An Interview with Lorenzo DeStefano, Author of “House Boy”

An Interview with Lorenzo DeStefano, Author of " House Boy"

1. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Engaged, inquisitive, empathetic.

2. The book “House Boy” delves into powerful themes of poverty, exploitation, and human trafficking. What inspired you to tackle these particular themes in your debut novel?

Many years ago I became fascinated by the way the caste system seemed to jump so effortlessly from the ancient world to the so-called “New World”. Over many years of writing and rewriting this piece, a major motivation was to try and nail down as much as possible why this happens in human society and how, with this book, there may be a way to illuminate this situation for the better.

Despite my long experience in documentary filmmaking and as a writer of non-fiction, I did not want to write a rigidly “factual” piece. I felt that being constrained by documentary facts, of which I had very few anyway, would not be the best way to create the scenes and situations I felt were necessary to paint a dramatic picture of this year in the life of Vijay Pallan. I was more after something that would keep me, as a reader, engaged from start to finish.

The risk with a piece like this is that you can exhaust the goodwill of the reader by being too relentlessly dark about what is taking place. Exhaustion sets in. Readers have been exposed to so much horror, so much human indignity, that the mere mention of something like modern slavery or human trafficking can send people running for something more palatable to read or experience. I had to find a way, and I hope I have, to make Vijay’s story so compelling, so captivating and powerful, that most people would tolerate the darkness of the piece in search of the light that does exist within it, the light of hope that can never be fully extinguished.

Other than my efforts to meet “EMG”, the real life person who experienced these indignities, I do not have any first-hand experience with human trafficking. I guess I should consider myself fortunate in this, though I do feel that by immersing myself in this story for all these years I have attempted to come as close as I can to what it would be like to be in a situation like Vijay’s, though nothing in a book, however well-executed or intentioned, can compare to what goes on in real life.

What happens to Vijay and everyone else in this novel is no fairy tale. Despite there being no truly happy endings, I wanted “House Boy” to have some redemptive qualities. Largely through the characters of Sheela Atwal and Detective Inspector Gopal and their encounters with Vijay, we learn much about the harsh realities of human trafficking, the boundless capacity for human pain, and the ultimate blessing of even one man’s survival.

The trust and support of many people have gone into this book’s completion, including everyone at Atmosphere Press for seeing the promise in the book and guiding me expertly towards publication. Most importantly, I need to send thanks and respect to “EMG”, the man I never met, who actually lived this story.

3. You have an extensive background as a playwright, screenwriter, producer, director, and photographer. How have these various creative roles influenced your approach to writing fiction, such as your novel “House Boy”?

Stemming from a basic, inexplicable curiosity about the world we live in, I find it hard at this point to explain or illuminate why I have been drawn into these various modes of expression / exploration.

As a teenage street photographer in Honolulu, documenting life in my hometown, I unknowingly set out on the long road of “framing the world”.

From photography to film was a big leap but essentially linked by this framing device, this looking at the world with a distinctive point of view as a filmmaker and how that translates into visual architecture, story choices, character emphasis, etc.

As I evolved as a filmmaker, I began exploring theater as a directing tool and a way to better understand the needs and motivations of actors. I learned a lot about blocking people on a static stage, a skill that has evolved over time and always comes into play in film directing as well. It’s all about “scene creation”, be it in front of an audience or for the camera.

One very important aspect of what I try to achieve is not always easy but, I feel, is essential to objective storytelling. And that is to not judge my characters. Be they evil or blessed, it should be left to the reader/viewer/audience to evaluate these characters in the context of any given story. To do anything but that feels to me like pandering, like cheap melodrama, and I have no interest in that level of discourse.

While embracing the objective/subjective aspects of everything we encounter in the world, I think it’s essential to simultaneously observe and be observed in any of these disciplines. Something is inevitably revealed by the very choices that I’ve made as to which projects to engage in. Knowing that they will take years and, cumulatively, a big chunk of one’s life, it’s important to try and keep the “batting average” as high as possible. No one, not even the true warriors of cinema, literature, and theater, gets it all done in their lifetime. Everyone leaves many things undone, many dream projects unrealized.

