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Vassallo, Russell A. 1934–

Vassallo, Russell A. 1934–

PERSONAL:

Born April 24, 1934, in Newark, NJ; son of Anthony D. and Philomena Vassallo; married October 5, 1987; wife's name Virginia G.; children: Carolyn Vassallo Ward, Russell A. III, Christopher D., Marianne Vassallo Mosca. Ethnicity: "Italian-American." Education: Seton Hall University, B.A., 1958, J.D., 1961. Politics: Independent. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Animal rescue, horseback riding and training, target shooting, farming, marketing, travel.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Liberty, KY. Office—Krazy Duck Productions, P.O. Box 105, Danville, KY 40423. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Trial attorney in Bloomfield, NJ, 1971-99; Krazy Duck Productions, Danville, KY, publisher and writer, 2003—. Also worked as insurance adjuster and private investigator.

MEMBER:

Publishers Marketing Association, National Rifle Association, Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association, New Jersey State Bar Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Winner of inspirational short story contest, Reader Views, for "A Heart Betrayed."

WRITINGS:

Tears and Tales: Stories of Human and Animal Rescue (nonfiction), Krazy Duck Productions (Danville, KY), 2005.

The Horse with the Golden Mane: Stories of Adventure, Mystery, and Romance (short stories), Krazy Duck Productions (Danville, KY), 2007.

Work represented in anthologies, including Horse Tales for the Soul. Also author of articles and short stories.

SIDELIGHTS:

Russell A. Vassallo told CA: "My writing is therapeutic, giving me an opportunity to express myself while obtaining the approval of those who read my writings. It also gives me the chance to record the events of my life: personal experiences, people I have encountered who I believe others should know about. In a sense I write to immortalize those who have formed a part of my life, so that someone will know they existed. I write to let others know that I was here. Often I write to quell a mood or give vent to some emotion. Most of all, I write because I know it is ‘in me’ to write.

"My writing is influenced by many people and other factors. My wife is my single-most important audience. If I please her, I am content to let others read what I write. I write for my children and grandchildren that they may know a little more about me. My writing is also influenced by my peers and my editor. All my work is professionally edited, for there is no good writer without a good editor (despite what I tell her). The greatest influences on my life have been the great literary masters. From Kipling I derive plot and adventure; from Kenneth Roberts the value of history; from Steinbeck a study of people and social times; from Cervantes the myth of imagination; from Maugham character development. I am influenced by people and events and a desire to touch others with vivid emotion.

"My writing process is difficult. I start with the raw seed of a story with no idea of beginning or ending, just a thread of what I want to write about. It goes underground for a time, as if forgotten. Sometimes I do not write for weeks, although I feel I am writing internally. Then, when I am least able, as for example when I am driving to a faraway location or standing in a rainstorm in the middle of a field, the first line or the last line strikes me like a bolt. I know how to start my story. From that, all else flows right to a smash conclusion.

"Then begins the true writing process. The beginning and end usually do not change, but I begin to dab in more description, more character, a twist here or there. I rewrite again. And then again. I wake up in the middle of the night and add more, wondering why I am punishing myself. The second or third or fourth draft is then finished. I think it's wonderful. Best I have ever done. I leave it for two or three weeks. Go back and read it again. It's awful! How could something I thought so good be so rotten? I burn the manuscript but leave the original on my computer. Perhaps it, too, will go away in the morning.

"Somewhere from all this emerges a story full of adventure, emotion, sincerity, love, sentiment; but I am drained. I swear I will never again subject myself to such torture. I publish a book. People tell me it's great. The sales mount up. Ten copies sold. Twenty. I run out of friends and family, and the friends I have are threatening to leave if I write another book. Even my dogs begin to look at me as if I am mad. Perhaps I am mad. Poe suffered hallucinations. Perhaps mine is that I can write or sell stories. No! I will never again do this to myself.

"And then I am standing in that field again. It's raining. I huddle under a tree, and the raindrops are slithering like icy snakes down the back of my neck. That opening sentence is right there in front of me. I take out my penknife and chisel out the first sentence in the bark of a tree. And then I look to the sky and pray, ‘Oh God, not again. Please hit me with a lightning bolt or something.’ And the answer rolls like thunder from the sky. ‘Who told you to be a writer? Didn't I tell you to be a lawyer and make a decent living?’ All I can do is nod my head in shame. ‘You're right, Mom. I should have listened.’

"I am inspired to write by the experiences of my lifetime and the manner in which events transpired in my life. I came out of a very rough section of Newark, New Jersey, attended college and law school, worked as an insurance adjuster, worked as a private investigator, then as an attorney. I met many people from many cultures. I traveled a good deal. All of this now fins its way into my stories. Most of my stories are based on some true event, some real person in my life. It's easy to write about the things one knows. Giving it life is the difficult part.

"Making people feel my characters, enjoy my stories, that's the challenge. Because my experience is so widespread and vast, I can write in many areas. I can write about animals, people, and traverse the fields of fiction and nonfiction. One of the books on my computer is about the field of divorce and my experience as an attorney. Another reveals the lives of the animals that reside with me and how they came to be here. Another covers some of the mobsters and common people I grew up with in Newark.

"I hope I never become so stilted that I can only write on one topic."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

ONLINE

Krazy Duck Productions,http://www.krazyduck.com (August 16, 2007).

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