A Modern Day Tour Through History- The Mason Wright Tour

Summer has arrived and for the first time in many months, it has been amazing reconnecting in person with friends and family. My family is actually spread out around the world. I am the youngest of five and my parents took us all over when we were kids. Before I turned one, we moved to Belgium. We also lived in Germany and Brazil. I have two brothers who were born in Paris and my family lived in Italy before I was born. Currently, I have a sister in Japan and a sister in Paraguay. It usually is several years in between opportunities where the five siblings are all together. The last time was 4 years ago at my niece, Ellie’s wedding.

As soon as things began to calm and vaccinations increased, both of my sisters traveled to the U.S. We spent the month of June celebrating family and picking up right where we left off. We are very close even though there are many miles between us. My sister Rose mentioned to me that she would like to visit some of the New York sites from The Bones of Saint Pierre. I had always thought about doing this but wasn’t sure anyone would be interested. I told Rose that we can absolutely do it and I got to work. I set up the first Mason Wright Tour and it consisted of me, my wife Lori, my brother John, my sister Rose, my sister Carolyn, my niece Sarah and My brother-in-law Dale.

When writing The Bones, I was at The Metropolitan Museum of Art over and over again doing research; so, the opportunity to show people about the process was quite fun. I spotlighted several of the artworks and areas of the museum which Mason visits in The Bones. We looked like a real tour and several people were watching as we gathered around Andrea Solario’s painting Salome with the Head of John The Baptist, The Medieval Wing, and, of course, the pinnacle of the tour, Madame X. We spent roughly 3 hours in the museum and then moved outside to Central Park.

In Central Park we visited Cleopatra’s Needle, which was being renovated so we only saw it from a distance, Belvedere Castle, The Ramble, Bow Bridge and Bethesda Terrace. After Central Park it was time for food and drink. We found a spot outside and enjoyed pizza, meatballs, and a nice Chardonnay.

The final stop of the tour was 425 East 86th Street. This is the apartment where Mason lives in The Bones. It also happens to be the apartment building where my mother grew up. She passed away several years ago but I felt like she was smiling down proudly as her children gathered for photos outside.

It was a great day, fun for me to share the stories behind the story and spend it with family. I plan on doing it again with friends and maybe again with strangers. The first Mason Wright Tour was more than a trip through the pages of a book, it was a gathering of family who have supported me from day one and are now asking when we are doing the Paris part of the tour. That will require a bit more planning but I am up for it.

Book Trailer

While out and about enjoying the weather yesterday, I received an intriguing email from Eric Labacz of Eric Labacz Design and Illustration, the designer of the covers of The Bones of Saint Pierre and The Secrets of Saint Joanna. He created a one-minute trailer for both books as part of his exploration of moving into the book trailer industry. What he created was amazing and I was honored to be his test project. I hope you will enjoy this and consider sharing with others to spread the word about The Mason Wright Series. Thanks for the continued support on this fantastic journey and thank you Eric!

Starting a New Chapter

This Friday coming up, May 7th, I have the opportunity to present along side three well known authors at an event in Gladstone, NJ put on by The Junior League of Morristown. It is called Lunch With the Authors. Fiona Davis, Marjan Kamali and Carol Van Den Hende will be joining me, or I should say, I will be joining them. It will be my first live event since last summer when I did an outside event for about 20 people. They are expecting upwards of 180 attendees this Friday and to say I am excited is an understatement.

It is going to be so nice to be back at a book event after the events of the last year. I have never been that comfortable speaking to crowds but I decided when I published my first book, that would need to change. Am I nervous? A little bit, but excitement is more the correct term. Kind of like the butterflies we all get when we are nervously excited.

As I prepare for the event, I have my checklist of things I need to do: Bring books to sell (Quite Important), Have plenty of sharpies to sign them, have my speech prepared, bring bookmarks, business cards, advertising posters and banners. I ordered many boxes of books, both Hardcover and Paperback. I have them all stacked downstairs ready to go.

Writing is many things…It’s fun, hard, frustrating, monotonous, humbling and it definitely makes you second guess your endings LOL. But honestly, most of all it is incredibly rewarding. When someone tells me they enjoyed my book, it is a hard to describe feeling. I thank you all for that feeling, it’s amazing.

