CARLSBAD — He may be a New Yorker at heart, but for writer M.G. Crisci, 73, Carlsbad has been home for 20 years and that suits him just fine.
The author of 10 acclaimed books was headed to speak at the Dublin Writers Conference but had time to chat about the event, his life as a successful writer and even share how he sold his Manhattan apartment in the late 1990s to Mel Brooks’ son.
He was scheduled to share his knowledge about the writing craft to hundreds of writers, publishers and literary agents from around the world at BooksGoSocial from June 22 to June 24.
According to conference founder and CEO of BooksGoSocial Laurence O’Bryan, Crisci, a 22-time selectee of Who’s Who in the World, “has a set of professional credentials that made him a perfect fit for this year’s conference.”
“Matt’s a skilled writer, with an impressive list of literary successes, an internationally recognized brand-builder and an engaging speaker who has spoken at high-profile venues in Washington D.C., Moscow and New York City, among others,” he added.
O’Bryan pointed out the evolving literary industry business model mirrors the changes taking place in the music business. According to the Worldwide Independent Network, independent labels and artists now account for almost 40 percent of the global music market.
“With so many book options — there are over 8 million books for sale on Amazon — today’s readers demand memorable, well-crafted stories, regardless of source. But, creating a great book is only part of the success equation; the other mandatory is memorable, cost effective-marketing. That’s what our conference is about: advice that’s practical and useful in both strategic areas,” he said.
Crisci said his topic for the conference was “A Writer’s Life: Journey to an Unknown Destination.”
“Basically, the multi-media presentation covers how and why I decided to write as my second career after 30-plus years in business and communications,” he said. “And, the importance of innovative marketing (with examples) for today’s intensely cluttered literary marketplace.”
Who Is M.G. Crisci?
Crisci’s books are based on true stories and real events that come from his own experiences. But books and speeches weren’t always his forte.
He’s a former Fortune 500 senior executive, an internationally recognized expert in the field of consumer motivation and behavior and a thought-provoking social commentator. He’s also a former journalist for several publications.
Crisci said while this is his first speaking engagement in Ireland, he has traveled to the country to do research for a future book he is working on titled “Ms. Banker. No Rules. No Ceilings. No Judgements.”
“It’s a multi-layered story about the most powerful female banker in New York in the 1980s; her family had roots that went back to Ireland,” he said.
No stranger to speaking at large venues like the Ireland event, during the past five years, Crisci has also addressed the United Nations Book Club in New York, the Russian and Ukrainian Embassies and the Russian Cultural Centre in Washington, D.C., and the American Embassy and The American Center for Democracy (both in Moscow).
“Despite being born in Harlem, and having no Russian ancestry, I have traveled to Russia and Ukraine on numerous occasions and written three books about Russian heroes, culture and traditions,” he said. “I’ve also appeared on Russian radio, Voice of America worldwide, and had friendly visits from the FBI wondering what the heck I was doing. But that’s enough for now.”
During his business career, Crisci spoke about consumer motivation and behavior around the world. He shared the stage with folks like George and Barbara Bush and Walter Cronkite.
Although he’s traveled far and wide, he said he enjoys living in Carlsbad and has resided in the city for 20 years since moving from New York.
“We moved directly from Manhattan,” he said. “I had enough of the corporate rat race. And had a few bucks in my pocket. We’ve discovered Carlsbad has it all: it’s family-oriented, has great restaurants, super beaches and great weather. Plus, live theatre, which I love, is less than 20 minutes away.”
And yes, he really did sell his Manhattan apartment to Mel Brooks’ son. As Crisci fondly recalled: “We’ve owned 12 different residences on two continents, but the Brooks closing was in a class by itself. When we were at the lawyer’s office for the deal it was filled with offbeat characters, an endless barrage of wisecracks, quips and jokes, and a crumpled, seven-figure check. I felt like I was in a Brooks bizarre sequel to “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.”
We also asked Crisci about his take on “fake news.”
“I loved my time as a reporter,” he said. “But, I would not use the term ‘fake news,’ that’s a reality TV soundbite from a master practitioner.”
“In the ‘olden days,’ journalists actually talked to people on the record,” he said. “Did objective editorials and features and reported real news. But times have changed, it’s hard to separate what is factual reporting from what are opinions. And that confuses most of America, outside of what I will call the ‘intellectual elite.’
“Sadly,” said Crisci, “news with a shade of blatant bias has even found its way to the New York Times. I consider the NYT the greatest newspaper in the world. But they have cleverly mastered the art of ‘editorial juxta positioning’ and ‘editorial abstinence.’ The former is done by taking two stories and consciously place them adjacent to each other to deliver a net impression that mirrors their opinion. The latter technique was deployed just a few Sundays ago: the NYT front page simply ignored the DOJ report like it never happened.
“Talking about today’s news coverage, I’ll never forget what Walter Cronkite told me during my exclusive hourlong one-one interview,” Crisci said. “Cronkite said, ‘Matt, cable news is not real news, it’s mostly entertainment and opinion, mostly the former.’”
Crisci said today he prefers writing books versus copy for newspapers; it’s more rewarding.
“All my stories are based on my direct experiences, or something that I feel passionate about and have thoroughly researched. Then, I apply my creative twists to ensure entertainment value, memorable characters. I call it literature that matters,” he said.
“I also now realize my books, if they are good enough, will endure long after me. They are the validation that ‘Matt Crisci once passed through here!’ That’s a pretty cool legacy for my family. Plus, the letters from all over the world have surprised and amazed me.”
His most recently published novel is called Project Zebra: Roosevelt and Stalin’s Top-Secret Mission to Train 300 Soviet Airmen in America. The Manhattan Book Review has called the book, “History Done Right. Classy. Heartfelt.” Cultural organizations worldwide have labeled it “one of the last great unknown stories of World War II.’”
According to Crisci, “Project Zebra is the human story of how 15 Americans and 300 Russians came to respect, trust and work together successfully despite language barrier and long-held cultural stereotypes.”
As for how long it takes him to sit down and write a book from start to finish, it’s never less than one year.
“I have a process. And, I focus on one project at a time, but take note on other ideas. So, there is always something cooking in the mind of M.G. Crisci,” he said.
So, does this writer have advice to aspiring writers today? Of course.
“Don’t seek advice. Everybody wants to give you their 2 cents. Be confident in your instincts and what you observe. If you can’t and/or won’t, you have no business writing real literature,” he said. “Dream big stories, not cookie-cutters. And, forget about following sales trends. If you’re writing for the money, go be a mechanic or a plumber, you’ll probably earn a lot more.”
Crisci is marred to Mary Ann, a retired health care professional, whom he met at a college dance in New York when she was 16 and he was 18. Fifty-four years later, they are “still together, growing, and learning about each other.” They have three adult sons all living in California.
Overall, Crisci said he’s “lived a great life; I’m looking forward to my next adventure.”
However, he doesn’t claim to be perfect: “I’ve made enough mistakes to fill a room many times over, he said. “But I regret nothing. My motto is always smile. And life will smile back at you.”