So, looking back while looking forward, I hope I’ve managed to reach at least 80% of my ambitions for these projects. They are all special to me and, I hope, have resonance for those who manage to find them amongst the plethora of “messages” out there in today’s oversaturated mediascape.

4. “House Boy” is your debut published novel, yet you’ve worked across different mediums. What inspired you to venture into novel writing, and how does the experience compare to your other creative endeavors?

Like many writers, I started off focusing mostly on short stories and word sketches. I also attempted a novel or two before “HOUSE BOY”. As often happens, what seems like a great idea doesn’t hold up over time, either because it isn’t strong enough on its own or you, as a writer, have not evolved to the point where you can tackle it successfully. It’s a tough thing to admit, but every act of creation seems to be an attempt to refute what could be the awful truth, that your level of talent is just not up to the task.

“HOUSE BOY” has been unlike any other writing adventure I have been on. I first encountered the true incident on which the book is based in 1995, while in London for a reading of a play of mine at the Greenwich Theatre.

The small UK newspaper article I read one day, about a young man’s trial for murder of his female “employer”, tapped into my existing interest in and revulsion for the phenomenon of modern slavery. What I found initially compelling was that this victim of domestic and sex slavery was a young man, while the perpetrator was a middle-aged woman. This contrasted with the usual dynamic of female sex trafficking that I and many others had gotten used to.

After inquiries were made, it was arranged by the accused’s solicitor that I visit EMG in Brixton prison in South London to discuss his case and interview him for a potential magazine article. The day before my scheduled visit, EMG was deported to India. This was one of the terms of his conviction for “manslaughter with provocation”, a lesser charge than “capital murder” because of the extenuating circumstance of torture and enslavement that came out at trial.

In the novel, I transferred many aspects of this experience of going to Brixton Prison and not being able to see EMG to the character of Detective Inspector Jayawan Gopal, whose own visits to Vijay in prison meant so much to both of them.

Disappointed but glad for EMG’s second chance at freedom, I tried for several months to locate him in Tamil Nadu State through private investigators, to no avail. This was not a person with any social profile, no footprints to trace. No amount of web surfing turned up anything.

I gave up on the piece, at least how I originally envisioned it. But this turned out to be the kind of story that gets a hold of a writer and will not let go. Unlike many of my other fact-based film & theater projects, there was very little documentary evidence to follow. There were no first-person witnesses available. As a result, I decided after several years away from the piece to embark on a major creative journey and write the story as a novel.

I had been following stories of modern slavery for some time and reading source material on the subject, especially the works of Kevin Bales like “The Slave Next Door” and “Disposable People”.

The project began as a screenplay that was optioned by two producers in the UK, though I decided to pull it from development and committed myself to finishing it as a novel. Once that decision had been made, I devoted increasing amounts of time to it over several years, including a year-and-a-half in various editorial phases at the publisher.

Especially being a western writer, I wanted my first novel to be scrupulously researched and prepared beyond reproach for publication. While I believe that writers should be able to explore any subject under the sun, no matter their ethnicity, there is a special responsibility when the story is outside one’s life and cultural experience. From the beginning, I knew that a major part of completing the manuscript, especially the sections set in India, would be to consult with a South Asian author or academic to help me eliminate anything inauthentic or just plain wrong in what was going to be a deep dive into a fiendishly complex culture.

Through Atmosphere Press, I met Falguni Jain, a young writer and book reviewer from Maharashtra, India. Falguni was extremely helpful, as were other South Asian readers and consultants, in making certain that the many references to South Asian cultural & religious content were correct and that the rigorous rules of the caste system, down to names and customs and social attitudes, were authentic and indisputable.

5. The book’s vivid imagery plays a significant role in depicting the settings and emotions. How did you approach creating such evocative imagery, particularly in describing the contrasting landscapes of Chettipattu village and North London?

Creating the detailed imagery of Chettipattu village and of Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu State, was a strange process of immersion that took place. A kind of spiritual transmutation occurred that put me and, by extension the reader, deep inside the various settings and rendered them, through language and sound research, indelible.

