Recently Stacy was honored to have an interview with A.A. Freda, author of Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody.
BLURB: Who is the mysterious Rudy Kazoody, and what, if anything, did he have to do with the events that occurred to a group of teenagers during one fateful summer in New York City’s Bronx neighborhood in the early 1960s?
Growing up is difficult enough. But when you’re a recent immigrant arriving in a country that is going through its own coming-of-age process, fueled by rock ‘n’ roll, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, free love, the pill, LSD, and the Cold War, it’s downright confusing, and for some–lethal.
With the various upheavals shaking America to its core, Joey, whose family emigrated to the Bronx from Italy’s Apennine Mountains, struggles to retain his innocent, optimistic outlook on life as he and the other young teenagers on Arthur Avenue–virtually all of whom also come from immigrant, working-class families–try to find their place in this new order.
From the euphoria of first love to the despair of dashed dreams and betrayal, Joey emerges from the summer sadder but wiser in this romantic, mysterious, and nostalgic tale. Behind it all lurks the mysterious Rudy Kazoody, an enigma that Joey feels he must solve or else remain forever just outside the inner circle of life and love.
Stacy’s Review: ***** Stars!
|This was a very good book. It reminded me of “The Outsiders” with the teenage boys in an inner city gang, but set in the 60’s, when teens were becoming more promiscuous and drugs coming on the scene. They live in the Bronx and their world is changing; not only traditions and expectations, but the community is as well. Adolescence is always so confusing, but the majority of these kids, living in the inner city, children of immigrants existing in a violent and chaotic environment and time, try to make sense of the world around them and just where they fit in. I really enjoyed this book; it had the feel of a memoir. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
twogalsandabook: Did you always want to be an author?
A. A. Freda: As far as I can remember, I always wanted to write. My first novel was written in my eighth grade, a piece called La Prata. It was my teacher, Mrs. Diamond. who encouraged me to write the story.
twogalsandabook: At what age did you start writing?
A.A. Freda: I began writing at age ten. I maintained a journal that I would keep hidden from my brothers and sisters.
twogalsandabook: Do you read a lot? If so, who are some of your favorite authors?
A. A. Freda: Yes, I do read a lot, possibly a little too much, takes away from writing and everyday living. Asimov, Doyle, McCullough, are some of the many authors that are among my favorites. I usually will read a book if it sounds interesting. I’m a sucker for young adult and crime. Other genres include, fantasy, science and historical fiction.
twogalsandabook: Is there anything you are working on now?
A. A. Freda: A Police Action is coming out in August. It’s a story set during the Vietnam era. It’s of two young adults who fall in love when they meet at a country bar in Colorado Springs. There are two problems to their romance having a storybook ending. She is pregnant with someone else’s child, he is on orders to ship out to Vietnam.
The sequel to Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody will be out later this year. The preliminary title for the book is Spike. The story takes place ten years later from when Kazoody ended.
twogalsandabook: What ambitions do you have for your writing career?
A. A. Freda: Wow, what a great question. I haven’t given much thought into a writing career and that is strange because I’m usually very ambitious in everything that I do. I simply love to write, so, I’ll just keep writing and see where it leads me. Whether, or not, it leads to a career, doesn’t matter, I’ll keep writing as long as someone will read and enjoy what I wrote.
twogalsandabook: Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have any favorite writing rituals or atmosphere?
A. A. Freda: My Favorite place is in my den on my favorite chair. No particular ritual. When a story gets in my head, I try to write it down quickly before I forget some of the details. This usually requires careful editing.
twogalsandabook: How do you deal with writer’s block?
A. A. Freda: Put the pen down and come back to it at another time. Don’t panic! The voices and the story will come back into your head eventually.
twogalsandabook: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A. A. Freda: Yes, just write. Don’t get so overly consumed with other distractions in life, always make time for your passion. Find someone that you trust to read your piece. Listen to their critical comments, don’t be stubborn. Keep working at making your skills better. An athlete doesn’t become great, without practice. You may have natural talent but it can still be improved.
twogalsandabook: Did you have to do much research for Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody?
A. A. Freda: Having grown up on the streets of New York, no research was necessary. The characters in Kazoody are people that I witnessed during my teen years. The setting for the most part, is the neighborhood that I lived in. The clubhouse featured in the book, is exactly as I knew it when I was a member.
twogalsandabook: What was the most difficult part of writing the book? Was there anything that you deleted or altered?
