Interview With Author Lenny Cavallaro

Could You Tell Us About Yourself? 

I am arguably a “Renaissance man,” but not to be confused with the artistic giants of the period. I love the classics: Greek tragedy, Shakespearean drama, and classical music. I have also boxed, earned a third-degree black belt in karate, run marathons, and practiced hypnosis and reiki professionally.

I am a novelist, though lately I seem more drawn to the novella and even the novelette. My fiction runs across various genres: mythological, historical, romance (dark-erotic, paranormal, spiritual), mystery, and Jewish paranormal. 

An accomplished pianist and composer, I performed Bach’s Six Partitas to the highest critical acclaim in Carnegie Recital Hall and achieved even more recognition as a composer. More information is available on the musical half of my website

What made you write your book(s)? 

My most recent fiction was published in 2022: The Passion of Elena Bianchi (Volumes One and Two of a four-volume series) and Sherlock Holmes and the Mysteries of the Chess World. These have totally different origins.

(A)The series was prompted by various dreams, including one about Beethoven. I also discovered a song my father had written to a woman he knew before he met my mother. The “dark-erotic” elements of the romance probably arose from my disgust at the Fifty Shades series; I wanted to write something that involved “real” sadomasochism (and other kinks). My exposure to “soul fractions” led to the spiritual aspects: the need to forgive and to let go of anger.

(B) The Sherlock tales unfolded while I read about the possible murder of (world champion) Alexander Alekhine. Who better than Sherlock to unlock that and other mysteries?

What is the first book you remember reading?

I remember tackling The Swiss Family Robinson (Wyss) at an early age. A prose rendition of The Iliad (Church) was another favorite of my early childhood.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? 

I write rather effortlessly. Editing is far more time-consuming, and then the harsh realities of marketing are an absolute blight.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why? 

I won’t presume to call myself “popular”! However, I would love to spend time with Isabel Allende, whose works I admire.

Where do you get your idea (s) for your book(s)? 

Book ideas usually come to me in my dreams. Similarly, much of my musical material emerges from dreams.

What is / was your writing process like? 

I usually have only a vague idea of where I am going. However, when I decide to develop the core idea (from a dream), I slip into a trance-like state, and the story unfolds — sometimes in directions I did not even anticipate. I am not altogether certain whether I write or I am merely being written!

How did publishing your (first) book? 

Let’s focus on the recent ones. I was delighted when White Bird Publications accepted If Music Be the Food of Love, the first volume of The Passion of Elena Bianchi. However, the publisher’s demise (she died intestate, leaving a “zombie corporation”) precipitated a dreadfully time-consuming process of recovering my rights and self-publishing the last two volumes. 

Sherlock Holmes and the Mysteries of the Chess World, on the other hand, has been very enjoyable. The publisher (Hanon Russell of Russell Enterprises) connected me with Al Lawrence, the finest editor with whom I have had the opportunity to work, got grandmaster and syndicated columnist Andy Soltis to write the Foreword, and got blurbs on various chess sites (e.g., et al.).

What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? 

(A) For The Passion, I had to research a fair amount of music history, relying on both peer-reviewed articles from scholarly journals and the general internet references. I also had to review some of my notes on Roman history. In addition, I am profoundly indebted to a number of people who shared material with me. For example, there are some lesbian scenes in the third and fourth volumes that were practically dictated to me by friends. 

(B) Sherlock relied on various sources, most of which were easily accessible over the internet. I also acknowledge correspondence with certain other people, who lent their expertise.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

My prose is plot-centered, and the plots arise from dreams and unfold through trance, as noted earlier. The characters develop with the plots. Let me give you an example:

The Passion was originally supposed to be the hero’s story, yet it is the heroine (Elena) who grows spiritually and whose journey ultimately brings the series to its climax (or, more accurately, climaxes). This was not what I foresaw as I began the narrative; it simply unfolded that way. She grows far more than he does, and her growth presents the notion of sadomasochism as a spiritual vehicle. Indeed, her masochistic pains enable her to grow spiritually and perhaps transcend the curse (if her clueless husband doesn’t ruin everything).

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing your book(s)? 

The favorite is the act of creation itself — i.e., everything up through the completion of the first draft. The marketing is the least favorite, and I also hate the publishing aspects (i.e., cover, format, etc.).

What part of the book was the most fun to write? How did you come up with the title for your book (s)?

