Tag Archives: Employee of the Year

Writeliving Interview – Dmitri Ragano

The Writeliving interview series kicks off its first foray into genre fiction with journalist and internet professional turned mystery author Dmitri Ragano. I had the pleasure a few years ago to read part of a manuscript by Dmitri from a mystery called The Fugitive Grandma, and I’ve been a fan ever since. His first novel Employee of the Year, is a mystery must-read, and he is now releasing his second novel The Voting Machine.

Martin Ott

Tell us about the new novel.

It’s a thriller set during an election in Las Vegas. Two political activists are killed as they cast their votes in a critical swing state Senate race.  The murder victims are rival campaigners on opposite sides of the liberal – conservative divide. One is a retired school teacher, an ex-hippie who remains active in progressive causes. The other is a rich Tea Party supporter whose son served in Iraq.

Temo McCarthy, the hero of the story, is a volunteer in a voter registration drive and he knows both of the murdered men. The FBI asks Temo to assist their investigation based on his experience canvassing Las Vegas during the election campaign. The killings are then linked to broader threats of a terrorist attack on the general election. Temo has experience with main suspects in the attack: a mysterious Middle Eastern charity, a Mexican drug cartel and anti-government, white-supremacist militia.

What inspired you to write this story?

I love elections. I love politics. Social studies was always my favorite subject in grade school. I worked as a voter registration volunteer in Las Vegas in 2008 and it was an amazing experience. You put yourself out there in front of strangers and try to persuade them to take an action because you believe in the ideas behind democracy. Some people admire what you’re doing and some people hate you for it. One day you’re going door to door in a neighborhood full of rich retirees with Jaguars and BMWs in the driveway. The next day you are block walking with your clipboard in a rough part of town, talking to homeless and ex-felons who can’t vote until they get off probation.

It’s a big, sprawling country and it’s easy for us to become disconnected from the majority of our fellow citizens. We are rarely drawn into civic collaboration or public discussion beyond our own social/professional network. But elections are one of the ways we engage around ideas and common themes in public life. It’s a messy, bitter process but it is fascinating.  It shows you all the different things that either motivate people or make them apathetic. It shows you how individuals construct their relationship to other people and society as a whole.

I want to emphasize that while I may have my own personal politics, this book isn’t a polemic. It merely aims to tell a good story that is rooted in real experiences. It’s about the human needs and the contradictory emotions that fuel our participation in politics.

This is your second novel featuring Temo McCarthy. He was also the protagonist the first book, Employee of the Year. Tell us the background behind this character.

The idea for this character was to create a kind of everyman in a modern urban setting. I wanted a hero who was flawed, humble and recognizable… He shouldn’t have exceptional skills or talents like say a Sherlock Holmes or James Bond. Temo isn’t particularly smart or tough and he has no elite training or background. His awareness of his limitations becomes an advantage. He’s spent most of his life as a loser and he goes into most situations expecting things to work against him. And yet he never gives up, just like his historical namesake Cuauhtemoc,  who kept on fighting as his whole civilization collapsed in a way that must have been unimaginably horrific. Temo never loses his will to survive and maintain some kind of integrity.

Why did you choose to self-publish your novels?

I’ve been working around the Internet space since 1995, first as a HTML programmer, then in start-ups and more recently as a product manager. I think if you come from that background it’s always your first instinct to try and do something yourself – get it our there in front of an audience and get feedback. That iterative, interactive process is how you are used to working.  I wanted to be able to have a book I could share with readers in a relatively short cycle and I knew the process of finding a traditional agent and traditional publisher can take years. At the same time, there’s this massive sea change going on in the book industry with the push towards e-book distribution and marketing so I thought it would be useful to get first-hand experience even if I ended up partnering with a traditional publisher in the future.

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Enter a Mysterious Galaxy of Authors

Mysterious Galaxy bookstore is putting on a local author meet and greet in Redondo Beach from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Saturday, June 23. This is a great example of an independent bookstore reaching out to both its local authors and readers with a unique event.

One of the featured authors will be novelist, journalist and blogger Dmitri Ragano, who was featured in the April blog post Great American Novel 2.0. Feel free to enjoy the light appetizers and spirits, and ask him about his process for successfully self-publishing and promoting his well-reviewed novel Employee of the Year.

Other notable authors include Todd McCaffrey, co-author of Dragon’s Time: Dragonriders of Pern, Gary Phillips, author of Monkology and Linda O. Johnston, author of Hounds Abound.

There looks to be a wide mix of genre fiction and it’s a great way to get to spend time with dragons, private detectives, Martians, zombies and the authors that create them.

Martin Ott

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Great American Novel 2.0

Pittsburgh native and journalist turned internet professional Dmitri Ragano shares his story about self-publishing his first mystery novel Employee of the Year. His article Great American Novel 2.0 first appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and is recommended reading for anyone considering self-publishing as an option.

Dmitri is a talented fiction writer and makes a conscious decision to pursue electronic publishing as his primary option. Social media is a professional and personal interest, and Dmitri is excited about his ability to connect to readers in the continually evolving digital community.

Employee of the Year is garnering stellar reviews from readers and is available on Amazon.

Martin Ott

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Filed under Fiction, Publishing