Tuesday, May 24, 2005

 

Guest Entry: Scott Deitche, author of CIGAR CITY MAFIA

With the paperback release of Scott Deitche's runaway hit, Cigar City Mafia: The Complete History of the Tampa Underworld (Barricade, $14.95) only a few weeks away, I asked Scott to weigh in on the blog and share his experience as a first-time author. What follows is Scott's note:

I'm getting ready for the paperback release of my book, Cigar City Mafia, in the next couple of weeks. It's the latest chapter in a whirlwind year.

My book was released in hardcover on January 18, 2004, just in time for my first signing. I should have known something was up when about 80 people came to the first signing and the store ran out of books. Over the next year, I did over 30 signings, appearances, and talks (yes, you can actually get paid to talk about your book!). In addition, I was interviewed by all the local TV stations (I'm now the de facto Tampa mob expert), newspapers, two Florida magazines, radio, The History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

Quite a whirlwind indeed. Of course, I had to politely brush off the "Wow, you must be rich" and "When are you quitting your day job?" comments - both woefully out of sync with reality! I still work full time - I’m an environmental scientist/marine biologist for Pinellas County in Florida.

I did learn a few things from being a first-time author with a fairly successful book. The first was to get an entertainment lawyer to help with contracts and ancillary deals. The second was to pace myself better in the future. I got caught up in the excitement of the book's success and ran myself ragged with signings. My wife and daughter forgot what I looked like. My future signings will be better spaced apart.

A lot of really cool things came about because of the book. First and foremost were the stories. When I was writing the book I couldn't get anyone in Tampa to talk to me. After the book was published, I was swamped with people telling me their personal stories of Old Tampa. But the best stories have been those of the mobsters themselves. Seven have contacted me, including two who are in federal prison. All have stories they want to tell. The local mob boss has read the book, and I heard through a friend of his that he hated it. No surprise there.

Recently, I was a "prize" in a big fundraising event for Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa. The winning bidder will have dinner with me and eight people at his house, prepared by a local celebrity chef. I think I'm going to be the winner that night!

Currently, I am working on a television project. I signed a development deal with a local production company, Tampa Digital Studios. Based on my expertise in organized crime, we developed a TV series idea- a crime show based in Tampa set in modern day. It was a lot of fun to flex my fiction muscle and we are currently preparing the pitch package for the networks. I'm realistic; there's a slim chance the show will come to fruition, but it was an offer I couldn't refuse!

So with the TV show, two current book projects, and a new batch of signings (June 4th at the Waldenbooks in Citrus Park Mall, Tampa is the first), I'm settling in for a busy summer.
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