History Buff: An Interview With Author, Gene Panatone, Author of New Book About Madame Bey’s Impact on Boxing History

“Those boxers with the savage names did not intimidate the only woman among these brutes. The camp’s proprietor, an improbable person to run a camp for men who made their living by destroying others, was educated, a mother, a mezzo-soprano opera singer, wife of a Turkish diplomat, and personified sophistication during her years in Washington, D. C. President William McKinley and his wife considered her a best friend. Her name was Madame Hranoush Sidky Bey, but everyone called her Madame Bey.”
-From Madame Bey’s:  Home to Boxing Legends by Gene Pantalone
madame-beysQ: So, Gene, what inspired you write this book? 

I live in the area where the boxing camp that was run by a woman resides. I visited while a boy when professionals still trained there. Over the years, I have heard a great many stories about her and the camp. The story fascinated me; an urban, iconoclast woman in politics, business, and sports in the early twentieth century when women did not run many businesses, no less a boxing camp. The contrasts between her and her clientele was stark. She came from, Constantinople (Istanbul), then moved to  Washington, DC, and was friends with President McKinley, standing feet away from him when  he was assassinated.

Her camp flourished as she mothered the fighters, and by the time it all ended, the town hosted 12 world heavyweight champions and 78 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.

Q: What challenges did you have while writing it?

Researching through so many periodicals, through many sources and being careful not to infringe on others’ copyright; I learned much about American copyright laws.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from reading your book(s)?

The contrasts of the real-life characters in the book; the woman’s ability to overcome barriers that were high for woman at the time. For the boxing part, the tremendous sacrifices these athletes indured to compete at the highest level. They were not just commodities but had a wide range of personalities; outside the ring they were personable. The woman understood their hopes and needs and provides a supportive environment for them.

Q: If you could live in the story of a book, which one would you live in?

Hemingway characters always fascinated me, so it would have to be the old man in the Old Man and the Sea.

Q:  When you’re not writing what do you do?

I am in the Information Technology field, which allowed me to write many documents for computer and business systems, though the writing was of a technical nature. It’s much different writing a book.

Q: What else have you written? What else do you write?

Just the technical documents for my employment.

Q: What’s your “writer studio” like or where do you feel inspired to write?

My laptop computer, on my desk in my room.

Q: Of all the character’s you have written, do you have a favorite?

The subject of my book–Madame Bey.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been writing professionally?

I would not say I am a professional writer, but my book took 4 years to complete.

Q: Where do you think book publishing will be in 10 years from now?
It is going to be more up to the  author to market their book, unless you already have a “name”.

Learn more about Madame Bey’s and connect through Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/MadameBey and twitter handle at @MadameBey.

Buy a copy here:



Here’s an excerpt!

From BEY’S TRAINING CAMP, Madame Bey’s:  Home to Boxing Legends

A boxing camp rose from the rural hills of New Jersey unlike any other; a place thought unlikely for prizefighters to train. The camp, built and used by the boxers themselves, attracted countless current, former, and future world champions.They used the camp to hone their bodies and skills for upcoming bouts.

They came with ferocious names like the Fighting Marine, the Manassas Mauler, the BlackPanther, the Black Uhlan, the BrownBomber, the Ghetto Wizard, the Astoria Assassin, the Toy Bulldog, HomicideHank, and the Herkimer Hurricane. Their real names were Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Harry Wills, Max Schmeling, Joe Louis, Benny Leonard, Paul Berlenbach, Mickey Walker, Henry Armstrong, Lou Ambers, Tony Canzoneri, James Braddock, Jack Johnson, and many other world champions. Many trained at the camp; others came to watch their successors and prospective competition. Following the top-rated boxers were their managers, trainers, and promoters. They had the best the sport had to offer. Managers Jack “Doc” Kearns, Joe Jacobs, and Al Weill were frequent occupants. Trainers Whitey Bimstein, Charley Goldman, and Ray Arcel had many charges there. Promoters named UncleMike Jacobs, Humbert J. Fugazy, and Jimmy Johnston came to protect their investments by making sure their boxers were in shape. One of the best promoters the sport ever produced, Tex Richard, did not go to the camp, but he made sure many of his boxers did to ensure a high-quality performance for his audience. Following them, the leading journalists came to write about upcoming bouts; it was fertile ground for sports columns. Men named Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Frank Graham, Jack Miley, and Willie Ratner. Celebrities, politicians, and the public followed them to watch their favorite fighters.

