about the author
Ray M. Vento continues the Sam Caruso series with "A Boy at Heart". This is the third book in the series to follow: "Nonno's Pocket Watch" and "Over the Ivy Covered Fence". The Sam Caruso stories are built on events and people from what Ray refers to as his "golden years of childhood".
What helps to make the Sam Caruso stories nostalgically appealing are the pictures created by Jay Mazhar: the artist has wonderfully tipped his hat to the historic Dick and Jane illustrations of Eleanor Campbell and Keith Ward.
Writing, genealogy research and travel continue to occupy Ray's grown-up adventures from his home in New York City.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What inspired you to write?
A: I grew-up around story-tellers. Whether they were family member, friends or teachers, I loved listening to their stories. As I am a visual person, it was easy for me to translate the narrator’s word into images that rolled like a movie in my mind. In time, I had collected quite a library of stories in my mind’s library that I wanted to now share with others.
Q: Why did you choose Sam Caruso for a series?
A: My favorite stories were about my immigrant Italian grandparents and family events. Later, as I began to think about what kind of story I wanted to write, I thought about my childhood days when imagination was my best toy. That’s how Sam Caruso came to be.
Q: Are all of your Sam Caruso stories based on real characters?
A: Indeed they are! Each character was chosen because of the impact they made for the story.
Q: What age group did you have in mind for Sam Caruso stories?
A: My Sam stories are meant for both young and adult readers. For younger readers (6-11), the stories are meant to give a glimpse how things were in a different time for children of the same age. For the adult reader, the Sam stories are meant to stimulate memories of their own childhood to pass on to another generation.
Q: You’ve now written three books. What is the background for writing each story?
A: I choose as my first book, “Nonno’s Pocket Watch,” as way of introducing Sam and his affectionate nature for others. The first book also allowed me to establish three other important facts to the series: Sam is of Italian-American heritage, the era is mid-century and all the stories take place in Los Angeles. For “Over the Ivy Covered Fence,” the story was a compilation of an older neighbor who befriended me and my earlier fear of dogs. When I was searching for ideas for “A Boy At Heart,” I turned to several earlier drafts stories about my real Aunt Nancy and the lasting affect her mentorship had on me.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a writer?
A: I like writing because it gives me a wonderful opportunity to recall memorable life moments. Writing my stories isn’t about getting in every exact memory. In fact, my stories are snippets from my childhood mingled with some things I learned as an adult. It’s challenging for me to create a story, but my process of weaving together childhood and adult experiences, works for me.
Q: What are you currently writing?
A: I’ve pretty much settled on the next Sam Caruso story to be about my relationship with a younger brother and how I brought an imaginary world into his life. I’m also considering a book about my immigrant ancestors and their journey becoming Italian-Americans.