A. A. Freda: The hardest part to writing the book was organizing my thoughts into a story. Once that became clear in my head, the narrative flowed to paper rather easily. I absolutely loved writing this book. Nothing was deleted or altered. The book was written fifteen years before publishing.
twogalsandabook: What was the inspiration for the book? Were any of the characters or situations drawn from real life events? What happened to Betty in the story was so heartbreaking and tragic. Have you ever been touched by these types of things?
A. A. Freda: When my son was in high school, one of his required reading was To Kill a Mocking Bird. We would discuss the story line together as he read the book. We began talking about my childhood, which was similar to the small town in the book. Then, we discussed my early years when I moved to New York City and he remarked, “maybe you should write that story, it sounds interesting.” All of the characters in Goodbye Rudy Kazoody were inspired by people that I witnessed while growing up. All of the tragic scenes in the book, including Betty, Sean Murphy, Twitchy and so on, were based on events that I witnessed during my teenage years.
Kazoody depicts the struggles of young adults. These are the same concerns teenagers are facing today, suicide, sex, social acceptance, bullying, death, religion, drugs, psychological breakdowns. Sometimes, unfortunately, teenage struggles don’t end up with happy endings, they do culminate in tragedy.
twogalsandabook: Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody illustrates an intimacy with the dynamics of an inner-city teenage gang in the ’60’s. Did you experience that personally?
A. A. Freda: Yes, my attitude toward the gang involvement was a lot like that of the characters in the book, Joey Priest and Harvey the Yarmulke. I did belong to a gang for a short period but much like the gang, the Black Knights, featured in the book, my gang wasn’t really much of a gang in the true sense of the word.
Coming from a large and poor immigrant family, the group of friends you make on the streets of the city, are the only people you can confide your feelings. I was fortunate that I landed with a group of true friends, that I still have in my life today.
twogalsandabook: The 1960’s was such a tumultuous time. Are there any specific ways that era impacted you?
A. A. Freda: Of course, being an immigrant kid and trying to come to terms with this country is tough enough. Throw in everything that happened in the sixties and you can imagine my confusion. Later in the sixties, my confusion, resulted in my ending up in Vietnam. These latter times of the sixties will be depicted in my upcoming novel, A Police Action.
The sixties ended, with me becoming jaded against authority, much like many of the other people my age who grew up in that era.
twogalsandabook: I am glad to know that there will be a sequel to Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody, called Spike. I look forward to reading it! Who would you recommend read these books?
A. A. Freda: This book is recommended to anyone, who enjoys a good story. I would also recommend the book for those people who long for the nostalgia of the sixties. Teenagers who may want to know that life doesn’t change much, history does repeat itself. Parents who want to know what their teenagers are really thinking.
twogalsandabook: Has a trailer been made for the book?
A. A. Freda: No, a trailer was not made.
twogalsandabook: If the book was ever made into a movie, who would you like to see play the main characters?
A. A. Freda: Maybe, I’m biased but I believe this book does have excellent movie potential. As to who should star, I don’t have a favorite, I would prefer to see, new, upcoming actors. By the same token, I would like to see new upcoming directors interpret the story.
twogalsandabook: Is there anything that you would like to add that we have not discussed?
A. A. Freda: Yes, to the readers of your blog and this interview, please take a chance and read this story. I think you will enjoy the piece. Please take the time to post an honest review, I usually read each one. As I said earlier, I’m always trying to improve my craft.
twogalsandabook: Are there any social media platforms where readers could connect with you that you would like to share?
A. A. Freda: Yes, I have a web site aafreda.com. I have an author’s page on Goodreads where I keep my followers informed and will answer any question. On Twitter, I can be reached @aafreda1, and on Facebook at aafreda1. I do answer all inquiries and comments personally.
twogalsandabook would like to thank A. A. Freda for allowing us to interview him!
Click on the following link to enter giveaway:
About The Author:
A. A. Freda:
Like many of the characters in his novel, A. A. Freda arrived in America as an immigrant and grew up in the same Bronx neighborhood in which the events of Rudy Kazoody take place. Is book is an exploration of the emotions and experiences that he and many of his fellow teenagers experienced as they came of age in the tumultuous 1960s neighborhood.
Freda grew up and married a Bronx girl, Jessann, and now resides in Easton, CT, a suburb of New York City that offers him a tranquil environment that allows him to keep his finger on the pulse of the city he loves so much. A graduate of Bernard Baruch College at the City University in New York, he has served as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. In addition to writing, in his spare time, Freda enjoys fishing, playing pool, baseball.