Sunday, December 29, 2013

When Traveling ...

When traveling in Venice, try not to stay on the Grand Canal anywhere near the Casino. You know, the one where James Bond rolls up to the table in his white dinner jacket, tosses a couple of die, and nails craps. And then, when the lovely young brunette standing beside him spilling out of her red gown asks him his name, he replies, "Bond ... James Bond," with a face that conveys neither happiness nor sadness, but surly intuits, "I'm also available and I've got a big hard gun." Anyway, don't stay at a hotel near the casino because you will be up most of the night due to thunderous beat of Euro-Disco, the lyrics "I'm too sexy for my car ..." replaying in your brain again, and again, and again. Not even James Bond could withstand such a torture without cracking (You listening to me Q?).

But hey, this is Venice so I'm not complaining.

While here I have been retracing the steps of my main characters in The Disappearance of Grace, my Venice stand-alone novel. Hitchcockian in form, the novel is about a solider, an officer, who having returned from the Afghan war suffering from PTSD along with temporary bouts of temporary blindness, attempts to try and reconcile his stressed relationship with his significant other. A painter named Grace. Problem is, while the two are enjoying a quiet lunch in San Marco, Grace suddenly goes missing. Our blind soldier has no choice but to try and find her, blindness be damned.

Yesterday while in Piazza San Marco I saw the exact table where Grace disappears and I saw the exact boat that carries her away to one of Venice's many islands. This is not my first time here but every time I visit I see something different and the experience becomes new again.

Walking the narrow, maze-like corridors of this ancient city is an experience of both claustrophobia and wonder that is not always easily described unless you expose yourself entirely to its magic on your own terms. I tried to get all the emotions right in "Grace" and hopefully I've succeeded. Imagine being half blind and losing the love of your life inside this aquatic city of love and broken hearts? A city that, at times, seems impossible to navigate even when your vision is 20/20.

Tonight I will board the night train to Paris. I've been overseas now for 64 days and will fly home from Paris later this week. I've gathered more material for a new novel or two, while completing a brand new novel called The Breakup.

Europe can be a wonderful place to write, to disappear, to find yourself amongst the eternal ruins. But do not ever try and attempt a good night's sleep by laying your head beside a casino.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Choose Wisely

"Shoulda, coulda, woulda ..."

The end of the year approaches and it's time to begin making those resolutions that will carry you into the new year. Maybe this will be the year you choose to lose the weight. Maybe it will be the year you choose to pay the bills. Maybe it's the year you choose to quit the butts. Maybe it's the year you choose to make the move to a new job or a new town. Maybe it's the year you choose to work up the courage to take that trip around the world. Hey, maybe it's the year you choose to become the full time writer.

The point is that so many resolutions will get made and another year will pass in which the only thing that changes is our age. The inevitable choice we make will be not to choose at all. Fear can be a real hobbler when you're trying to step ahead in life. Only when you realize that death is following you every step of the way, will you suddenly become aware of the limited time you have left on the planet. Sadly, most people never come to this realization and they die the worst way possible: Not trying.

I was raised in a household that stressed fear. Fear of everything. One step outside the norm and you were somehow punished. You were told which schools to go to, which churches to pray at, which friends were good and which were bad, and when it came time to choose a career, it was already chosen for you. Breaking free of the bondage proved a mammoth task for me, but I did it.

My dad was a great provider and strong community leader. He was an all around good guy. But at the same time, he became my shining example of how not to go through life. He could have been a world class musician had he followed his heart. But instead he chose to do what he was told to do (he could be a musician "on the side"). It was safer that way and yet, paradoxically, I can't help but believe that his life choices somehow contributed to his early death.

Quite literally, he had wanted me to live the same life he did. Expected me to make the same choices as if mimicking my father would have provided him with a kind of validation that he was surly missing ... An assurance that he had made the right moves. But I couldn't be like him, and I rebelled and went my own way. Despite more than a few setbacks during the journey, I've never looked back.
I'm always fascinated by friends and acquaintances who will come up to me and tell me I have a great life. "I wish I was you, traveling all over the place, being your own boss." I ask them why they don't don't do the same. They usually scratch their head, tell me their wife/husband would never allow it, or there's no money, or the job sucks but at least it's a job. Amazingly, some of these people are rich and have far more funds than I do to spend doing precisely what they want with their life. Still, they are afraid. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid to break free of the norm, of the suburb, of the life that is vanishing so quickly.

I look at them, into them, and I see the mortality that is greying the whites of their eyes on a daily basis. My heart goes out to them because they aren't living at all. They are existing ... A walking, bipedal mass of wasted energy.

We all have choices. Everyday is a new day and a new opportunity to choose who you want to be and how you want to do it. It's never too late. Choose wisely. You won't get today back ever again.

