Linda DeFruscio is the founder and president of A & A Laser, Electrolysis & Skin Care Associates in Newtonville, MA. In addition to Cornered, her memoir about her friendship with Richard Sharpe, she is currently writing a book on skin care and completing a book of profiles based on interviews with transgender people, many of whom are her clients. While Cornered is her first book, her skin care articles have been published in magazines for years. Connect with the author on Facebook and via her website.
About the Book
In the year 2000, Linda DeFruscio was forced to make an unthinkable decision. Someone whose genius she admired immensely, a business associate and dear friend, committed a terrible crime. In response, she could cut off their friendship and avoid the risk of losing friends, clients and her own peace of mind—or, she could trust her gut and try to save some aspect of her friend’s humanity.
Cornered is Linda DeFruscio’s story of her long and often complex association with Dr. Richard J. Sharpe, the millionaire dermatologist from Gloucester, MA who was convicted of killing his wife. Beautifully written and surprisingly tender, Corneredallows the reader an upfront view of the fragility of genius and the decline into madness, all while casting a second light on how one woman’s refusal to turn her back resulted in momentous changes in her own life.
Find out more on Amazon.
Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
My day job is working as an electrologist (someone who removes unwanted hair from clients’ bodies) and an aesthetician (someone who helps clients enhance their skin and features so that they can be their most beautiful selves). I wouldn’t be as good at what I do if I didn’t enjoy focusing on details. My love for details informs my writing as well. I am a taker of notes, a collector of information. When I decide to write something, whether it is an article on skin care for a magazine or something bigger, as in the case of my memoir, I find I already have notes tucked away to get me started.
When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
Nearly three decades ago, a magazine editor asked me to write a column on skin care. I had never written anything for publication before. When I handed in the completed piece, she read it and promptly ripped it up! Then she gave me a tape recorder and told me to tell her a “real-life” skin care story in my own words, and we were both happy with the result. I found my “voice” after that, and soon I didn’t need the recorder anymore. I have enjoyed the writing process ever since. It’s a bit of a hobby.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
Cornered is the story of my long and complicated association with Dr. Richard J. Sharpe, the millionaire dermatologist from Gloucester, MA who was convicted of killing his wife in 2000. He had been my friend and business mentor before his crime, and afterwards I had to decide whether I could continue to befriend him. It was not an easy decision to make. He was a troubled man who did a terrible thing. For nine years, from 2000 to 2009 when he died, the media couldn’t get enough of him. They covered every moment of his trial, his imprisonment, his various suicide attempts and finally his death. So did I, in a sense. As his friend and confidante, I achieved a better understanding of the inner workings of his mind than the jury or the journalists or the psychiatrists all told. I met most of the people who walked in and out of his life after his incarceration. I came to understand the motivations of the various women who offered him their support—and often a lot more—while he was in prison. Having written lots of magazine articles regarding my profession (skin care) and being a lifelong note taker, I knew that I could turn my story of knowing Richard Sharpe into a compelling book.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Yes. I had a lot of notes from the decade between Richard Sharpe’s crime and his death. But most of those notes had to do with my personal journey and my observations about other people in his life. In order to make sure I had my facts correct, I had to re-watch his entire trial on Court TV tapes and reread dozens of articles from various local and national newspapers. I also had to check with lawyers to make sure that my story would not bring any harm to anyone. And I spoke to a lot of people as part of my research too, to get their take on some of the events that unfold in the book. And of course, when he was alive, I spoke to Richard Sharpe about why he did what he did and what he was thinking (or not thinking) at the time.
Who is your target audience?
Cornered is a virtual banquet for psych fans. If you liked the book (or film) about Richard Nash (A Beautiful Mind), you will probably like Cornered as well. Moreover, in order to tell Richard Sharpe’s story, I also had to reveal details about my own life. My father was a member of the Boston-area crime scene. He knew Whitey Bulger, Richie Castucci and others. For years, the greater part of our time together was spent in prison visiting rooms. As a result, I was never afraid to go into a prison to visit Richard Sharpe. So, my book shines a light on Richard Sharpe, the individual, yes, but also on prisons and criminals generally. If you’re a reader who likes crime stories, you are sure to get your fill.
My decision to remain friends with Richard Sharpe impacted my life in ways that were unimaginable to me at the time. I learned a lot about myself and about human nature generally because of our association. I suffered a great deal of loss; and I gained a few insights. I think any reader who has experienced shifts in their life as a result of their association with a difficult or strong-willed or mentally-ill person—whether it is a child or a spouse or a friend—will identify with my story.
What will the reader learn after reading your book?
They will learn how a man who seemingly had everything could succumb to deeply-rooted mental afflictions and destroy his entire world, a world that included a stream of family, friends, medical staff and more. They will experience first-hand how a man of brains but little brawn gets treated in prison. They will learn about the various types of women who reach out to prisoners (I’m not stereotyping here; the biggest thing the women who reached out to Richard Sharpe had in common was an overabundance of compassion), and they will learn a lot about me: why it was easier for me to support Richard Sharpe in his darkest hour than most of the other people he knew before his incarceration, what it cost me, and how it changed my life. They will also learn something about cross-dressers and transgender people. There’s a lot going on in the book; there are instances of loyalty, betrayal, inordinate compassion. Readers will even learn a little bit about the best ways to remove unwanted hair, the best ways to avoid bird flu, and what to do if their house is “under water.” Hopefully readers will walk away with a lot to ponder.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
I get my best ideas late at night, either while I am lying in bed waiting to sleep or when I am actually asleep and dreaming.
They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
Everyone has their opinion and I have to respect that. If they want to learn the details about Richard Sharpe’s fall from grace, then I can tell them and educate them. They may be too stubborn to learn the truth or they may simply not be interested. Even though Richard Sharpe’s trial and incarceration received massive media coverage nationwide, including coverage on Court TV and news shows such as Dateline, a lot of people don’t know his story anymore. He was incarcerated in 2000. A lot has happened in our world since then. If you want to know his story, what made him tick, then this is it.
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Yes, I am writing an “everything you could possibly want to know about skin and hair care” book, and I am almost done writing a book based on interviews with transgender people. Transgender people make up a large part of my clientele. I’m very excited that so many of them offered to tell me their personal stories of transformation for this project.
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!