Interview: Steven P. Marini

Please welcome Steven P. Marini, author of the Jack Contino series.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
No health issues, no family crisis, no money problems and I go three-for-three in my softball game. I’ll start with that.

aberration Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
I wear casual clothes all the time and that usually means nylon jogging pants with a stripe down the legs. My granddaughter thinks that all I ever wear. She’s almost right.

 Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Although they have nothing to do with my writing, I’ve always enjoyed a sense of parody like Mel Brooks. Certainly, Robert B. Parker’s writing comes to mind and Mickey Spillane. I recall he once said that if he has a typewriter and paper, he’s in business anywhere in the world. I always liked that idea. Say, do you know what a typewriter is?

 Do you listen to music when you write?
No, I like to be able to concentrate. I turn off all sounds and close the door. I need a man cave.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Dark. My stories are not cozies. I’m not terribly graphic, but some of my characters are really bad or deranged people. They’re capable of some nasty stuff. They are not at all admirable, in stark contrast to my detective, Jack Contino. He’s a cop from the old school. He’s strong and smart and tough and he doesn’t need a shrink.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I had grown up near Boston and put a couple of ideas together when I first thought about writing. I heard about a college student who got involved with the wrong people and wound up in the Charles River with a bullet hole in his head. Also, when I was in college, I heard a rumor about a coed who was supposed to be hooking on the side. It was nonsense, but it gave me fuel. So, I began writing about a female character who ends up dead in the Charles and who had a gangland connection. I had also read about a real Boston cop who I really liked and decided he’d be my detective, one who people looked up to and even earned respect, if not love, from the Mob. The female character evolved as I wrote and I came up with a different ending with she and the cop and a bad guy in a confrontation.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Life is a constant challenge, with ups and downs. A cop’s life is the constant battle of good versus evil. Also, I show that people need a support structure to get through. They need a close family and at least one real good friend. If you’ve got that, you’re rich.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
As I mentioned before, Jack Contino is a cop from the old school. He believes that life is a morality play, good versus evil, and good has to win out. He knows it’s not automatic, though. The fight is constant and that’s why he’s a cop. To some extent, his feelings came out of his military experience. He was in WWII and saw the futility of war. He’s a natural protector.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
This may sound strange, but in a way, there’s a lot of Don Corleone of The Godfather in Jack. Don Corleone became the protector of the people in his community. He was driven to it by the evil tyrant who dominated their town. Only, Jack went into Law Enforcement to be a protector and Don Corleone went into crime.

Jack has an element of Odysseus in him, too. That element is his ever faithful and strong partner, Natalie. Like Penelope, she is strong and smart and loves Jack without question.

Finally, Jack is drawn from a real life Boston cop, Joe McCain. He was very large, smart and tough. I read about Joe in a book entitled The Legends of Winter Hill. I knew he was the model for Jack.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Robert B. Parker, Mickey Spillane, George Higgins, James Patterson, Spencer Quinn, and J.E. Seymour.

What’s next for you?
My second novel in the Jack Contino series, Aberration, has just come out this summer and I’m on the first draft of the third in that series. I’m also outlining a fourth book that is not a Jack Contino story. I’ve even got an idea for a non-fiction work, but not sure if I’ll try it. So, it’s just an idea right now. Other than that, I’m just going to continue enjoying my retirement years and continue to write.


Steven P. Marini is a “card carrying New Englander,” who spent twenty-six years in Maryland as a Civil Servant. Now he’s retired and living in New England again. He plays in the Cape Cod Senior Softball League, is in a senior men’s cooking group, serves on the Board of Directors of the Cape Cod Writers Center and he likes to write crime

Web site:
Twitter @StevenPMarini
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