Oh yeah, if you watched the recent college basketball playoffs, half of the final-eight teams in the NCAA tournament had the word FAMILY printed on their warm-up jerseys. And, you ask, what’s that have to do with the my new book series about the mafia in Detroit? Good question.
Think Back: 40 Years Ago
“We Are Family,” a top-ten song, released by Sister Sledge in 1979, ignited a “pop culture” revolution. That same year, the Pittsburgh Pirates adopted the disco-hit phrase “we are family,” to pull their team together, which was highlighted by Willie Stargell’s game seven, walk-off home run.
“Family” Roots Go Much Deeper
So, here’s where the mafia comes in. For centuries, in Sicily, the term family was commonplace. People in the community were part of the family. When Carlo Gambino and Joseph Bonanno immigrated to the U.S., it was only natural they’d later become the Bosses of the Gambino Family and the Bonanno Family—two of the Five (Mafia) Families of New York.
Detroit Mafia Was Really Family
Unlike any other mafia in the country, the Detroit mafia was family—they were all related; they married kin folks—they were all connected. As a result, the Detroit mafia did not have the same kind of internal strife as many other organizations. This, along with their low-key, behind-the-scene mode-of-operation, kept their names out of the paper (most of the time).
I Changed the Names
As you know, my mafia series is historical fiction about the mafia in Detroit in the 1980s. And, you’ve probably heard the phrase “change the name to protect the innocent.” Well. . . I thought, since I’m not part of the mafia, it might be wise to change the names to protect the author. Therefore, the names of the main Detroit mafia characters in my books are fictitious. Even though I chose NOT to use their real names, the stories in the series do portray the men at the top of the Detroit mafia at the time. As you read the series, you’ll become acquainted with Jake Nicolette, Tony Minelli, Angelo Traveglini, and Blackie Giardini. They weren’t the mafia leaders names at that time in Detroit – – but (I probably shouldn’t tell you this) they are slightly altered names of men I’ve personally met who were “mafia associated.” Get my drift?
Mafia Family Organizational Structure
It looks a lot like a corporate structure in America – – but, it’s NOT. Those at the top, meet whenever necessary. They decide what should happen, and then tell those below them what needs to be done. Lieutenants and capos function as if they are “sub-contractors.” Here’s a graphic of the Detroit mafia structure, with names changed to protect the author 🙂
More Mafia in the Works!
FOR HIRE, the fourth book in my mafia series, is well underway. The storyboard is finished and I’ve drafted five chapters. I’ll share more about FOR HIRE in future blog posts.
Special Note: Watch for my next blog post. I’ll share a little secret about what’s happening in my real life and my book life. Whoever said “never the twain shall meet” was way off!