Those boxers with the savage names did not intimidate the only woman among these brutes. The camp’s proprietor, an improbable person to run a camp for men who made their living by destroying others, was educated, a mother, a mezzo-soprano opera singer, wife of a Turkish diplomat, and personified sophistication during her years in Washington, D. C. President William McKinley and his wife considered her a best friend. Her name was Madame Hranoush Sidky Bey, but everyone called her Madame Bey. She created a home for her boxing clientele in which they could train for their sport. If you intended to stay at her camp, you followed her rules that she expected her boarders to abide by. There was no alcohol, prohibition the law at the time; up by six; breakfast at seven; supper at five; lights out at ten; no swearing; and no women. She was strict in running her business, but had personal, matriarchal relationships with her boxers. She called them her boys.She shunned interviews and photographers until late in her life. Not wanting for accolades, she preferred to stay in the background while her boys took the spotlight.

It was a never-ending wonderment to journalists, managers, trainers, and promoters howMadame Bey could exact the finest behavior from these toughest of men. MadamBey knew people, and the fighters knew she had their best interests in mind. If someone challenged Madame Bey’s authority, the steely gaze of other boxers in the camp would meet him.

Madame Bey was an Armenian Christian, her husband, Sidky Bey, a Muslim. They met in their nativeTurkey, a country over ninety-five percent Muslim. Their romance and marriage became as unlikely as their running of a boxing camp. The two, undeterred,married despite cultural and family objections. It was one of many challenges that Madame Bey overcame. If told something was impossible, she figured a way to succeed.

Before her boxing camp, she had danced at the White House and sung in Carnegie Hall. Sidky Bey, her husband, worked as the SecondSecretary of the Turkish Legation in Washington, D.C. While in Washington,D.C., she quickly became a favorite at the Turkish consulate being the onlyTurk to speak English. She spoke five other languages – Armenian, French,Greek, Italian, and Spanish. She ran a successful Oriental rug business with her husband after they left the diplomatic corps, but her boxing endeavor she coveted the most.

Madame Bey came to know the meaning of persecution. Her Armenian people were systematically eliminated by executions, deportations, and death marches well after she had departed her native Turkey. The marches consisted of forced treks from Turkey across the vast deserts of Syria with little supplies. Most died from exposure. A report from The New YorkTimes stated, “… the roads and the Euphrates are strewn with corpses of exiles, and those who survive are doomed to certain death. It is a plan to exterminate the whole Armenian people.” It is known as the first modern genocide where an estimated one to one and half million people perished.

Instead of using these events as a source of bitterness, she chose to understand and embrace differences. Her boys took on the sentiment of their host. They were there for the sport of boxing. They sought out the help of trainers, managers,and sparring partners who would best help them prepare. The person’s background did not matter. This contrasted sharply with that which occurred around them.Newspapers printed racist, ethnic, and religious slurs without jeopardy of retribution. Jim Crow laws prevented most gifted black athletes from participating in the sports cultures. Her camp did not discriminate. During a time of deep racism, the camp welcomed anyone who wanted a secluded place to train. Race, national origin, or religious beliefs precluded no one.

Madame Bey proved her camp welcomed anyone, no matter the public opinion of any of her boxer residents. Disagreements were few at her place, and those that arose were more due to egos and higher testosterone levels than racism. Not one racist event at her camp could be uncovered in print.

The former socialite who had been with diplomats, presidents, and queens now ran a prize fighting camp known around the world. There seldom was a time when a champion did not train there at a time when only ten weight classes existed.That was unlike today where the many organizations and weight classes make a title easier to obtain. The camp had a ubiquitous presence in the sports section of newspapers. The newspapers always referred to it as Madame Bey’s,but they usually gave the location as Summit, New Jersey, instead of its actual location of Chatham Township; Summit was a larger and a more recognizable town.Conveniently, four miles from the camp, the Summit Hotel accommodated many promoters, journalists, trainers, and managers.

She saw her boys as individuals and not the brutes portrayed in the newspapers. She found that many were intellectual, sensitive men wanting nothing more than the betterment of their lives. Boxing offered that opportunity. She made a connection and positive impression on most and became a maternal figure to many.

“I have succeeded in having all my boys feel responsible toward me,” Madame Bey said,“and as a result, I am swamped with remembrances on Mother’s Day.”


An Interview With Mark Kirkbride, Expert Writer of Scary Stories

Mark Kirkbride had me entranced early in his book, Satan’s Fan Club. After a few pages into a Kindle sample of his book, I knew I had to get in touch with him. Disturbing, dark, entertaining, and exceptionally well-written, Kirkbride is ready to take you into his personal nightmare.

