More often than ought, people experience life without grasping the lessons learned. Not so for Roberto Maldonado. With a radical refusal to mix fluff with anything difficult to decipher, Maldonado wrote Dancing on Broken Glass (Candalyse Publishing, 2008). And, he includes the lessons learned. The book chronicles the author's observations, reflections, and life experiences. Shared are his most innermost thoughts and beliefs. Intricately written, it is often infused with bits of humor.
Dancing on Broken Glass is a collection of memoirs that is undeniably distinguishing. It may be the title, or the fact the author is clearly writing about a place in his heart that authentically inhabits the hearts of his readers. In either case, his story is unprecedented. Apparent, is his ability to masterfully evoke the thought processes and emotions of his readers. In truth, there is much more to "Dancing on Broken Glass" than you could ever imagine. It appeals to readers of both genders, and all backgrounds. Recently, I sat down with author Roberto Maldonado. We discussed his childhood, his love for writing, his recovery from a 25-year heroin addiction, and of course, his freshman book, "Dancing on Broken Glass."
Fran Briggs: Good morning, Roberto. Thank you for making the time to meet with me today.
Roberto Maldonado: Good Morning to you too, Fran. And, it's actually my pleasure meeting with you today.
F. B. Your music and book are both, phenomenal. But, before we talk about them, could you share with us more about your background?
R. M. Although I wasn't raped and I was sexually molested at age 10 up on a Spanish Harlem rooftop in NYC by an older Hispanic man, I believe it set into motion my future mental and emotional downward spiral that eventually lead into my 25-year heroin/cocaine addiction. Because of my street-tough, willingness to fight In my early teens, I eventually became a war counselor for a very vicious street gang in my neighborhood for years. Officially, my recovery beginning date was 10/14/86. Since that initial humble beginning back then, my life and outlook along the path of my recovery has changed 100 percent for the better... all praises due to the Divine intervention of my loving Higher Power's love and blessings, whom I choose to call, God.
F. B. Tell us about the genesis of your music, and why do you think it is received so well.
R. M. "Unfinished Business," my independent CD release back in 1994 with my recovery rock band "The Bodega Dragons." It has probably been received well because it, very much like my book, is lyrically very direct in it's street anti-drug message. Also maintained is a genuinely high, pro-level of solid rock/metal instrumental choreography intertwined with lyrical message from the band's members.
F. B. Roberto, you have successfully reclaimed your power back from a 25-year heroin addiction, tell us how instrumental music has been in this process?
R. M. It has actually been a life-long dream for me since my early teens to be a performing band artist; a dream that I just had just been unable to work on for all those years until my recovery. Lyric ideas have been charging through my mind for many years, and I have copy-written many songs leading up to the Bodega Dragons. So, I was primed and very much ready to go for it by then.
F. B. Was there ever a time when you second-guessed your faith or ability to write a book that people would pick up and actually read? If you have, how did you overcome it?
R. M. I actually never second-guessed my ability or myself about writing Dancing on Broken Glass because writing has always been like a natural second nature to me. I also definitely knew that since my story was a powerful true -to-life, biographical story. It is one that many, many people would also be able to relate to as well. So, I just wrote, edited, and re-wrote again until I had the perfect genesis - one that I believed in and would be completely happy sending to publishers.
F. B. Were any obstacles involved in your decision to become an performing artist?
R.M. I'd have to say yes -my age at that time, for one. I was 51 years old in 1991 when the Bodega Dragons were first put together as a band. I knew my age was already a drawback in a teenage/20-something world of rock back then. But I also knew that I had something important to get across to the mainstream world stage of rock. I just did what I had to do to get that music eventually out there.
F. B. What makes you most happy?
R. M. The very fact that God's direct intervention into my life on 10/14/86, has allowed me to grow as a person, enjoy normal life and people without feeling that I need to be bombed to do so, and that my book and my music are now both out there in the world just waiting to be discovered.