To join the Vincent Zandri mailing list for monthly news about book deals and free giveaways, please go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM and click on Contacts


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Where the Home Is

People ask me...and ask me often I might add...if I have a home.

An editor for a magazine I work for referred to me in a nice way as a vagabond, and a fellow author posted in Facebook just the other day , "Does Vince even have a home?" My sig other got a little frustrated with me about month or so ago when she shook her head saying, "I feel like I'm living with a nomad."

I assure you I'm neither a vagabond, nor a nomad, and I do have a home, even if the home I live in is not my own. This goes for both my studio and said sig other's place of residence. I will admit, having been on the road for months and months over the past five years has begun to make me feel like I don't have one place in the world that I can call my own, so much as places I can return to, to sleep, to wash my clothes, and to be cared for by others while I care for them. But always in the back and fore of my mind are thoughts and dreams of where I might escape to next.

Italy has been a great place to escape to. Florence in particular. It's a good place to write and a good place to think. Its cobblestones seem to resonate with the inspiration that so motivated DaVinci, Machiavelli, Dante, and yeah, Zandri. I wrote Blue Moonlight here which takes place in part in Florence. There isn't a time I don't walk past the Duomo in Piazza Dell Duomo and picture Dick Moonlight being chased by two Russian mobsters on top of the dome, a la Alfred Hitchock. For me, this is more than a place for escape, it is romance and intrigue. A place where, in the fall as the rains come and darkness settles in early, men don their leather coats, scarves and black watch caps, while the women put on their black leggings, short wool skirts, and tall black leather boots. 

Other places have been good for escape and writing. Paris is one of them. I even wrote well in Cairo, but always there was this sense that the barrel of an AK was staring me down. There is West Africa, and Moscow, and Athens, and even Lima. I've written in many places, but none of them I refer to as home. I will always consider them escapes regardless of the reason I go there.

In January I will return the US and my day will be the same as it is here in Florence. The only difference will be that at the beginning and end of the working day I won't hear the bells ringing from the Cathedral, nor will I make out the click-clack of the women's high heels pacing past my open French windows, nor will the street lamps shine down on the damp glazed stone in a way you never get sick of looking at. The voices will not speak Italian and the smells of olive oil and garlic cooking will not fill my head and make my mouth water. But when I look up on a clear night and see the same moon that we all see the world over wherever we lay our heads, I will know that I am never far from anywhere I call home.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Travel Day

In 1937 the young journalist Martha Gellhorn traveled to Spain to to observe the Spanish Civil War and to get a little private face-time with Ernest Hemingway. She carried only a knapsack, a portable typewriter, and fifty dollars in her pocket. I think for Martha, or Marty as Ernest would call her, it wasn't what she brought along on her travels that bore importance, it was more about what she left behind. There's nothing romantic in packing up your entire apartment and dragging it along with you on your travels. Far more romantic to leave it all behind. Everything.

Martha would become a life-long traveler, never staying in one place for very long. She would go on to have homes in Cuba, Mexico, Rome, East Africa, and eventually London. Her homes were always small if not humble and in terms of mod cons, sparsely equipped. Instead the layover-homes contained the essentials for a writer who spent most of her time on the move: books, a typewriter, booze, and an ashtray for her never ending cigarette. Even into her late eighties she was always ready to travel at a moment's notice and often found herself making difficult journeys on her own dime in order to research a new novel she was writing or to find the truth behind an armed conflict or the resulting carnage of that conflict.

She had a son, Sandy (adopted), but she would claim herself to be the worst mother in the world. She had several husbands (including Hemingway), but she would claim to not only be a poor wife, but also very bad in bed. Once, she spent a couple of years playing the house-frau to the then editor and chief of Time Magazine, complete with weekend house parties in the suburbs and she nearly committed suicide from the boredom and despair. I think it safe to say that Martha Gellhorn was not the domestic type.

I've just packed my knapsack. I have considerably more than fifty bucks stuffed in my pocket, but given the more than three quarters of a century that's lapsed in between 1937 and now, I'm not carrying much more than its 2013 equivalent. I'm heading back to Italy for two months and then onto France for the New Years. When I'm gone I will be rewriting two books, MOONLIGHT WEEPS and THE BREAKUP. I'll also be mapping out another new standalone that at present has no title. I'll be taking care of my normal journalistic duties for some magazines I work for (I have a deadline tomorrow which I'll make as a soon as I land in Rome). It will be a busy time that will also include some four-wheeling in the Tuscan Mountains and short trips to other countries. Traveling light without the burden of possessions is important. Traveling without regret is essential.

I'm not sure who pointed out to me that if sharks don't move forward they die. Probably some dude in a bar. But no one wants to be that dead shark laid out on the couch watching the flat screen in his living room whispering shoulda, coulda, woulda. Not me anyway.

Boarding pass...check.
Wallet and euros...check.

