Local Authors, Local Books: Engineering a Second Career as Novelist 

S.E. Greco calls his new book a “comedic mystery.”

Steve Greco (pen name S.E. Greco) is an author of short stories and novels who lives in Croton-on-Hudson. Writing is his second act, having first put pen to paper after he retired eight years ago from a long career as an engineer for IBM in East Fishkill (NY). Greco’s second novel, released Feb. 6, 2023, is a comedic mystery Downsized or Dead from Wild Rose Press. His first novel, a thriller/mystery called A Patient Enemy, was published in August 2022 by Moonshine Cove Publishing.
> segrecoauthor.com  

Q+A with S.E. Greco
River Journal North > How long did it take to write your book?
SEG > I worked on both books at the same time. I was also writing short stories for magazines and anthologies. I spent at least three years on and off on each of the books. I made extensive revisions to A Patient Enemy especially, and my first version of it was obese, approaching the length of Crime and Punishment. After I learned more about publishing considerations and took some writers’ workshops, I realized that, along with a good plot and colorful prose, a story (especially in the mystery/thriller/suspense genres) needs to be written tightly – it needs to move, to be quickly paced to keep a reader’s interest. People are reluctant to pick up a very long book by a new author, so a good bit of the revision process involves cutting. 

RJN > What is your writing process like?
SEG > I try to write (and sometimes fail) a few hours each day, at no particular time. Most of my first two books were written as I sat in coffeehouses. These days I do most of my writing at home, at a small and very messy desk. My writing method is as disorganized as my desk. I usually start stories and even novels with just a first scene in my head; I start writing the scene and see where it goes. I don’t work from an outline. As ideas occur to me, I skip around and write chapters which will appear in various places in the book. I might have a very vague notion of how the plot will unfold, but when I start a book or even a short story, how it will end is a mystery, even to me.        

RJN > Any advice for writers’ block or other writing challenges?
SEG > Write the kind of fiction you enjoy reading, even though it may not be the genre that is selling best — that will keep you engaged until you hopefully reach the finish line of a long project like a novel. If you’re just starting out and have aspirations of being a novelist, I’d highly recommend that you try writing short stories first, to more quickly get that mental boost that comes from finishing (and hopefully publishing) something. There are lots of places, either in print or online, where you can get stories published.    

RJN > Is your book self-published?
SEG > No. I tried to land an agent for both books and failed, though I had some nibbles. I submitted directly to small publishers and it worked out. Some publishers are willing to overlook that fact that you’re un-agented; they’ll judge your book on the quality of the writing. 

RJN > What attracted you to this region?
SEG > My wife. I lived in southern Connecticut until I met her, and moved to be with her in Croton-on-Hudson. 

RJN> Do you have favorite local hangouts?
For dining and socializing, I like Hudson Farmer and the Fish (Sleepy Hollow), 105Ten (Briarcliff), and 3 Westerly (Ossining).   

RJN > Do you belong to any local organizations?
SEG > Not yet. But I love Westchester, especially the towns along the river, and now that my second book is published, I expect I’ll have some time to get involved with local causes/projects, such as libraries and art shows (in addition to writing, I also do some oil painting).

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