So, Friday is coming and I am really excited about it. Will be nice to be back talking to people about writing, reading and books. Looking forward to starting a new chapter and getting back out there to talk with people about the art of writing and sharing my story.

Turning The Page

Good Morning and Happy New Year to everyone. After such a tumultuous year, it is hard to imagine normalcy returning to our everyday life but here we go, forging ahead into what we hope is a year we can look back on with a slight smile.

2020 is hard to describe. It was many things, most of which were pretty awful. In the beginning of the year, I was wrapping up the story for The Secrets of Saint Joanna and I needed some time to finish the end of the book, which is always tough. Then came March and the world as we know it began to close. Two weeks and we’ll be back to normal was what we were told. Well, those two weeks are still going on. All of the sudden I had time, plenty of it, to finish the story, but I couldn’t do it. I had more time and less motivation than ever. I sat in front of my screen staring at a blinking cursor. It was hard to concentrate with everything going on.

I was second guessing myself on the final few chapters. I began writing alternative endings which would have entailed going back and changing so many parts of the story. I realized I was doing more damage than good, so I walked away. I took the time and stopped forcing the story onto the screen. Needing a distraction, I decided to go back and sure up some of the research for the book, particularly one part of the story.

Mason gets smuggled into France in a wine barrel, so of course, I had to know what that feels like. I ordered a wine barrel and had it delivered. Toilet paper may have been in short supply, which I still don’t understand why that was, but a wine barrel arrived in two days. My thought was to get my brothers together and stuff them in the barrel, but that wasn’t possible, so I removed the top and spent an afternoon getting in and out of this barrel until I had the right angles. Then, I completely folded myself into it. One of the most uncomfortable things I have done in a long time, but a welcome distraction from the world. At 6 feet tall (Actually 5′ 11″, I seem to be shrinking) and 206 pounds on a good day, I did manage to get in the barrel and close myself in. I know people were smaller in 1940 but I could not spend more than a few minutes inside without starting to lose feeling in my limbs. I would not have been the ideal candidate for barrel smuggling.

After going over all my research, I went back to the story and remembered what I have shared with many people at book events. So many people have told me they are writing a story but can’t finish it. Did I have any advice? I would always say, “Get out of your own way.” I went back to basics and finished up. I decided that if anything good was coming out of this year for me, 2020 would be remembered as the year The Secrets of Saint Joanna was released.

Don’t get me wrong, 2020 sucked. It is deserving of all those words we have used to describe it. I hope 2021 brings back many things I miss dearly. I am entering the new year with optimism and will do my best to stay out of my own way, I hope you do as well.

Thank You to everyone for your support and I look forward to seeing you in person in 2021 for drinks, hugs, concerts, laughs, dinners, travels and everything that we promise we will never take for granted again.

Churchill’s War Rooms

I am often asked about the research for my books. How is it done, what is involved, did you really go to these places? I decided early on while writing “The Bones” that I wanted my books to be as true to life as possible. I will say, it is quite a challenge writing stories that take place 80 years ago. As I am trying to write a fun, interesting story, I also want it to be historically accurate.

For The Secrets of Saint Joanna, I knew the story would revolve around the rise of the French Resistance and take place mainly in Occupied France. However, after visiting London twice, I decided to start the story in the heart of Britain, and one of the main reasons is I wanted to include one of the most interesting places I have been, The Churchill War Rooms.

The War Rooms have been preserved to their original wartime state after being abandoned after the war. Margaret Thatcher reopened them to the public in 1984, a fascinating insight into the working heart of wartime Britain.

Mason finds himself in the War Rooms in “The Secrets” and I tried to convey the excitement and nervous energy that I felt while visiting them. I stood in the halls transporting myself back to 1940 and imagining the everyday workings of these rooms.

It is an amazing place to visit if you are a World War 2 historian. Not many things are left in the world from those days, but the War Rooms sit exactly as they were 80 years ago.

Labor Day 2020

Happy Labor Day weekend 2020, the unofficial end of summer. I know, it’s kind of sad, but I do love Fall. Normally I would be excited for College Football this weekend, the kids would be back in school, but as we all know, 2020 has been anything but normal. The Kentucky Derby is today, which kind of sums up the craziness of the year, so we all just move along trying to get through this seemingly never ending year.

