When It’s Time for Leaving
by Ang Pompano
I am so excited to welcome Ang Pompano to
Escape With Dollycas today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
People call me Ang. It’s short for Angelo. I live in Connecticut with my wife, Annette and our rescue dog, Dex. We’ve been married 46 years and we are “retired.” I was a teacher and she was an RN, and although we no longer work at those jobs we are never idle. Annette is an artist and of course, I write. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of us working from home and in close proximity. For one, we always don’t agree on the Pandora station. On the other hand, the office Christmas Party is small but fun. I’ve been writing forever. I was the original Mr. Mom and when she Annette worked evenings, I wrote after I put the kids to bed. I belong to Mystery Writers of America and I’m a long-time board member the of Sisters in Crime New England. I’ve been on the New England Crime Bake planning committee for 14, because I love hanging out with other writers.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
1. My first published short story was in 1990, but When It’s Time for Leaving is my debut novel.
2. I’m a privacy expert by accident. I wrote a paper called “Privacy in the Age of Video Surveillance: This Is Not Your Father’s Candid Camera” when I was a Yale-New Haven Teachers Fellow. Somehow the piece was picked up by the media and I’ve been quoted in papers and court trials around the world.
3. I know how to play the guitar, but I never play in public. Well, except for at the office Christmas party that is.
What is the first book you remember reading?
I remember having tons of Little Golden Books. One of the first that I read was a crime novel called Donald Duck’s Toy Train. Chip and Dale stole Donald’s train. I still have the battered old book. Here’s a photo.
After I outgrew the Golden Books I moved on to Victor Appleton’s Tom Swift Jr. books. I loved those books because they mixed adventure, mystery and science. I read some of the Hardy Boys, I remember The Tower Treasure, but for me, they didn’t compare to Tom Swift, Jr.
So, as you can see my roots in mystery go way back.
What are you reading now?
I just finished Bruce Coffin’s Beyond the Truth. Now I’m going to read Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Murder List. I enjoy reading books by people I know. I’ll read anything written by Lucy Burdette, Barbara Ross, or David Handler. The list can go on and on.
What books have most inspired you?
Anything by Agatha Christie inspires me. In fact, I once wrote an academic piece on Teaching Detective Fiction Through A Cross Curriculum Unit. I used her story, “Miss Marple Tells a Story” to develop the unit. Every once in a while, I re-read The Old Man and Sea, and The Great Gatsby. I like Hemingway’s clear style as well as the more lyrical style of Fitzgerald.
What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?
As I said, I loved mystery even as a kid and I wrote when I was young. Later I was on the staff of my high school newspaper and literary magazine. In those days I liked to write humor that I patterned after my idol, Mark Twain. My early stories as an adult ran the gamut from humor to literary fiction. Then as a Yale-New Haven Teacher Fellow I had the chance to study Gender, Race, and Milieu in Detective Fiction with Paul Fry, the William Lampson Professor of English at Yale. I was so intrigued that my focus has been on mystery ever since.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
I write at my desk in our library. My wife paints on a sunporch about 10 feet away so we are always bouncing ideas off each other with her giving me advice on my writing and me giving her suggestions on perspective. Our rescue dog, Dexter, is usually asleep by one or the other of us. When I look up from the keyboard I see one of my favorites of her paintings. It’s a detail of a fountain in Rome. Here it is.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
Sometimes Annette will give me a suggestion for a book or story. But usually they come about from an experience that I expand upon. For example, in When It’s Time for Leaving, the protagonist, Al, has a father who has Alzheimer’s. My father also suffered from the disease. But my father was a typical all-American Dad. To write a story about the two of us would probably win me a Nobel Prize for curing insomnia. So, I gave Al and his father, Big Al, a bad relationship.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
I find everything about writing challenging. The biggest challenge is to get myself into my chair and put my fingers on the keyboard. Once I get over that hurtle I spend a lot of time laboring over which words to use, sentence structure, and all of the “rules” of writing mystery. Am I telling too much? Am I playing fair with the reader by giving enough clues? Then when I think it’s halfway decent I send it to my wonderful writing group of Roberta Isleib a.k.a. Lucy Burdette, and Chris Falcone. We’ve worked together for 20 years and I can’t begin to tell you how important they are to the writing process. Annette has a saying, “A painting is never finished. It’s abandoned.” I think that applies to writing as well. My problem is that I never know when to “abandon” a manuscript. I know there are authors who write good books in a month. If I finish a manuscript in a year that’s quick.
What do you think makes a good story?
What makes a good story is so subjective that there is really no one correct answer. Everyone’s taste is different. But I think that there are a few universal truths that apply. The author has to know the subject matter. If you are going to write about a character who runs a restaurant, you’d better have worked in a restaurant or at least have done a lot of research on the business. Your protagonist has to be likable in some way. Even if he’s evil you have to give him some qualities that will make the reader want to see him succeed. Your protagonist and your antagonist have to be intellectual equals. Nobody wants to see a fight where one opponent is smarter than the other. That’s bullying. The stakes have to be high. A story about a detective who is trying to foil a villain who is trying to steal a watch would only be marginally interesting. A story about foiling a villain who is trying to blow up Big Ben is much more interesting.