The London scenes are based more on first-hand experience, having spent a good deal of time there over the years. From contemporary media reports, I tracked down the actual location of the incident on Finchley Lane in the borough of Hendon, Barnet, North London. Unlike its similarly named Finchley Road nearby, it was a rather short stretch of suburban street. I walked up and down both sides and photographed every house, observing the odd assortment of semi-attached villas, knowing that in one of these dwellings these horrific events had taken place.  

I also spent considerable time observing trials at the Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court, to familiarize myself with the UK’s completely different trial system.

As with the scenes in India, I tried to let the writing work its magic and take the reader to the places and situations and impression that I myself experienced during the creative process. It is a strange and sometimes transcendent process, almost like a dream state where one is taken over by a force, a kind of spirit guide, that leads you on a journey towards a destination that often remains unknown until you get there.

I also follow a quote from T.S. Eliot’s in all the work I do, no matter what the medium. It is my “mantra” as it were, perhaps my epitaph….

“If you’re not in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”

 6. The protagonist, Vijay Pallan, undergoes a profound transformation from his humble beginnings to the harrowing experiences in England. Could you discuss the character development process and the challenges Vijay faces as he navigates these different worlds?

Vijay, as with the real character he is based on, struck me as an innocent in search of something we all hope to get out of life, some just treatment and reward for the work we do. He was too trusting, was in way over his head. And due to the kind of debt bondage scam perpetrated on him by Mr. Gupta and Mr. Gopalan of the Better Life Employment Agency in Chennai, he falls for their glowing promises of a better life in the U.K. where he can fulfill his dream of earning money for his sisters’ dowries and improve the lot of his parents back in Chettipattu.

The character of Sheela Atwal, the criminal associate of Binda Tagorstani’s but also the only person among Binda’s inner circle who shows any care or concern for the plight of young Vijay, was an especially pleasing creation. I wanted very much to offset what could be perceived as a negative view of the Hindu upper classes in the persons of Binda and Ravi. Sheela, in addition to being a wonderfully complex and brave character, enabled me to show that the pernicious caste privilege that exists can be broken if only people commit to that difficult but important task.

The character of Detective Inspector Jayawan Gopal was likewise created from my imagination, though based perhaps on my conjecture about who may have written the police summary report that I was given by the clerk at the Old Bailey. This character I always intended to be South Asian. I felt that his experience as an upper caste Brahmin, rising through the ranks of the London Metropolitan Police, provided the ideal contrast to Vijay’s tragic experience in the new world. I do feel that the dynamic between these two would have been vastly different and much less interesting if the Detective Inspector were a white man or woman. Empathetic as he/she may have been, they could never have gotten close to understanding who they were dealing with. D.I. Gopal has a hard enough time despite he and Vijay both being from India. Their life experiences are worlds apart, universes apart in fact.

I also found that Gopal’s process in getting to know and understand Vijay mirrored my own attempts as a writer to meet the real character on which Vijay is based. I found it easier to find an overlap between my own frustrated experience trying to meet this young man in Brixton Prison in 1995 with Gopal’s attempts over the course of his investigation and the subsequent trial and conviction to get close to someone he had very little in common with, despite their shared nationality.

7. The novel touches upon sensitive topics like the caste system and human trafficking. What kind of research did you undertake to accurately portray these issues and their impact on individuals like Vijay?

At some point in Vijay’s captivity, as we have seen in other extreme cases of enslavement, “Stockholm Syndrome” sets in, which explains in part why he stays in the house on Finchley Lane after he has dispatched Binda. He knows no other place to go in this place called England. In a way he is finally at peace, a peace he knows will not last long, with Ravi Tagorstani soon to return from his business trip to Blackpool and demand answers about his mother’s whereabouts. Vijay knows he has committed a sin, no matter how justified, and that he will have to pay a heavy price for this. Try as he does to conceal his guilt with the most outlandish lies to Ravi and to the authorities, he, as an essentially honest man, has no choice but await his punishment for what he has done against the laws of God and Man.