I'm off to the airport.
So long and farewell.




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gaming the System Goes Bye-Bye

Computers and the way they process metadata is a big topic these days. Not the least of which is the train wreck that is Obamacare and its cursed, half a billion dollar website. Then there's the NSA which it turns out, is spying on everyone from you and me to the Presidents of Germany and France. When those unmanned drones fly to Pakistan and blow people up, it's done via video-game-like computer. When Oliver Stone comes out of the woodwork demanding an end to the President's NSA policy, you know times are changing.

In my own little world of words, it appears that both Amazon and Google are no longer entertaining labels or "tags" that link lesser known authors up to far bigger names in order to game the system and trick potential book buyers into purchasing a book they would otherwise not buy. You with me here?

Let give you an example. Until recently, it was possible to write a novel and publish it with a tag such as James Patterson and/or Stephen King. By utilizing these tags your title could potentially be found listed apart from a vast sea of titles along with the relatively few titles of the more famous author. It was a cool way to get noticed. I certainly used these tags when I could, as have many of my colleagues. At one point, your publisher could even design a cover that resembled a more famous author's book. Some authors have even adopted pen names that resemble a more famous author. You put together the tags, along with the book cover, and the new pen name, and it's fairly easy to fool a customer into buying your book. Thanks metadata.

But do you really want to trick someone into buying your title?

I know I don't.

Not long ago, my friend and former Delacorte colleague Harlan Coben said that to rely on trickery or sketchy social media tactics in order to game the system, is at best, an ill-advised practice. Sure, go ahead and Facebook news of your new book or news of a sale, but to constantly be harassing people to purchase your books, is a big no-no (take it from me, I'm as guilty of this as anyone...) What he advised is this: The best way for a book to get noticed and talked about is for that book to be really something special. Something special means making your book not good or passable, but great.

As recently reported on this blog, I've managed to sell more than 40,000 copies of my novel The Remains over the past six weeks (currently I've sold around 43K). That's a lot of books. Now, in truth, I have the benefits of a major publisher working behind the scenes with a state-of-the-art marketing team. But the team isn't always pushing the book. In fact, no one is pushing the book at present and it's still selling more than one hundred copies per day in several different countries at a fairly high cost.

Why is this title selling so well when other titles aren't?
I really can't say because, well, I just don't know.

What I do know is this: I work really hard on my novels and I think it shows. Writing a really good book is the only thing I truly have control over. Everything else is pretty much a gamble. Talent and hard work are essentials in this business, but luck is the common denominator.

Want to have more luck and increase your chances of nailing a bestseller?
Work harder.

In the end, tags, labels, and metadata that we once relied upon on for selling books will be forgotten. As authors (surviving authors) we can only adapt to the current publishing climate, taking into account both publishing and marketing trends. One thing that is never trendy: writing as well as you can.

Write a great book. The kind of book that will get people talking. The kind of book that will raise up the fine hairs on a reader's neck. Sooner or later you'll have your bestseller. And you won't have earned it through trickery. You'll have earned it the old fashioned way: through sheer talent and hard work.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Scary "Full Moonlight" Halloween Sale!

I sometimes like to think that if Stephen King were to write about a detective with a piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged in his brain making his sudden and unexpected death from stroke not only a real possibility but a distinct reality, he'd have come up with the Dick Moonlight series. The Moonlights have gained in popularity over the years and maintain a quasi-cult following.   

Years ago I was (and still am) a big X-Files fan, and I even wrote an X-Files novel for Amazon Publishing this past April (I wrote it in three brain bursting weeks!!). Although I've been paid handsomely for the project, Fox Studios is blocking the publication of the novel for now due to some licensing issues. However, in the X-Files, anything-can-happen vein, I also wrote Full Moonlight, a novella that could easily pass as one of those creepy stand-alone episodes that Fox Mulder and Dana Scully would often find themselves enveloped in, thanks to the inventive mind of series creator/producer, Chris Carter, and series lead actor/writer/director, David Duchovony.

So, in the spirit of Halloween (which is my son Jack's birthday by the way), I give you Full Moonlight for just a buck. You can read it under a full moon, or you can read it in bed, under the covers on your Kindle. But just remember that it's make believe, or else you might have a difficult time falling asleep.

Happy Halloween all!!!

Buy Full Moonlight. Get real freakin' scared!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Turning a Bad Thing into Gold

I'm by no means a Midas type of guy. Meaning, not everything I touch or write, for that matter, turns into gold. But I have become a survivor. Case and point: Eight years ago this week, my second wife and I split up. I packed up my stuff along with my then thirteen and nine year old son's stuff, and moved from a huge four bedroom, three bath house to a two bedroom, one bath apartment. My youngest son was forced to leave his school and his friends while my oldest son became quite angry and at the same time, withdrawn over what to him, seemed like yet another life rejection. Both boys also had to leave behind their little sister. 

