Now, it time to reveal my very special guest interview!!!
Today I interviewing him all kinds of questions that you’ll enjoy as much I did when I read it. With that said, let’s get to it!!
1. What started you into writing? I began writing in late 1994 because I wanted to tell the story of the last case I investigated before retiring from New York State. It was very odd and involved a county medical examiner stealing bodies. I wrote it as a fiction titled The Morgue and self-published it in 1996. I hadn’t intended to write anything else, but I guess I was hooked.
2. How did you get into The Las Vegas Mafia? In 2001 I was writing mystery/thriller fiction and treading water. I was considering getting out of the writing business and finding another hobby. I mentioned that to a lady I met at a writers’ conference. She said that with my background in law enforcement and investigations I should consider switching to nonfiction police history and/or true crime. I decided to give it a try and contacted Las Vegas Metro to see if they’d approve me to write the department’s history. They did and assigned an officer to assist me and Policing Las Vegas was published in 2005. In it I did a section about organized crime and the Tony Spilotro era in Vegas. That led me to do another book titled The Battle for Las Vegas – The Law vs. the Mob. It was an in-depth account of the Spilotro era and was released in 2006. After that I wrote one more fiction to complete a trilogy I had started. Now I only write true crime stuff.
3. What interest you to write about the mafia? I really enjoyed writing about the Mob and through my research I was put in contact with Frank Cullotta, Tony Spilotro’s boyhood friend in Chicago and his street lieutenant in Las Vegas. Frank and I eventually agreed that I’d write his biography, CULLOTTA, which was published in 2007. I began to develop a reputation as a Mob writer and historian and was contacted by another former mobster, Andrew DiDonato, to write his biography of his tears as an associate of New York’s Gambino crime family. Surviving The Mob was published in 2011. These books resulted in additional requests for me to write other crime-related books. I had found my niche!
4. What kind of research do you do? What was most exciting thing that you have done due to your writing? I research online for articles, records and other documents related to my subject. However, my favorite part of research is interviewing sources in person or by phone. During my years in investigations I learned that you learn a lot more when you’re listening to your source than when you’re talking and became an effective interviewer. I apply those same techniques when doing my research interviews.
My successes in writing opened doors for me in another exciting aspect of the business: promotion. I had no experience in public speaking until I had to give a talk about The Morgue in front of over 100 women. I don’t think I’d ever been that scared before, but I survived it and was told I did quite well. After that I did some bookstore signings but very little speaking until I made the switch to nonfiction. I became a regular panelist at the Clark County Library’s annual Mob Month with crowds of between 300 and 500 people. I had a PowerPoint created called Las Vegas and the Mob and began doing both public and private presentations. And because I have access to several former mobsters that you won’t find listed in the phone book, I’m routinely contacted by documentary producers wanting to get in touch with them to discuss possible projects. I appeared personally as a Mob historian in an episode of Mobster Confessions. I was also in two episodes of Ghost Adventures when they investigated locations that had been reputed Mob hangouts. I’m currently involved with the Vegas Mob Tour as a consultant, and in Mob-Con, which is co-produced by Frank Cullotta and Robert George Allen.
These things and my writing keep me pretty busy, but I’m enjoying every minute of it.
5. Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre? I have no desire to write in any other genre. I’m happy where I am and plan to stay there.
6. What are some of your favorite things to do? When I’m not busy with something writing-related my wife and I like to travel, and I enjoy music—especially the oldies. I also read and partake in games of chance once in a while. And when I’m back in central New York for the summers I do some part time work as a private investigator.
7. What tools do you use to interview someone? I mentioned earlier that I use the same techniques in my research interviews that I did when I was working. By that I mean putting my sources at ease and developing a sense of trust and confidence. I answer their questions honestly and explain how any information they provide will be used. I prefer to be able to name my sources, but will let them remain anonymous if they request it and have a valid reason. After all the preliminary stuff is out of the way, I ask my question and then shut up and listen. As I said previously, it’s hard to learn much if you’re the one doing all the talking.
8. If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why? If a potential reader asked me which of my books to read first, I’d want to know if their primarily interest is in fiction or nonfiction. If fiction, I’d suggest The Morgue if they might like something offbeat. Otherwise, I’d recommend my trilogy featuring a male/female team of Las Vegas Metro homicide detectives. The first book is Killer In Pair-A-Dice, followed by One-Armed Bandit and Vegas Vixen. For anyone preferring nonfiction, I’d suggest they start with The Battle for Las Vegas, followed by CULLOTTA, Surviving The Mob and Hole in the Wall Gang.
9. What exciting story are you working on next? I’m currently working with my friend and co-author Morgan St. James, on a book about a well-known Las Vegas personality who was also an organized crime associate and an abuser. We hope to have the manuscript finished and ready for the publisher by late summer. This book will raise a lot of eyebrows, especially in Las Vegas. I have another crime book in the works, but can’t say anything further for the time being.
What a great interview that I’m Looking forward of see what Dennis’s next book will be all about, knowing Dennis next book will be the talk of Las Vegas!