Moonlight Falls – Thriller novel – author interview – Vincent Zandri

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Vincent Zandri, author of the thriller novel, Moonlight Falls, Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana. Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible? He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullet fragment would be too dangerous. But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet fragment also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility

Hi Vincent Zandri,

Welcome to Paperback Writer,

Thank you for having me.

Q: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?

A: Moonlight Falls, was originally conceived when I was down in New York City promoting As Catch Can back in 2000. I visited an art exhibit by Damien Hirst that dealt with self-stabbing and suicide by self-mutilation. Turns out that’s the most uncommon form of suicide there is. Also, I was just finding out about my paternal great grandfather who killed himself at the dinner table in front of his children by cutting his own throat with a straight razor, -pleasant guy.

Q: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

A: I write character studies with all sorts of information that will never make it into the book. Then I write a chapter by chapter outline, but only a partial one, as the story needs to take organic twists and turns on its own. The first draft is usually my outline.

Q: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?

A: Sometimes I’ll write a story knowing the ending before the beginning. So it’s a bit like writing backwards.

Q: Do you have a process for developing your characters?

A: Like I said, I write character studies. But for the most part, all my characters are based upon real people I know or know of and that makes the process run a lot smoother. Like William Kennedy, my novels are Albany, New York novels, so there are a lot of real Albany people in them. Sometimes I use their real names, and sometimes I give them false names. So if you’re from Albany, try and find yourself!!!

Q: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

A: My main characters sometimes reflect certain aspects of myself, especially their weaknesses. I’ve got a lot of them! Moonlight has divorced. I’ve divorced. He likes to run and lift weights. I do that too. He often makes the wrong decisions. Ditto! The main character is richer and more fully developed when you are able to put some of yourself into him or her.

Q: What is your most favorite part about this book?

A: I think when Moonlight drives to his old neighborhood and parks his car behind a big tree in order to conceal himself. He watches his little boy get off the school bus to the awaiting arms of his mother who is now married to his former partner in the Albany Police Department. On more than one occasion I found myself missing my own children in much the same way when my first marriage broke up. It’s a very personal chapter.

Q: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?

A:: Soon as it’s perfect and my readers say it’s perfect. But then, perfect is dubious.

Q; What struggles have you had on the road to being published?

A: It’s always a struggle in that, when things are good and you are publishing with a certain house, you have all sorts of bombs being lobbed at you. Will the publisher be in business one, two, three years down the road? Will the book sell? Will it be reviewed well? When you’re just starting out, and you haven’t yet been published, the smallest things can make you feel on top of the world. Like getting a newspaper story published, for instance. Or no one forgets their first published short story. But later on, when a commercial publisher is advancing you 100 or even 200 grand for your book, that’s when the pressure is on to produce. I’m with a small publisher now, and the money isn’t near what I used to earn. But I’m making a living as writer and journalist, and Moonlight Falls is the RJBuckley’s bestseller.

Q: What has been the best part about being published?

A: Sex, drugs and rock n’roll…Ha! Well, there has been quite a bit of that. But ten years have passed since my first commercial novel was published and I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve also been humbled quite a bit and for good reason. I became a bit of an egomaniac. Certainly the best part about being published is watching your children, who are now in high school and college, pull one of your books off the bookshelf and wonder what it’s all about. And, later, when they tell you they are seriously considering writing for a living, you know you are doing something right. As for the worst part or my most serious regret? Moonlight Falls and my commitment to writing cost me my marriage to my second wife, Laura, who is the mother of my beautiful daughter, Ava, to whom the novel is dedicated. Had I paid half as much attention to my wife and her needs as I did my writing, we might be enjoying the publication of “Moonlight” together. Laura was the model for the main character Scarlet Montana. In many ways this is her novel. I owe a lot to her.

Q: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

A: That it’s important to always try and do the right thing, even if it means breaking the law. In the end we die alone, even if we’re surrounded by people who love us. You want to leave this life knowing you made the right decisions.

Q: Do you have plans to write another book?

A: I’m currently on work about the Porco axe murders that took place a few years ago in Albany. It’s fiction based on the real thing. I also have two other novels being shopped by my agent Janet Benrey, The Remains and a new thriller series, The Concrete Pearl—think Chinatown meets The Firm.

Q: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?

A: Thus far the tour has proved a winner for Moonlight Falls. Sales have spiked and so has awareness of this once semi-anonymous Albany writer named Vincent Zandri.

Q: Where can readers find a copy of your book?

A: To any independent bookstore on God’s earth. And every online store…Also, you can check out your local library. If they don’t have a copy or two yet, simply request it.

Q: Do you have a website for readers to go to?

Thank you, Vincent Zandri for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have a successful virtual book tour.

About the Book:

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. Moonlight Falls is his fourth novel. He is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for RT ( Russia Today TV) which have been syndicated and translated in several different languages throughout the world. He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia, Globalspec and more. 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 Thrillerl. 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 or his blog at


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This article was written by Rebecca

Rebecca is a book coach and editor. She guides aspiring writers, coaches, entrepreneurs and speakers to become self-published authors so they share their expertise, knowledge and passion. Thinking about writing a book? Contact her today to start writing your book.

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