Behind the Story of Blood Orange

I remember reading an interview with Stephen King where he said that the single most hated question that he receives from fans and critics is, “where do you get your ideas?” His snarky answer, after being asked the question countless times was, “I have a big box in the basement labeled ‘ideas’ that I go to every time I write a book or a story.”

Blood Orange is my fourth book. My previous three books were detective novels. The ideas for those books mostly came from my imagination with specific real life people forming composites that became each character. With Blood Orange, the story came to me from a different source. A good friend of mine from high school who may or may not admit to being in the marching band with me, but would definitely admit to a long and distinguished career in the US Navy, reached out to me after reading one of my books. He had a story idea rattling around in his head for a while. He went as far as contact Clive Cussler to see if he was interested. He received a handwritten note back from Mr. Cussler telling him that the story idea was a good one, but he did not take unsolicited story ideas and was quite busy with many works in progress.

I was intrigued by my friend, Brian Fogarty’s idea. It appealed to me on two levels. First, we are from the same hometown, Syracuse, New York. Syracuse is known for two things, snow and college basketball. I moved from Syracuse to Florida 20 years ago and I miss one of those things, but the other, not so much. College basketball was a passion that got us through the long winters. We lived and died with our team. The premise in the book, from which I published an excerpt in my previous blog, describes the Syracuse basketball fan’s ultimate dream; Syracuse playing Duke in the championship game which miraculously takes place in the Carrier Dome, the iconic Syracuse Basketball arena. The book builds up this dream and then shatters it.

The second aspect of the story builds upon a factual historical event that took place in Syracuse nearly 100 years ago. At that time, World War I was nearing its end. The manufacture of munitions and gun powder in the U.S. was extremely important to the war effort. In July of 1918, a horrific tragedy took place at a munitions plant called Split Rock in what is now the Camillus area of Syracuse. Brian’s brilliant idea was to take that tragedy and turn it into something more sinister and conspiratorial. Without giving away the premise, we did this and then tied the original, factual tragedy to the modern day potential tragedy.

It involved taking something very positive that occurred in a community and turning it into an unspeakable tragedy. It was both an interesting and painful journey to take. While researching many of the terrorist aspects of the book, I waited to hear the knock on the door from the NSA looking to seize my computers. It was also concerning how much information is readily available on the Internet regarding terrorism tactics.

For all it’s worth, Blood Orange was a very personal journey that was rewarding because I got to collaborate with a distinguished veteran who also happens to be a friend. I also was able to write about my hometown and hopefully jinx any kind of tragedy from happening there by writing about it.

If you want to read an excerpt, just check out my previous blog for one of the early chapters.  If you want to read the reviews and check it out on Amazon, just click here.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.

About Don Massenzio:

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian-American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel, Let Me Be Frank is now available. His third book in the Frank Rozzani series was released on April 24th, 2015 and is available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

Advertisements

An Excerpt From My New Book

In my last post, I talked about my attitude going into 2016. I also described my decision process for delaying the release of my latest book, Blood Orange, which was set to be promoted beginning on the day that the Paris terrorism attacks occurred.

Now that the new year has dawned, I am excited to revive the promotional activities surrounding this book. Activities include advertising, interviews, and work on a screenplay.

For those of you who have not read it, I’m devoting most of this blog to sharing one of the initial chapters of the book. This chapter describes the action at one of America’s premier sporting events and the confusion over what happens as it comes to its conclusion. Please enjoy this excerpt from Blood Orange, which is now available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book formats. You can get your own copy by clicking here.

Chapter 1

It was the perfect storm. College basketball heaven. The men’s championship game had finally come to Syracuse, NY. For decades, the college basketball Mecca had tried every strategy to lure the big game to arguably the most famous arena in the sport, the Carrier Dome. The governing body of college sports, despite its often tenuous relationship with Syracuse University, could not refute the long and storied love affair that the school and the surrounding community had consistently demonstrated for college basketball. Finally, with a concerted effort from the Mayor, the university, and local businesses, the three games of the national Division I men’s basketball championship were being played in Syracuse to a sellout crowd from all over the nation. The basketball court had been reconfigured in the center of the Dome so that nearly 65,000 screaming fans could have seats to watch the game with countless others watching via live television.

