Fred DeVecca, a Mountaintop native and 1968 graduate of Crestwood High School, has written his first mystery novel.
“The Nutting Girl,” published in paperback by Coffeetown Press, tells the story of Frank Raven, a retired private eye who stumbles into a new case when he is hired to protect a beautiful film star.
DeVecca set his book in Shelburne Falls, Mass., where he has lived for many years, but he says the locals aren’t giving him the stink-eye. In fact, “the town comes off pretty good” in the book, he said. He describes it as a small, pretty town of about 3,000 people. The book has “sold like crazy here. I can hardly walk down the street without having people stop me to tell me how much they like it.”
Though set in a real town, the book is a work of fiction. But its main character also bears many similarities to its author.
“People up here who know me assume [the main character] is me,” DeVecca said. “That’s the way I have to write. I have to have my heart in it.” But the private detective character also has his differences from his creator.
After graduating from Crestwood, DeVecca earned an English degree from Wilkes College, now Wilkes University, in 1972. He then got an apartment with some college friends, but “I was living a young man’s college life, drinking and partying, and I felt like I needed to get out of there,” he said. He took a job with the Social Security Administration, first in Rhode Island, and by the mid-1970s had moved to his current town in Massachusetts.
He retired from the Social Security Administration in his 40s and has since pursued a career as a freelance writer for various publications, including the Boston Globe, Baseball Underground and many Massachusetts newspapers. He has also written, produced and directed four of his own films and worked on the sets of other films.
Although his publications have been primarily in journalism, he has actually written two novels. His first remains unpublished, but that didn’t deter him from writing the one that has now made him a published novelist.
In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering for his local Vipassana Meditation Center. Even that experience figures into his book. The main character, Frank Raven, is a former monk, and DeVecca likens the 10-day meditation retreats offered by the meditation center to monasticism.
“The Nutting Girl” took about three years to write, he said. He didn’t find the initial writing process difficult because he doesn’t struggle with writer’s block.
“I write a little bit every day,” he said.
The harder part was rewriting, which took about a year.
“I wanted to stick to my own vision of what the book was, and I had to work that out with the publisher,” he said. In the end, he felt they succeeded.
Now he’s working on his third novel. When he signed his contract with Coffeetown Press, he gave them the rights to publish his next book as well. The new book will be another Frank Raven mystery novel, and so far DeVecca has two different versions in process. He’ll work on both and see which one he ends up wanting to pursue to completion.
DeVecca grew up first in a house along Route 309 and then in a home on what was then called Main Road South. His mother continued to live in that home until she sold it in the early 1980s.
His family had 30 acres with a stream behind the house, and he grew up playing Little League baseball. Although he hasn’t been backto
Mountain Top for many years, he describes his current town as“ geographically similar” to MountainTop. And he says he’s “starting tofeel like I’m being pulled back” toMountain Top. He would like toreturn to see his old haunts and thehouse he grew up in.
“I remember Mountain Topfondly,” he said. “I had an idyllicchildhood there.”
DeVecca’s novel, “The Nutting Girl,” can be ordered through bookstores or on amazon.com.