Friday, June 20, 2014

#Guest: Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser by Catherine DePino

Catherine DePino has sold thirteen books for parents, teachers, and children to mainstream publishers. She self-published her fourteenth book, Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying because she wanted to give it a wider forum. Her background includes a BS in English and Spanish education, a Master’s in English education, and a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Development and Educational Administration from Temple University. The author worked for many years as an English teacher, department head of English and world languages, disciplinarian, and curriculum writer in the Philadelphia School District. After this, she worked at Temple as an adjunct assistant professor and student teaching supervisor.

Catherine has also written articles for national magazines, including The Christian Science Monitor and The Writer.

For many years she served on the board of The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference.  She holds membership in the Association of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her new self-help book, 101 Easy Ways for Women to De-Stress, Reinvent, and Fire Up Your Life in Retirement,appeared on the market in March, 2014.


Where to Buy: Amazon

1. At any given time do you work on only one story at a time and maybe plot out the next one or are there many ideas racing around your head?

Usually when I work on one story, I throw myself into it, giving it my full attention until the final edit Then, after I complete the book, I start thinking of another idea for a book, sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction. I enjoy writing for different age groups. Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying targets middle school kids but has something for everyone. Elliot is a ninth grader who faces harsh bullying from his classmates. The child of divorced parents, he lives atop his dad’s business, a funeral home in South Philadelphia.

I’ve had parents and grandparents tell me they enjoyed reading about Elliot. There’s a sub-plot involving Elliot’s quirky grandmother, Nonna. To the surprise of the entire family, she falls in love with Armand, a walrus-faced plumber. I tried to interject humor throughout the book even though it’s about a serious subject. Readers need comic relief with such a heavy subject. Also, some seniors who like oldies music told me they enjoyed walking down memory lane with Duke, the school custodian and Elliot’s mentor.

2. Is there a genre you haven't written in but would like to? Or wish you could write in?

I’d like to try writing paranormal books for teens involving the Tarot. I’ve read Tarot cards for many years and find it fascinating. It’s the kind of thing people either love or hate, but for me, it’s fun and has opened up a whole new world. I’d like to write a book using psychic phenomena as a backdrop, but for now I’m concentrating on bully prevention (fiction and non-fiction), and grammar/writing improvement. I’ve written five books about bully prevention, three for children, one for parents and family members to help children cope, and one for teachers to use in mandated bully prevention programs. I’ve also recently published a grammar book to help adults improve their writing and speaking abilities. Before that, I wrote grammar books for teachers to use with their classes. All of my grammar books use a holistic approach that links grammar directly to writing. I’ve found that learning it in isolation doesn’t work.

3. Do you add an element of romantic suspense in your stories?
I interjected a romantic element in Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser when Elliot started liking his classmate Rosalie. All the boys at school were in love with her, so it was highly unlikely that she would give Elliot a second look. Many readers were surprised when she did. There’s also romantic suspense involving Elliot’s grandmother and her boyfriend. Will she marry him and become Angela Carnucci Cacciatucci or live in the funeral home forever with Andrew, her funeral director son, and Elliot, her grandson?

4. Say you have unlimited funds: What kind of writing office/cottage would you create for yourself?

I’d have my very own writing studio in my Ocean City, NJ, seashore house with white wicker furniture and splashes of colorful flowers. I’d pipe in oldies, jazz, and classical music and write to my heart’s content.

5. If you could turn your novel into a TV show, which novel or series would you do? Where would it be set? Network TV (ABC, NBC, CBS), Cable (AMC, BBC, Lifetime) or Premium Cable (HBO, Showtime, Starz)?

If I could turn Elliot into a TV series, I’d want it to be on cable. It would chronicle Elliot’s and his friends’ success in helping other bullied kids turn their lives around. Of course, the setting would be in the funeral home where Elliot lives, with plenty of spooky hijinx to excite both kids and adults. We’d also learn more about Elliot’s mother, Rayna, who has recently moved back to the east coast from the west coast where she launched a career in commercials. Will his mom and dad get back together or will they stay divorced? Will Elliot’s grandmother Nonna stay with Armand, or is the marriage doomed to fail because she’s a totally liberated woman who won’t let a man tell her what to do? The series would also feature Elliot’s friends, Roy and LeBron, who stood by him when the other kids looked the other way while he faced cruel acts of bullying.

