Please welcome my guest Peter Healy, author of Vengeance Is Sacred. Peter and I met in a writers' group on LinkedIn and he graciously accepted my request for an interview. Peter was born, raised, and educated in Jersey City, NJ. After retiring from a forty-year teaching career, he set out to fulfill a lifelong goal of writing a novel.
Vengeance Is Sacred takes the reader from the Apennines Mountains in Italy to the early 20th Century streets of New York City with its sweatshops and strikes. One reviewer said of Mr. Healy that his “originality shines with his spectacular first novel.”
FAST FIVE: Thank you for visiting today, Peter. Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to in this fast-paced world of social media, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for Vengeance Is Sacred.
PETER: From the mountain farms of Italy to the distant shores of L'America young Paolo forges an unforgettable journey of fortitude, intrigue, and love as he eludes the retribution of the Camorra crime syndicate after a fatal confrontation while defending a young lady. But much more is at stake than just Paolo’s humble life . . . for he has been bestowed with a mysterious family legacy that is now in danger of ending forever.
Fleeing to the New World in 1909, Paolo experiences an unpleasant setback on Ellis Island, which further complicates his difficult position. Without work and diminishing finances, Paolo struggles on his own until he is finally befriended by some unlikely . . . though unsavory sources. But, it is only after meeting the beautiful Maria, a bold, fiery, labor activist that he feels his heart has come home and his life is on track.
The dauntless couple becomes involved in the dangerous garment workers' strike in New York City to protest and hopefully reform the horrible sweatshops. And soon their dissenting activities blossom into a whirlwind romance . . . that soon leads to a pledge of marriage. But nevertheless, a painful breakup occurs when Maria learns of Paolo’s troubled past and his “wanted” status in Italy.
Paolo is heartbroken and feels his life is once again without purpose. But an eerie premonition summons him to the scene of the historical fire at the Triangle Waist Company where the shocking tragedy proves to be the ultimate challenge of Paolo's paranormal ways . . . and a true test of his courage as a man!
Paolo is hailed a hero, but his valiant efforts at the fire stir unwanted recognition, and his enemies from the past now lie in wait . . . to honor their sacred code of vengeance.
Will Maria return to Paolo’s side? Can Paolo overcome the blind forces of reprisal? . . . And is the future as predetermined as one may think?
Vengeance Is Sacred is a work of historical fiction set in the early 1900’s with past events creating the backdrop, capturing the time period, and fueling the storyline.
To provide authenticity and reality to the story I researched the steerage accommodations of transatlantic travel, the processing of immigrants on Ellis Island, the Italian “Black Hand” and the Irish “White Hand” gangs, the sweatshops, the Garment Workers’ Strike of 1909 in New York City, and the infamous Triangle Waist Company fire, which distressed the American conscience and initiated the revamping of American labor laws.
To add a hint of mystery and uncertainty to the story I also researched and then added some high-interest information about paranormal /psychic phenomena.
FAST FIVE: Over the years, I have researched my family’s history and know the fascination of learning how ancestors journeyed to the new world. You’ve turned your research into a breathtaking story, with focus on the fiery topic of unions that still burns today. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?
PETER: Maria, the female protagonist, works in a sweatshop and wants to help put an end to the injustice of her situation by becoming involved with the Garment Workers’ Union and participating in the strike against the Triangle Waist Company in New York City. While picketing, the marchers are attacked by hired thugs, with Maria and many others beaten and routed as bystanders ignore their plight. What could they expect from the male hierarchy of the times? However, despite her fears, she returns to join her “sisters” in their cause for equality and fair treatment until the strike finally ends. Her strengths are her determination, moxie, independence, and courage.
(SPOILER) She also shows her potency when she saves Paolo during the clash with the Camorra showdown by killing the two assailants.
GAIL: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
PETER: Vengeance Is Sacred combines, history, revenge, and love . . . together with the mysteries of the paranormal. The inexplicable aspects of psychic occurrences have always created a fascination for people, and with that vein in mind I was able to include a number of surprises, twists, and turns throughout the novel . . . with very careful attention to believability.
(SPOILER) The most important twist (which has nothing to do with psychic happenings) is that Maria kills the two assailants during the confrontation/showdown between Paolo and the Camorra crime syndicate. One attacker is killed during the melee and the other Maria kills by intention. This shows a depth of potency for Maria that the reader now realizes was always present in her feisty make-up.
GAIL: You say your feisty female protagonist, Maria, shows her strengths in several ways. Can you describe how is she drawn into suspenseful situations?
PETER: It was turbulent times for labor unions in the early 1900’s, and even more so, for the garment union, which was comprised of mostly young females. It was a man’s world and without a voice or the right to vote, women were badly compromised in the workplace, especially concerning wages. Since Maria worked in a sweatshop and participated in the march against the Triangle Waist Company in New York City, her actions left her open to both threatening and physical hostilities, which created danger, anxiety, and unease throughout the story. Hence, suspense was easily generated. However, it was really Maria’s relationship with Paolo that creates the spiral staircase of suspense/thriller, as the debt from Paolo’s past stands to be collected by the Camorra and Maria is swept into the vengeful attack.
GAIL: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
PETER: The story has been very well-received by readers and I am often asked, “When will you write a sequel?” My characters, it seems, are very easy to become attached to, and I consciously left plenty of opportunity for an extension of the tale. Although nothing has actually been written at this time, I have recently prepared a rough outline and mapped a storyboard to resume the on-going plot.
GAIL: Thank you for sharing many interesting and revealing details about your novel, Vengeance Is Sacred, Peter. This last isn’t so much a Not a Fast Five question as an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
PETER: I would select New York City as my choice. Since it is rich in history, influential in culture/fashion, a leader in commerce, grand in architecture, layered in contrasts, and just brimming with a diversity of people who live at all levels of the human experience it certainly offers the stimulus and motivation that are invaluable for fostering ideas and creating engaging stories.
Where readers can follow Peter Healy:
The first four chapters are available for free reading on the Vengeance Is Sacred website. Please visit. -- http://www.vengeanceissacred.com
The link to Amazon for paperback or Kindle edition is:
The link to Barnes and Noble for paperback or Nook edition is: