Michael DeStefano, Author Spotlight

Esteemed California music professor David Whealy is drawn to the other side of the country to investigate the circumstances behind his unexpected inheritance. As David probes deeper into the secrets of his benefactor, James Burton West, he finds more than just a wealth of unpublished music on the order of the great composers.

David’s benefactor knew precious little about his own estate that had been in continuous family hands since 1724. He knew nothing about his colonial ancestor, a Thomas of historic import, nor the origins of that ancient iron key which held a secret even West knew nothing about.

A secret which may well have redrawn the map of the United States.

Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Michael DeStefano whose book The Composer’s Legacy compelled me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love mystery and suspense but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for Michael DeStefano, a biography of the author and an interview between us both will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Michael DeStefano!

Michael DeStefano proudly served his country for twenty-four years in the United States Air Force. A graduate of the University of Maryland University College and retired from active duty, he currently lives in New England with his wife and son.

Now, how wonderful does Michael DeStefano sound?! The author is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between us both, I hope that you enjoy the author’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!

Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself

I’m a 24-year veteran of the US Air Force and a Delaware transplant, currently living in western Massachusetts with my wife and 17-year-old son. When the muse strikes me, I enjoy composing music and as of 2010, working on my writing.

Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?

Finishing our Christmas dinner in 2010, we were discussing how Hollywood has lost its originality, rehashing old storylines for the sake of showing off special effects. My niece asked me about the story ideas I’d jotted down, but never expounded on. When I shared them with her, she was intrigued by the college music professor who inherited a canon of unpublished music on the order of the great composers, but not a single note was ever published. I described it as suddenly finding the work of Johannes Brahms and never knowing he existed. When my wife blurted out, “You can’t write a book.” I took up the challenge. She stopped saying that as I printed each chapter and the stack of paper grew to over 100 pages. She ultimately became my best fan.

The book follows the journey of David Whealy, a renowned California music professor who receives an unexpected inheritance of an estate (in continuous family hands since 1724) and unpublished music from a complete stranger from Delaware. David is delighted to discover the quality of the pieces, but as he delves deeper into the secrets of his mysterious benefactor, he discovers a clue to a centuries-old mystery that may well redraw the map of the United States.

What would your advice be for aspiring writers?

I just typed, “The End” on my second novel just this week and printed out its 325 pages. When my coworkers saw the finished product, one of them commented, “I wish I could write a book.” The answer is, anyone can! It took me three years to write my first novel and five to complete this new one. The most daunting thing to do as a writer is to get those first few words on the page. Beginning a writing project is easier if you break it down into smaller, bite-size pieces. If you’re unsure how to begin, you might try mapping out the storyline. Who are your characters? Who’s telling the story? Where does it take place? Create an outline to guide you then just vomit on the page. You can always edit a questionable paragraph or two, but you can’t edit a blank sheet of paper. Remember, writing takes effort, dedication, and time. If you stick to it, you’ll watch your manuscript grow, I promise!

In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?

Regardless of the intent of the story, I enjoy an author who’s capable of removing me from my safe reading space to bring me along for the ride. An author hooks me when they invest so much into their characters they no longer seem fictional. Make me believe it and I’ll follow them anywhere.

What is your writing process like?

For Legacy, I mapped out the first few chapters not knowing the eventual destination for the story. Then it came to me to write the Epilogue where the “solution” to the mystery was revealed to the reader then drive the story to this ending. The twist? None of the characters become aware of the secret, but had some of them taken their investigation back one more generation, they’d have figured it out.

Legacy was also easier to write than Corsair, since I have an extensive musical background. Living so close to the state capital of Delaware, I thought what an entertaining way to share my knowledge of the state’s rich history than to have it become central to the story. The research I embarked on for Corsair was much more in-depth. I went to the locations, read and printed colonial-era newspapers and had to delve into forensics in order to draft convincing scenes.

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

For Legacy, I suppose it’s been my entire life in music, either performing it (piano and single-reed instruments) or listening to it. For example, my vast musical library takes in 700 record albums and 500 music CDs. I learn much from the included program notes within each record or CD. To fill in any gaps, the library, the local archives, and on-line research are excellent resources. The history of Delaware made for an interesting plot twist and for that, I had Carol E. Hoffecker’s Democracy in Delaware to help me. At the time, I thought it would take me forever to write, but the first draft was done in three years.

For Corsair however, the research took much longer as the story moved from historical fiction/mystery to a straight up mystery thriller. There’s a scene where the forensic scientist describes rope and its manufacturing methods. It took me eight hours of detailed research in order to draft the few paragraphs that lent authenticity to the character. The most fascinating part of the research was reading the colonial-era newspapers (usually four pages). I included actual excerpts from papers such as The New Hampshire Spy and the Salem Mercury and blended them with articles of my own creation, blending them into a seamless whole. Reading history in the making, the arrival of Ambassador John Adams returning from Great Britain with, “his lady” days before New Hampshire ratified the US Constitution, gave me goosebumps. This level of detail took me five years to accumulate and to weave into the draft for – hopefully – a convincing story.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?

I’d like to think I was disciplined enough to write every day, but like composing, I have to visualize the scene in my head and roll it around a while before I can begin to capture it on paper.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I don’t read as often as I’d like, but when I was younger, I enjoyed the works of Ramsey Campbell, Arthur Conan-Doyle, and Stephen King. Exploring the realm of Indie authors, I’ve discovered mystery thriller author, Sally Fernandez whose Max Ford novel, Climatized is being made into a movie.

Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?

Well, as I stated above, The Old Corsair is now in final draft and being reviewed by my proofreaders. It’s scheduled to be edited soon and from there I’m trying to decide if I should query this one or go self-published again.

Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Michael DeStefano! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more about Michael DeStefano, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.

Goodbye for now book lovers,

Amazon U.S. – Amazon U.K. – Goodreads

Author: Website – Soundtrack – Facebook

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Kevin M. Jue
Kevin M. Jue

11/28/2022: thank you, Aimee Ann, for this appreciative Spotlight on Legacy author, Michael A. DeStefano, my dear friend whom I befriended while we were serving in the U.S. Air Force on Okinawa Island, Japan, in 1981. Both of us being musicians and Classical Music lovers, we became instant friends the moment he knocked on my barracks room door, draped only in a towel, dripping wet from the shower, and carrying an armful of Classical Music LP albums. He had just moved-in to the room directly across from mine, and he heard the Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite I was playing on my… Read more »