I’m interviewing Joan Destino, author of psychological thriller “River Card”.
Have you been writing for a long time?
I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I never focused on becoming a serious writer until the time arrived in my life when I felt I had met my immediate responsibilities and duties toward my children’s upbringing, my husband’s career and my commitment to my community. When I was ready, I focused on learning how to use a word processor and how to write.
What inspired you to start a writing career?
While playing poker, I often found myself mentally chronicling the action at the table, and creating descriptions of the casino and its denizens in my mind. At some point I started writing down those words and, over time, collected a catalogue of notes. Then I had the opportunity to get into the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program where I learned some basic creative writing skills. At about the same time, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and wanted to talk about his own life which included his years as an Army Intelligence Officer. I learned that my mother and I were among the first military family members to arrive in Germany after the end of World War II. My memories of the time (from when I was three until I was nine) were enhanced by my discussions with my father. I wanted to write about both aspects of my life, not as a memoir but as a template for compelling fiction, and so the idea for River Card evolved.
Is River Card your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.
I began my serious novel writing efforts with the story of Alexandra, the child who lived in Post-World War II Germany. Later, while working in a master’s novel class at UCLA, I developed the idea to combine that story with one about a woman playing poker in 1990s Las Vegas.
Why did you choose thriller as genre for your book?
I would not describe River Card as a thriller. (I’m not sure where you got that information.) Instead, River Card is a character driven novel with an historical component where poker playing is an ongoing metaphor.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Learn the basics first! If a writer correctly and efficiently employs correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax, sentence and paragraph structure, she can break a few rules judiciously on her way to creating her own writing masterpiece.
Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
The story of River Card ended with many unresolved issues, and that was my intent. I am working on a sequel which will take place in the near future; still in Las Vegas as well as other parts of the world, and will feature the child, Livy, the daughter of Phillip Vance, the casino developer, as she comes of age.
About The Book
Author: Joan Destino
Genre: Psychological Thriller
“Who was she trying to fool? Herself? A little late for that. She had to win; her survival depended on it.”
Do you have what it takes to lose it all? Find out in Joan Destino’s stunning debut novel, “River Card.”
Georgia Kassov Cates is a business woman, a wife, a mother…and a gambling addict. Desperate to recoup a devastating string of losses, she risks it all for one last game- a game that’s abruptly halted when the Las Vegas casino succumbs to a freak blackout.
Georgia meets some fellow patrons of the Las Vegas casino, including the wealthy Melanie Nallis, a woman haunted by her horrific childhood; Zivah Koski, an enigmatic elderly holocaust survivor; Phillip Vance, a billionaire casino developer; and Milt Braverman, a professional poker player.
As they get to know each other, a connection is slowly revealed: postwar Germany, a time and place that is reflected in” River Card’s novel-within-a-novel, “Alexandra.”
Alternating between the opulence and depravity of 1940s Germany, and the glamor and baseness of 1990s Las Vegas, “River Card” reflects Georgia’s mounting fears-both past and present-as she plays one last hand…
As the daughter of an Army Officer, Joan Destino traveled throughout her childhood, living in many parts of the U.S. as well as Germany. After high school and college in New England, she taught kindergarten in Boston while her husband attended law school. In the early seventies she moved to the Los Angeles area, raising her family in San Marino. She participated in the UCLA Writers’ Program for several years, culminating with several semesters in their Master Novel Writing Class. After playingTournament Bridge for years, shebegan playing casino poker in the mid-eighties. She bought a second home in Las Vegas in the mid-nineties and moved there permanently when her husband retired in 2004. Joan plays both cash and tournament poker including the World Series of Poker at the Rio Casino.