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Pundit Review - Dan Ferullo, Author of Monster Hill

Mar 18, 2012|

Dan Ferullo is an investigator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, he has worked as a newspaper columnist, radio talk show host, and magazine editor. He holds a master's degree in criminal forensics and criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts/Lowell, and a business degree from Emmanuel College in Boston. Kevin and Dan discuss his most recent novel, Monster Hill. The the wife of Henry Sommers, the leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang, is brutally murdered in her Boston hospital room, resulting in a gangland war lasting over thirty years and throwing a close-knit Irish family into a whirlpool of violence, deceit, and heartbreak.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

And welcome back under review radio heaven will review in studio my guest tonight has been to in Peru though. Did as a local author and you know. You know anything about under the radio we've loved books. Love talking authors of both their works and and not just about the book but about how they put it together. And just the whole process of writing. So I did great to have you in studio -- -- tonight and -- Q joy that she is -- -- glad you were able to say hello to Bruce you would mention to you enjoy. The someone you should know segment -- get a lot of that it was difficult to follow you know he's so good generated two emotional at a -- -- -- -- foot and then -- that -- -- -- -- to -- -- it is a great album -- glad to get a chance to say hello to -- we love him on the on Sunday nights here. And we love talking authors in this segment we -- have a whole hour to do it. But will will -- in here and in half hour the book is monster hill. If you wanna learn more the website for the book is Morris to build the book dot com. You can get the hard copy like I have and also by an as an e-book the book which seems to be off all the rage these days. -- Dan let's first before we get to the story let's talk a little bit of all your own background you -- -- in the media. Which I thought was really interesting you told me a couple of great stories of this wanna get those those two. -- you worked in the pass on radio and. -- magazine -- as journalists covering the entertainment world tableau when I first started out when I can out of school on the of the seventies. The only place I could find a job where that Amy was. -- cable TV so -- actually started out working in the early days of cable TV. But it was a fantastic experience because I got to meet a lot of interesting people EU. One nice thing about that was. I got to meet people before they really became famous people -- Italy -- -- when I asked Mike Dukakis and who would they knew they had virtually no experience in politics but they come knocking on the doors and introduce themselves and get a chance to meet impulse on this was a phenomenal. First interview. Got the chance to walk around downtown over my hometown in and to do some to a lot of the local business folks nobody really knew him at that point. Nicholas. Both of them ended up running for president. And never made it so I guess the the less that is having a run for president don't let me interview. But a well I I love song to say actually worked with scientists as a young volunteered -- in 91 in New Hampshire knocking on the fabulous guy and he was a Greek and -- as covering the entertainment business you told me a couple of stories that -- great one I just can't imagine it would have been and so and off of being in the same room with a guy. Tell us what -- -- Jack oh my god would have the very first. Celebrity interview I ever happens with Jack -- Jack Lemmon was in town doing the show called tribute. And he he said to yeah no problem let let's do the interview and I -- do the interview in my hotel room and you staying at the -- so I showed up for the -- walked into the hotel room and I sit down he comes walking out of the the bedroom. Wearing a set to and in a satin smoking jacket. A quintessential 1960s. Type movie star he sits down and his big wing chair and he -- his legs and just stats talking jamming away. Talking about -- any great stories about people like Marilyn Monroe -- remic. And Tony Curtis. -- it was I was so in awe of him that I almost forgot to write down don't think I ever did an interview I don't go away you announce up I end up like getting a good story that but if it was it was a tremendous experience because obviously he was probably just one of the greatest stars of his time at that point. And here I was this fledgling reporter sitting down with him in his hotel room at the Ritz. At talking to him -- smoking jacket it was music and quite quite the experience before we get to the book we -- it's almost celebrity's story because. This woman is very famous for her role in West Side Story and her final roll was almost the north fence story. Yeah did you have to have been fined for -- those Cardwell -- delivering today what happened in Rita Moreno was in town doing the show and and then -- she said no problem come on over will -- to the interview after after my performance I was sitting in the Green room and -- -- and through the interview. And meanwhile you know she's taking off from makeup and -- and changing into a pair of jeans and pair of sneakers and and -- -- And I'm about to leave the Green room and she says to me the I just have a car that says the cards so would you mind -- -- across town I've got a radio interview and I said no no problem. So we hop in the -- it was raining like crazy that night. And I said to. I hope I hope you don't mind you know trying to work with me maneuvering through