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Feb 26, 2019 2:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Southampton Press Reporter Donna Giancontieri Publishes First Novel

Donna Giancontieri of Greenport, who grew up in Hampton Bays, wrote a book and published it on Amazon.com, called
Mar 1, 2019 1:35 PM

A Hampton Bays native who once worked as a reporter on the South Fork published her first novel last year, one that she said is reminiscent of events in years past—and even of today.The book, “Conscience Point: A Novel,” was written by Donna Giancontieri, 53, of Greenport, and follows Nick Graham, a newspaper reporter in the Hamptons. Mr. Graham uncovers a plot hatched by the mayor, who is connected to a multimillion-dollar development planned for the site of an old Shinnecock Indian Nation burial ground.

Throughout the book, the protagonist is faced with the deaths of those close to him, and stonewalling from people who may profit from the development.

“I got the story idea when I was a reporter,” Ms. Giancontieri said of when she worked at The Southampton Press in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As a reporter for The Press, she covered such beats as Southampton Town Hall other local municipalities. For her, it was a dream come true.

Having grown up in Hampton Bays, Ms. Giancontieri was part of the fabric that makes up the East End.

When she was a kid, she spent time going to the beach and riding her bicycle around Hampton Bays and to school. In 1983, Ms. Giancontieri graduated from Hampton Bays High School, and eventually enrolled in the then-Southampton College.

Originally, she said, she wanted to be an English teacher, but every guidance counselor she had talked her out of it, so she wound up earning a degree in history in politics.

With her degree, Ms. Giancontieri wanted to become a reporter, so she started writing obituaries and classifieds for the Western Edition of The Southampton Press, in an effort to get her foot in the door. After a couple of years, she started writing more in-depth articles, taking on local politics and uncovering scandals—including a local official who took bribes.

In 2002, Ms. Giancontieri left The Press after seven years and went to work at Town Hall for Patrick “Skip” Heaney, who was elected town supervisor right before her departure.

Around the same time, she wrote her first book, “Master Media Relations.” The book spells out strategies for dealing with the press, either on the offensive or defensive side.

But then, Ms. Giancontieri was diagnosed with leukemia, which derailed her writing for nearly two years. “It came on overnight,” she said of the disease. “I call it a thief in the night.”

A few months before being diagnosed, Ms. Giancontieri had begun writing “Conscience Point,” but she tucked the project away while she recovered.

Two years ago, she dusted off the manuscript and set out to finish the novel.

“Conscience Point: A Novel,” takes place in the fictional village of Hampton Point. Ms. Giancontieri said the idea for the book came to her once while she was covering a Southampton Town Board meeting. A historian stood up at the podium and talked about a proposed development that was planned near bluffs on the South Fork. The historian said the area contained Shinnecock burial grounds, but also burial sites for British soldiers who had shipwrecked off the coast.

“I had never heard this before,” she said.

So Ms. Giancontieri started researching the area and came up with the basis of her book. “It’s reporter versus sinister politician—who may have an interest in a property,” she said, adding that even the seasons of the Hamptons take on different characters in the book.

In September, Ms. Giancontieri published her novel on Amazon.com. She said getting published in print is more difficult today than it was a decade ago, and many people close to her said she should self-publish her book.

Now, she is working on a second novel, called “Montauk Point,” that follows the same main character, Mr. Graham.

“I never would have been able to write about a reporter without being a reporter,” Ms. Giancontieri said. “People seem to really like it.”

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Congratulations! I will add this book to my reading list.
By Rich Morey (357), East Hampton on Mar 1, 19 9:37 AM
Congratulations, Donna!
By Robert I Ross (247), Hampton Bays on Mar 1, 19 6:12 PM
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