On the Writer's Block: Getting to Know Gary Fidel
Q:You retired in 2012 after 30 years as a prosecutor in New York City. Yet your Rick
Sands novels are set in Daytona Beach Florida. Why did you choose that setting?
A:I grew up in Daytona Beach during the 1950's and 60's. I've always wanted to write
about those decades, which to say the least, were completely different from the present.
I also wanted to write crime novels that would reflect my experience working as a
I was able to combine both of those goals into the character of Rick Sands.
Before Daytona Sands, I first wrote about Rick Sands in a play and short stories, Daytona Massacre. The play depicts a capital murder trial and its impact on a surviving victim. Rick Sands is the prosecutor and the stories look back to Rick's youth growing up in Daytona Beach.
Q: The first Rick Sands novel, Daytona Sands, takes place in the 1990's. Why did you choose to set it in that time period?
A: By setting Daytona Sands in the 1990's I was able to put Rick, a career prosecutor, at the apex of his career- when the novel opens Rick is an Executive Assistant State Attorney, which is the same position I held for the last 12 years of my career as a prosecutor. I was also able to secure a vantage point that would allow the story to "reach back" into the 60's.
Q: So, is Rick your alter-ego?
A. No. He's very much his own person. For one thing, after law school, he returned to Daytona and chose to spend his working life there. I didn't. And career-wise, Rick is a trial prosecutor who comes up through the ranks trying felonies and then homicides and eventually becomes the Executive in charge of Major Crimes - homicides. I was an appeals prosecutor - my career involved post -conviction matters.
I briefed, argued, and edited hundreds of cases in state and federal appellate courts, and received the New York Prosecutors Training Institute Prosecutor of The Year award for Appellate Advocacy in 2003. As Executive Assistant District Attorney For Legal Affairs, I was responsible for all appeals and training in the Queens County District Attorney's Office from 2000 to 2012 when I retired.
Q: When did you first start writing stories?
A. I started writing in the 5th grade at Ortona Elementary School in Daytona Beach. My teacher, Mrs. Laskey, encouraged me to start writing stories and I was hooked from that time on. Later, at Seabreeze Senior High School in Daytona Beach, I had a wonderful senior English teacher, Mrs. Wells. She really taught me the elements of fiction. I've never stopped writing since that time.
Q.What's ahead for Rick Sands?
A. I'm working on the fifth novel of the series and hope to finish it by March of 2020.