But here's the hard truth of the matter: I had no one to blame other than myself. I'd become a frustrated and unhappy young man. Having achieved some major success just a few years before in the form of quarter million dollar two book deal with Delacorte Press, I felt that I was entitled to more success. When that deal eventually went sour due to the publisher's corporate problems and I was left high and dry, I fell into a tailspin of despair that made life with Vince pretty unlivable.

Still recovering from the ill effects of a very expensive first divorce, my finances were in a shambles, my debt was enormous, and I had no real cash coming in. To make matters worse, I had no publisher and even my then agent was no longer returning my calls. That Christmas morning I was so depressed, I woke up, went straight for the refrigerator and cracked open a beer. I had reached rock bottom. As I stood there with the beer in hand and a tear running down my cheek, I knew I had two choices. I could either keep sliding south, which of course means six feet under. Or I could pull up my bootstraps and start climbing out of the hole I'd dug for myself. Luckily I tossed out the beer and got digging.

It was around this time I started writing THE REMAINS, a story about twin girls who were abducted back in the 1970s when they were only twelve by a madman who lived in a house in the woods behind their home. In part, the story was based upon my breakup with my second wife and I was able to utilize some of our relationship as the basis for the main characters. In this case, my protagonist, the artist and art teacher Rebecca, still maintains a friendly if not loving relationship with her ex, Michael. Michael is a writer who, having once before hit it very big, fell into a trap of partying like a rock star until one day he woke up in a hospital only to realize that everything he worked so hard for had turned to shit. And like me, he had only himself to blame.

Michael still loves Rebecca and since she is his muse, he insists on writing inside her apartment. When Rebecca begins to receive strange paintings with messages hidden inside them from an autistic savant who is her student, she comes to realize the paintings are warnings. The man who abducted her all those years ago has been released from prison and he's out to finish the job he started with she and her twin sister all those years ago. Only this time, he plans on doing it right. That said, Michael and Rebecca team up not only to solve the mystery, but also to rekindle their love.

Just the other day it dawned on me that if I hadn't broken up with my second wife whom I loved very much, I might never have written THE REMAINS. In fact, I'm quite sure I would not have written the story at all. if I hadn't reached rock bottom and survived it all, I never would have written the character of Michael. Nor would I have nailed the desperate-need-to-survive-at-all-costs that Rebecca experiences when she's being hunted down in the woods by the same man who abducted her many year ago. In a word, I had taken a very bad thing like a breakup, and turned it into gold.

Last month, THE REMAINS sold over 30,000 copies in paper, ebook, and audio. It reached the Top 10 in the UK and the US. It was also, or so my agent tells me, Thomas & Mercer's No. 1 seller for the month of September. Not bad considering the hundreds of books they publish. But the point here is not how well something sells. The point is that I was able to turn a bad situation entirely onto its back, and write something that I am entirely proud of. Something that can stand up in both the literary and suspense genres (since September 1, the book has earned more than forty new 4 and 5 star reviews). 

Today, I'm sitting at my writing desk in my studio and reflecting on all that has changed in the eight years since my wife and I split up. I've published hundreds of articles and photographs for some major news outlets like RT and magazines like Living Ready. I've traveled to from Moscow to the Amazon Basin, and from Shanghai to West Africa. I enjoy extended one and two month writing retreats in Italy. I've written more than half a dozen new short stories and two novellas. More importantly, I've written thirteen new books and have recently completed the first draft of my seventeenth. My debt is gone, and I even have enough money to invest. I don't enjoy the benefits of one publisher. But several.

A number of years ago a prominent local bookseller looked me in the eye and said, "You will never score another major book deal again." Since then I've published (and re-published) seven novels with perhaps the hottest major publisher in the business today. I will be publishing more with them to be sure.

I love proving naysayers wrong. But more than that, I love proving myself wrong. Eight years ago I felt like there was nothing to live for anymore if I couldn't be a working writer, and do so on my own terms. What I had to grow up and realize is that this is a business full of ups and downs and the work ethic must be adhered to like a priest and his daily Our Fathers. But if there is one thing I've learned more than anything else, it's this: Happiness is a choice. It's not something that arrives and departs like the cavalry. Happy people seem to attract other happy people. They also attract success. They are healthy and hopeful. Their dreams are vivid and real. Conversely, the miserable attract misery. They are physically and mentally incapacitated and they are the perpetually plagued. Avoid them at all costs.

Just like Rebecca and Michael from THE REMAINS, my ex and I are giving our relationship another try. Why shouldn't we? We've both changed and managed to ride out our separate storms. We've grown up in the process and learned a whole lot about life. We're survivors.

Want to read THE REMAINS?

