truth behind what I believed I’d discovered.

What I discovered too, however, oftentimes discouraging because, well, it’s tough to get half-way through writing a novel, only to find that truth gets in the way of fiction. I’d discover something that would throw my whole story off and I’d have to start again.

Sure it’s easy to just say, well, hell it’s fiction after all, but when you’re a reporter, you just can’t get past that sticky habit of making sure your facts actually are facts and haven’t been debunked somewhere by someone.

My new novel, Book of Judas, began in an equally bizarre way. I’d seen a book on a shelf in a house I’d owned for 12 years and had never seen before even though it was sitting right there. Nobody in my family could have brought it there because it was I, Judas by Taylor Caldwell and Jesse Stern and it was 40 years old!

Intrigued ,I began to read it and was surprised to discover that not everyone thought Judas was an evil villain. Huh?

A few days later, while perusing a bookshop on a girl’s getaway weekend, I saw on the front table, another book about Judas. Weird? Not as weird as it was about to get. The book was about the discovery of the real Gospel of Judas, which had been discovered in the 1970s in a cave in Egypt. The-nearly 2,000 year old codex had been lost and found and lost and found again.

Where was it found? In a safety deposit box in a bank in Hicksville, Long Island. Dear God! I grew up in Hicksville, Long Island.

Weirder still, that Citibank branch turned out to be the very same bank branch where I’d had my first bank account as a teenager!

Judas, scarier even than all the mobsters, and criminals I’ve interviewed in my career, was calling. Who in hell—literally—was I not to answer that call?

My research took me into a 3,000 year old hidden burial cave in Israel and then hundreds of feet underground in the still-unfinished steel and concrete labyrinth of Second Avenue Subway tunnel that looked like something out of the end of the world.

But I did it, because hey, I didn’t expect that Judas was going to take me out on a nice dinner.

What Happens When A Reporter Writes a Novel?
LINDA STASI, the popular and well-read columnist for the New York Daily News, and previously for the New York Post, is also an on-camera TV co-host with Mark Simone on NY 1 -Spectrum “What a Week!”

Brash, funny and opinionated, the acerbic Stasi’s first novel, The Sixth Station, published in January of 2013 by Forge Books was hailed as, “A helluva religious thriller,” by Nelson DeMille, while Steve Berry said, “You’ll be grabbing the pages so tight your knuckles will turn white!” Booklist said of the book, “Dan Brown and Steve Berry fans have another controversial novel in which to lose themselves.” For The Sixth Station, Stasi was selected as a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

Stasi’s anxiously awaited sequel, Book of Judas, has received acclaim from mega bestselling authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, who calls it, “An innovative masterpiece!”

Stasi has appeared on TV talk shows and news channels such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, The O’Reilly Factor, Hardball, Good Day New York, and The View, as well as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC news shows, and many others.

She is a regular guest on iHeartRadio’s nationally broadcast Mark Simone Show, Boston’s “Matty In The Morning,” and countless others around the country.

Stasi has also authored the non-fiction books – Looking Good Is the Best Revenge, A Field Guide to Impossible Men, Simply Beautiful, Boomer Babes, and Scotto Sunday Suppers.

Not afraid to say what’s on her mind in her popular Wednesdays and full-page Sunday columns in the New York Daily News, her readership has reached more than 600,000 in a single day.

She was named “One of the Fifty Most Powerful Women in NYC” and has won numerous awards including Best Columnist by the Newswomen’s Club of NY, Best Humor Columnist, and Woman of the Year by the Boys Town of Italy for her charitable work such as driving a tractor-trailer in an 18-truck convoy from NYC to the gulf states with relief supplies for Hurricane Katrina victims.

1 comment:

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