Steve Orlandella loved to write. By July, 2016, he was on a roll – brimming with ideas for his blog “Stevespeak”, his next novel CASINO KILLER, A Vic Landell Mystery, and witty, satiric, sarcastic Facebook posts. He had fun writing, then reading and re-reading what he had to say. I think he had more fun than anyone, formulating his next “posting”.
In September 2011, Steve and I were living in Westwood. I was practicing law as an entertainment/employment attorney. He was working as a videographer for attorneys, video-taping depositions and “A Day in the Life” segments. That fall, I was invited to be on an e-publishing, self-help panel for members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). The panel sought to empower writers to create new opportunities for work in film, television, new media and transmedia. Since WGA did not cover book publication regardless of format, it was thought that e-publishing could be a stepping stone towards potential work on Guild-covered adaptations. On September 20, 2011, I joined WGA members Lee Goldberg (True Fiction), Derek Haas (The Way I Die), and Alexandra Sokoloff (author, Book of Shadows), and Mark Coker (Smashwords). Our task was to discuss the latest ebook/self and indie-publishing developments. It was a power-packed evening with information, questions, and answers.
When I came home that night, our lives were changed forever. I said to Steve, “You need to write a book”. To which he answered, “I have nothing to say.” I laughed. Steve ALWAYS had something to say. After that, we both began writing and publishing our works. At the time of Steve’ death in 2016, he had published eight books as paperbacks and E-books. He was writing his ninth CASINO KILLER, A Vic Landell Mystery, at the time of his untimely death in August 2016. I have written seven books. More about that on another day. For now, I want to tell you about Steve, what I am doing for him that is important to me.
Steve took an idea and ran with it. His first book was STEVESPEAK: Three Years on Facebook. This was the book he said he “did not know how to do”. Wrong. This is a man who won an Emmy for his hour-long documentary on Jackie Robinson that he did for the Dodgers. Anexcellent, award-winning piece. He knew what he was doing. STEVESPEAK is a witty, personal look at Steve’s life and times. Original postings and writings that he had shared, or not shared, on Facebook. A fun read throughout. That book gave him the confidence he needed to delve into his obsession – the Titanic. That disastrous night to remember.
Once STEVESPEAK was on the boards, Steve began pouring his life and soul into TITANIC. That book became his masterpiece. He spent a lifetime studying the Titanic, reading books, watching movies, collecting art works. TITANIC records the results of his research. As an E-book, his thoughts and pictures will exist forever. As a paperback, it is a keeper – a book you want on your bookshelf. His slant on the passengers, the people, and the companiescaptures your attention. The reader boards the liner with the people, excited and looking forward to the historical voyage. He breathes life into an event that impacted the world at the time.
After TITANIC, Steve needed a break. It was an exhausting project for him. So, for relaxation, (haha), he spent time writing about a sport that captured his love at an early age – baseball. He wrote THE GAME. Steve loved baseball. He spent most of his life in sports television, producing and directing baseball games and programs about baseball. He wanted the reader to understand and love baseball and ball parks like he did. It was (and is) America’s game. Steve loved America. Steve loved apple pie and hot dogs. Steve loved baseball. In THE GAME, Steve introduces baseball savvy to the reader. As an E-book, his point of view will last forever. As a paperback, one for the bookshelf.
It was at this point that Steve decided to try his hand at novels. He wanted to write a series of mysteries using a lead detective or investigator who had been a baseball player in his youth. Someone left-handed. He was left-handed, so he knew a lot about left-handed baseball players. Possibly a private investigator who solved murders occurring in a ball park somewhere in the USA. And, there must be a “babe” girlfriend – someone tall and red-headed. In other words, his dream girl. (Haha.) He always said he wanted a Southern Blonde, but I think he would have loved a tall, red-headed Southern babe. Oh, well, I got him. So, I didn’t mind if he spent hours in his head with his dream girl “Marcia” from Texas.
That was the beginning of five mysteries involving characters and places where he could spend interesting hours, writing and creating fun dialogue. Thus, Vic Landell and “the redhead” appeared on the scene. He spent hours with them, selecting locales he loved – Sarasota, Florida; Washington D.C.; Boston, Massachusetts; Los Angeles, California; and New York City. The first one was BURDEN OF PROOF. Second, CAPITOL MURDER. Third, MARATHON MURDERS. Fourth, DANCE WITH DEATH. Fifth and last, MIDTOWN MAYHEM.
He was 46 pages into his next one, titled CASINO KILLER, when he died unexpectedly. It was set in Nice, France, and “dedicated to John and Gloria Cataldo, once and forever”. He was writing every day on the patio in Sardinia, after he came in from the pool during our delicious vacation we took just before he got sick. For those who don’t know, he got double pneumonia (???) and died of heart failure during a month-long stay in Hopital l’Archet, in Nice. CASINO KILLER was a challenge for him because it involved French criminal law. He was researching police procedures and French gun laws and developing locale. This is his opening paragraph:
“What’s in a Name?
It is the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea in the southeast corner of France, beneath of the base of the French Alps. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from the Italian border in the east to Saint-Tropez, Hyères, Toulon, or Cassis in the west. The area is a Department of the French Government – Alpes-Maritimes. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. As the French might refer to it – beau ravage – beautiful shoreline.
It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British, Russian, and other aristocrats, including Queen Victoria. It was the English who coined the phrase, the French Riviera.
After World War II, the south of France became a popular tourist destination and convention site. The area went off the charts in the 1950s when a beautiful girl from Philadelphia moved into the Royal palace of the one and only principality. Millionaires and celebrities built homes there and routinely spent their summers.
The region has one more name. In 1887, a French author named Stéphen Liégeard published a book about the coastline. So taken was he by the color of the Mediterranean, he used the words Azure Coast in the title – in French that translates as Côte d’Azur.”
I have thought a lot about legacy since Steve’s death. E-books last forever. Friends and family pass with time. Memories fade. E-books last. So, I am spending time and dollars to get Steve’s E-books, his legacy, out there in a format that works. I have been editing and getting professional help with covers and formatting to attract an international audience of readers. So far, I have finished and published on Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle BURDEN OF PROOF, CAPITOL MURDER, and MARATHON MURDERS. I am currently working on DANCE WITH DEATH. I plan to do all of his books before I begin tackling mine. That way, our works will remain long after our deaths.
My favorite is MARATHON MURDERS. Why? It is about Boston. It was his home in his heart. He knew its streets, its restaurants, its stores, its history. He loved Boston, the Red Sox, and Fenway Park, passionately and not necessarily in that order. That love pervades his words throughout. When I was working on it, I felt his presence, his being there, in the room with me, sharing love and teaching me about his home and his people. The edited version with the new cover and formatting has just been published on Smashwords and Kindle. I will get to the hard copies in the future. Best, Jay