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
I’d like to think that most of my protagonist are like me. I’m far from perfect but I try to be a decent human being even if it isn’t always easy. Al DeSantis in When It’s Time for Leaving is like that. He struggles with his demons but he’s not out to do anyone harm. I have another character, Quincy Lazzaro, who is in another book and several short stories. He has a different personality from Al but his values are the same. I also have a female detective, Nike DeNardo who shares those values.
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
When It’s Time for Leaving is a traditional mystery with a male protagonist. Even my agent, who is one of the best at what she does, said to me, “I love the book, but what am I going to do with these cozies you write that have a male protagonist?” She wasn’t being mean or critical, she was being practical. Other agents had said the same thing. Most of the bigger publishers have this notion that women readers (most of the people who read traditional mystery are female) will not read a male protagonist. The publishers (all except mine, the amazing duo of Cynthia Brackett-Vincent and Ed Vincent of Encircle Publications) do not give female readers enough credit for being open-minded enough to read a male protagonist.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I’m working on a sequel to When It’s Time for Leaving called I Hope You’ll Understand. I also have to two other finished manuscripts in the pipeline. One is called Killer View and the other is called Diet of Death. I should be able to tell you more about them soon.
Thank you, Ang, for visiting today!
Keep reading to find out about Ang’s debut novel!
About The Book
When It’s Time for Leaving
1st in Series
Encircle Publications, LLC (October 1, 2019)
Paperback: 274 pages
Digital ASIN: B07TYQ8PDL
When his girlfriend dumps him and a dealer nearly rams him off a bridge, Al DeSantis quits the New Haven Police Department. Just as he plans to head for LA, he finds out the father who left when he was a kid has deeded him the Blue PalmettoDetective Agency in Georgia.
Al goes down to Savannah intending to sell fast and go west, but before he can, he discovers a strong, attractive detective named Maxine, a dead body on the dock—and his father, alive, suffering from dementia, and determined to help his “new partner Al” solve the crime. Al has a lot of adjusting to do when his traditional ideas are challenged as he has to act as his father’s caretaker, and finds that Maxine is his superior in the agency that he “owns.” When his father goes missing, Al and Max must team up to save his father–and capture the murderer.
Praise for When It’s Time for Leaving
by Ang Pompano
. . . a compelling detective mystery, with a bit of romance and lots of action and suspense. It is very well written, the plot is well intertwined and the pace is flowing.
This was a good mystery, with rough around edges characters . . . I really enjoyed this mystery . . .
Ang Pompano’s debut novel, WHEN IT’S TME FOR LEAVING, is a corker. Thoroughly likeable former cop, Al DeSantis, wants to get out of the crime business but inherits one that, fortunately for readers, won’t let him go. — Hallie Ephron, New York Times bestselling author CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
In When It’s Time for Leaving, debut mystery author Ang Pompano has created the most unusual and appealing duo of detectives since Holmes and Watson. —Lucy Burdette, national bestselling author of A DEADLY FEAST
Author Ang Pompano serves up the PI for the double 20s. Al DeSantis is a classic, damaged gumshoe but with a youthful energy that pulls you through the pages. —Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and winner 2019 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction
Crime fiction has boasted some famous fathers and sons, from Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery to Jim Rockford and his dad Rocky. Add to that list the unforgettable duo of Al DeSantis and Big Al—building on that tradition but with some provocative twists. Ang Pompano’s first novel proves tough-minded and warm-hearted in equal measure. A fine, multi-layered debut.—Art Taylor 2019 Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, Macavity, and Derringer Award winner
When it’s Time for Leaving is a crime thriller that delivers an atmospheric tale packed with action, suspense and some surprising twists. Pompano is a skilled storyteller who offers readers a complex mystery of chases, confrontation and introspection. The tale he weaves is, indeed a well-crafted murder mystery, set in a turbulent sea of emotions and populated with multifaceted characters. —James Terry reviewer The Paladin Project
I like mystery/thrillers. This one is heavy on the mystery and very little thriller aspect. It is an enjoyable sometimes snarky read that made me smile. The main characters were so well written I felt like I knew them. The mystery itself was wrapped in mystery as we got to know the individuals and the hidden nuances of small towns. It was almost like watching (albeit reading) a 50/60 movie. I personally wanted the ending to share with everyone who was guilty. Have to leave it there, no spoilers. Thank you for the arc! All thoughts and opinions are my own and were unsolicited. —Cheryl M, Net Galley Reviewer
A really good and surprising mystery. The characters are great and feel like friends. I loved the snarky humor. I will definitely read more by this author. —Leah H, Net Galley Reviewer
More About Ang Pompano
Ang Pompano has been writing mysteries for more than twenty years. His mystery novel, WHEN IT’S TIME FOR LEAVING will be published on October 1, 2019, by Encircle Publications. His short stories have been published in many award-winning anthologies, including the 2019 Malice Domestic Anthology, PARNELL HALL PRESENTS MALICE DOMESTIC: MURDER MOST EDIBLE. His newest story, “Stringer” will appear in SEASCAPE: THE BEST NEW ENGLAND CRIME STORIES 2019. In addition, he has written many academic pieces including one on teaching detective fiction. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he is a past recipient of the Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America Scholarship for a novel in progress. He has been on the New England Crime Bake Planning Committee for fourteen years and is a long-time board member of Sisters in Crime New England. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Annette, an artist, and his two rescue dogs, Quincy and Dexter.
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