Get it at!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sales and More Sales

Remember the good old days when your novel would be released one week and six weeks later it would be removed from the bookstore shelves in order to make space for something else? You might write one novel per year and, if you were lucky, have one novel per year released. Of course all that's changed now in the digital age where space on the virtual bookstore shelf is infinite. Now I'm writing three books per year and I'm publishing so many of them my publishers can't keep up, which means I've actually begun my own imprint to handle the overflow. How fucking cool is that?

The digital and e-book age has initiated something else that's pretty cool.

Books that might have long been forgotten in the paper and bookstore "returns" age, are now able to enjoy renewed life. Over the past two weeks I've sold more than 14,000 books in e-book, print, and audible form. The novels that are kicking ass are THE REMAINS, GODCHILD, and THE INNOCENT. What makes these novels so special? Nothing in particular, other than I consider them some of my best and most inspired work. But that's the creative Vince talking. Now for the business Vince.

Take a look at the vitals for these three releases:

 --THE INNOCENT: First publisher, Delacorte Press in 1999: Copies sold, 7,000 and change.
                                  Second publisher, StoneGate Ink in 2011: Copies sold, 100,000 and change.
                                  Third publisher, Thomas & Mercer in 2012: 10,000 and change to date...

--GODCHILD: First Publisher, Dell in 2000: Copies sold...Data Unavailable but if I had to guess
                                                                           you can count the sales using the fingers on both
                          Second Publisher, StoneGate Ink in 2011: Copies sold, 25,000 and change.
                          Third Publisher, Thomas & Mercer in 2012: Copies sold, 8,000 and change to date
                                                                                                   and climbing...

--THE REMAINS: First Publisher, StoneHouse Ink in 2010: Copies sold, 30,000 and change.
                                Second Publisher, Thomas & Mercer in 2012: Copies sold, 15,000 and change
                                  to date...(I'm guestimating that I will move around 25K of this title by the end
                                  of the month. Maybe more.)

The numbers reflected by T&M might not look as good as those of the "Gates" YET, but you have to keep in mind that the new editions are only a year or less old. Presently, I'm averaging 3500 sales per month with the Amazon Publishing imprint (they acquired 7 titles, all of which were released in late 2012. At the end of this month, I will have easily moved well over 50K units for them). If I update this same blog exactly a year from now, I suspect that my combined numbers at T&M will measure in the hundreds of thousands. Something not possible in the purely "paper/return" days of old. My books are my greatest financial assets, and presently there is simply no better place for these assets to reside and grow than in the hands of Amazon Publishing's Thomas & Mercer imprint. Five years from now things might be entirely different, although I doubt it.

This is not to say that selling books is easier these days. It's not. In some ways, it's more difficult given the ease with which anyone can self-publish a novel. There's a lot of shit out there and it's clogging up the pipes so to speak. But if you're good at what you do, possess a degree of God given talent, and you dedicate yourself entirely to the craft and the life, you have at least a chance of breaking out. To a degree, that is.

As recently as three weeks ago I was contacted by a reporter (name not given) at The New York Times, asking me about my relationship with one of my present publishers and how it is that I am able to sell so well (this same reporter has been contacting me periodically for almost a year now). I've also been contacted by The Observer in London, the WSJ, and numerous other publications. I don't hand over much information to them which is a source of their infinite frustration, but I sense what they are looking for is "the secret." You know, what's the secret of your success? What deal have you made with the devil? What kind of tricks are you playing? What algarythms are you manipulating? (This last one really cracks me up...)

The truth is that there are no manipulations and there are no tricks. The most I can reveal is that now and again, my publishers might run a special. But this sales tactic is no different from any bookstore or chain of bookstores offering my books at a discounted price for a certain period of time. The point is to move units and it's purely a decision made by the pencil pushers on the "Retail" side of the building. You want to find me, I'm down the hall in the "Talent."

And don't take my word for it. There are a lot of other authors moving more units than I am, JA Konrath, Blake Crouch, Sean Chercover among them. Just this past weekend, Aaron Patterson moved something like 10K units of his novel Sweet Dreams. The book is five years old.   

This week my very first published novel, Permanence (Northwest 1995) will go on special now that it's been re-released in e-Book format. Back in the 90's it sold less than 500 copies and from that point on, was forgotten entirely, despite its stellar reviews. I'll make a prediction, come this time next week, Permanence will have sold at least 3500 units over the period of a couple of days. I can't guarantee that kind of success, but based on experience, I think I can stand up in public and make that prediction. 3,500 units sold in just a couple of days. That will be more sales than I collectively earned from 1995 - 1999.

Who misses the good old days? 
Not me.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

THE SHROUD KEY is Released and More News!

