|Welcome to New Faces, where we are pleased to introduce some of the newest mystery authors. This time we're happy to welcome Vincent Zandri, whose debut mystery As Catch Can is now on the shelves.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in and around Albany, New York. I was educated in both
denominational and nondenominational private schools. I did my undergraduate
Providence College and earned my Masters in Writing at Vermont College of
University. Presently I reside in a small hamlet just outside the Albany city
limits in a home
I share with my wife, Megan, and our boys, Jack and Harrison.
Are you coming to mystery writing from another job?
I've been a free-lance writer now for nearly ten years (I'm 34) having written
and non-fiction for such magazines and papers as New York Newsday, Game and
Magazine, Hudson Valley Magazine and The Albany Times Union. Right now I am
concentrating solely on the second novel in the Keeper Marconi series. I also
have a rough
draft completed for a third Keeper novel and a short outline for a non-Keeper
involving a true life pathologist who resided in Albany in the mid to late
century. Oh, but to answer your question. I am strictly a writer.
What led you to write mysteries? Are you a longtime reader?
I once read where Robert Parker decided one day to write what he loved to
pretty much how it happened to me. From Parker to Crumley to Crichton, I am
thriller and espionage fan. I wouldn't call myself a mystery writer in the
strictest sense of
the word. While I try to nurture a mystery throughout a book, I'm not
interested in "Who dunnit." I'm much more interested in the character whose
life begins to
crumble for no apparent reason at all. And of course, in this lies the
greatest mystery of all.
For instance, maybe he realizes he's being framed by the very people he has
years and years. How does he react to the frame? Keeper could never simply
money for a case like so many detectives. He has to have a personal stake in
it. There must
always be a huge risk involved with the cases he attempts to solve. Whether it
reputation or his life that is on the line, or both. And when you take into
commitment to adding true crime elements to the mix and the research that goes
with it, you could say that these novels are a challenge. More than a
Tell us about your road to publication.
I started out like many writers do, by reporting for the local newspaper and
my way up to magazines and eventually to writing short fiction and publishing
some of the more "literary" magazines and journals around the country, like
Rosebud, Orange Coast Magazine and others. I still have stories forthcoming
Maryland Review, Crazyquilt, Mississippi Mud and a couple others, I believe. I
went on to
spend a summer at the Bread Loaf Writers Institute as well as the New York
Writer's Institute where I had the opportunity to work with Tim O'Brien and
Hempel. Eventually I decided to go back to school for my MFA in Writing. I
full years in the writing program at Vermont College where I worked with Bret
Chris Noel, Ellen Lesser, Douglas Glover and others.
What kind of research was involved for your first book?
I spent a lot of time in maximum security prisons like Green Haven and Sing
Because I visited these places with a former Maximum Security Warden, I was
forgo the normal, abbreviated tour offered most journalists, for the no-holds-
barred tour. I
visited the cages of each of these prisons, as well as the death house in
Green Haven. At
one point I actually laid myself out on the table utilized for lethal
injection just to get a feel
for the experience. I obtained (I won't tell you how) and utilized many
documents prepared by the New York State D.O.C.S. I also relied on certain
concerning Attica, as well as personal interviews. Then there's the local
library as well as
Who are your influences as a writer?
From the moment I first read Hemingway's In Our Time, I knew I wanted to be a
The short, terse vignette style that makes the reader feel like the fictional
actually happened to him. Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Joseph Conrad have all been
influences. Tim O'Brien, Amy Hempel, Jim Crumley, Jim Harrison, Robert Parker
contemporary major writers whom I go back to again and again and again. When
to style, they are the real thing.
What does your family think of having a mystery author in their midst?
They think I'm totally cool, the greatest. Well, no . . . that's not
completely right. I still
have to take out the garbage and do the dishes, normal things like that.
Because I get up
and go to an office outside the house every morning, my kids think being a
novelist is like
a normal sort of job. Like being a lawyer or an architect.
Tell us about plans for future books.
I am, in fact, contracted for another Keeper novel. It's presently untitled
but it involves a
writer who has gotten herself locked up in a Mexican border prison while
story on "Burriers" or female drug runners who run coke and marijuana for both
and the thrill. When her wealthy advertising executive husband hires Keeper to
her on the sly, an awful lot of dead bodies begin popping up. This is the
Keeper will be convinced he is going crazy. Really paranoid in the great
tradition (at one point I was using "Crazy!" as the working title). My editor
and I already
taking about the third Keeper, for which I have a rough draft already
completed (you may
ask yourself, how did he complete the third one before the second one? It's a
long story). I
am also working on a non-Keeper novel--the one I mentioned earlier--based on
Swinburne, the true life Albany Pathologist. Catch has received quite a bit
attention so there may be some screen work in the future as well.
How can readers get in touch with you?
My e-mail is VAZandri@aol.com
Readers are also welcome to drop a line care of
The Vines Agency
New York, NY 10012
Contact me any time. I'm sure to respond to every question and/or comment.
Thanks, Vincent, and best of luck! Readers, check out our review of As Catch Can.
February 15, 1999