Note: This is the first in a series of blogs on authors living in the Pioneer Valley.
By Vanessa Pesa
As part of my internship, Janice has decided to have me interview local authors and blog about them to give me some hands-on training and insight into the writing profession. Plus, it’s a great way to network with some great people in the line of work I’m aiming for!
The first interview I did was with Fred Contrada, a 62-year-old reporter for The Republican and a self-published fiction author.
Fred has been interested in writing since he was a young boy and began writing fiction while a student at Holy Cross College. Upon graduating in 1974 and getting his career started, Fred said he had to take a step back from creative writing, making reporting his full-time profession and focusing on his wife and children. He emphasizes the importance of raising a family.
Fred has been with the newspaper for 27 years now. His main focus is writing his column, which appears on Thursdays.
At a certain point, once his career was established, Fred began to edge back into his fiction writing. His main genre is literary fiction, and though he is very busy writing for The Republican, he manages to set aside time. He sets aside 45 minutes every morning for his fiction and assured me that this really adds up. If there is nothing on his schedule, he will work a bit longer, but claims “it’s hard to do for more than a few hours” so the 45 minutes works perfectly for him.
Fred let me know that he is in the formative stages of his most recent book, Dirty Rice. The next step in his writing process is sending it off to a reading group for extra sets of eyes, and this process usually takes a few months. He is not quite sure yet what his opinion of the book is, so his readers will need to wait and see if it comes to fruition.
In looking back on his older fiction from his college years, Fred says that he “doesn’t see the creativity, only the artifice,” and it is painful for him to read. This just shows how he has grown as an individual and as a writer over the course of his life. He has written approximately a dozen books in his writing career, yet has only published five.
All of Fred’s titles are self-published; his goal is not to make a lucrative career in fiction, but to continue to pull in enough revenue to print and sell more books. He is basically recouping the expenses in order to publish more books.
If you’d like to read some of Fred Contrada’s work you can download a Kindle copy of his book Dorchester Ave, or for the other four titles, Trager Stories, New Orleans Stories, The Trail and The Boat, you’ll need to get in contact with him personally by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 413-478-7512. He is also on Facebook if you’d like to check him out! https://www.facebook.com/fred.contrada