the business part of town because they were all kinds of construction going on with the expressway new with Chinatown with the that district. I don't know if you remember that time tourism as everything was torn up. And where winners scoot along in the pouring rain and all of a sudden we come upon this giant Horace reflect the horse with a great big dead and sign on it and it had been a road. Like two weeks before that. And I just managed to stop before smashing through this and landing in huge hole. On the other side of the -- and I looked at Peter Marino in her eyes are all open and the eyebrows there are instances like anatomy and and I we ended up sharing a great lap but I do remember that as the night that I almost killed Rita Moreno. He really not -- -- interviewee is he's not happy about it. That's great. Differ rule is the guest monster hill is the book most of hill the book dot com is the website in how you can learn more about it. And -- did so. With the background as you know entertainer of background in journalism that's interesting but you also have a better grow our enforcement which is more applicable to the story idea and you bring a lot of that experience. In to the book and as I mentioned this is a basically just you know real short -- gangster novels yeah I it is it is -- it is a crime -- -- in lots of character development and seen setting in you gotta tell back stories and I'm fascinated with that how you do that I guess first talk about how your. Background alarm Forstmann helps you shape these characters. Well what I who -- I -- -- have a career change after about 22 years and in the news business and one of the things that is I went back to school and I did get a master's degree in and forensic. Forensics criminology and CSI yeah -- well it it's more the the that the mental part the psychological part of crime rather than the actually the profiling I would like Clint van -- types exactly exactly so. What I tried to do it this book is is I -- to write a different kind of -- gangster story because there's so many. New crime stories out there right I wanted to write something that's just a little bit different and I and I really tried to get inside the heads. Of the characters so people can understand a little bit more about you aware of these people coming from them why they behave the way -- be. So tell tell us about you know who are some of the characters. That the story begins right around Kennedy assassination. And the wife. A notorious gang leader is murdered in her Boston hospital -- minute it basically triggers what turns out to be a thirty year game war between these two factions. And to to help his boss unfortunately his boss focused a lot of attention on his lieutenant guy named Sammy Cunningham. And this didn't particularly pleased today what made it even worse was and Sammy Cunningham got involved with j.'s sister in this. These emotional conflicts. Sort of into twine with the -- events that buildup towards -- big. The event this shoot out that takes place at a restaurant that the gang leader owns. It in that shootout semi skilled. And second half of the book. Begins with Jake coming back from the witness protection program and he finds that his sister Claire has had a has had a son with with Sammy how much. She she sought legal counsel after the shoot out and is it unbeknownst to her and to Sammy junior. The guy she married is the son of the couple killed Sammy Cunningham ceremonies a lot of -- somewhere -- turn -- and then ask some emotional stuff today and it and it builds really intensely to this and in incredibly explosive conclusion and the good part about it is you know that the reader will have fun trying to figure out who's responsible for that big big event that big ultimate revenge. But for fortunately I left Cuba and that for people to figure out exactly what it is that's a responsible for it. Didn't furlough is the guest the book is monster hill and wants to -- the book dot com is the website. We've got to take a quick commercial break we're gonna come back and find out why this is not. He Whitey Bulger book right after this I AM 680 WRKO. And welcome back under review radio Kevin -- with the youth -- the -- for a low in studio his book monster hill. Check it -- monster -- the book dot com is the website did before the break we teased. You know he gets audible books around here on WRKO and and crime families in the mob. Without thinking immediately of one Whitey Bulger. But tell us why this is not a -- story this first of all entirely your creation it Kevin I start off every interview I've done with the book. Letting people know that this is not another way -- story what who who first of all there are a lot of really good nonfiction books out there about the Boston mob and I didn't wanna do another nonfiction book my first book was nonfiction but I do wanna do another nonfiction book -- wanted to have fun in right. The type of book that people enjoy the summer taking to the beach and and and having fun with -- but what I did do was I I -- to use that that the setting. Of the -- really events as a backdrop to the story. One of the important things I didn't wanna do is I didn't want to demonize everybody on -- on the hill by. You know using the the background. As the setting of the book. And it's pretty clear when you get into the book that it did that's not the case although a couple of people have kind of pre pre judge the book. You thinking that because of the title that I and that's sort of demonized everybody actually that title comes from little connection to the old 1930s universal. Horrible movies. Have yet read the book to figure out what that connection is that it really isn't an attempt to demonize everybody