“The man’s pajamas and woman’s nightdress are damp. The bed likewise. That is sopping. Because, visible through the slashed covers, the bone-deep wounds that criss-cross the couple’s bodies pump blood. Some of the flaps of skin resulting from glancing blows are like gills, breathing. Yet even as the cries die away, he carries on. Chop. Chop. Chop“.

If you thought that excerpt was disturbing and twisted, there’s plenty more in Satan’s Fan Club! I’m not surprised that it’s hit #187 in its genre for Kindle books. Trust me, you can afford the less than $5 to get a Kindle copy! It’s available here.

markkirkbride2Q: What inspired you to write this book? 

The inspiration for the book was someone telling me she’d met a person who could get people to do whatever he wanted, which provided me with the idea for the Devil character the twins meet at a nightclub. The title (originally The Devil’s Fan Club) provided the rest of the impetus for the book and then I was off and running. What would such a club be like? What could the name mean?

Q: What challenges did you have while writing it?

I wasn’t particularly trying to write fantasy but some of the situations and characters did tend in that direction, so probably the greatest challenge was grounding it all in reality–judging just the right degree of ballast to keep and how much to jettison.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from reading your book(s)?

Without wanting to give too much away, this book probably demonstrates the importance of thinking for oneself and not necessarily taking things on trust.

Q: If you could live in the story of a book, which one would you live in? 

I’d quite like to live in a Philip K. Dick novel with the future coming at me and questioning everything.

Q:  When you’re not writing what do you do?

I have a day job. I like anything to do with the arts, which usually involves heading into the city, but I also like getting out into the countryside, which means heading the other way again. I’ve also got a serious reading habit.

Q: What else have you written? What else do you write? 

I wrote a couple of novels before this one along with a children’s book. I also write short stories and poetry. At the moment I’m working on a novel about the end of the world, set next Tuesday.

Q: What’s your “writer studio” like or where do you feel inspired to write?

We used to live in a studio flat and I used to write with the television on in the background but since moving a few years ago I’ve had my own office. It’s very small and mostly contains books but it’s good to have a dedicated writing space.

Q: Of all the characters you have written, do you have a favorite?

I quite like Nick, the Devil character in Satan’s Fan Club, and I’m also very fond of the twins, despite what they get up to. As Hemingway said, “All things truly wicked start from innocence.”

Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been writing professionally?

I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was at school. It started off with song lyrics, moved on to poetry and then burgeoned into novels but it’s all been a very gradual process with many years of apprenticeship. I’d already had poetry and shorter work published but Satan’s Fan Club was my first published novel.

Q: Where do you think book publishing will be in 10 years from now?

The full effects of the digital revolution’s shake-up of the publishing industry should all be clear by then. Hopefully publishing will survive in its present forms, perhaps with a few new ones. I would be extremely sad to see print fade away, yet I don’t really believe that it will.

Learn more about Mark Kirkbride by visiting his website at http://markkirkbride.com/ and follow him on Twitter @markkirkbride!

Thanks to Mark for providing a picture. With that being said, no one’s allowed to use it without permission. Stay tuned for his next book about the end of the world, I know I will!


Roman à clef at Play: An Interview With Author, Donna M. Zadunajsky

As an undergrad, I listened to my professors gush about “The Rape of the Lock” and Dharma bums–famous roman à clef titles of the serious literary wold. From the minute I learned what roman à clef  was, I was intrigued with the idea of writers disguising their real lives within the folds of their work and so, it’s refreshing to note that Donna M. Zadunajsky, a contemporary author, continues to write in this tradition.

Read on for the interview but definitely check out her latest novel, Hidden Secrets (Secrets and Second Chances) (Volume 2), for a phenomenal adventure that explores the complexity of the relationships we all share with others.

 And expect a review of this novel soon!

Q: What inspired you write this book? I started out writing a book about three best friends, but after writing 50,000 words, there was no way I could finish the book the way I was writing it. Each character had their own story to tell, so I decided to break them up into a series of books related only by the character being written in the book before it.

Alexis in Family Secrets, is my best friend Jill in real life. She chose the character’s name and career. Carla in Hidden Secrets is me with my life as a school teacher, and some real life events intertwined in the story. In book 3–that I’m writing now–is my best friend Angie, known as Ashley.

I would say that the question would be, what inspired me to write this series, lol.

Q: What challenges did you have while writing it? Making sure everything fit together in the end. I had to make sure that Carla’s husband and the timelines matched with the story. I had to draw a graph and write down dates about what happened so that further in the book the reader wouldn’t question my dates.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from reading your book(s)? That’s a good question.  I would have to say I want my readers to feel satisfied and that the story is complete with the ending filling in all the gaps. I do like to add a little twist at the end of my books to surprise the reader. I don’t want my readers feeling like they’ve already read a book similar to mine.

