Author Interview: Steve Piacente

Bella Backgrounder:

Isabel Moss knew she might lose her husband went he went off to war. When the call came, she was almost ready. What stopped her cold was the second call…

The story:

A striking widow intent on proving the military lied about her husband’s death lures a Washington journalist into the investigation. Working together, they discover the power of temptation, the futility of revenge, and the consequences of yielding to either.

About the Author:

Steve Piacente is deputy communications director at the U.S. General Services Administration. He joined GSA in 2002 after a 25-year career in print journalism. A native New Yorker, Steve was D.C. Correspondent for two Southern newspapers, the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, and, before that, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. Previously, he worked at the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger, and the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. Steve graduated from American University’s School of Communication in 1976, and in 2000 earned a Masters in Fiction from Johns Hopkins University. He has taught in SOC – in classrooms he once took classes in – for more than a decade.


1. When did you decide to start writing?

I started writing very early; pretty much the day I found out I couldn’t do the math, but was good at describing the people who could do the math. Though private as a child, I went on to make a career out of telling stories – first as a daily newspaper reporter, then as a government speechwriter, and now as director of a federal agency’s website, where we use tools in addition to words – such as videos and photo galleries – to tell our stories to the public.

2. What is your genre and why did you decide to write a novel in it?

I like to think my work falls into the category of literary fiction. Things like fate, communication, relationships, and ethics fascinate me. Much of the action in Bella is driven by hard choices made on the battlefield and in the bedroom.

3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?

I didn’t think about the word count, though I’m conscious of the fact that we live in a “click and get” society, and that our attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter.

4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?

I like to interview my characters. As I was writing Bella, I frequently interrupted myself to put together several written questions for the main characters. Then I tried to answer each question in the character’s voice. This often took me in unexpected and hopefully interesting directions.

5. If you can describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?

Real, because I believe the premise, dialogue, and journey that each character travels are entirely plausible.

6. How did you decide on the title and what does it mean?

Though reporter Dan Patragno tells the story, the main protagonist is Isabel Moss – Bella – who loses her husband and embarks on a fierce quest to uncover the truth about his death.

7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your novel?

I hope readers will find an entertaining escape from their daily lives in Bella, but also think about the power of temptation, the futility of revenge, and the consequences of yielding to either. These are lessons that reporter Patragno learns in painful fashion.

8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.

It took three years to write Bella, and another year to devise a social media-based marketing plan built around our website –, and our associated YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook pages. Self-publishing was new territory for me, but technology has made it possible to reach out directly to prospective readers. That has a definite appeal for me. In other words, real people will decide whether my book is worth reading. My job is to get readers to our sites, pique their interest with unique content – such as our video trailer and illustrated excerpts – and close the deal by directing them to Amazon, where they can buy the book.

9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?

If you decide to self-publish, be prepared for a marathon. You will need to make dozens of decisions, from designing a cover (and back cover) to which font is best for your novel. Once your book is edited, packaged and ready for the public through a company like createspace, you’re really just beginning. This is when creative writing turns into creative marketing. If you’re not interested in selling yourself and your product, be prepared to spend money on a PR firm. Whatever you do, DO NOT try to self-publish and market by yourself. You will need – as we did – a small army of friends, volunteers and colleagues. On the other hand, I have met dozens of new friends, honed my marketing skills, and made myself more versatile by diving into video scripts, press releases, content for the Web, photo captions, articles about self-publishing, and of course, the 140-character Tweet. includes a blog on self-publishing where I detail the steps we’ve taken to get to this point.

Blogger Remarks:

I would like to thank Steve for being a part of this Author Interview series. It's been a pleasure having you on here. And dear readers, Steve is giving away a copy of his novel Bella. Stay tuned tomorrow for details on how to win a copy! If you want to know more about Steve and his novel, you can visit these sites:

Visit Bella on the Web:
Friend Us on Facebook:
Follow Us on Twitter:
Watch us on YouTube:
Bella's on Tumblr:
Read the Reviews on Amazon:
Bella is now available on Kindle. Same link:
Amazon author page (with video) here:
Steve will be participating in Book Expo America in May in NYC:


  1. Nice Interview! Good questions and very inspiring for authors looking at self-publishing!


  2. I've read Bella several times and still find it as gripping as the first. I often wonder — particularly about some of our most famous authors — how did THIS become such a phenomenon?

    It's great to see how much work and creativity goes into making a book successful. Kudos to Steve for his candor.

  3. Bella is a remarkable novel which I truly enjoyed reading. Thank you for sharing!

    You can find my review for Bella by Steve Piacente Here

    and my Author Interview with Steve Piacente Here

  4. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. :-)


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