|Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Submitted by Dirk Allen, Badin High School
The curtain may have closed on Don Tassone’s corporate career, but Tassone’s “second act” has been busy, vibrant, and rewarding.
Tassone, a 1976 graduate of Badin High School, just had his first novel published in September when Drive was released by Golden Antelope Press.
“Writing continues to be quite a journey,” said Tassone, who retired in 2011 after 31 years as an executive in public relations for The Procter & Gamble Co. “It lights me up. I hope the stories I write move people and make them think more deeply.”
Tassone concedes that after three decades of writing the tight press releases and reports of the corporate world, switching to creative writing was not quite “the layup” he thought it would be.
“I quickly found that writing short stories and memos were two very different things,” he nodded. “When it came to creative writing, I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
But Tassone loves to write, so he worked at his craft. A week-long creative writing workshop in New Harmony, Ind., in 2014 enabled him to sharpen his skills. Today he has written and had published more than 60 short stories and is well on the way to having a third book published.
“I had to learn an altogether new type of writing,” he said. “It was kind of like learning a new language. After writing so efficiently for so many years, to write more expansively was a challenge. There’s a diligence and a regimen that’s required, especially for long-form writing.”
Tassone and his wife, Liz, live in Loveland and are the parents of four children. A Xavier University graduate, Tassone created a public relations course for XU juniors that he has taught for the past four years.
Drive took 18 months to complete, but that was preceded by numerous short stories, a dozen of which are included in his first book, Get Back, published in March of this year.
“Those are stories about people who have lost touch with their true selves and where they belong,” Tassone said. “In one way or another, they find their way back.”
Tassone has been able to make his way into the publishing world, but that’s another area that required plenty of patience.
“The literary world is different from the business world,” he said. “Things take time. For example, I sent my novel to more than 300 agents, and got more than 100 rejections before someone said yes.”
Drive is about a corporate executive, Nick Reynolds, who is struggling with societal expectations and burnout. He’s a harsh boss who is finally ordered on a summer sabbatical to clear his mind and see if he can sort himself out.
“I’ve known hundreds of men like Nick Reynolds,” Tassone said. “But there are few contemporary novels devoted to such men and those who care about them. I hope this book speaks to people and serves as a reminder that no matter what challenges we face, there is always an opportunity for renewal.”
Tassone called his Badin High School days “a wonderful experience.”
The oldest of six children, all Badin grads, Tassone had attended St. Francis Seminary in Mount Healthy as a freshman, then transferred to Badin when he decided he did not want to become a priest.
“I felt so welcomed at Badin,” he said. “It was a very nurturing, very empowering place. I have so many positive memories.” Those include, he underlined, “meeting the great love of my life,” the former Liz Toerner ’76.
Tassone credited Badin English teachers including the late Libby Turnbull for “encouraging my writing,” and the now retired Greg Renneker for “enhancing my love of literature.” This training, he noted, along with the many opportunities Badin gave him to speak publicly, helped enable him to write and deliver a speech at his graduation.
Tassone’s next book, Small Bites, is nearly completed. It’s another short story collection, featuring 30 stories divided into three sections -- appetizers, entrees and desserts.
“It’s designed for busy readers,” Tassone said. “Stories you can read in a few minutes. I have a good feeling about it.”
Tassone’s books are available on Amazon. His website is dontassone.com