I just finished writing and distributing my newsletter for those subscribed fans and friends. But since so many of you aren't subscribed I thought I would put it out as a blog. So here goes: 

Author Photo by Jessica Painter

Hello All,

Just a quick update on from my part of the globe now that the Fall season is upon us (Yes, the summer flew by). I have some good news regarding the Thomas & Mercer edition of THE REMAINS. This month it's an "Editor's Pick" at Amazon and has been enjoying a stay in the Top 300 Kindle books for more than a week now. In the UK it reached the Top 10 and is still in the Top 50. The T&M editions of THE INNOCENT and GODCHILD have also been enjoying a nice revival (If you recall, THE INNOCENT was once published under the title, AS CATCH CAN by Delacorte Press).

I'm also excited to announce that the third in the Marconi series, THE GUILTY (StoneGate Ink), has been an Amazon Hot New Release in Hard-Boiled Mystery since it's release one month ago. Also look for the fifth in the Dick Moonlight PI series, MOONLIGHT SONATA, which is also being released by StoneGate Ink.

On the foreign end of things, I've just signed with MEME PUBLISHERS in Paris and Milan. Meme will be handling the foreign translations of all the Moonlight and Marconi novels, plus THE REMAINS and THE SHROUD KEY (see below). MOONLIGHT FALLS is he first to be translated into both Italian and French. It will be available in Europe in Spring 2014.

The_Shroud_Key_(Digital) (2).jpg

This month is also special in that my newest novel in a brand new series featuring Renaissance man, Chase Baker, has now officially been released in e-book (trade paper to follow). It's called THE SHROUD KEY. Here's what the novel is all about:

Chase Baker is not only a true Renaissance Man, he’s a man who knows how to find trouble. A part-time resident of Florence, Italy, his resume reads like a modern day Da Vinci or Casanova. Writer, private investigator, tour guide, historian, treasure hunter, adventurer, and even archaeological sandhog, Chase is also a prolific lover. Unfortunately for him, his dangerous liaisons all too often make him the target of a jealous husband. Now, at the direct request of the Florence police, he finds himself on the trail of an archaeologist by the name of Dr. Andre Manion who’s gone missing from his teaching post at the American University. But having worked for the archaeologist several years ago as a sandhog on a secret but failed dig just outside the Great Pyramids in the Giza Plateau, Chase smells a renewed opportunity to uncover what just might be the most prized archaeological treasure in the world: The mortal remains of Jesus. But how will Chase Baker go about finding both the archaeologist and the Jesus Remains? With the help of Manion’s beautiful ex-wife, Chase will manage to secure an up-close and personal examination of the Shroud of Turin, not only to view the famous image of the crucified Christ, but to unlock the relic’s greatest secret which is none other than a map, or a key, detailing the precise location of Jesus’s body. Fans of Dan Brown, Clive Cussler and JR Rain will find The Shroud Key an irresistible adventure.  

In terms of appearances, I'll be hanging out at Bouchercon the weekend of September 19-22 which is happening this year at Albany's Empire State Plaza. I'll be a part of a cool panel on Friday morning

Room 1

Worse Comes to Worst-tragedy as entertainment
Art Taylor (M), Joe Clifford, Nik Korpon, F. Paul Wilson, Johnny Shaw, Lee Thompson, Vincent Zandri

Please stop by!

Here's hoping this finds you well. As always I appreciate your support and friendship. I look forward to seeing you many of you soon.



Find me at
Author Photo by Jessica Painter

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pam Stack's "Author's on the Air" Interview with Vincent Zandri

The lovely Pam Stack

Thought I'd give you something different from the Vox for a change. Just this past Saturday I had the distinct pleasure of being the guest of Miami's Pam Stack. Via her popular Blog Talk Radio program, Authors on the Air, she has interviewed some of the hottest and most popular thriller writers at work today, including Dave Zeltserman, Meg Gardiner, David Morrell, and many more. I can't tell you how honored I am to enter into the ranks of these great writers. Before you listen, it might interest you to know that BlogTalk Radio ranked my show #4 out of 30,000 other programs being aired that day. A number which astounds me and really pleased Pam. I can tell you this, it's rare that I listen to the podcast of an interview once it's in the can. But Pam Stack's questions and delivery were so professional and knowledgeable, that she really made me work for my answers. In the end, I think we both did a pretty good job. And I was pleased to give it a very good listen. 

With that, I give you....


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Getting in the Mood to Write

 Papa writes in Africa...

(Author's Note: The International Thriller Writer's Association asked me what I do in order to get in the mood for writing...Here's what I came up with.)

If you were to ask Ernest Hemingway what he did to get in the mood for writing, he might come back at you with a rather macho and dramatic response like, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit at your typewriter and bleed.” Or he might tell you that one’s mood has nothing to do with the all important task of “biting the nail.” He might even say, “Writing is like mass. God gets mad if you don’t show up.”

