Moonlight Falls’ author, 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 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. You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Vincent. Can you tell us what your latest book, Moonlight Falls, is all about?
Moonlight Falls is basically film noir on paper. It’s about Richard “Dick” Moonlight, suicide survivor who now must cope with a small piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged in his brain. Because it’s pressed up against his cerebral cortex he has trouble making good decisions and he suffers on occasion from short-term memory loss. In times of stress he passes out. He could suffer a major stroke or die at any moment. So time means little to him. When he makes the wrong decision to sleep with his former boss’s wife and she later turns up brutally murdered, he believes it’s possible he might have killed her and just can’t remember it.
I believe I was down in Manhattan promoting As Catch Can with my then Delacorte editor, Jacob Hoye (now MTV Books), when I came across a story about a man who survived a suicide attempt and lived with a piece of bullet shrapnel still stuck in his brain. At the time I was also influenced by a self-stabbing suicide art exhibit that I caught in a Soho gallery by the artist infamous artist Damien Hirst. I’ve also been fascinated with a rarely spoken about story from my family history in which my paternal grandfather committed suicide by slicing his neck open with a straight razor in front of his grown children.
Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?
Moonlight Falls is my fourth published novel, although I’ve written or am in the process of completing four others. Plus numerous starts and stops. My first novel length effort, Permanence, was a literary effort based on my most anthologized short story. The next novel, As Catch Can, was a huge commercial effort and it generated a lot of money. MF is more literary in style, with several POVs and time shifts. It’s definitely more small lit press oriented.
Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?
This one went through many transformations, depending upon what agent was repping it at the time. Everyone injected their two cents. In the end, I stripped it to the book I originally envisioned and that’s the one that got published.
Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The novel has also generated some movie interest from Heyday Productions who produce the Harry Potter movies. Because my main character is named Dick, my dad, many people have asked me if he’s based on my dad, who also goes by that name.
Q: What is your daily writing routine?
Up by 7:00AM, make the coffee, drink it while putting in a couple of hours in my writing studio, which is also my bedroom. Then I head outside to run 3 or 4 miles. Then off to the gym for some weight training. After lunch, I write all afternoon, until it’s time to rehearse with my band. Then I like to head out for a drink and dinner. When I’m on assignment like I was this past June in Africa (http://rt.com/About_Us/Blogs/Embedded_in_Africa/2009-06-05.html) where I covered the work a hospital ship is doing there off the coast of Benin, the writing and exploring can be non-stop.
Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?
Run, lift weights, eat, drink, travel, walk, fly fish, hike, play drums in my punk band, The Blisterz, read, think, play with my kids, spend time with my girlfriend, the New York artist, Gina Occhiogrosso.
Q: What book changed your life?
Tough to narrow it down to one. Max Frisch’s Homo Faber would have to be the one book that stuck with me as an existential body of work written sparely, without sentimentality. I wanted to convey that in my noir.
Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
Vincent Zandri: A Life Story/PART I
Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”
I’m not nearly as crazy as I look!
Thank you for this interview, Vincent. I wish you much success!
Vincent Zandri is on virtual book tour throughout February and March 2010. If you’d like to visit his official tour page, click here!