I don’t believe that it’s right in cases like this to blame the victims, as some observers do. It’s like saying that a woman who is raped brought it on herself. This kind of violence and human rights abuse is deeply rooted in the psyches of the perpetrators, who may themselves not know why they are doing these horrible things. In the case of “HOUSE BOY”, something sets in called “caste privilege”, a kind of belief system that Binda and her son and other Brahmin characters in the books are definitely afflicted with. There are many victims here, but the true victims of serf suffering are those who are enslaved, not their keepers, though they are also tarnished and diminished forever by the experience, in ways they perhaps will never know.

Twenty-seven years elapsed between first reading about the case in 1995 and publication of “HOUSE BOY” in 2022. I worked on the book throughout this period, not constantly but between film and theater and other writing projects.

After inquiring at London’s Old Bailey if a transcript of the actual trial could be obtained, I was told that as a murder case these records had been sealed. I did manage, through the kind intervention of a kind court clerk, to receive a copy of the 28-page Police Summary of the case, which proved invaluable and was the single greatest piece of research I obtained.

With this in hand, I embarked on voluminous research into a culture not my own. This was an incredibly challenging process. A better word would be daunting. I did my best to infuse Vijay’s desperate search for salvation during his ordeal in the Tagorstani’s house with the kind of Hindu and Tamil prayers I felt he, as a man of faith, would cling to for inner strength. I found out quickly that Indian culture is fiendishly complex, especially for outsiders. I was determined, as a western writer, to get the facts and the history and the language right. This took a very long time and much trial and error, as well as the input of others, as I have already mentioned.

8. The first half of the book provides a poignant portrayal of Indian families struggling against the backdrop of a discriminatory caste system. How did you approach balancing realism and storytelling in this section?

I believe that “realism” and “storytelling” are shared aspects of any exciting and vivid piece of writing. While “realism” might imply documentary fact, verifiable and unquestionable in its authenticity, different realities mean different things to different people, as we are seeing in the global political upheavals taking place. “Storytelling”, on the other hand, has come to imply acts of fancy and invention, which is sometimes true but not always. In my work, I try to blur the lines between these two concepts and create worlds and situations and characters that are as tangibly “real” as I can make them.

In the process of writing “House Boy”, I came to understand a very sad reality – that domestic and sex slavery knows no cultural or geographic boundaries. This kind of oppression seems to lie so deep in the human DNA as to be something eternal, insidious, fueled by greed and a streak of cruelty beyond what most people are capable of, not to mention comprehend.

The criminal elements at work here should not be discounted, which is why I made Binda and her gang at the Pandit Advisory Group such experts at “affinity fraud”. The ultimate con, it is a nearly foolproof method of criminal enterprise based on people lowering their guard when dealing with those they feel are like them and would, therefore, never abuse their trust.

All this makes for an unholy alliance of factors that create the roles to be played in this sinister drama called modern slavery – the oppressed and the oppressors. It’s like an epic play that never ends. The curtain on these actions never rises or falls. The drama just goes on and on, year after year, decade after decade, millennia after millennia, like a marathon session in this madhouse called humanity.

9. In the second half of the book, Vijay becomes entangled in a cycle of abuse and retribution. How did you approach depicting the psychological and emotional toll of his experiences while maintaining a compelling narrative?

In order to familiarize myself with the world of human trafficking, I consulted with people at Anti-Slavery International in the U.K., Free The Slaves in the U.S., Human Rights Watch, and Kalayaan, a London-based charity which works to provide practical advice and support for the rights of migrant workers.

I also read a number of books on the subject of modern slavery, the most important being Kevin Bales’ “The Slave Next Door” and “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy”.

I watched many news stories from India and all over the world covering cases of modern slavery. I also watched many times the amazing film, “Bandit Queen” (, about the notorious Dalit woman, Phoolan Devi, who formed a gang of mostly male soldiers and took violent revenge on the upper caste tormentors who had repeatedly raped her at any early age and beat and humiliated her and her family over many years. After receiving amnesty, Devi stood for election to Parliament as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party and was twice elected as a Member of Parliament. She served in this capacity between 1996 and 2001, the year she was assassinated outside her home by relatives of those she and her supporters had killed years before for revenge.

