Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is a day in the life of Ritch Gaiti like?
Up early, feed my two dogs and Ziggy, my cockatoo. Then I usually sit by my computer and get into left-brained tasks (such as this). I write in the mornings. After lunch, I put my right brain into gear and paint. When I write I need quiet, when I paint, I need music (country, classic rock, doo wops, etc.). After dinner, I usually veg and recharge. Weekends, my wife and I play some tennis, go to dinner and catch a movie.
Tell us about novel, The Big Empty.
The Big Empty is about betrayal, deception and redemption of a man and a people. I characterize it as an ‘ethereal mystery’ – it’s written on several levels.
The story is told in the first person through Rick Wallace, a gritty, down and out lawyer. A Native American who had long given up his culture, Rick is haunted by a past that slowly unfolds with the rest of the plot. At another level, there is a sense that something is happening beyond his control, beyond his consciousness – something spiritual in nature.
Set in modern day New York City, the story begins post-911, deep in the bedrock beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center. It picks up ten years later as Rick reluctantly takes on a trivial assignment - every instinct he had told him to get out but something drove him forward. He persists, never knowing whom to trust. The story slowly unfurls, revealing layers of an intricate backstory and a massive conspiracy by some of the most respected organizations in the world. Rick, who serves as a surrogate for a much larger issue, changes as the plot unwinds and he re-discovers his past through some surprising plot twists. He discovers what has haunted him all these years was anything but true as he uncovers a secret that changes centuries-old history.
What can you tell us about your main character?
Rick Wallace, a flawed Native American lawyer living in Tecumseh, Arizona had bottomed-he serves as the surrogate for a much larger issue, which is revealed in the book. The first-person point of view emulates the gritty style of a classic private investigator.
Trust is difficult for Rick as he has been betrayed by the people he trusted most. The best and worst part of his life has passed him by – as his past is buried deep in his subconscious. He lives life day to day until he gets this assignment –which changes his life along with many others. His character develops as he learns that the truth that had sent my life into a tailspin ten years ago was far from true.
Rick’s character change throughout the story parallels the plot as he gets his opportunity for
I know the mental side of my main character is based on me. Is your main character based on you or anyone else?
He is based on an Indian Chief I had met several years ago. A bit raw on the outside yet, underneath all of the callous, he is very vulnerable.
How long did it take you to write your novel?
I first wrote it as a film script ten years ago and was in the process of getting it produced when the funding ran out. Since then, I have rewritten it as a novel-and through many drafts tightened up the plot and the point of view of the lead character.
What drew you to this genre?
I always loved mysteries- the hard knuckled Mickey Spillane/Raymond Chandler variety. I wanted to dig inside the lead character’s head and feel what he felt as he was unfolding the answers.
Who has inspired you through your life and career? Writing and anything else
I am inspired by the act of creating something new and different. Whether it’s a story or a painting or a sculpture-or anything else for that matter. I believe that most people are very creative but don’t give themselves a chance to succeed because they are afraid of failing. To me, failing is a great teacher-and a platform to grow. My inspiration is Leonardo DaVinci.
Is there any part of the writing or publishing journey that you are not happy with?
No. I love going through the stages of development-from idea inception, to rewrites, to fine-tuning the final product.
My blog is mostly on mysteries and thrillers, but I know you have other works out there so is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?
Dutching the Book, my last book was about gambling in 1960’s Brooklyn, a far departure for The Big Empty. It was based on real people and events. Before that, I wrote two humorous books – Tweet, a satire on advertising; and Points, a tongue in cheek relationship book.
Oh yes, I am also a recognized artist, painting the southwest. My paintings have been exhibited in many galleries and museums across the U.S. My painting website is www.Gaiti.com and my writing website is www.ritchgaiti.com
Are you working on anything new?
Always. I have three books in my pipeline- in various stages of development. I don’t know which one I’ll attack next.
My daughter loves horses so if I don’t mention your paintings she’s going to yell at me. You paint a lot of horses and Native American’s and such. How long have you been doing that?
About twenty years. I wanted to paint and searched for subject matter. I love the west –so I landed on that. The more I painted, the more I read-I became entranced by Native American history and culture. When I paint an Indian, I feel like I’m telling the story of the entire culture-and their destiny. Horses, how could you not love horses? Graceful, affectionate, strong-they represent the ultimate freedom.
Now for some rapid fire questions. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
The Verdict – incredible film-written by David Mamet, directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Paul Newman
Favorite book as a kid?
A Stone for Danny Fisher
If you were going to a deserted island which 3 famous people (living or dead) would you want to be stuck there with you and why?
· Leonardo DaVinci – to experience the inspiration of a genius
· Brigitte Bardot- always wanted to learn how to speak French
· Two is enough
What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Sandwich meat, cherries, milk, ice cream, veggies, OJ
Day or night?
Work day, relax at night
Mountains or beach?
Definitely mountains and lakes
Pepsi or Coke?
Loud night on the town or quiet night at home?
Quiet night at home
I’m a chef so I have to ask…what do you like to eat when you’re writing?
Nope, water and maybe a cup of coffee
What do you do when no one is looking?
Play solitaire online
Thank you Ritch. If you want to check out his novel on Amazon please click here: The Big Empty