(A) I think that with The Passion, I most enjoyed writing the musical scenes, although some of the heroine’s perverse sexual antics were also very enjoyable.

(A) My titles have always been weak. If I had it to do over, I’d just go with The Passion of Elena Bianchi, and then add Volume 1, Volume 2, etc. Instead, I used literary allusions for the first two titles: If Music Be the Food of Love (from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) and Paradise Regained and Lost Again (deriving from the Milton epics). 

(B) My chess publisher, Hanon Russell, came up with the title for Sherlock (to my immense relief!).

Would you and your main character get along? 

(A) The Passion — I am absolutely in love with my heroine (Elena), with whom I would also have enjoyed concertizing. I’d get along well with the hero (Giovanni), also.

(B) Sherlock — Actually, I use three Sherlocks and six Watsons over a set of seven tales. If we consider “Sherlock” as one generic character therein, I’m sure he and I would get along, particularly given his love of classical music (and violin).

What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft? 

I knew that it would involve sadomasochism as a vehicle for personal growth and possibly spiritual growth. I never anticipated that it would also involve forgiveness, letting go of anger, acceptance of karma, and love of family. I’m quite surprised that a series with hard-core kink and blasphemy in the early volumes nevertheless develops the idea of family loyalties, unconditional love, and spiritual growth in the last two.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader? 

(A) The Passion — probably “eclectic”! It is designed for someone who enjoys reading a romance involving classical music, hard-core kinky sex, the Holocaust, the Mafia, psychic phenomena, an esoteric notion of reincarnation (“soul fractions”), and the paranormal (a 2,000-year-old curse, personified as the Curse)! [Of course, some readers skip over parts that are not of interest.]

(B) Sherlock — Anyone who enjoys mysteries, particularly Sherlock Holmes-style. Readers do not need to know anything about chess.

What did you edit out of your book(s)? 

I had to remove scenes that served no purpose. Doesn’t everyone?

What was your hardest scene to write? 

(A) The Passion — The musical scenes moved me to tears, as did the last scenes, not because I was sad to reach the end of the saga, but because of the sentiment therein.

What do you hope your readers take away from your book(s)? 

(A) The Passion — I hope they will realize that while some people make love through the medium of sex, others make love through the medium of pain. While society tends to view the latter as “deviants” and “perverts,” we find many educated, professional, accomplished, and talented people who conduct themselves with honor and uphold the highest ethical standards within the kink community. If readers also reflect on the spiritual aspects, that will be wonderful.

(B) Sherlock — I hope merely that readers can appreciate the way deductive reasoning can apply even to “mysteries of the chess world.”

Did you get some negative feedback on your book? and if so how do you deal with that? 

Yes! I have lost friends because of The Passion. They apparently took offense at some of the material, which they denounced as “filth.” They had some choice words about me, also.

Where can people who are interested in your book, buy your book? 

The Passion of Elena Bianchi (complete)

Volumes One and Two are available at Barnes and Noble

The free prequel, Cursed Love

Sherlock Holmes and the Mysteries of the Chess World

Barnes And Nobel For Sherlock Holmes and the mysteries of the chess world

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about? 

I hope to publish The Ibbur’s Tale fairly soon. This “Jewish paranormal” novella derives from tales out of the shtetlach of eastern Europe, yet it was spawned from an actual event in my mother’s family. I carry the narrative through World War Two and into the twenty-first century, where the story at last concludes.

After writing your book (s) what is your advice to people who want to become writers? What are common traps for aspiring writers, and have you faced any of them? Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? 

(1) I advise people not to draft their Noble Prize acceptance speech and to put aside fantasies of getting rich. Most of us will never see much financial return, but the personal, psychological, and (dare I say?) spiritual returns are immense. (2) I have squandered time waiting for agents and publishers to get back to me (they rarely extend the courtesy of a reply), and I have also squandered money on marketing “specialists” who did absolutely nothing for me. Finally, I should note that publishers may overprice their books, while self-publishers can lower the cost of their titles and keep all the royalties: an argument worthy of consideration! (3) There are jerks out there who simply love to give one-star reviews, while there are some actual critics from whom we can learn. I deal with book reviews the same way I dealt with concert reviews: I read them but do not challenge or comment.

Lenny Cavallaro Media Links


Amazon Profile + Books

Barnes And Nobel Books

Free Prequel From The Author

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