JP Ratto is a husband and wife collaborative writing team. EVERYTHING TO LOSE is the first of a three-book series featuring private investigator Lucas Holt.
Judy began writing full time six years ago. She attended Hofstra University’s Writing Intensive in the summer of 2010, and participated in a Hofstra-sponsored writing and critique group from 2009 to 2012. She has written an upper middle-grade fantasy adventure and a children’s mystery chapter book. Judy also does free-lance editing.
Pete Ratto, a former member of the U.S. Navy serving half his enlistment with the U.S. Marine Corp, is a retired corporate accountant and is now writing full time.
Both are avid readers of mysteries, thrillers and suspense. Active in a critique group made up of local authors, they enjoy discussions on all aspects of the craft of writing. Pete enjoys photography, writing and going to the beach. In her spare time, Judy paints watercolors and to her husband’s delight, cooks an occasional dinner. They have a son and a daughter, both grown and living in New York. Pete and Judy live in southern Florida with their cat, Gillian.
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About the Book:
Private investigator Lucas Holt is on a mission…
Lucas Holt specializes in kidnap recovery. Ex-Delta Force and a former NYPD detective, he has spent the last fifteen years burying himself in case files to cope with the unsolved abduction of his daughter, Marnie.
Janet Maxwell just can’t let go…
After the death of Janet’s husband and son in a tragic car accident, she hopes Holt’s expertise can locate the daughter she gave up for adoption seventeen years ago. Janet knows her actions will have explosive repercussions for the girl’s father—presidential candidate, Todd Grayson. With no family, hope of finding her only daughter is all she has left. Or is there a more sinister motive?
There’s no greater incentive for a father than protecting his daughter…
On a mission to bury the constant reminder of his failure to recover Marnie, Holt agrees to Janet’s proposal. But at what cost? When his inquiries lead to news of the death of another woman, Holt can’t shake the feeling something is off about the whole case. And when new evidence surfaces about Marnie’s disappearance, his drive to recover Janet’s daughter and his own become one and the same.
Crooked candidates, hired mercenaries, bitter lovers, and his own life on the line—will Holt find it inside him to risk it all in the line of duty? There’s no telling how far you’re willing to go when you have everything to lose.
- Everything To Lose is available at Amazon.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Would you call yourself a born writer?
Judy: I’m a born daydreamer. I’ve always loved to imagine my life in different scenarios and places. I could be anything and go anywhere and it’s very cost effective! I began writing middle grade, fantasy adventures when my children went to college, and I had time to devote to it.
Pete: For me, I would say it is about 40% innate ability and 60% learning to craft a story and practice. The innate portion comes from reading hundreds of stories in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense category. Once I decided to try my hand at writing, I began to pay more attention to story structure, pace and building characters.
What was your inspiration for EVERYTHING TO LOSE?
Judy: We started with the main character, Private Investigator Lucas Holt. Once we gave him a life and knew the kind of cases he worked, we tossed around a few ideas until we settled on the one we thought most compelling.
Pete: We were looking for something timely and, since we are coming to a presidential election year, thought a candidate could have his chances of being elected threatened by the exposition of something from his past.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
Some themes in our writing are greed, revenge, and power. In EVERYTHING TO LOSE, we deal with the consequence of choice. Lucas Holt is a private investigator who specializes in kidnap recovery, a vocation fueled by the abduction of his six-month-old daughter, Marnie. Holt must deal with the emotional pain he suffers as a result of decisions he made fifteen years before. Although made in the name of justice, he lives with the fact that refusing to compromise his principles may have led to Marnie’s kidnapping. When Lucas Holt accepts the challenge of finding Janet Maxell’s daughter, he is attempting to atone for those choices.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
The better part of a year. While having each other to bounce ideas off is a perk of collaboration, we had to find an overall process that worked for both of us. Also we didn’t have a deadline and took our time.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
Judy: No…but I’m adapting…sort of. I’m a pantser, and I love when I’m surprised by what a character does, where they decide to go, or how they respond to another character. It sounds silly, but for me the characters write the story. I am most productive in the early mornings when the house is quiet and the birds aren’t awake yet. Once I’m in the zone, I can write for hours.
Pete: Well…we are a collaborative writing team and sometimes find it challenging to merge our different processes and styles. I’m an outliner. I like structure and a definite time designated for writing. It can occasionally become…interesting…as we may not always be “on the same page,” so to speak. But we’ve agreed to sit together at 10am each day to discuss our current project. Once we’ve established what each of us will work on, we can proceed at our own pace.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
Aside from merging our different writing habits, we’ve devised an overall plot line that spans the first three books in the series. Each book has a main plot—a case Lucas Holt must resolve and another subplot running concurrently. More and more information is revealed about the subplot until it is resolved in the third novel. The greatest challenge is the timeline and making sure the parallel storylines sync up and eventually converge to provide the reader a satisfactory experience. We believe we’ve done that in EVERYTHING TO LOSE.
What do you love most about being an author?
Judy: Although working as a team demands some scheduling, flexibility is a big perk of being an author. On the artistic side, I love to create characters and settings. It’s not quite the same world building as in epic fantasy, but it’s still great fun. It’s wonderful to write stories readers can enjoy and characters with whom they can connect. Writing is an extension of oneself, but only the author has to know how much of you is in your character or how much of their experiences are yours.
Pete: I agree with Judy. The hours are great and the commute’s a breeze! I enjoy creating a great villain—it’s about as close to being a badass as I’m going get. Now, ask me what I hate. I join a universe of writers who hate writing a synopsis for publishers. I live near the ocean and enjoy putting my “toes in the water and my ass in the sand” but when I am working on all cylinders on a villain, I forget to leave the house—unless there isn’t any beer in the refrigerator.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
While writing EVERYTHING TO LOSE, we intended to self-publish. We wanted to have control over the process and timing of the novel’s release. Then a friend recommended we submit our book to his publisher, a small press named Limitless Publishing, LLC. It turned out to be the right decision for us. They held our hand through cover design, editing, and marketing. They are a great bunch of people.
Where can we find you on the web?
Friend us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jandpratto
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Visit our Website: http://www.jpratto.com/ Read the first chapter.
EVERYTHING TO LOSE is available on Amazon: