I would like to welcome back, not only, an old friend of NCS, but, also a good friend of mine. Someone I admire and respect. It’s the award-winning author, journalist, researcher and Gangland Legend, Christian Cipollini. Christian, thank you for joining us today.
David: Easy question to start. For me, it is such an honour to be interviewing you today. As you know, yourself, and Seth Ferranti are two writers I look up to. What authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Christian: That’s a very good question, and one that I don’t think I’ve ever been asked before! First, from a contemporary standpoint, the people who inspired, mentored, and whom I am honored to call my friends of course included the aforementioned Seth.
Among my true crime tribe are also Scott Burnstein, Avi Bash, Scott Deitche, Arthur Nash, MayCay Beeler, wow… there’s so many I could go on and on, so forgive me for not shouting out everyone! Obviously not all my author friends and mentors are just crime writers, and there are many from other genres and realms I am equally honored and blessed to be friends with, especially the legendary Tera Patrick, who always gave me incredible insight into creative venture, and encouraged me to take the Lucky Luciano tale into the graphic novel sector. Now from a historic aspect, I definitely admire (and often revisit) the organized crime works of Hank Messick and Nicholas Gage.
David: I like Scott’s work very much, and I follow Tera Patrick myself on Twitter. Now, Christian, the majority, if not all, of your work is on the subject of organised crime. Put that to one side for the moment, as I would like to know, do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Christian: Another amazingly good question! I set out to write each book as its own entity, with the exception of Lucky Luciano and Murder Inc., as those two naturally go hand in hand. The LUCKY comic book series also fits in, as my goal was to fill in some blanks, because as we know history loves to reveal more facts about ten minutes after one’s book is published!
David: I love the LUCKY comic book series such a neat idea. So, what kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Christian: Research is the most daunting stage, which is probably obvious. I tend to begin with visuals, if available, because I have a weird method of building the framework and determining where/what to specifically hone in on based off any press or police photos and the details usually found on those types of photographs. From there, I hit everything from the local library to vintage newspaper archives to the National Archives.
David: In our last interview 4 years ago, you had said you became interested in the history of organized crime, as far back as grade school. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Christian: As a kid I really did suck at most things I ever tried. By the fourth grade I pretty much knew I wanted to be one of several things – a writer, a veterinarian or filmmaker. Any one of those I believe would have made feel like I’ve met my calling.
David: Okay, so if you could tell your younger, writing self, one piece of advice, what would it be?
Christian: Nothing is black and white, there are three sides to every story, the truth is always in a murky place, and that it’s okay to fall, because in time you will rise.
David: Great advice. No doubt, like most writers, you are your own worst critic. However, do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Christian: We all have to develop a thick skin, no doubt. Reviews are certainly vital to any author, and I’ve learned that positive and negative reviews are both important and useful, but the ones to fear are the “It was ok,” or “Meh” kind of reviews. If someone loves it, you’ve struck a nerve. If someone loathes it, you struck a nerve. Win – Win. I used to read them religiously, but over time as I became busier and more focused on multiple projects, time just doesn’t always allow for it.
David: You have a fantastic back catalogue of work Christian – which people can find links to at the end – but, how many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Christian: Let’s just say I have the framework of two organized crime books that have not been written just yet, one being a very photo-centric book. Also, be on the lookout for some collaborative releases with Ms. Patrick! As for ‘half-written’ books… well, pretty soon the world will get to know what goes on inside the mind of Sinaloan Cartel Sicario ‘El Mano Negra,’ as I hope to release his memoirs this spring. The remaining two chapters of the LUCKY comic book series will be releasing this year as well, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for that!
David: I was excited for you, over the ‘El Mano Negra’ gig, jealous even, (hahaha). A lot of your books are non-fiction, however, have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Christian: When I was in grade school, I devoured both fiction and nonfiction books. In fact, I truly thought back then that I’d be a fiction writer. It seems that I tried to ‘force’ it when I wrote fiction, or even poetry for that matter. Neither of those can be forced or a reader will spot that in a heartbeat. It’s one of those things where fate and destiny or something else simply lead me to become more adept at the nonfiction, finding the clues, putting together pieces into an accurate (as possible) narrative. I admire the hell out of poets and fiction writers because they can do what I couldn’t.
David: Thank you for such an insight into the life of a writer Christian. I know that you are always working on one thing or another. So, what can we look out for, coming soon, from Christian Cipollini?
Christian: I have been working feverishly on the El Mano Negra project, which again, I hope to release in the next couple months or so. I am penning a year’s worth of articles for the Mob Museum Blog. Also, be on the lookout for appearances on some television documentary shows this year.
David: Christian, it has been a delight interviewing you today. I would like to thank you for your time and wish you well in all your future endeavours, especially for the release of the ‘El Mano Negra’ story. Thank you, my friend. Salud, chindon.
Christian: Grazie Mille! You know how much I appreciate this and can’t thank you enough!
You can follow Christian on Twitter: @ganglandlegend
You can also follow Christian on Instagram: GanglandLegend
You can also keep updated on his website GanglandLegends.com