Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | May 30, 2011

Meet Jerry Castaldo, Author and Entertainer

T. Hello Jerry, please give us a little bit of biography for those who haven’t met you.

J. Hi Tom! Thanks for having me. My very Italian birth name is Giro Castaldo, but I go by Jerry Castaldo. I’m from Brooklyn, NY and have lived in the New York City area my entire life. I now make my living primarily as a well-reviewed touring entertainer. I sing, dance, play guitar and do comedy all in a one hour show suitable for any type audience over the age of 40. I mostly work in the NYC metro area but often travel up and down the East Coast of the U.S.

T. When did you start writing?

J. I’ve been writing stories, plays and songs since I was a young child. My mom bought my first typewriter for me when I was about 11 years old.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor? Tell us about him/her.

J. I never had a writing teacher or a mentor of any kind. My passion as a kid was reading and that’s probably why I always thought about writing someday. Unfortunately, because I fell deeply into of world and drugs and alcohol at about the age of 14, I never even finished the 9th grade of high school.

T. Please tell us about your current book; genre and blurb.

J. From the age of 14 to about 31 years old, I struggled with a life of crime and violence due to my severe addictions. When I was finally able to get straightened out with the help of intense one-on-one counseling and a 12 step program, I would later find myself entertaining people with these incredible stories of what went on while I was embroiled in that sordid life. Over the ensuing years, all I’d hear from people who were being mesmerized by these tales were, “You have got to write a book someday.” So I did. It’s called, Brooklyn NY: A Grim Retrospective.

T. Do you have a sequel or prequel in mind or in progress?

J. I didn’t have plans to write anything else until readers started to send me emails from around the country, and the world, expressing interest in wanting to know how my life has been since age 31 and up until now. I just turned 52. I really don’t feel that I have another autobiographical book in me because my life has been pretty normal, now that I’m sober. Why would it be interesting? Yes, I’m an entertainer and have been the opening act for some major stars, but that’s not enough for a book in my opinion. Of course, I’m sure I could get a bit creative and share the more humorous side of my show biz experiences, therefore turning out a lukewarm reading experience, but I’ve got another idea. It’s a one-man show that is based on my book. Over the years, I’ve watched many performers like John Leguizamo, Sandra Bernhard, Eric Bogosian and Spalding Grey have great success doing one-person stage shows in NY. I feel that I’d have something substantial to share by bringing the chapters from my book to life. Here we are in May of 2011 and I’ve been fortunate enough to have Broadway/film/TV actress Cheryl Stern on board with me to help develop the stage adaptation of my book and to have her possibly direct. I’m also lucky enough to have Emmy award-winning composer Tom Kochan do any incidental music for the show. I’d like to have something ready for a Manhattan theatre by spring of 2012.

T. What are your writing habits? Are you an outliner or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

J. Notes, notes and more notes. I did nothing but scribble, type and record voice notes for about two years before I ever sat down with them. When I did, it took me hundreds of hours to categorize the mish-mosh of stories, thoughts and ideas by decade, type of story and who was part of the story; family, friend or foe. I must say this, after I constructed my chapter listing in the chronological order that I wanted, I pulled whatever notes that I thought were interesting into each chapter. By the time I finished writing the book, I found that I’d used only 30% of my notes. I guess that’s why people describe it as a fast read with no filler that just keeps moving. This is exactly what I wanted people to feel as they read it. Also, besides not wanting to bog down the book with too much “stuff,” I just couldn’t tell every story because of the legal ramifications.

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing?

J. Digital publishing is a blessing for first-time authors like me and it is here to stay, period. My Kindle sales far outnumber my paperback sales. I love my DVR and haven’t watched a TV commercial in years, but I must say, I do enjoy seeing the commercials for the Kindle devices!

T. Anything else to share?

J. I’d like to sum up by saying that the over 130 positive reviews that I’ve gotten for my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online and other online booksellers have been very encouraging and exciting for me. We all want to be able to create, release and bask in some sort of glowing recognition. That said, I want to make it clear that while I appreciate the good things that people are saying about the book, I don’t feel that I’m some sort of literary genius. On the contrary, I’m just someone who has had interesting life experiences and I happen to be able to tell them in an entertaining, totally honest way. It’s as simple as that, nothing more. I’m in awe of so many of the really “great” writers and I don’t want to pretend that I could churn out book after book and have some sort of long-term writing career. I do, however, strongly believe in this one book that I’ve written. Since I have made a living performing in front of appreciative audiences for the last 20 years non-stop, I hope to be able to combine the stories from my book with my stage experience and make for a compelling live show that infuses comedy, drama and inspiration. You can keep track of my progress on my website, which is http://www.jerrycastaldo.com/
. Thanks for your interest in interviewing me Tom.

T. Thank you for sharing, Jerry. Your book captivated me. We’ll look forward to your one-man Manhattan show coming in 2012!

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