Researching and writing “HOUSE BOY” was a fascinating but often unpleasant experience that exposed me to a very bloody and tumultuous history, one lasting thousands of years and crossing borders like an unstoppable virus, a pernicious disease.

10. The relationship between Vijay and Santhana plays a pivotal role in the story’s progression. Could you discuss the dynamics of this relationship and how it shapes Vijay’s decisions?

It’s interesting that you see Santhana Gopalan as a pivotal character in “HOUSE BOY”. I hadn’t thought of him that way but, now that you mention it, he is indeed an important part of the trajectory that steers Vijay into the life of a domestic and sex slave in the so-called “New World”.

Santhana Gopalan is a completely invented character. He emerged from my research into immigration scammers working in India, Asia, Africa, and North America. While he is uniquely part of his own culture, Santhana could be a “coyote” in Mexico, smuggling people across the border for a fee. He could be a diamond mine recruiter in South Africa. He could be a domestic worker agent in the Philippines.

It wasn’t a conscious choice to make him this kind of catalyst. Not to be evasive, but the creation of these diverse characters is somewhat of a mystery to me and possibly to other writers. This may be what makes each writer different, the manner in which they suspend their own disbelief and let things flow onto the page. Getting out of the way of these fictional but also very real people is essential to letting them live and breathe.

An interesting personal example of an author’s potential disassociation with their own work, the first time I listened to samples from the HOUSE BOY AUDIOBOOK, being produced and recorded in Mumbai, India, the strangest thing occurred. As I was listening to the narrator’s voice reading sections of my book, I was so transported that the words I was listening to seemed to be coming at me for the very first time, as if someone else had written them. An unforgettable sensation, one I have never had before, and a testament to the power of the word and the elasticity of the human mind.

11. Vijay’s experiences shed light on the effects of the caste system and human trafficking, presenting a contemporary perspective on these societal issues. Could you share your thoughts on the role of literature in addressing and raising awareness about such complex topics?

As for the role of literature in raising awareness of complex social issues like modern slavery, there is definitely a long and proud legacy of writers who dedicated their works to not only being entertaining but important engines for potential social change. Charles Dickens, Upton Sinclair, Toni Morrison, Naguib Mahfouz, Václav Havel, Jose Saramago, Jorge Luis Borges, and many others, dedicated their lives to finding the perfect blend of realism, fantasy and reportage to effect what they saw as the desperate need for social change.

In trying to take inspiration from these stellar examples, I don’t really believe in anything like “divine retribution” for those whose wicked ways affect the lives of millions.  In “HOUSE BOY”, the Pandit Advisory Group set up by Binda has been thoroughly exposed because of Vijay’s trial and Sheela Atwal’s damning testimony. As a result, this particular affinity scam and the people who ran it, namely Al Mohindar, Ray Nabob, and Sheela Atwal, will be serving considerable prison time for their fraudulent activities, though I did not go into too much detail about their fates other than to indicate that they will indeed be paying some price for their actions.

As for Ravi, Binda’s son, his fate is also indicated in that he will remain the focus of the authorities for some time. His cover has been blown. Though he may return to some kind of anonymity with time, his reputation, not to mention his psyche, is irrevocably damaged by his collusion in Vijay’s torment.

In a tragic way, every one of these characters is damaged by their involvement, much like those tangled up in political scandal share the same dishonorable fate. By example, the people that Vijay meets briefly in the darkened interior of Sami Appan’s van are, like him, nameless, faceless individuals being transported for purposes beyond their initial comprehension. They are there to feed the labor needs of people who see them not as fellow human beings but as creatures of service. Like millions of other citizens of the world, they count for next to nothing to those who control their destinies. They are fodder for the machine that is human exploitation. It’s a very sad and troubling fact that the vast majority of victims of crimes like this, as in Vijay’s case, never achieve any semblance of justice. They and their suffering become invisible to us. Their predicament is so enormous it is beyond our ability to process or comprehend.