in fact most of the people that I. Talk to -- but I researched the book believe and I did spend quite a bit time -- I totally believe me amazing and over and it it was a it was a chance to to have fun creating really memorable compelling characters and a great crime story. And I have fun with -- and I hope the readers have fun -- Talk about the process I mean. I would imagine you don't just sit down with this entire story laid out in the NC okay here's my story and I'm -- rated I would imagine. Tommy from -- on. They sit down the right it was some ideas of -- story and you end up going in directions you really weren't planning believe it -- the first thing I did was I spent about a year creating a story board because there's so many characters in the book actually had to start out with a -- -- like to follow through. Every single characters so that they didn't accidentally drop somebody off into space somewhere and every revisit that the character so that's really important and and you have to really be disciplined deficit down and and and write -- and as you can see it's a rather large book. If you if you stacked about seven of them together you'd probably have the Obama health care bill at the epithet -- But it does a lot -- distinct hopefully hopefully but there is it was it it a lot of people have the mechanical ability that the tough thing is is having the mechanical ability. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- What about the difference between reading this book which is a novel -- your first book which was known for nonfiction. The first book the best years in my life and it wasn't that reading about my life I was -- about the life of Harold Russell of the famous movie 21 Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1946 for -- Roll is homer parish in the best -- of our allies. Which is directed by William Wyler who -- before -- of the book. Eight he was a guest on one of my shows. And he happened to mention that his publisher was looking for Ryder. And so what. I threw my hat in the ring and I got the job and I ended up spending a couple years writing the book but it was a completely different experience I had no editorial control over it. No control over the the publicity basically I was told to be wherever had to be along with Harold we publicize that together. And -- of course is a Massachusetts guy he lived on the -- for a number years and they unfortunately recently passed away is living in Needham at the time. And it would but it was of a fantastic experience but it was a different experience this one. I actually had a lot of control right from the beginning to the end. Will you had all the control that's why does is come -- it Uga Uga and especially the artistic control leave it to the point of of being able to design the jacket. Is there a point where. You can just go too crazy as far as nitpicking and rewriting in tweaking this and tweaking that mean Heidi and tell it that when you're the guy who's so invested in the story is known -- can really bounce it off and say you know. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- It's the rewriting you're not united digging ditches but it's hard work. It's amazing I just in the are people who can rate in -- books together who joking during the commercial break I'm having a hard time getting a blog post out. Thank god for Twitter it's only a 140 -- contact at a ten minutes to get a sentence out. Seem to -- billion read a paragraph or two of the time on the blog FF and I look at a booklet this from someone who. Is doing this as a second job as -- and listened to in my blogging as -- -- -- this is unbelievable. The amount of effort that goes into project like this thing what do you do when you're done and you hit send and it prints to the publisher would and I what do you do to celebrate something like the few basic drink heavily. To have he's tough as well unfortunately I I don't drink so I have to basically just a sit down on the couch and and -- an event of my dog you know get all the the emotion out and try to re grouping and get back to a regular like to sell some coffee today and then publicize the book this monster hill is the book we're discussing. Author -- for -- -- with us in studio tonight it's been great to have them monster -- the book dot com -- -- you can learn more about the book. So you can also find it on Amazon or Barnes and almost any other place. And if you're an e-book persons would be great one for the -- as you mentioned you know real thriller the idea of this being an e-book because there -- lot of people are getting it as an e-book which kinda surprised me but I'm happy for that long as they're getting yeah absolutely love it if congratulations on the book it's really very -- what I've read so far from. In the early stages of the so don't think it's gonna make it to the summer for me but isn't going to be my spring reading in my back porch. As the weather thaws and hopefully we will allow more days like today -- lot of fun stuff and how do you figure out what's next in do you wait around to find -- true or nonfiction story needed to wait to get an idea error. Well actually I've I've got a couple got a couple in the the back of my head and I'm I'm actually working on outlining. Another novel and it's not going to be quite as long as this one. And it won't be a crime novel but hopefully it'll be for me as rewarding as this one has been well when you can rate you know fiction novels the world's -- have yes absolutely. Congratulations thank you Kevin I appreciate this so much pleasure -- rule of the book. Monster hill and the website monster -- the book dot com. Check it out. We gotta run have a great week and keep the conversation going a -- review dot com.