Although he's been a respected music critic for 30 years, first working for the Jersey Journal and later for the Wall Street Journal, Hoboken native Jim Fusilli always had a secret fantasy.
"I always wanted to be a novelist," said Fusilli, who also does music commentary on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."
"Being busy with my other writing, I never had the discipline or the wealth of experience to do it," said Fusilli. "I tried writing novels when I got out of college and I wrote fiction quite frequently, but it never materialized."
So Fusilli relied on his career as a pop, rock and jazz critic for the Wall Street Journal, where he's been since 1983. Fusilli also wrote music and played in rock bands throughout Greenwich Village.
However, 10 years ago, Fusilli set out to finally fulfill his original dream and began writing a mystery novel.
"It took me eight years to get it published," Fusilli said. "I had to wait until it became suitable for publication. I never realized how arduous a task novel writing could be."
Fusilli will take time out of his busy schedule to make an appearance at the Weehawken Free Public Library Monday night, Feb. 3, beginning at 7 p.m. He will read from his novels, then will discuss his work, both as a mystery writer and a music critic.
Library will bring local authors
Fusilli's first mystery novel, entitled "Closing Time," features New York private investigator Terry Orr and his daughter, Bella, as the main characters. It was published by Putnam in 2001. He has since written two sequels, featuring the same characters. His second novel, "A Well-Known Secret," was published last year, and the third, which has yet to be officially titled, will hit the book stores later this year.
According to Weehawken Public Library Director Phillip Greco, the library hopes Fusilli will be the first of many authors to speak there.
"We're very excited to have this local author come to us," Greco said. "He has a lot to offer, not just the novels. It's going to be a very interesting lecture and we're glad to have him. We're going to seek other local authors, according to their availability, so they can present their novels."
Fusilli said that his long-time friend Gary Cahill, who is a librarian there, approached him to speak at the library.
"I was looking for something to do closer to home," said Fusilli, who now lives Larchmont, N.Y. "I always enjoy coming back home."
Fusilli said that his novels are based in New York because "It's where I went and socialized."
He also focuses on character development more than many contemporary mystery novels. "I love the classic mystery fiction, but I always wanted to know more about the characters themselves," Fusilli said. "I want to have the part of the characters known to the readers. Most mystery characters only have personality traits that show why they do what they do. I've had readers tell me that they can't stand Terry, but they love Bella. They have a lot of reasons not to like Terry."
Fusilli was asked which of his characters most resembles him. "I have almost nothing in common with Terry," Fusilli said. "I relate to Bella more."
Fusilli said that he has received a lot of compliments on his work. "I'm very pleased with the reception the series is getting," Fusilli said.
Fusilli said that he is enjoying his life to the fullest, combining both careers. "I'm very passionate about what I do now," Fusilli said. "It's a really nice time for me. I'm living the life I always wanted to have. I'm working on a book or two at the same time."