F. B. What advice do you have for the struggling addict in recovery?
R. M.The most important advice that I'd give to any struggling addict is that they are not just simply weak by nature, but that they are caught up in a real life battle with the disease of addiction ...one that is only going to be satisfied upon their death! Immerse yourself in 12-step group meetings as I did. Sometimes, I attended two or three a day if I felt like I wanted to go get high. Also, get a sponsor with more than a year into his own personal recovery from the 12-step group meetings. These basic actions eventually changed my perception of whom I really was. It eventually led to my present-day, 22-years of living a clean and sober life.
F. B. 22 years? Congratulations, Roberto... As it pertains to your music, was there ever one, defining peak? And then, an unexpected valley?
R. M. In the music business, there usually are some defining peaks - and lows, too. But there are generally more lows to deal with unfortunately, unless you're extremely lucky and talented as well.
F. B. Did you have a mentor when you entered the music industry?
R. M. No, none at all, actually. But the Dragons were such fabulous musicians, and I was so hopeful of my songs that nothing -or anyone - was going to stop me from eventually getting "Unfinished Business," my powerful NYC styled pop/metal/rock, out to the public. Which, somehow, I accomplished.
F. B. You are living an amazing life which includes dozens of accounts where you have defied and conquered incredible odds. At what point did you decide to choose a published book as a means to illustrate this?
R. M. I was eventually able to compile all of the important information for "Dancing on Broken Glass" over a six year period of time, although I had to rewrite it all once after my computer crashed in Manhattan. I stupidly tossed it out and bought myself a new computer (laughing). I guess I actually did it to myself by not using discs, but I did learn from that episode after that horror show, though. In March of 2008, I finally contacted Candalyse Publishing's Mimi Jacobs, and we finally got the book published in June of 2008, of which I'm very pleased about.
F. B. Dancing on Broken Glass is an undeniably distinguishing title for your book. Tell us about the genesis of the title.
R. M. As I recall, we used to have block parties in NYC's Spanish Harlem during the summer months in a very big, vacated empty lot. Everybody there would be dancing to the live music on those nights - right there on the broken glass bottle pieces which were scatted all over the place. And, we never had a problem. Hey, it was what it was, as they say. And we all wanted to dance -glass or no glass - and we sure-the-heck-did, too (grinning)!
F. B. How has the reception been for your book? And how important was it to infuse humor in the text?
R. M. I really felt that if I could laugh at myself and at some of the silliness that I experienced in my life in Spanish Harlem, the readers would find that they could relate to me as a human being first - and hopefully - pave the way for them to eventually accept me as an author.
F. B. Many authors have a favorite author. Do you have one? If so, who is it, and why?
R. M.. Although I don't really have a 'favorite author' at this juncture in my life, I do enjoy Mary Shelly's unbelievably imaginative tale of the monster, "Frankenstein." I absolutely love the variety of wonderful writers available to me out there today.
F. B. What is/was the best thing you've experienced since writing your book?
R. M. The humongous satisfaction of finally seeing yet another one of my majorly important dreams finally being born. I cannot express the joy and the immense satisfaction of typing in 'Dancing on Broken Glass, by R. M. Maldonado' onto the Internet and seeing my book there in living color ... all praise be to God.
F. B. What's next for Roberto Maldonado?
R. M. Right now, I'm working on utilizing some of my natural 'people skills' by becoming a public speaker with an anti-drug power message for the ones that need it the most - our younger generation high school and college students as well as the world stage public arenas. Also, I already wrote the first 100 pages of my future second novel, They Wait in the Shallows. It's a unique, supernatural thriller!
FB Thank you, Mr. Roberto Maldonado. It was both an absolute honor and pleasure speaking with you today. I am believing nothing but the best for you in all of your endeavors.
R. M. Thank you, Fran.
Fran Briggs interviewed Roberto Maldonado in November, 2008. To contact Roberto personally, please send an email to Sir2u2.aol.com or visit http://www.myspace.com/livewire2u
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