Pump Up Your Book Chats with Vincent Zandri

Vincent Zandri Vincent Zandri is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include the bestselling, Moonlight Falls,Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

His latest book is the bestselling thriller novel, The Remains.

You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at www.vincentzandri.blogspot.com.

The Remains

Remains - about

Q: Can you tell us why you wrote your book?

I wanted to write a story about identical twins and the connection they still share when one of them has died. I also wanted to somehow incorporate an autistic savant into the story, and I wanted to make him a hero. I found that autistic savant in the form of the real life character in the late Francis Scaramuzzi, who used to be a janitor at my high school. Not long before his death, it was discovered that he went home at night and created these wonderful paintings.


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Q: Which part of the book was the hardest to write?

All of it! But in particular, the parts about painting and how it works, trying to get the terminology to work. Also the parts about the villain, Joseph Whelan. He attacked and abducted my main character, Rebecca Underhill and her twin sister Molly when they were only 12. I had to get the details of that event across in the book not in graphic form, but more or less intuited. That took some honing of my skills as an author.

Q: Does your book have an underlying message that readers should know about?

I think this book more than any other I’ve written examines my faith in what’s out there after we die. Whether we live on in some form or another, and if there is a heaven and a God. In this novel, Rebecca questions the existence of the almighty, but without spoiling anything, by the time the novel is over, she becomes a changed woman.

The Remains - Books

Q:  What was one of your favorite books as a child?

I loved War of the Worlds which I read at night under the covers with a flashlight. Same with Huckleberry Finn. Later, A Farewell to Arms. Those novels definitely stick out in my memory, although there were lots more.

Q: What is your favorite book as an adult?

Charlie Huston’s Caught Stealing. That’s my favorite book right now. He’s a modern noir master.

Q: What are you reading now?

Charlie Huston’s, Sleepers. I’m reading everything of his.

The Remains - Writing

Q: Do you remember when the writing bug hit?

Around my second year in high school. That’s when I was introduced to Hemingway. His writing, his life, his adventures. I think I knew then I wanted to do what that cool white bearded guy used to do.

Q: Besides books, what else do you write?  Do you write for publications?

I’m a full-time freelance journalist. I write for global publications like RT (Russia Today TV). I’ve had to cut back quite a bit with having signed three new contracts with StoneGate Ink.


Q: Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share?

Write as much as you can. Read all the classics, and then read what you like. Try and start out with some short stories, and then progress to a novel length work. If it’s terrible, start another one. Stay in the game no matter what. Never give up no matter the rejections. A successful writer is a published writer.

The Remains - Family & Home

Q:  Would you like to tell us about your home life?  Where you live?  Family?  Pets?

I spend most of my time in Albany, New York. But I also live in Florence, Italy for part of the year. I travel as much as possible. Sometimes on assignment. Other times just to go. My two sons live with me. They’re in high school and college.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write at home?

In my bedroom, for the most part. I write in a lot of hotel rooms too.

Q: What do you do to get away from it all?

Like I mentioned, I head to Italy for a month or two every year. If I’m not on assignment, I work only on my novels.

The Remains - On Childhood

Q: Were you the kind of child who always had a book in his hand?

No. Well, yes. What I mean is, as a young kid, I was fascinated with World War II, my grandfather having been a Captain of ground infantry and wounded twice, once in the Battle of the Bulge. So I begged for books and magazines on the subject, even if I didn’t understand them.

Q: Can you remember your favorite book?

As a ten year old, War of The Worlds, and The Old Testament, especially the passion.

Q: Do you remember writing stories when you were a child?

Not necessarily, but I acted lots of stories out. Even the Passion of the Christ, building my own cross. My parents caught me, and were seriously worried. Ha! True story.

The Remains - Book Promotion

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promoting your book?

Alert Kindleboards.

Q: Are you familiar with the social networks and do you actively participate?

Yes, everyday, every other hour. I’m a social media hound!!!

Q: How do you think book promotion has changed over the years?

It’s no longer necessary to do book signings exclusively. Now, in the time it takes me to drink a large Dunkin Donuts coffee, I can utilize my social media connections, blogs, trailers, Pump Up Your Book Promotions, Twitter, Facebook, Blog Talk Radio, etc. to get the word out. I can even sell books while waiting for a plane.

The Remains - Book Publishing

Q: What is the most frustrating part of being an author?

Getting paid only every six months.

Q: What is the most rewarding?

Knowing at the end of the day, I did some pretty great writing.

Q: How do you think book publishing has changed over the years?

The form in which it is published is always changing. We started with drawings on cave walls, then moved on to stone tablets, then papyrus. Soon we had paper scrolls, then a printing press, and now we have digital books that can printed on demand, and finally we have electronic EBooks. The process is still the same though. I sit alone in the morning at dark-thirty, with a pen and a blank sheet of paper. One day however, in the future, we will be back to drawing on cave walls.

The Remains - Fun Stuff

Q: If you had one wish, what would that be?

Healthy kids.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world other than where you are right now, where would that place be?

Paris, the Lipp. I would be eating choucroute garnie

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Q: Your book has just been awarded a Pulitzer.  Who would you thank?

My mother.