Author Interview: Tom Ingrassia

1. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

This is such an interesting question–because it goes to the heart of who I am today. In 1964–when I was 11 years old–I wanted to go into show business, when I fell in love with the music of Motown and The Supremes. In fact, the first time I saw The Supremes on TV, I said to my mother, “I’m gonna meet them someday.” Yeah, right kid. Well…by the time I got to college, I wanted to be a writer. in 1972–when I was 19–I wrote an article about what I knew best–The Supremes and music. I submitted it to magazine after magazine…and got rejection slip after rejection slip. Just as I was about to give up, an editor called and said, “We’ll publish your article if you get an interview with The Supremes.” Coincidentally, 2 weeks later, The Supremes were performing near where I lived. I screwed up my courage, went to the show, and asked for an interview. And…Mary Wilson granted it! I was on my way–and I have never looked back. It had been just 8 years since that little boy told his mother that he would meet The Supremes!

2. When did you write your first book, and how old were you?

After that first magazine article, I continued writing magazine articles–something I still do. I have written for BillboardSoul, Record Auction Monthly, Goldmine, Soul SurvivorWorcester Magazine, San Francisco Hot Ticket, the Boston Globe, and others. I actually started to write a book about Motown in 1983. However, I doubted my abilities–didn’t think I had anything new to add to the dozens of books about Motown already out there. So I shelved it. In 1986 and 1990, I did some work for Mary Wilson for her first two books. In 2007, I ghost wrote There’s No Other–the autobiography of Barbara Alston of The Crystals, and edited Yakety-Yak: I Fought Back, the autobiography of Carl Gardner of The Coasters. Still living my show biz dreams! All the time, however, I knew there was MY own book trapped somewhere inside me. By this time, I had started a business as a success and mindfulness coach–and I was guiding others to live into their dreams, just as I had lived into mine–and I was hearing these amazing stories of tragedy and triumph. I told my best friend and running buddy, Jared Chrudimsky, that I wanted to write a book. He said, “I want to write a book, too! Why don’t we write one together?” And, in 2013–when I was 60 years old–One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams was published. The success of One Door Closes gave me the courage to finally write my Motown book. Reflections Of A Love Supreme: Motown Through The Eyes Of Fans came out in 2015, when I was 62. You see, you are NEVER too old to pursue your dreams!

3. What inspired the idea for your books?

As I stated, coaching people to follow their dreams, I heard some powerful stories about people triumphing over seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to achieve their goals. And as Jared and I started telling people about the book we were writing, they would say, “You need to talk with so-and-so. They have an amazing story.: Storytelling is such a powerful, motivational and inspirational tool. So that is where the concept for One Door Closes came from. The book presents the inspiring stories of 16 people from all walks–including Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Scherrie Payne, Formerly of The Supremes, and June Monteiro of The Toys (all of whom I have worked with)– of life who overcame those obstacles in order to live into their dreams. Plus, we included 10 holistic self-assessment tools so that the reader can take what they learn from the powerful stories, complete the self-assessments, and create their own, personal road map to get from there they are to where they want to be.

Reflections Of a Love Supreme was inspired by my love for Motown, my work with Mary Wilson (I worked for her for 6 years)–and knowing that fans around the world had a treasure trove of previously unpublished photos of their favorite Motown artists–personal glimpses into the decades-long love affair between the fans and the artists. That was the hook I needed to make my book stand out from all the other Motown books–150 never-before-seen photos that tell the story of the people, places and things that made Motown the music that inspired a generation.

4. How did you come up with the titles for your books?

Jared actually came up with the title for One Door Closes. I was stuck and couldn’t come up with that “perfect” title. One morning while running, Jared said, “How about One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams?” And that unlocked all of my creative energy.

Reflections Of A Love Supreme actually is the title of an article/interview I wrote about Mary Wilson for Goldmine magazine in 1983. Motown Through The Eyes Of Fans reflects the focus of the book–this is the story of Motown told by its fans.

5. Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of things do they say?