For the past few weeks, every night, I have spent editing The Secrets of Saint Joanna over and over again, until it felt right. This weekend I will be sending the first few chapters to the publisher to begin the final edits.

The story begins in London with the murder of a high level British agent. It will take you through Spain and into occupied France through the wine caves of the Loire Valley to a small town south of Paris where a resistance is growing.

I will continue to update the progress as we head into the Fall. Everyone, be safe, live in the moment, and thank you for supporting me. I hope to release “The Secrets” this year and remember 2020 as the year I released my second book, instead of the year the world turned upside down. Cheers,

Steve

Chateau Chenonceau

Memorial Day 2020

As we approach this holiday weekend, first and foremost, please remember all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. They fought and died for this country out of selflessness. So, as we deal with these uncertain times, everyone is trying to get through this as best they can, don’t make it harder on them. Show some compassion, and support each other.

I wrote The Bones of Saint Pierre out of a love for the history of World War 2. The sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, must never be forgotten. Ordinary men and women who did the extraordinary. The book has been out since February of last year and I thank everyone who has read, shared and reviewed it. I am truly grateful.

I am slowly finishing the second installment called The Secrets of Saint Joanna. Some of you have read a little bit of it and have responded in kind. I am very excited about the story and where it will leave Mason and Collette. I have been doing a lot of research in books and articles, climbing into wine barrels, hollowing out books to hide guns and enjoying every minute. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Enjoy this weekend as best you can; we could all use a little normalcy back in our lives so take care of yourselves, your families and each other. I look forward to sharing The Secrets of Saint Joanna very soon.

One Year in…

A little over one year ago, The Bones of Saint Pierre was released and the last year has been filled with so many amazing moments that it is hard to describe. While writing The Bones, I would often wonder what was going to happen when the book came out, rather, IF the book came out. I wasn’t sure I would finish it and if it would make sense when I did.

Well, nothing I imagined even came close to the reality of what actually occurred upon release. The last year has been such an amazing, humbling experience for me, that it is hard for me to describe with words. It seems kind of funny that an author is at a loss for words but, believe me, it happens more than you would think.

I want to thank everyone who has shared in this experience, it truly means the world to me.

As for what is going on now, I am working on the second book in the series, The Secrets of Saint Joanna, and am very excited about it. I would say I have another 50 pages left to write. The story involves the rise of the French Resistance through wine country in the Loire Valley of France. Mason and Collette are back for another adventure with some old friends and some new ones. Keep checking back on the website and Facebook for updates.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work on Long Beach Island. While working in an empty house, I decided to develop a story which takes place “down the shore.” A good old fashioned “Who Done it” mystery involving the murder of a very successful Builder on the island and all the people who were not sad that he was dead. “A Murder Down The Shore”…will keep you posted.

Thank you again for all the amazing support from everyone near and far, it continues to keep me in awe.

Normandy

I recently had the honor of visiting Normandy, France, a place I have wanted to experience for many years. It is not every day, you get to stand on the very ground of a place which changed the course of human history. The blood, the bullets, the bodies are all gone, and to the people enjoying Omaha beach, it was just that, a beach…their beach. They flew kites, ran around with their kids, walked their dogs and enjoyed a nice August afternoon. As I looked out over the channel, I tried to envision the horror that happened that morning in 1944, I couldn’t, because it was such a beautiful peaceful scene. And maybe that is what you are supposed to feel now, not the chaos and tragedy of war, but the summer scenes of kids playing in the sun.

I dedicated The Bones of Saint Pierre to the “Greatest Generation” because these ordinary men and women, school teachers, factory workers, kids as young as 16 who lied about their age to enlist, accomplished something which should have never succeeded. It’s true, Eisenhower wrote a letter which was read to all the D Day troops before that morning. They were about to be a part of history, but most people don’t know that he had a second letter in his desk to be read to the world in case of failure. Because of those men on those beaches on that morning, that letter was never needed.

I found a free library stand on Omaha Beach and placed a book inside as a small token of my appreciation for everything that happened 75 years ago, and for the people who today may want to read it as they simply enjoy their beach.