Q: If you could live in the story of a book, which one would you live in? My all time favorite movie and book is Anne of Green Gables. The location and people would be to me, an amazing place to be. It looks so beautiful and calming there and I just love the characters.

Q:  When you’re not writing what do you do? Three days a week I go to pilates before writing in the morning. I read, clean the house, do my daily chores like taking care of the pets; we have two dogs and two cats. I have a fifteen year old daughter who consumes my time after she gets home from school. I also work at a veterinary three days a week in the evening, so I can write in the morning. I also clean other people’s homes in the afternoon on various days in the month. So, I guess you can say that my writing comes first and then everything else comes after I have written some words. I love to keep myself busy.

Q: What else have you written? What else do you write? I started out writing seven children’s books, which are about my daughter and her life journeys. I accomplished and published my first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012, and then went into writing my second novel Not Forgotten, which was published late Spring for 2013 and is now owned by Custom Book Publishing.

With my daughter entering Junior High, I went into writing about some true events in my first novella, Help Me!, which is a subject about suicide, cutting, and bullying.

My third novel Family Secrets: Secrets and Second Chances, is first in a series I’m writing, and have recently published book 2, Hidden Secrets.

I have written 7 children’s books, 4 novels, and 2 novellas.

Q: What’s your “writer studio” like or where do you feel inspired to write?

I write in the office that my husband and I share. When he’s at work and my daughter’s at school the house is quiet and it’s just me and my imaginary friends. Absolute quietness is what I love and need in order to write.

Q: Of all the character’s you have written, do you have a favorite? That’s another good question. To be honest it is actually the character I’m working on now. Her name is Lily, she’s 5 years old. She’s a smart little girl for her age, and I can actually see her in her very own book in the near future. In all of her scenes, my heart wraps around her and feels everything she feels and goes through. I absolutely loved creating her.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been writing professionally? When I was 13-14 years old. I couldn’t stop reading Stephen King books. I could always come up with bizarre stories, but just never pursued the writing craft until I was 33 years old. My daughter inspired me and I started writing about her adventures that she and I would go on. My passion was always to write mystery novels, but I also like writing young adults books as well. That is something I started getting into last year when I wrote about teen suicide and bullying. I have written a second book in the Help Me! series titled Talk to Me,  which has been selected as a Finalist in an unpublished contest. The winner will be revealed on September 15th in Denver, Colorado, which I’ll be.

I have been writing for at least 8 years.

Q: Where do you think book publishing will be in 10 years from now? I do believe that printed books will still be around because it has become more popular lately. A couple of years ago I would have told you that it wouldn’t exist because I read nothing book ebooks, but as of this year, I’d say I like printed books a lot more now.

I hope you enjoyed this interview! Again, catch her novel here. Follow her on Twitter @72Zadunajsky and find out what she’s currently working on by visiting her blog at http://www.donnazadunajsky.com/.

An Interview with a Hawaii-Based Publisher’s Editor-in-Chief, David Shinsato

 Q: Let’s start off light. So, what’s the funniest thing that has happened to you?

A: Funniest thing that happened to me… Well, this wasn’t exactly funny for me at the time, but other people sure found it funny when I told them. It’s probably the most embarrassed I’ve ever been in public. 

While I was studying abroad in Okinawa, I won a $50 trip to the Kansai region. I was one of three undergrads who were chosen by lottery. The rest were grad students. Anyway, the first night, there we were at a hotel having a big dinner. There were about 50 of us. After dinner, they announced that all of the people from each country present had to walk up, introduce themselves in Japanese (a language I could barely speak), and sing a song from the country we came from. Being the only American, I had to go up by myself. There were like 20 Chinese people so they got to sing in a big group…

As I walked up to the microphone, my yukata (a casual summer kimono, which I was not at all used to wearing) got caught in a sound cord and everyone got a pretty clear view of my underwear! Laughter ensued and I was pretty embarrassed. I proceeded to do my Japanese self-introduction, which I did terribly. It was made even worse by my embarrassment. Then, I couldn’t think of a song (something I should have done earlier) and I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and forgot the lyrics. It was the most humiliating walk back to my seat.

That was probably the “funniest” thing that has happened to me.


Q: That’s so brutal! On a positive note, I’m sure you cheered up a lot of people that day. What were you like in high school?

A: Honestly? Shy, if you didn’t know me, and annoying if you did. I’d like to say that I grew out of that stage, but that depends on who you ask (haha). Personally, I don’t really like High School David.


Q: How would your best friend describe you?

