When you imagine the author of a sexy psychological murder mystery, your dentist is probably not the first person who comes to mind. Don Grippo, D.D.S., who practiced oral and maxillofacial surgery in northeastern Connecticut for more than thirty years, will change that perception.
Grippo’s first novel, To Sleep…Perchance to Die, (Turn the Page Publishing, 6/13) is a tale of deceit, betrayal, and murder with a Shakespearean-like twist. Readers will become absorbed with the tangled lives of three people: Mai Faca, a Eurasian beauty, and two oral surgeons, Jake Warden and Bret Manley. Mai plots to marry Jake, forbidden to her because of family honor. Bret falls victim to Mai’s seduction as she and Jake play a cruel trick in order to be together.
To Sleep…Perchance to Die features a character drawn from real life, famed criminal defense attorney Hubert (Hubie) Santos. Readers familiar with Michael Skakel and the murder of Martha Moxley will recognize Santos as the attorney who handled Skakel’s appeal in that case.
Grippo was able to draw upon his experiences as a dentist at the Tennessee State Prison and his time as a guard at the Hartford State Jail for some of the scenes in the book, but he did not have a strong writing background prior to writing this novel. He had written A Guide to the Guy or Gal Who Takes Your Teeth Out, a series of short stories dealing with the treatment of typical oral surgical problems, but the technical aspects of writing for the mystery genre was new to him. “I had to learn the objective and subjective aspects of writing as I wrote the novel,” he explains.
To sharpen his fiction writing skills, he looked for opportunities to learn about the craft and the publishing industry. He went to the Florida Writers’ Conference in 2010 and attended Ally’s session, “Revisions: Polishing Your Work for Publication.”
“Ally has helped prepare me for the new writing career I have embarked upon,” says Grippo. “After attending Ally’s lecture and subscribing to her newsletter, I decided to have Ambitious Enterprises edit my query letter for To Sleep…Perchance to Die. After revising my letter based on AE’s feedback, I signed with Turn the Page Publishing. It was my good fortune to meet Ally, and I recommend her services to others, especially those new to writing and publishing.”
Grippo decided to follow the traditional publishing route because he thought he would benefit from the editing and marketing services that come with having a publisher. Turn the Page Publishing officially released the book at BookExpo America on June 1, 2013 and expects Grippo to be one of the breakout new mystery authors of 2013. He plans to write a series based on To Sleep…Perchance to Die.
In only one-month’s time, Grippo has been pleased to see hundreds of book sales and the positive, unsolicited response from readers. “Reviews from readers have been terrific. They seem to be getting into the story and are anticipating the sequel,” he says. “They comment that the story is entertaining but also that I provide insights into the field of oral and maxillofacial surgery, illustrate the beauty of northeastern Connecticut, and generate human interest with the Hubert Santos character.”
With a love for literature as his motivation, Grippo attempted to write several novels before finally creating a story he felt was worthy of publishing. He urges writers to persevere through the rough times. “Don’t give in to self-doubt,” says Grippo. “I suspect that most writers experience it at some point in the creative process. Persist in your endeavor.”
We wish Don many more book sales and great reviews and look forward to hearing of the success of his future projects. If your query letter hasn’t been getting you the positive response you want, consider working with a professional to pinpoint the letter’s weaknesses and learn how to make your pitch as captivating as it can be.