Friday, May 7, 2021

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: Squealer by Christopher Calcara @CJCalcara @GoddessFish



by Christopher Calcara

GENRE: Crime Thriller/LGBT


With tongue-in-cheek and dark overtones, Squealer examines the life of an impressionable Midwestern Catholic Italian choirboy who grows into a mob-worthy assassin in order to avenge high school nemeses from his past.

As ‘Pete Casanova’ takes us on a journey through the heart-land, his early ethnic and religious experiences expose the motivations for his deadly actions. We come to realize why, for him, it’s never too late to seek revenge.

Squealer addresses topics of physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse inflicted on students by their teachers and religious authorities. It deals with the difficult subjects of homophobia, prejudice and bullying, but with wit … and suspense!


Word had it that the mob boss controlled every rotten illegal operation between our quiet hamlet on the Missouri River and rough and ready Chicago to the east. Unlawful pursuits included prostitution, gambling (before it was legalized on riverboats), drugs, and booze (legal but susceptible to monopoly). No telling how many enemies he offed, or had offed.

I heard “the family” stuck their black hands in all the local gay bars, typical of controlling interests at the time. If you didn’t play hardball with them, you didn’t play at all. An adversary was typically dispatched in one of two ways: either their livelihood was lost to a mystifying incendiary fire or, if particularly scorned, they could be found dead, hogtied like a sausage in the trunk of their car, which was dumped at the airport.

On our journey across the river to Civella’s, Georgio would tell me how honorable a human being this mobster was, how generous a friend to his family the man had been. Having set up Georgio’s father in business, they were eternally and intractably indebted.

I was told of a secret tunnel in Civella’s basement that led across the street to the house of his brother, Carl “Cork” Civella. Georgio said that whenever the fuzz or the Feds visited Nick’s home, he’d have his punks run contraband through the underground to the safer surroundings at Cork’s. I suspected the reverse was pulled off if they hit up Cork. (Years later, I learned this hidden labyrinth never existed. With the law firmly in Nick’s pocket, there was no need for it. The fabled tunnel under my grandfather’s store probably never existed either, although I don’t doubt there was an excavator in our family.)

For all the buzz, I was afraid of the old man before I ever laid eyes on him. I pictured a menacing Marlon Brando type entangled in the tomato vines, brokering international power deals and assassinating those who crossed him with silencers in restaurant bathrooms.

We were let into the fortress by a tough disagreeable understudy who was plainly more than a butler or manservant. He had the bulk of a bodyguard, and I’m sure he was padded with impenetrable long underwear. Everything about this man said he was prepared to take a slug for somebody. Even his eyes seemed to say, ‘Do not fuck with me!’

Interview with Christopher Calcara

What made you want to become a writer?

More than the mechanics of any other aptitude, I enjoy language and putting well-crafted sentences together to tell a story. But it wasn’t really a question of wanting. The impetus (or gene?) was just there. Reading and writing and constructing stories were always interests, fleshed out in high school, where I was moved by the authors of the required reading that typically finds its way into high school literature and composition classes. The first demonstration of my creative writing that I remember was letters to friends in the military or my hometown after I’d moved away to attend college. Finding ways to make these missives more interesting, I would embellish them with picturesque vocabulary. Pursuing a journalism degree was natural. After avocationally writing and submitting short stories—some of which have been published—my craft expanded into stage plays, novels, and screenplays. Once I was acknowledged as having talent as a writer, the recognition fueled the desire to make it a profession. But it’s the self-recognition of my God-given talent that made me a writer. I’m running my own race and following my own heart.

What inspired you to write SQUEALER?

I was inspired by the subjects of bullying and abuse in schools, particularly as they happen to gay kids. But from the beginning, I wanted it to be adult fiction, not YA. Crafting the story into a thriller was accidental as I fleshed out the plot with gay protagonist (Luca) pursuing his antagonist (Leonard). Luca explores his true self while revealing his motivations for exacting revenge on Leonard thirty years later without guilt and retribution when chance occurrences bring them back together. The novel had to have a fair amount of humor to contrast with its more serious subject matter, and it had to be suspenseful. A surprise twist was also called for.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in SQUEALER?

Luca comes from a middle class Catholic Italian family. Both his ethnic and religious experiences fuel his obsession to exact revenge on his high school nemeses, including the reviled Leonard, who was orphaned by his biological Italian parents and becomes a delinquent, then a career criminal, and finally a killer. Luca’s older brother Sal joins forces with Leonard in a Mafia-backed scheme while his older sister involves herself romantically with him. Both associations lead to calamitous consequences and contribute to Luca’s retaliatory actions.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

Personally, I disagree. My literary interests run the gamut, so while I may have a preference for certain authors in different genres, there are too many to name. When I was young, for contemporary fiction, Hemingway was a favorite. Currently, for historical biographies, it’s David McCullough. These are only two of so many great authors and genres. Everyone has a story. All authors—all creatives really—are favorites of mine because they contribute their works to a society’s art and culture, without which the world would be woefully deficient.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

I’ve returned to a novel I began a few years ago. It’s about a sister and brother, her mental illness, and their complex relationship over the years, climaxing in his adoption of her child. As of now, I’m calling it The Marchesi Girl. I also have a collection of short stories, both published and unpublished, that I’d like to see between two covers.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I especially enjoyed the way SQUEALER developed over time. The story began with the germ of an idea that just kept growing. A character or scene might occur to me randomly or upon waking in the middle of the night, and I hurried to write it down. One fragment led to another, and so on. The challenging task was fitting each of the novel’s pieces, some of them real, into a particular timeframe. It was very satisfying when all the elements found their rightful place.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

After earning a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Calcara created marketing campaigns for businesses and institutions featured in print and broadcast media.

He writes fiction and semi-fiction, short stories, memoirs, plays, novels, and screenplays. He has collaborated with composers to write plays with musical scores. Joan is one such musical play that lyrically exposes the soul of Jeanne d’Arc—Joan of Arc.

Calcara was the only Charleston writer to win the 2011 South Carolina Arts Commission Fiction Project. His short stories have been published by numerous literary journals. He has lived in the South, Southwest and Southeast, and currently writes from the Midwest.

YouTube ~ Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Buy Links:

Amazon USA ~ Amazon UK


$10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Christopher Calcara said...

Thank you for hosting me. I hope your bloggers enjoy my novel.

Sherry said...

Sounds like a great book.

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