12. As a member of the Directors Guild of America and having produced and directed various projects, how has your experience in the world of film and television influenced your narrative style and storytelling techniques in your written works?

I guess what I’ve learned from actual experience and intuitive growth is that economy of form equals clarity of message. In my 22-year career as a film editor, I saw so many sequences that were written, shot, and edited when in fact they never should have been shot at all. The money and time that were spent on these marginal scenes, which really didn’t take the story forward or enhance the exposition in any way, could have been spent on focusing resources on more important scenes.

No one has complete foresight of these things, but experience definitely counts for something when assessing early on, in the writing stage, the comparative value of complex story elements.

In short, film editing has had the most influence on my writing, with theater directing and photography an equal second place.

13. Do you have other writers in the family and friends

My late cousin, Olivia Robello Breitha (1916-2006) was a noted author and social activist in Hawaii. Her memoir, ”MY LIFE OF EXILE IN KALAUPAPA”, was published in 1988 and remains in print. Knowing Olivia not only revealed to me an honest-to-God writer in my family but also a woman for whom truth was the utmost source of power. My play “SHIPMENT DAY”, my memoir about Olivia, “VISITATIONS”, are the direct result of knowing and loving this extraordinarily courageous and forthright woman.

Olivia: My Life of Exile in Kalaupapa

A good friend of mine is the American novelist Barry Gifford, well known for “Wild At Heart”, “Lost Highway”, and “The Roy Stories”. Barry has been an inspiration, not only for his prodigious talent as an observer of character, but his example as a writer who has for decades made his living at it.

The writings of Kevin Bales, professor of Contemporary Slavery & Research and Director of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, UK. have had a profound influence on the writing of “HOUSE BOY”. His books, “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy”, “The Slave Next Door”, and “Blood and Earth – Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World” are beacons in the field of modern slavery studies. Reading them helped sensitize me to the overwhelming problem facing humanity because of the loathsome criminal enterprise that is the trafficking and exploitation of human beings. –

14. The American fiction award and the 2022 indie best award highlight your dedication to storytelling. Can you share any specific experiences or moments that you believe contributed to your growth and success as a writer?

It’s a hard question to answer. I guess the best place to start is my response to your first interview question about what three words I’d use to describe myself. Those words – Engaged, inquisitive, empathetic, probably have a lot to do with my ability to maintain my curiosity over the years and the commitment I have made to pursue storytelling as my life’s work.

Writing can be the loneliest art. During the pandemic people would ask me how I was doing during all that isolation. I had to smile and say that I, like a lot of other writers, was used to being ignored. There is a misconception that when people hear about successes we have had, they think it’s all been smooth sailing to get to those levels of occasional acclaim or recognition, that it is an everyday kind of occurrence.

What they don’t see are the times, by far the majority of the time, when we work in nearly total obscurity. This is not a complaint. This is a fact. I believe that it is from these lean times that the best work can emerge. After welcome attention, which can help refuel us when the tank is running dry, it is important to return to the shadows to continue doing our work, hopefully emerging again when the time is right to share what discoveries we have made in defining, celebrating, illuminating the human experience in all its wonder.

15. Lastly, what’s next for you as an author? Are there any upcoming projects or themes you’re excited to explore in your future writing?

As with many writers, I could easily be mistaken for a Chinese acrobat, balancing numerous spinning plates in the air, objects (projects) that require constant diligence lest they come crashing down on you at any moment. It is a hazardous but stimulating way of dealing with the great uncertainty that exists in the publishing, filmmaking, and theater worlds that I inhabit. Here are the projects I am currently engaged in:


THE DIARIST”, a 5 Part Limited Series based on “THE INMAN DIARY”, published by Harvard University Press, about Arthur Crew Inman and his 17-million-word diary. – (Producer/Writer) (

HOUSE BOY”, a 5-Part Limited series based on the novel – (Producer/Writer) (

SHIPMENT DAY”, a feature film based on Lorenzo DeStefano’s award-winning play (, about his cousin, the noted Hawaii author and social activist Olivia Robello Breitha, who was diagnosed with leprosy in 1930s Honolulu. – (Writer/Producer/Director) (