Just hosting the game would have been enough, but to make this event even more meaningful, the two teams that met on this unseasonably cold and misty April night in Syracuse were the hometown Orange and the Blue Devils of Duke University. In the years since Syracuse joined Duke’s athletic conference, an instant rivalry had emerged between the two schools. They were headed by the number one and number two active coaches with the most wins under their collective belts. The two coaches were also close friends and had together coached the USA Basketball Team to multiple Olympic gold medals.

It had been a whirlwind season. Duke had beaten Syracuse at home in the teams’ first meeting by one point in overtime. Syracuse then took Duke to three overtime periods in the Dome for a two point victory. In the conference tournament, the two teams met again in the championship which also went to Duke by three points. Amazingly, the only losses the teams had suffered during the season were to each other.

Both teams had then sliced their way through the tournament field like a hot knife through butter. There were no upsets by Cinderella teams. Both coaches and their squads seemed intent on meeting in the big dance which would be played on Syracuse’s home turf. The other teams in the tournament semi-finals were immaterial as both were beaten by over twenty points. It seemed to be destiny. This was not lost on the coaches. They held an unprecedented joint press conference the day before the game to announce that both of them would be retiring following the game. An uncharacteristically emotional Syracuse coach said that he could not imagine a better way to end his career than by playing the ultimate game against his best friend in his home town. While he did not say it the media would add to his comment, “on the court bearing my name.”

The city of Syracuse was electric in anticipation of hosting the big game, but now there was an unprecedented frenzy. Offices were empty on this Monday preceding the game. Businesses were bracing for the onslaught of overflow fans that could not afford tickets to see the game in person. The area around the Carrier Dome was crowded with people looking to be close to the action.

Now that the game had started, it was shaping up to be another classic Duke/Syracuse back and forth battle. The Duke team fought through the famous Syracuse zone defense with lightning quick passes and a hot three point shooter. The score was tied at halftime. The crowd was going crazy.

As the second half progressed, it was proving to be another close game that would go down to the wire. Thousands of fans in Syracuse and millions around the country were glued to their television sets waiting to see how this game would end. With two minutes to go, the score was going back and forth with a one point advantage to each team with a two point basket. Then, with ten seconds to go, the Syracuse point guard was fouled on a missed layup. He missed the first free throw and then sank the second tying the game. Duke had the ball. The Blue Devils took their time working the ball up the court. The clock counted down as the team worked for the final shot. Five, four, three, two, one…

********

Armory Square, the destination of many basketball fans that couldn’t be at the big game in person, was overflowing. In an unprecedented move, sections of Franklin, Fayette and Walton Streets had been shut down to vehicle traffic so that revelers could enjoy the game. Many of the local establishments had put large screen televisions outside so that overflow crowds could watch the game as they drank specialty orange drinks from large souvenir cups. It was like Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. The sense of pride in the city as it hosted the big game was higher than it had been in recent memory, maybe ever.

The collective noise of the crowd was audible for blocks and increased in intensity with each basket, turnover, and foul. The game was more than living up to the hype. The frequent lead changes and outstanding performances by players on both teams made it both a thrilling and maddening situation for Syracuse fans. As the game progressed, the fever pitch of the crowd rose. Finally, as it looked like the game was coming down to the last shot with the score tied, the fans huddled together and became quiet. They clung to each other as Duke brought the ball up the court and prepared to take the last shot against the formidable Syracuse zone defense. Just as the Duke point-guard launched a three point shot toward the basket, a bright flash of light was visible two miles away in the direction of the University. It was visible for many miles around and the low rumble that occurred afterward was felt and heard throughout the city. The quiet of the crowd was replaced by collective screams and wails of disbelief.

What had happened on the hill?

The crowd that had been mesmerized by the game was now completely silent staring at the flash of light followed by a small mushroom cloud visible in the distance. Lights went out on the hill, including the famed Crouse Irving clock tower. Lights began to come back on as emergency generators kicked in revealing a cloud of smoke and debris hanging over the area.  Fans in Armory Square clung to each other in horror as the audible sound of sirens began to head in the direction of the Dome. Many covered their faces in horror as the sound of cheering turned to silence and then to muted sobs.

What had happened on the hill?


If you enjoyed this chapter, please read the rest of the book and tell me what you think. Again, you can get your copy today by clicking here.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.

About Don Massenzio:

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian-American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel, Let Me Be Frank is now available. His third book in the Frank Rozzani series was released on April 24th, 2015 and is available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

He has also published a well-received short story collection that is available on Amazon.com.

Find out more about Don at his web site:

www.donmassenzio.com