Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writer's Block and Interviews from a Goodfella's Angle

My “G” for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge was Gangsters and Goodfellas. The opening line stated: “They proudly answered to the name of mobster, hoodlum, or wiseguy.”

The ‘goodfella’ proudest to carry the name was Henry Hill. He took the distinction to unusual heights and didn’t end up in prison for his many illegal dealings. Instead, he spent years in (and out of) federal witness protection program, the award for helping to incarcerate his fellow goodfellas.

A fun question I ask other authors is: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why? In the case of Henry Hill, he exchanged thirty years with the Luchese mafia family in his native New York for the protection program. This gave him the opportunity to write in Topanga, California; Seattle, Washington; Cincinnati, Ohio; Omaha, Nebraska; Butte, Montana; and Independence, Kentucky. While I would never choose Omaha as an ideal location for writing, Topanga and Butte have an exotic ring.

Mr. Hill avoided a long prison sentence after his arrest on drug-trafficking charges. Apparently, the stress of possibly getting “wacked” by his associates didn’t give him writer’s block, though. He wrote several books, including one that offers a tour of notorious mobster haunts in New York. In his cookbook, he cites the difficulty of finding authentic Sicilian ingredients in the aforementioned locations.

There was the occasional distraction to Mr. Hill’s new writing career, to which other authors might (okay, probably not) relate, such as being expelled from the witness protection program for misbehavior such as drug possession.

His numerous interviews were likely beneficial to the marketing of his books. He said he never killed anybody but knew, literally, where many of the bodies were buried. While emulation is encouraged for new authors, in this case, paraphrasing is recommended.

Like many writers, Mr. Hill first tried his hand at other occupations. In his case, it was most notably running numbers, hijacking trucks, and dealing cocaine. In the years between 1980 and his death in June, 2012, a hair-trigger temper and drug usage kept him from a normal life. He did, however, enjoy one simple pleasure. Also like many other writers, he never missed an episode of The Sopranos.


  1. Very cute post on a bad guy cone writer.

  2. Thanks, Shelly. Definitely a tongue-in-cheek article.

  3. I did not know he wrote a cookbook? Interesting...


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