I think it’s safe to say that as masterful a writer as Hemingway was, the actual process of writing did not come easy for him. He had to work at it, mining the right words, gem by precious gem, until just the right meaning and feel of a sentence was conveyed. In order to ensure that he was “in the mood” for writing day in and day out, he kept a rigorous schedule of waking at dawn and writing until noon. He would then reward himself with fishing, shooting, playing baseball, or simply heading out to his favorite watering hole like Sloppy Joes for a couple of drinks. He never wrote much more than 250 words per day (about a single double-spaced page), and he always stopped at a place where he knew he could pick up again in the morning, thus guaranteeing that he’d be able to continue to write.

I’m not even going to pretend that I belong in the same class as Hemingway. But like him, I do make my living by sitting at my typewriter (Or Lenovo ThinkPad anyway), and bleeding. I don't teach and I don't have another job to supplement my writing income. Making a living at writing words on a page entails two things. The first is that you have to be good, either by sheer talent or by force of will. The second is that you become prolific, at least to a degree that can guarantee you enough of an income to live according to your own idea of what constitutes a decent quality of life. That said, I need to write and have published a certain amount of novels that can guarantee me a steady stream of income for a long, long time (I’m still I my forties). Just what is that magic number of books? I’m not sure yet, but I know it will be more than 20. Currently, I’m writing my 16th, so I’m almost there.

But writing book after book is a lot of hard work (I’m a journalist too, so my daily word count is up there, believe me). That said, getting in the mood to write doesn’t even enter into the equation. I get up to write at least six days a week no matter what mood I’m in, no matter where I am in the world. It’s a discipline I maintain in order to ensure success, and it’s no different from the discipline a surgeon or a lawyer or a brick layer or even a priest maintains. A brain surgeon doesn’t wake up on any given Tuesday and tell him or herself, I’m not in the mood to operate today. He just does it, and does it to the very best of his ability. It’s the same for me. I don’t get writer’s block anymore than an accountant gets accountant’s block. This is something they will not teach you in writing school.

I also don’t require solitude or even absolute quiet. I’ve written in airports, on planes, trains, in boats, and in cars. I’ve written in Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, Africa, Egypt, China, the jungles of South America, and in the suburbs of Albany, New York. I’ve written when my wives were bearing our children in the hospital, and I wrote five pages of a new novel only hours after my father dropped dead from a heart attack. I write on my birthday, on Christmas, and Easter. I write on weekends. I write if my significant other is angry with me and tossing my shit out the window, and I write if I’m hung over. I wrote on September 11, 2001, and I wrote on the day we killed Osama Bin Laden. I suppose I will write on the day I die. It is the one thing in my life that is constant, never changing, and loyal beyond the possibility of betrayal, and it is the one thing that is as certain as the sun that also rises on each and every morning. And as for my mood? Well, my mood has not one goddamned thing whatsoever to do with it. 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vincent Zandri: The Big Thrill Interview

Thriller author Ian Walkley interviewed me last month for The Big Thrill...Here's what he came up with:

The Guilty by Vincent Zandri

Harlan Coben describes Vincent Zandri’s novels as “Gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting…” Vincent’s latest mystery thriller THE GUILTY finds former prison warden and private eye Jack Marconi investigating a local restaurateur who’s not only obsessed with the sexy, dark romance novel, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, he’s accused of attempting to murder his school teacher girlfriend. As the now brain-damaged young woman begins recalling events of that fateful winter night when she was allegedly pushed down the stairs of a West Albany mansion, she becomes the target of the angry foodie/sex-obsessed boyfriend once again. Only this time, he’s cooking up a plot to keep her silenced forever.

Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, THE CONCRETE PEARL, MOONLIGHT RISES, and more. The bestselling author of SAVAGES, Don Winslow, says of Zandri: “He’s a terrific writer and he tells a terrific story.” Zandri’s work has been published in many languages including Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for LIVING READY, RT, GLOBALSPEC, as well as several other news agencies and publications, Zandri lives in New York.

Vincent, what are some of the things we’ll discover about Jack Marconi in this story?

In the first two Marconi novels, THE INNOCENT(formerly AS CATCH CAN), and GODCHILD, Jack was much more brooding and dark-minded due to his obsession over who killed his wife Fran and why. That mystery now solved, and ten years having passed in the meantime, Jack is now a little more cocky, and somewhat happier. He’s come to terms with Fran’s death and although he hasn’t remarried, he’s gotten his life back and it shows.

And what or who are some of the obstacles Jack has to face?