6. Finally, tell us about your latest release!

Out of all the books I’ve written, Elliot is my favorite protagonist. Although some may consider him nerdy, he has an endearing side in that he’s a true friend and he does whatever he can to help others in need. He shows this when he helps Anna Santiago, a girl who once made fun of him at school. At her father’s funeral, Elliot reaches out to her and comforts her.

Although Elliot is brutalized by a few bullies at his school, he perseveres in trying to find a solution to his problems. I consider him a true hero. I’ve used a high school as a setting for my story because that’s where I worked all my life, first as a teacher, and later as a department head.  I know the inner workings of schools and aimed to reflect that in the story. I’ve found that most school families have their share of loving, compassionate workers who go out of their way to help students. Mr. Boardly, the school custodian and Elliot’s greatest ally, works with Elliot to help free him of his bullying issues. By the way, I I patterned Mr. Boardly on Scotty, a caring custodian I knew who always had time to help kids and teachers in any way he could.

I’d love it if you’d write to me at my website,  to let me know what you thought of the book. If you have any comments or questions, please send them my way. It will make my day.

Catherine will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Be sure to comment!

The kids at Ralph Bunche Middle School love to pick on Elliot Kravitz-Carnucci. He struggles with his weight, looks like a geek, makes top honors, and lives above the Carnucci Home for Funerals in South Philadelphia with his distant, workaholic father and Nonna, his quirky, overbearing grandmother.
Since his parents divorced, he splits spending his time with his funeral director father and his mother Rayna, who dreams of becoming the queen of commercials on the west coast.
At the hands of his peers, Elliot experiences a series of bullying episodes that escalate from entrapment in a school supply closet to a brutal “swirly” (head dunk in the toilet) that lands him in the hospital emergency room.
Elliot has a small circle of loyal friends and a mentor named Duke, an aging school custodian, who root for him to overcome his bullying issues so that he can enjoy his life as a teenager and a budding singer/performer. Can Elliot win his fight against the nasty bullies, or is he doomed forever? Read this funny, sad, and crazy book to find out.

“Help–I can’t breathe–let me out. Somebody help...”

I pounded the inside of the musty supply closet until my knuckles turned blue. Did anybody even have the key?
What if they don’t come? What if I’m trapped here all night?
I could hear loud voices and laughing, so I knew Kyle Canfield and one of his friends from the basketball team were there, waiting to see if I would cave in and plead for mercy.
The bell blared. Classes changed. Kids stampeded through the halls. Then, silence.

Finally I heard someone shout, “I’ve got the key, Doc.” 
“Thanks, Duke,” Doc Greely, the assistant principal, said to Mr. Boardly, the man who’d sprung me loose.

Mr. Boardly, the head custodian, better known as Duke, offered me his arm, and I stumbled out of the closet. He was as thin as his mop handle, but all muscle–no flab like me. A scruffy white beard covered half his face.
He slammed the closet door shut and bolted the lock. “One of the hall guards reported noise coming from this area. We came as soon as we heard.”
Duke patted my shoulder. “Let me know if I can help, Elliot.” I could hear his keys clanging as he walked down the hall humming “Duke of Earl,” that old sixties song he loved. That’s where he got his nickname.

“Up to their old tricks again, Elliot?” Doc asked on the way to his office.


Mary Preston said...

A wonderful post to read through thank you.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

amy bowens said...

The excerpt sounds very enlightening. This is something that I want my kids to read!
thanks for sharing.

Catherine DePino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine DePino said...

Thanks for hosting, Isabel! I enjoyed answering your interview questions.

Catherine DePino said...

Thanks, Mary, for your kind comment! I loved these questions. They gave me the opportunity to tell a lot about my book and its characters.

Catherine DePino said...

I appreciate your thinking about having your kids read my book, Amy. I hope they like it. Write to me or have them write to me via my website with any comments or questions if they do read it.

Catherine DePino said...

Here's a question for your readers: What's the worst thing you've ever heard of a bully doing? What is your reaction to it?

bn100 said...

Would be an interesting tv show

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Catherine DePino said...

Thanks, Bn!

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