Chris Faraone goes to ‘Heartbreak Hell’ and back with new e-book about the Boston Marathon bombings

BOK_Heartbreak_0430

In times of disaster, there are those who run. And then there are those who run directly into the fray. Journalist Chris Faraone is one of the those people. The former reporter for the Boston Phoenix, the now defunct alt-weekly, is an immersive journalist (a Gonzo journalist, really,) the kind who doesn’t mind getting a little dirt on his hands while hunting for the facts other journalists might leave un-dug. The kind who relishes it.

Faraone has camped in the trenches of the Occupy movement — following the movement tirelessly, some might say doggedly — reporting from hotspots in Dewey Square and camps across the country. These months spent exhaustively reporting the grassroots protests for the Phoenix birthed the 34-year-old writer’s first book, the self-published 99 Nights with the 99 Percent.

Now, just two weeks after the bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, he’s penned his second book. Heartbreak Hell is an e-book that chronicles Faraone’s experiences reporting the attack on the marathon —both as a journalist and a self-appointed Bostonian — over many sleepless hours fueled, by his own admission, by a lot of drugs and a lot of heart.

Faraone recently won Boston-based online news site BostInno’s Write to Power Books distinction in the media category of their 50 on Fire awards, which honor those “setting the Boston scene on fire,” the wording now imbued with a kind of eerie symmetry, considering the content of Heartbreak Hell. We caught up with Faraone in preview of the e-book’s release — available for free at heartbreakhell.com — before he left town for a much-needed vacation (the reporter’s first real bit of time off in some 10 odd years). “If people read the book, they’ll understand why,” he said.

BOK_Heartbreak2_0430

How the hell did you manage to write an entire book, in the span of two weeks, while juggling all your various freelance assignments?

Some of those assignments — for Dig Boston, for the American Prospect —were incorporated into the book, but they only account for a bit of it. Otherwise, this is a work of gut reaction and reporting. I was just a few blocks away when the bombs went off. From that point on, I was reporting and writing for about 20 hours a day — whether on Twitter, walking the streets filling notepads, or sitting at bars processing it all the best I could.

What was your initial, gut reaction when you first became aware what was going down that day?

First my reaction was that there was no way this was an attack. I thought it must have been some sort of accident. And then, amidst the people who were still going about their business merrily, I saw more and more people crying, and even sobbing uncontrollably, lost. Having been in New York City on 9/11, my thought at that point was that I really can’t believe something like that is happening again. Then I thought to start reporting.

What has this experience these past few weeks been like, as both a Bostonian and a reporter?

As someone who lives in Boston by choice, it’s strange to see so much attention put on the place from outside. I’m from New York, and one thing I love about Boston is that it’s not the focus of attention. It’s a great place, we know it, a lot of tourists love it, the teams win, and that’s good enough for us. It’s been interesting to watch the reaction from outsiders this time around, because from their perspective it’s hard to see that there were different reactions, that not everyone was just holding up “Boston Strong” banners and acting like we won the World Series. As a reporter, I set out to show the different types of impacts that this heinous act of violence had on people and circumstances that we didn’t see much of in most reporting in the immediate aftermath.

Did you pitch this book around at all, or immediately decide to put it on the web?

Maybe one day this — or some version of Heartbreak Hell — will come out as a regular print book. At this point, though, that’s the last thing on my mind. I just want to get the story out there to as many people as possible. Whether it’s cathartic, or just a different take on things, the stories I tell are the kinds that I think people will want to remember down the line. The book is kind of a time capsule.

Why did you decide to package this as a free online book?

I think it just matched the spirit of the whole reaction. The last thing I want to do right now is run around hawking a book about this tragedy. These are just stories that I want to get out there, while they’re fresh. I got help from my friend Clarence Smith Jr. (of Bold Edition) to develop what I can honestly say is one of the most dynamic and beautiful-looking online e-books ever released by anyone. There’s also a version on Amazon for Kindle, and that cost me a little bit to format, so that one is 99 cents. A little secret though — it’s not nearly as cool looking as the free version.

Check out Chris Faraone’s “Heartbreak Hell” at HeartbreakHell.com.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.