I'm happy to welcome Mario Gomez to Rachelle's Window. Mario has lived the life of a high powered financier from Wall Street, to Mexico City, to Medellin, Colombia. But all of those accomplishments pale to his ability to weave magic out of words.
Mario, you've been writing for eight years. Tell us about your journey as a writer and how your debut novel, The Consigliere.
My journey as a writer has been tumultous, as I am sure it is for many. But I've always been a fan of fiction, not so much because it entertains, but because it exposes us to the "politically incorrect" that is often more real than what we see on the news.
About eight years ago I stepped away from finance to pursue something more that financial profit. I was after…I don't know…you could call it clarity. I had just lost my wife and daughter, my family, my motivation for working 16 hours a day, and the devastating upset to my life caused me to question everything. I mean, what was the purpose of accumulating wealth if it couldn't protect me from life's uncertainties? From loss?
What began as a therapeutic way to pass the time, turned into a doorway for expressing my disdain for the injustices in society that I began to really see for the first time.
How did you do the research? Was it dangerous to contact members of the notorious gangs you wrote about?
The research wasn't so difficult because most of it was already done long before writing a novel ever occurred to me. Not unlike my protagonist, Faustino, my college roommate at NYU was the son of a made mafia member for the Gambino crime family. That gave me an opportunity to meet members of organized crime through family gatherings and social events. And through countless conversations with my roommate, by the time I completed my undergraduate studies I had a very clear understanding of what made organized crime so successful and, to a large extent inevitable.
When it came to researching the illegal narcotics trade I went to the source: Columbia. I used contacts I had made over the years to get invited to the actual coca fields. From there I learned how the plant is processed into a paste and baked into a powder. I interviewed the people who harvested the crop and then followed the product into Mexico, all the way to major distribution points throughout the United States.
Throughout this process I never felt that I was in any danger. Everything was so professionally organized that I could've been with a shipment of cigarettes, liquor, or pharmaceutical meds.
What is the underlying theme in The Consigliere?
Aside from the plot line of following Faustino through the intrigues of his loyalties, ambitions, and his aim to thrive and survive, I show organized crime for what it is: business as usual. Thanks to Hollywood and media we have a very distorted understanding of why organized crime exists; and why law enforcement will never be the remedy. Mafia or organized crime isn't the problem, it's the result of society oppressed by the all encompassing wealth factor of a capitalist society. Our only response to crime has been to create more restrictive laws and open more prisons, making criminality a lucrative, multi-trillion-dollar enterprise for opportunists on both sides of the societal spectrum—see my blog post, Prison Panacea, for more details. And this is the underlying theme of The Consigliere.
You mention in your blog that women are enthusiastic about your book. Why do you think that is so?
You know, I've asked this question enough times that I might actually be close to an answer. For one, I write modern, strong-willed women. Both Michelle and Marsella define a liberated era of being a woman—not the weaker sex, but rather the other sex. Secondly, I find that woman are attracted to and intrigued by the dangerous, alpha male. I'm by no means an expert on woman, but I've spent most of my adult life close to powerful, sometimes dangerous men, and have seen the effect they have on woman—at least, over the short term. Or it could just be that women are the only ones patient enough to read my epic novel.
That's interesting. I have a similar experience, having written Michal's Window as a romance for women only to find that men enjoy the action and adventure as well as insight into King David, the lover and warrior. What are you working on now?
At the moment I'm working on some non-profit projects aimed at drawing private capital into education as a retrievable investment. However, as far as writing is concerned, on October 12th I release a satire novella, The Perfect Martini, on all the eBook platforms. I'm also working on two full length novels: The Cartel, the sequel to the Consigliere; and Broken Oaths, a stand alone novel that delves into how drug cartels operate at the upper echelons of politics.
Have you ever been in love with any of your characters? Tell me about her and why you find her fascinating.
Though my fictional characters are typically based on people I've experienced I don't know that I would use love to too loosely. But since you ask, the character Olivia comes to mind. She was based exactly on a young love from more than 15 years ago.
I was spending the week in my family's condominium in Acapulco. She was staying in the condo next to ours and we met on our adjacent balconies. She needed butter and I had transportation. We spent the whole afternoon together and watched the sun set from atop of some cliffs overlooking the ocean. I most fascinated by her innocence, and her unpretentious beauty. But she was from Costa Rica and over time we lost touch.
How much real life experience did you bring into your story? And if you had known the ending in real life, would you have done anything different?
There is quite a lot of real life experiences revisited in The Consigliere, from the standpoint of the underlying corruptions I waded through in the world of finance. Some of the clients and interests I represented for many years were criminal, but because they were wealthy it was overlooked. Recently I wrote an article titled The Game of Grab, where I argued that we are a morally confused society. The old fashioned values and codes of uprightness no longer grip the moral hearts of men. The new corporate era has rewritten these codes to include a caveat of indifference: wherever the standards of the monied life prevail, the man with the money, regardless of how he comes by it, will eventually be respected, maybe even celebrated. As C. Wright Mills wrote in 1956, [Money] is the one unambiguous criterion of success, and such success is still the sovereign American value. Is there any wonder why crime and corruption prevail?
Had I known the ending—if such a thing exists—I wouldn't do anything differently, even despite my hard losses. Because loss is what, pulled the veil from my eyes. I see clearly because of my pain.
In many ways I'm not sure that it does. I write because I have stories to tell and because I enjoy the adventure and challenge of bringing a story to life. I do donate, however, 100 percent of my royalties to the educational projects that I participate in for low income children. It's not much, but that along with my time is the best investment I've ever made.
I notice you are also into triathlons. Have you competed in any lately? Care to share results?
The last one I participated in was about 10 years ago. However, at the Olympics in London I watched Lilliana & Elsa of Spain play their hearts out against Kessey and Ross of the USA. Their efforts and synchronicity as a team were so beautiful to watch that I've actually decided to compete in a triathlon next year in either Los Cabos or Puerto Peñasco. Don't ask why watching a beach volleyball match would make me want to put my body through the gruesome strain of a triathlon, because I don't know.
I'll keep you posted on the results, though.
My main character in my third novel, Lucas Knight, is a triathlete. I just finished writing that he won Ironman Lake Tahoe in 8 hours 18 minutes. Do you think that's realistic?
Lake Tahoe...I don't envy your character Lucas Knight. The altitude alone would kill me. Eight hours is realistic, but I suggest you keep in mind the kind of life that a professional triathlete leads—very ascetic—e.g., diet, restricted sex, and the physical training aspect is a full time job. These things may step in the way of what you have in mind for your character to do.
I tell ya, sitting here in front of a laptop and munching on chocolate energy bars while imagining winning a triathlon is the life, know what I mean? It's been great talking to you. Anything else you'd like to say to readers?
Yes, I've dreamed of winning a triathlon for many years. But I'm okay with not being first. It's enough for me to push myself to the limit and finish—while still upright and breathing, of course.
As for the readers, I encourage them to visit the fictional worlds of more independent writers. Give us feedback. Even if it's harsh we appreciate the time and effort expended to help us grow and improve as writers.
is available at Amazon.com
Readers can find out more about Mario at his blog [where he reviews Michal's Window and interviews me!] and Amazon Author Page