Maybe Jack has gotten his life back, but he’s also aging in a way that’s making him feel culturally irrelevant. Smartphones, texting, blogging, Facebook, Google…none of these things were around during his previous adventures or, at least, were in their infancy. How does he compete with a would-be killer who’s obsessed with the post-modern indie erotica novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey?” He has to find a way to get into the killer’s mind-set. Not an easy thing for someone who is essentially still rooted in the 1950s. The sense of isolation he feels adds to his already heightened sense of existentialism. He feels at once alone and dismayed at a new generation of socially media savvy and digitally raised young people who can torture others both sexually and mentally with all the ease and carelessness as one would experience playing a video game. I explored a very similar theme in my stand-alone thriller, SCREAM CATCHER.

What are some of Jack’s flaws? Did you develop these through conscious character design, or do they flow more from the storyline?

Jack is always going to do the right thing, even if it means breaking the law. He’d rather hire a convicted drug dealer and killer as his sidekick than a white-bread goody-two-shoes, because he knows the former knows a hell of a lot more about real life in the modern world than does the latter. Such close underworld associations, however, can make Jack suspect in the eyes of both the police and his clients. It also elevates the potential for Jack to do something bad in order to get at an ultimate good. Like shooting a bad guy in the thigh for instance in order to extract some much needed information.

Who are some of the other characters in THE GUILTY, and how will they impact Jack.

Jack’s a got a new side-kick in the form of a former Green Haven inmate whom he once was in charge of incarcerating. Blood, which is his nickname, is now the local neighbourhood watchman which means he more or less controls who sells and buys what on the street corners. He can also get anything done…anything…but for a price. He is a handsome, very in shape, middle-aged African American man of strict morals who knows what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a set of prison bars. Like Keeper, he only wants to get at the truth of any given case.

What did you particularly enjoy about writing THE GUILTY?

It was fun being back in Jack’s voice. Some readers will say that Jack seems a lot like my other serial character Dick Moonlight, but there are tremendous differences. Jack would do stuff Moonlight would never do and vice versa. They know one another, and often work with the same men and women at the Albany Police Department. One day I’m going to sit down and start writing a novel with both of them in it.

That sounds like a fun story to write. In what ways has your writing evolved since the first Jack Marconi book? Who are some of the influences that have impacted your writing?

I’m older and having written thirteen novels and countless articles in between, I’m a somewhat better writer. Or so I hope. I’ve also been exposed to some great voices over the past decade and a half since I wrote the first Marconi novel. Charlie Huston, Don Winslow, Boston Teran, Les Edgerton, Belinda Frisch among them. They have taught me all about writing great sentences and paragraphs with few if any wasted words.

You recently attended Thrillerfest. What were some of the memorable moments?

Andy Bartlet, my original acquiring editor at Thomas & Mercer, and I tried our best to steal a Kuwaiti flag which was mounted to a pole on the exterior of the Kuwaiti embassy. I suppose in the end it’s good that we didn’t get the flag because then we would have had to fight over who got to take it home. The whole adventure blended well with Thrillerfest in that it’s the one occasion during the year where editors, writers, publishers, fans, all get to let loose together and have some fun. It’s what keeps me coming back year after year.

As well as writing novels and short fiction, you continue to work as a freelance photo-journalist, travel a great deal, and play the drums in a punk rock band. You also spend time in Italy. Do you find your lifestyle creeping its way into your stories?

Sure, it can’t help but creep in. I just wrote a novel called CHASE which is about a writer/adventurer who lives in Florence part-time. He often gives walking tours for extra cash and on occasion will act as a private detective for the local police. In the first book he goes on the trail of a missing archaeology professor and ends up in post-revolutionary Egypt. Not the safest of places. I went to Egypt this past October to research the novel. I couldn’t admit to being an American. My fixer and I also got run off the road, our car crashing into a ditch. It was a strange feeling finding yourself in the hornet’s nest. But then, I like that sort of thing.

You have been extremely successful as an indie author, through Amazon publishing and through StoneHouse Ink, a highly regarded indie publishing house. Do you have a view about how publishing might evolve over the next few years?

I think the big six or five or four or whatever they are down to now will rebound and enjoy a new resurgence with e-books. It’s taken some time, but they are beginning to understand the potential of digital publishing and how it will now replace entirely the mass market paperback. Medium sized Indie houses like StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink will get larger and larger until they are either bought out by the majors or they become majors in their own right. Self-published authors who have not been previously published by major houses will find it harder and harder to compete in a crowded marketplace but that doesn’t mean there won’t be huge success stories every year. At the same time, established authors who have been published by the majors will begin to seek out more independent alternatives in order to gain more control over what they write and publish while increasing profit margins. More brick and mortar bookstores will close including more Barnes & Nobles. However, the trade paperback will continue to share the podium with e-books while on-line sales thrive. I’m actually wondering what’s going to replace the e-book. Whatever it is, it will happen very soon.

It remains difficult for new writers to be noticed. Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists about increasing their chances of success?

Write great books. There’s no better way to be noticed.

THE GUILTY was released in July as a paperback original by StoneHouse Ink/StoneGate Ink.