Indeed I do! The response we have gotten to One Door Closes has been incredible–validation that this is a message that people need to hear. We have had people tell us that the book has not only changed–but saved–their life. People tell us, “I thought I was the only one going through that. After reading so-and-so’s story and seeing how they came through it, now I know that I can go on.” People also ask when the sequel will come out. (It is in the works as we speak!)

The fans who read Reflections tell me that the book takes them to a happy place and time in their lives–a time when they were carefree children, and when music was the most important thing in their life. People remember what Motown song they fell in love to…and sometimes they even tell me they remember the song they conceived their children to!!

6. If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?

Funny you should ask that question! Because One Door Closes currently is being adapted as a documentary film, due out in 2023. Obviously, we couldn’t tell the stories of all 16 people in the book. So we are focusing on what we feel are the 5 most compelling stories–Korey Varano (the documentary is titled, One Door Closes: Korey’s Courage), Ken McDonnell, Scherrie Payne (Formerly of The Supremes), June Monteiro (of The Toys), and Mary Wilson of The Supremes. (Mary Wilson wrote the Epilogue for the book, and was to do the narration for the documentary. Sadly, Mary died in February, 2021, before we could film her segments. So I will film a special segment dedicated to Mary’s memory and inspiration.) Korey, Ken, Scherrie, and June portray themselves in the film. Jared and I will also film some connecting commentary.

7. Do you play music while you write?

You know I do…Motown! It is the music that has inspired everything I have done in life since I was 11 years old. Were it not for Motown, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Nothing gets my creative juices flowing better than “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Dancing In The Street,” or “Stoned Love”! Motown is the soundtrack of my life…and of my books!

8. Do you use social media as an author?

Jared calls me a “media whore”! I am on social media constantly, promoting my books. I never miss an opportunity to slip a reference to one book or the other into virtually ALL of my social media posts. And, guess what? It works! 9 years after One Door Closes and 7 years after Reflections were published, they are still selling. Just last week, I got a VERY nice royalty check from sales in Britain and Australia. People have to know what you are doing in order to support you–otherwise, they forget. I never let people forget! I have never known an interview opportunity I turned down. And I am always out there doing author talks and book signings.

9. What are common traps for new authors?

I think many times, we feel that it needs to be perfect the first time–that we need to write everything in order. And I think that blocks many of us from making progress. We don’t do it perfectly on the first try, so we give up–tell ourselves that we cannot do it. I never sit down to write a complete chapter. I am constantly making notes, jotting down ideas, phrases, etc. Then I go back and make sense of everything, and begin to make order out of my ramblings. It is SO important to just let the ideas flow out of you, and to capture them–even if they don’t make sense at the time.

I also think it is a mistake to write simply because you want to make a buck. If you are not writing from a place of passion, you will be very, very disappointed. Let your heart dictate what you write, not your wallet. Perhaps the wisest words Mary Wilson ever shared with me were, “Have the courage to follow your heart. Your heart never steers you in the wrong direction, because it is through your heart that the universe speaks to you.”

10. What books do you enjoy reading?

I love crime novels–VERY far from the kinds of books I write. Jo Nesbo is a favorite author of mine, as is Kristina Ohlsson. I get lost in their works–I love stories that keep me on the edge of my seat–and turning the pages to see what happens next!

Tom Ingrassia Bio:

Tom Ingrassia is an award winning author, radio personality, Motown historian, and success coach. He is the founder and CEO of both Tom Ingrassia Productions ( and The MotivAct Group ( From 2000-2006, he served as Executive Assistant & Creative Director for Mary Wilson’s Supreme Legacy. He travels the country with his motivational programs, Making A Difference Begins With YOU…So Live Into YOUR Dreams! and Mental Massage: Mindfulness For Goal Achievement, and the pop culture programs, Motown And The Civil Rights Movement and Girl Power: The Supremes As Cultural Icons. He is the host of The Motown Jukebox on WCUW 91.3FM, in Worcester, MA (

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