A: Ambitious, confident, fun, goofy, loving, and a hard worker. They’d describe me as someone who isn’t satisfied with a superficial relationship and who takes the time to actually get to know people. 

Full disclosure, I don’t know how to answer questions like these. So, I just asked my wife who is my best friend and that’s what she told me.


Q: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?

A: Uhhhh, I’m not sure. I don’t really find myself very interesting. I did enter a chess tournament once and I lost every match. I guess that’s something I wouldn’t put on my resume.


Q: You’re Savant Books and Publications’ newest Editor-in-Chief. What’s your most favorite thing about being an Editor-in-Chief?

A: Being able to find quality manuscripts that are enjoyable and consistent with Savant’s mission. I–like most people–love a good story and am happy when I can be involved in the process of getting that story out to the world. 


Q: And, your least favorite thing about being an Editor-in-Chief?

A: I’d say it’s rejecting manuscripts. I’m not at all happy when I have to do it.  For many people, being published is one of their life dreams. People work very hard on their books, but sometimes their work just isn’t a good fit for our publishing house. This is definitely my least favorite thing.


Q: If you couldn’t work in publishing anymore, what would you be doing?

A: If I couldn’t work in publishing, I’d do something else where I could be a part of the storytelling process–maybe in TV or movie production. I love animated films and shows, so I’d probably do whatever I could to get into that field.


Q: Let’s talk books! In your opinion, which is the best book ever written or which book do you wish you had written?

A: If you’re talking about a fiction book, that’s tough–it depends on the genre. But if I had to, what I believe are the best books ever written (at least one’s that I’ve read) I’d have to say, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and a short little sci-fi story I absolutely love called, The Dandelion Girl. For non-fiction work, definitely, The Bible.


Q: If you could live in a book’s story, which would it be? Which character would you be in it?

A: If I could live in any book, it’d probably be The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson. I love the world that he’s built and the complexity of the magic system in it. I’d probably be the character, Kaladin. I find myself a lot like him in many ways. If I had to pick a more popular book, I’d pick Lord of the Rings and be Sam. In the end, it’s fantasy worlds that really appeal to me.


Q: What’s the best advice you were ever given?

A: That’s hard to say, so I’ll just say the first meaningful piece of advice that came to my mind: don’t waste your life.


Q: Speaking of meaningful, in your opinion, what’s the most meaningful thing a writer should have or do to be a successful author?

A: The most important thing a writer should have to be a successful author is skill. There’s no other way around it. People will buy and read good books. If you can craft an intriguing story with interesting and relatable characters, people will take notice. Of course, timing, marketing know how, and connections are all important, as well.

But, in the end, none of those things will help if your book is terrible. There are exceptions; some books are mediocre at best, yet they have sold millions of copies. I can’t fully explain that. However, the works that have withstood the test of time are all literary masterpieces. If you are an aspiring author, the best thing you can do for yourself is: learn to write well. 


Q: Here’s the question writers are waiting for. What’s the one thing authors do that hurt their chances of being accepted into a publishing house?

A: The one thing authors do that hurt their chances of being accepted into a publishing house is not following submission guidelines. If you can’t be bothered to properly submit your work, then publishers can’t be bothered to take you seriously. “Gimmicky” stuff usually doesn’t work either.


Q: Lastly, what’s your definition of success?

A: That’s an interesting question. I feel like true success is something no one will ever feel that they have really “achieved”. I think it’s important to always have multiple goals and new dreams–to keep pushing yourself to new heights. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I ever felt like I had “arrived”. For now, I guess that’s my answer. Perhaps one day I’ll have something closer to an actual definition. 

At the risk of sounding cliche and kind of corny–which I don’t really care if I do–I will leave you with these lines from Disney’s Tangled. A great movie I might add.
Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be? 
Flynn Rider: It will be. 
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then? 
Flynn Rider: Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream. 

 To learn more about David go to http://davidshinsato.yolasite.com/ or contact him directly at savanteic@gmail.com.

Hope you had fun!






Get the Inside Scoop from Savant Books & Publications’ Publisher, Dan Janik

I wanted to share an interview Connie Dunn did with Dan Janik recently. I was blown away about how much information is in it so I wanted to share it. If you’re interested in learning about a new publishing house and what’s going on in the industry, this is definitely something worth checking out. It’s definitely an interview I would’ve loved to sit in on when I was climbing my way up in publishing. I’m still passionate about finding all that I can about publishing and learning where the heck it’ll be in the coming years.

Find the interview directly on Connie Dunn’s website here: http://publishwithconnie.com/interview-with-daniel-janik/

Or, click on this link: Connie Dunn’s Dan Janik interview.