Author Profile: Andrew J. Rafkin

Andrew J. Rafkin, was born in 1946 in San Pedro, California, grew up in a commercial fishing family. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and later graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with degrees in economics and marketing. Louis Pagono, was born 1947, in San Pedro, California. He worked on the docks on his family’s commercial fishing boats, and later in his parent’s restaurant, Luigi’s. Later he joined the Merchant Marines, and worked on the freighters moving cargo up and down the Pacific Coast. Find out more at

Q. Why did you decide to write this book?
A. I was talking to a friend about my upcoming vacation to Palm Springs. He said I should look up a mutual friend, Louis Pagano, who owned a chain of restaurants in the desert. When my wife and I arrived at our condo, I gave him a call, and he invited me to his restaurant for lunch. We went way back; we even went to grammar school together. While sharing the gap of over forty years since we had seen each other, I told him I was an award winning author and had published three books, and working on my forth.

He asked if I remembered August Felando, who he had spent some quality time with, before he died of cancer. During that time, August told him an incredible story about a heist that took place in 1984. He thought that his story would make a great book, or a movie, but needed someone, preferably an author to write the book with. He briefly went over the story. I was fascinated, because this crime and the smuggling, was committed in our backyard, San Pedro, where we grew up. He felt it was fate that we had got together, and ask if I was interested in co-authoring the story he later named Angels Gate.

Q. Do you have any secret writing tips you’d like to share?
A. You need to be consistent. For myself, I get up around 5:30, read for an hour or so, then go on a 3-4 mile walk, where I mostly think about the book I’m writing. Now that I exercised my brain, and body I get ready to go to work. I try to write, research, and basic editing, for three to four hours a day, sometimes more, if I get on a roll. Writing is fun, but requires dedication and a lot of work. Just like any other job, take some time off, when you feel you need to. One other thing. When you think your work is complete and polished, find a good professional editor. You just spent a year writing a novel. You will miss things, and need another pair of eyes, if not two pairs, to go over your work, before your manuscript is complete.

Q. Tell us a funny or quirky story about you!
A. A. I grew up in a commercial fishing family. Through high school, I worked on sportfishing boats, and at seventeen went commercial fishing with his father, captain of a large Purse Seiner, during summer vacation. Two years later, I worked aboard a ninety-foot fishing boat, and was caught in a hurricane force storm, where I almost lost his life.

That was the last time I went commercial fishing, but continued to sport-fish. Fishermen love to tell stories. Mine would always get the same response. You should write a book, or, it would make a great movie. I was twenty-five, telling my story to some friends during a fishing trip, and got the same response. I said, “Yeah right; I’m going to write a book.”

We were in the galley. The boat slowed down to fish. We started to walk out on deck. An older guy with a gray beard grabbed my arm and said, “Could I have a word with you.” I said, “Sure.” He continued. “I listened to your story, and I agree with your friends. Take some advice from an old man. When you get home write and outline of everything you can remember about the trip with your dad, and the incident on the other boat. Because some day, when your older and have the time you will write a book about it.”

Thirty-five years later, I was on a three day fishing trip with some friends. Having a lot of time to talk and tell fishing stories. When I finished mine, I received the same comments. That night, I thought about that old man, probably the same age I was now. I thought, “You know, I’m going to write that book. I dug out the old outline, and got to work. A year later, I finished my first non-fiction true-life adventure, Red Sky Morning.

Q. Have you ever battled writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
A. I’ve never experienced writer’s block. I think it’s self-induced, by not being prepared. You need to live, and breathe your story, the characters, how the next chapters will unfold. I also maintain a continuous outline, where I list my thoughts, and research. I try to list everything I can. It’s easy to delete, and easier to forget. I think you need a life, to be a good writer, able to reach into your memory of past experiences. But to write an 80-100,000 word novel will require more than your experiences, and the better you are prepared, the less chance of getting bogged down.

Q. What’s your favorite quote?
A. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” –Benjamin Franklin

Q. Who inspires you the most?
A. I guess that old man who recommended to write and outline of my experiences as a teenager that later served as inspiration to write Red Sky Morning, recipient of the Readers Favorite Book Award, and the EVVY Literary Award. Other than that, I don’t require any inspiration to write, because it has become a passion of mine

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