Retired teacher finds success in second career, as a mystery novelist
Updated: Feb 27
Normally, the first advice any prospective writer gets is to “write what you know.”
In the case of retired English teacher Anthony Pucci, that advice helped him twice as much. Pucci, who taught at Notre Dame High School in Elmira for 43 years, recently self-published his sixth mystery novel, “Winning Ticket,” featuring veteran English teacher Michael Bishop as the main character.
Like Pucci, Bishop teaches at a parochial school. Unlike Pucci, Bishop is also an amateur detective. All that experience in the classroom also helps Pucci tremendously in knowing how to put together a compelling story, he said. “It is an advantage to have the background as an English teacher,” said Pucci, who has published one book a year since his retirement. “The problem with some books you pick up is that they might have good ideas but they’re not put on paper effectively. “People appreciate a book that is well-written, and it definitely helps to be able to act as writer, editor and proofreader for your own writing.” Having his protagonist share his profession is helpful as well.
“I always told my students to write about what you know,” Pucci said. “Michael Bishop is an English teacher, so I’ve been able to incorporate my knowledge in literature and the classroom.”
While writing’s always been something Pucci is interested in – he’d previously done a teacher’s guide for teaching a novel – he said he never envisioned writing mysteries.
“I didn’t read many mysteries before I started,” he said, “but my wife reads a lot of them. She said, ‘I bet you can do this,’ and I just started one day and found it enjoyable.”
Pucci said he starts each of his novels the same way. “I think everyone has their own style of writing, and I just start with the basic premise in my mind,” he said. “I have an idea of who’s going to be the victim, who did it and why. Once I start, I make it happen
as you go. That’s one of the things I’ve found enjoyable – until I sit down to do it, nothing happens.”
That careful planning also goes into Pucci’s writing schedule as well. “My goal has been to write to one a year, and I do like to take a break in between,” he said. “When
you’re writing, the story is always on my mind. I’m always thinking about where to go next and how I’m going to do that. “When you’ve completed a book, there’s a great sense of satisfaction and also relief. So I like to take time in between and wait for the next idea to come.”
Those ideas have so far led to six books, and the work has been worth it.
“It’s definitely work, it’s time-consuming, but I’ve found it enjoyable,” Pucci said. “And people seem to like what I was doing. I never assumed I’d end up with 6 of them.”
Where to find Anthony Pucci’s books
Books: “Winning Ticket” (2020), “Rooted in Evil” (2019), “Murder on the Marginal Way” (2017), “A Question of Judgment” (2017), “Schooled in Deception” (2016) and “Outline for Murder” (2015) Online: Books are available on Amazon, as eBooks and paperbacks. Check https://www.amazon.com/AnthonyPucci/e/B014Z7ERGQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1
Locally: Copies of all 6 books are available at Millport Landing, 2020 Crescent St, Millport, NY 14864. All are signed by the author. Reach Millport Landing at (607) 739-1400.