First, tell us about yourself- where you live, your family and those sorts of details.
I was born in Washington, D.C. in 1944. My father was an Army Intelligence Officer who was stationed in Germany right after the end of World War II. My mother and I were among the first military families to be sent to Germany in 1948. I lived there for most of my first nine years where I had to the opportunity to travel to most of what was free Europe at that time. After that, I grew up living with my parents at military stations all over the USA.
My father retired from active duty when I was in junior high school, so I was able to stay in the same community in Ayer, Massachusetts (a small town adjacent of Fort Devens, a large Army post) until I graduated from high school. I chose to attend the University of Connecticut, majoring in English Education. In my sophomore year, I met my future husband, David, and three years later in 1966, we both graduated on a Monday and were married the following Saturday. We moved to Boston where he attended Boston University Law School while I taught Kindergarten in the Boston Public Schools. After he received his law degree, we moved to Los Angeles where he joined a law firm, became a partner, and retired when we were both sixty-one.
We raised our two children in San Marino, CA, where both David and I were involved in the community. He served as president of the School Board and I held various offices in the local PTAs as well as became president of various philanthropic organizations. By the time my two children had both left home for college, I was spending a lot of time in Las Vegas becoming more entrenched in the growing Poker community. We bought a Las Vegas townhouse in 1996 where I spent a great deal of time while my husband finished up his law career. When he retired in 2004, we sold all our California property and moved to Las Vegas fulltime.
Meanwhile, my son graduated with an MBA from Yale, married and had four children. He lives in the Bay Area and works in the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco as a hedge fund manager. My daughter has a Master’s Degree in film from the London Film School. She married a British engineer, and at present, they live in Abu Dhabi.
I continue to play in local poker tournaments several days a week. During the World Series of Poker which takes place in June and July, I spend most days at the Rio, playing in various satellites and tournaments.
When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing down thoughts, stories, ideas, and plans all my life. I’ve also enjoyed creating skits and programs for various volunteer organizations. My father imbued me with a love for the written word, encouraging me to read widely and to pay particular attention to how various authors utilized words and phrases to achieve unique and artful prose. Whenever my daily life became stressful and overwhelming, writing for an hour or so, was a way to relieve the pressure.
Why did you decide to write this book?
While playing poker, I often found myself mentally chronicling the action at the table, and creating descriptions of the casino and its denizens in my mind. At some point I started writing down those words and, over time, collected a catalogue of notes. Then I had the opportunity to get into the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program where I learned some basic creative writing skills. At about the same time, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and wanted to talk about his own life which included his years as an Army Intelligence Officer. I learned that my mother and I were among the first military family members to arrive in Germany after the end of World War II. My memories of the time (from when I was three until I was nine) were enhanced by my discussions with my father. I wanted to write about both aspects of my life, not as a memoir but as a template for compelling fiction, and so the idea for River Card evolved.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you get someone else to do that for you?
I did proofread the manuscript for this novel over and over, but then I sent it out to be professionally copyedited. When I got that proof back, I made many changes to the manuscript, and so I paid to have it proofread a second time. I believe that, as one should not represent herself in legal matters, a writer should not count on her own proofreading/editing abilities to complete a manuscript.
Tell us what you’re working on at the moment.
The story of River Card ended with many unresolved issues, and that was my intent. I am working on a sequel which will take place in the near future; still in Las Vegas as well as other parts of the world, and will feature the child, Livy, the daughter of Phillip Vance, the casino developer, as she comes of age.
Title: River Card
Author: Joan Destino
Genre: Psychological Thriller
“Who was she trying to fool? Herself? A little late for that. She had to win; her survival depended on it.”
Do you have what it takes to lose it all? Find out in Joan Destino’s stunning debut novel, “River Card.”
Georgia Kassov Cates is a business woman, a wife, a mother…and a gambling addict. Desperate to recoup a devastating string of losses, she risks it all for one last game- a game that’s abruptly halted when the Las Vegas casino succumbs to a freak blackout.
Georgia meets some fellow patrons of the Las Vegas casino, including the wealthy Melanie Nallis, a woman haunted by her horrific childhood; Zivah Koski, an enigmatic elderly holocaust survivor; Phillip Vance, a billionaire casino developer; and Milt Braverman, a professional poker player.
As they get to know each other, a connection is slowly revealed: postwar Germany, a time and place that is reflected in” River Card’s novel-within-a-novel, “Alexandra.”
Alternating between the opulence and depravity of 1940s Germany, and the glamor and baseness of 1990s Las Vegas, “River Card” reflects Georgia’s mounting fears-both past and present-as she plays one last hand…
As the daughter of an Army Officer, Joan Destino traveled throughout her childhood, living in many parts of the U.S. as well as Germany. After high school and college in New England, she taught kindergarten in Boston while her husband attended law school. In the early seventies she moved to the Los Angeles area, raising her family in San Marino. She participated in the UCLA Writers’ Program for several years, culminating with several semesters in their Master Novel Writing Class. After playingTournament Bridge for years, shebegan playing casino poker in the mid-eighties. She bought a second home in Las Vegas in the mid-nineties and moved there permanently when her husband retired in 2004. Joan plays both cash and tournament poker including the World Series of Poker at the Rio Casino.
River Card on Goodreads
Author on Goodreads