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March 8, 2024
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Give a Girl a Gun'
Give a Girl a Gun is a coming-of-age novel that follows Jesse, who, after a job falls through, becomes homeless and broke. He gets caught up with a group of small-time criminals and tries to survive the year. We spoke with Mincarelli about crafting unconventional love stories, writing about crime, and more.
What inspired Give a Girl a Gun?
Certain episodes from my early adult years have haunted me for decades. The lessons I learned from my experiences with a group of wonderfully eccentric characters have had a profound effect on the way I see the world. I wanted to revisit my time with them, to pay tribute to them, and to square a few debts—I owe these people so much—even if it is only in a book of fiction.
Your book is described as “not your typical crime novel.” Can you elaborate further on that statement?
While the characters are committing crimes throughout the book—from arson, procuring, and numbers running to laundering money for the mob and, ultimately, murder—the book is actually about human interaction and the way people treat one another. There are four unconventional, intertwined love stories in the novel. Each of these stories illustrates a lesson in life and love
that the lead character must learn. I don’t believe any one love story can encompass enough of the experience to be considered a good model of what being in love means. And I do believe that a person’s character is most clearly defined by the way that person behaves toward the object of his or her love. That is not to say that people are not also defined by the way they commit or don’t commit crimes—people most certainly are. So, we have a group of small-time criminals falling in and out of love while they conduct their less-than-legitimate lives. I think that makes for interesting and often hilarious storytelling.
Did your background at the Fashion Institute of Technology influence the book at all?
My exposure to legions of students throughout the years reinforced my conclusions about human behavior and gave me the impetus to proceed with my writing. Those students proved to me that I was right in my thinking about the human condition and gave me the certainty of my convictions so that I was comfortable in the things I wrote.
The book is set in the 1960s, but Jesse’s situation feels just as relevant today. Did you intend for that to be the case when you started writing?
Absolutely. The life lessons are the same, be it the ’60s or the present day, especially the lessons about loyalty in friendship and about the unfair nature of life. Falling in love is still as joyous and as painful an experience as it ever was. Being involved in crime, then and now, no matter how small those crimes may seem, still gives the newly initiated a vicarious thrill. While crimes are
being committed, criminals rarely think about the ramifications for other human beings or society at large until it is too late. How a person can be drawn into a life of crime was one of the important questions explored in the book. I don’t make excuses for the criminals, but I do try to understand their motives. In all the above ways, the book maintains a timelessness and a relevance.
Can readers expect more books from you?
Well, my first book, Twice Forgiven: A Romance in Florence, is available and still doing well, and I am currently working on a complex novel called One Thing of Value. It is a retelling of the classic Madame X by Alexandre Bisson with the genders of the characters switched. It is giving me an opportunity to explore feminism and masculinity in ways the original book never could and in ways that I never considered. Actually, I employ only the most basic conceit of the book, and the rest is new. I am having a tough time and a wonderful time writing it. I can’t wait to see what I will learn next from the process