Welcome to our Author Interview Series!
Today we're featuring an interview with Terry P. Rizzuti, author of Suffering Seacil. Our author interview series provides an opportunity for our readers to get to know our authors on a deeper level and also learn more about the types of books we're publishing.
Suffering Seacil addresses the contemporary dysfunctional relationship between Seacil, a college professor and abusive husband; Molly, his professionally-employed wife; and Bobby, their high school classmate and eventual Vietnam War combat veteran. Seacil isn't so much a closet monster as he is the American male exposed. The story is not unusual except for local particulars. It is chilling because you meet his character-type each and every day. He’s the guy next door, the star halfback, your coffee buddy at work, your boss, employee, preacher, traffic cop, doctor. And yet, this is also the story of Molly and Bobby. It’s a story about their embracing and rising above their respective post-traumatic stress disorders. It’s a story about courage, hope, love – and our future.
About the author:
Terry P. Rizzuti was born in Oklahoma and raised in up-state New York. He graduated with an English Literature degree from the University of Oklahoma and did two years of graduate-level study. He is a life member of The American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Disabled American Veterans, and Khe Sanh Veterans, Inc. Currently, Rizzuti is a writer living in Estes Park, Colorado. His short stories and articles have been published in several print and on-line journals. His other novels include The Second Tour and The Life and Times of Bubba Lee Boatbum (co-written with R. E. Armstrong). http://www.TPRizzuti.com
Why should readers pick up your book?
Suffering Seacil addresses contemporary dysfunctional male/female relationships. It tries to answer questions like: “Why does a woman stay in an abusive relationship?” “How can a woman rise above such a relationship, gain self-reliance, achieve freedom and find enough trust in other men to once again allow herself to be vulnerable?” “How can a women break the generational chain of abuse that occurs between abusive men and their sons, i.e., raise a son that learns to respect women?”
Several types of readers can gain insight by reading this book. First and foremost, young women can learn to recognize the “early warning signs” of such a relationship. Men can learn how not to treat women (and why). Additionally, social workers, sociologists, psychologists, attorneys, judges, politicians and police officers can benefit from reading this book.
How did your book come to life?
It started around 1994. I was struggling with the issue of PTSD, specifically whether or not single-incident trauma experiences could induce symptoms of PTSD every bit as troubling as those found in combat veterans that experienced multiple trauma incidents. I couldn’t see how that might be so, but my reading led me to theorize that women in long-term abusive relationships probably could share symptomology, so I wanted to examine that possibility from a fictional perspective.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
That’s not a fair question. Every good fiction writer “becomes” his characters as he or she writes. We must temporarily step into and live in their shoes, see the world through their viewpoints. So in a sense they’re all our favorite characters, but in this case, it’s easier for me to discuss Seacil because he’s my least favorite character. Pure and simply, I don’t like Seacil. He stands for every aspect of human maleness that I detest. He’s arrogant and obnoxious. He’s manipulative and self-serving. He’s weak and cowardly. In short, he’s honor-less. And yet, he’s a product of his upbringing in a male-dominated culture that overall still sees and treats women as subservient, as objects to be owned.
How did you name your characters?
I don’t remember how I came up with the name Molly. Bobby, short for Robert, is one of my favorite male names. Seacil is a variant of the more common spelling of Cecil. I wanted a name that was unusual, memorable, yet suggested weakness, so a friend of mine asked me to “think of Cecil in gym class,” which immediately, for me, conjured the image of a 97-pound weakling. (Note: all you Cecils out there, please don’t hit me!)
Are the characters in your books based on people you know?
I think there’s truth in the statement that it’s impossible to separate one’s writing from one’s experiences, but with the slight exception of Bobby, who’s loosely, very loosely, based on me, i.e., my own experiences, the characters are mere figments of my overactive imagination.
Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book?
It’s going to reveal a world too often swept under the rug, that of abused women and combat veterans suffering from stress disorders, while simultaneously point them in the direction of the kind of hope and happiness that can only derive from love between people who simply let their partners be themselves.
Are your characters’ experiences taken from someone you know, or events in your own life?
Bobby’s experiences are fictionalized versions of my own.
How long did it take you to write your book?
I started Suffering Seacil in 1995 and worked on it for about four years. Then I set it aside for about four years, then came back to it for a few months, then set it aside for about four more years and came back to it again for a few months. During that time, however, I kept carving out excerpts and sending them to print and on-line journals. Three excerpts titled The Redwing Blackbird, Walls and Crossing Over were respectively published in War, Literature & the Arts, Connecticut Review, and Octopus Beak, Inc. Then, in the summer of 2012, I picked up the manuscript once more and did my final revisions over several months.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected? (What was it?)
Yes, I learned that it was very difficult to come up with a satisfactory ending, so I wound up with two endings. I also learned that there’s a direct relationship between abusive men and their interest in sex, particularly pornography. And I learned that abusive men are themselves often victims of abusive parents.
Can you describe your heroine in one sentence?
Molly is strong intellectually and emotionally, a professional woman and survivor of life’s hardships.
Can you describe your hero in one sentence?
Bobby is a combat veteran and excellent male role model.
Without giving away details, can you describe one interesting scene in your book in less than two sentences?
If it’s fewer than two sentences, that means one, so here goes – Molly blames herself for the death of a young girl she was employed to babysit, and struggles to rise above her feelings of guilt in order to reach out to the girl’s grieving mother.
Why did you decide to publish with Infinity Publishing?
I’ve published four books. With book #1, I went the traditional publishing route and lost control of the book, specifically its pricing and format. It was initially produced only in hardback and was way overpriced. The result was that the book sold next to nothing. I self-published #2 and due to naivety got the rude awakening of discovering I was in charge of marketing. It too sold next to nothing, and by the time I learned a few marketing tricks, most of my attention had switched to my next writing project. I self-published book #3 with more awareness and experienced some success, but eventually became disillusioned with the publisher.
So, when I finished writing Suffering Seacil, I started looking for another self-publisher and zeroed in on about seven different companies, including Infinity Publishing. I studied their websites, called and asked questions of employees, plus emailed those employees with follow-up questions. The long and short of it was that I kept returning to Infinity Publishing. Their website is fairly clear and offers a wealth of information. Their employees are courteous, responsive and informative, in other words professionals. I like their book packages and their royalty structure. And I thought the cost for what I wanted done seemed more than reasonable. Probably the real clincher, however, was that #2 on my list of self-publishers ranks their competition and actually refers writers to Infinity Publishing if they themselves are not selected. That spoke volumes to me.