 “HOUSE BOY”, a play based on the novel – (Playwright) (


“AMBITION”, a One Act Play

It is very late at night in the old meatpacking district on the lower west side of Manhattan. A loud and violent confrontation between two lifelong friends explodes into vivid and dangerous life on these long-since gentrified streets full of bistros, bars, and high-end haberdasheries. Bernard, a black native New Yorker in his late twenties, is being harangued by Seth, a white Brooklyn boy of approximately the same age. Words are exchanegd about a promised trip to California and a movie writing career together, an arrangement that is obviosuly not going well. Seth draws a gun, aims it at Bernard. These friends have become rivals in the pursuit of fame and fortune in the Hollywood dream they thought they shared.



A woman with multiple personality disorder meets over a period of time with an analyst seeking to unearth the fascinating and disturbing manifestations of Eve Black, Eve White, and Jane Gray.
Based on historical psychiatric transcripts in the field of behavioral studies.



       WILD PLACES”, a collection of 9 short stories and 2 novellas.

A noted storyteller in film, television, theater, fiction, and non-fiction, Lorenzo DeStefano, author of the award-winning and critically acclaimed novel, “HOUSE BOY”, continues his explorations, with these nine short stories and two novellas, into the complexities and multiple interconnections that make up the human condition.


“LA HORA MAGICA/THE MAGIC HOUR – A Photographer’s Journey Through Cuba” – (Writer/Photographer)

“LA HORA MAGICA / THE MAGIC HOUR” is writer/photographer Lorenzo DeStefano’s chronicle of his coverage of Cuba between 1993 and 1998, during “la period especial” in modern Cuban social, economic and cultural history. This “special period” began in 1991, after the fall of Russian Communism, when hard times threatened to bring the highly dependent Cuban economy and its long-suffering people to their knees.

Focused primarily on a seven-day cross-country journey in a beat up 1952 Willy’s Jeep, affectionately known as “El Jeepy”, from Santiago in the East to Havana in the northwest. Hawaii-born DeStefano was joined by his Cuban friend and driver Juan de Mata Montero Reyes for a rugged, breakdown-plagued trip via the Carretera Highway,  along Cuba’s Eastern coast, bordering the great Atlantic.


VISITATIONS – Finding A Secret Relative In Modern-Day Hawai’i”, a memoir of the 17 years I got to spend with my cousin Olivia Robello Breitha. – (Writer) (

As someone born and raised in Hawaii, I was 37 when I learned from my mother that we had a relative with Hansen’s disease, known to the world as leprosy. Olivia Robello was born in 1916 on the island of Kauai to Portuguese immigrant parents from the Azores. She grew up in a tight-knit, hardworking community where family pride and the magnetic pull of assimilation often clashed. People kept anything potentially embarrassing locked tightly in the closet. If word ever got out that someone in the family had contracted such a dreaded disease as leprosy it would have a serious effect on their social standing, the way they were treated at work, at school, even in church.

By the time I met Olivia in December of 1989, on Molokai’s remote Kalaupapa peninsula, the antiquated rules surrounding “the separation sickness” had largely vanished. In the 17 years that we were able to share, this tough, razor-witted lady taught me much about humanity in all its forms. She was a living witness to wrenching public policy decisions going back more than 150 years, decisions that forever altered people’s lives and sent them to a place where few expected to emerge. Olivia was a woman for whom truth was an emotion. Candor was an essential card in her deck. She doled out both whether you asked her to or not. She didn’t act out of mere orneriness, though that could definitely come into it. She was trying to protect herself from what she saw as the distractions of a public life she never asked for but for which she was ideally suited.

Lorenzo DeStefano / Foresight Releasing
P.O. Box 2063
Ventura, CA. 93002 [email protected] / 805 302-2480

Also Read: House Boy – Book Review

Experience the captivating collision of ancient traditions and modern society in the thrilling “House Boy.” Buy on Amazon for a riveting tale of resilience and redemption.

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