It’s a great pleasure to have this next author as my guest on the Crime Cafe. I’ve known noir and thriller author Vincent Zandri only through our online interactions since—how many years ago?—so many I can’t count them. Well, maybe not that many! 🙂

In any case, I’m sure our interview will be a whole lot of fun. And you’ll get to know yet another truly talented crime author.

You’ll be glad to know that Vince is giving away a copy of his novel THE SHROUD KEY to a lucky winner.

To enter the giveaway, simply email me at debbi[at]debbimack[dot]com with “Crime Cafe Giveaway” in the subject line and I’ll pick a random winner for Vince. Have your entry in by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

With that said, let’s hear from my next guest, the awesome Vincent Zandri!




Writers should stay single (or are fast on their way to being single)

This is not to say that a writer should force him or herself into a life of loneliness or self-induced exile, like John of Patmos, forever banished to a Greek Island where he obsessively scribbled away on pleasant topics like the fiery, calamitous end of the world. How about them apples? he must have gleefully said aloud inside his lonely cave while he pictured his enemies burning in eternal flame.

But I digress.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always had trouble balancing my personal life with my writing life. Perhaps that’s because my personal life is my writing life and to someone else observing me, I might seem entirely consumed if not obsessed with my work. Fair enough, but writing has always been a volatile dance of three steps forward, one step back. So if you treat it like a business as well as an art, like I do, you’re always occupied with one aspect of it or another. You need to stay ahead of the game if you’re going to make a living.

For instance, I’m writing as soon as I wake up early in the morning. Even if I’m only making a cup of coffee, you’d best not attempt any direct communication with me whatsoever. I’m already crafting the sentences about to be typed on whatever novel or story I happen to be writing at the moment.

Listen, I’m not a total dick in the AM. I smile, issue a heart-felt Good morning to those around me, but I’m not one to lounge around the breakfast nook shooting the shit about politics or last night’s New York Giants game. I grab my coffee, a piece of toast, and head immediately to the salt mines, as it were.

I spend the rest of that day in solitude. Well, I will break to exercise at a gym. As of late I’ve been using a home gym, but I’m thinking about heading back to a traditional gym if not for the social aspect. After a while, a writer like me will start talking to himself if he’s not careful (Exiled crazy John of Patmos comes to mind once more). At the end of the day, the word count will be fulfilled, and one might think I can leave it all behind and re-enter the family fold, pop a cork with the sig other, and unwind. But that’s usually the time when I’ll enjoy a drink all by myself, while going over in my brain what I wrote for the day, and where the story will be going tomorrow. It’s just how the creative process works for me.

When that drink is finished, I’ll head out to the local pub where I’ll rub elbows not with other writers and artists, but usually construction workers, and insurance salesmen, or anyone who is not a writer. That’s the time I want to spend not thinking about the book I’m working on (although over the past few years, I can’t avoid people talking about one of the books I recently wrote, or they might ask me what I’m working on now).

By the time I come home, I’m ready to make something for dinner. But usually my significant other will have already eaten and any chance of finally sitting around the table and sharing a bottle of wine with a spaghetti carbonara is gone baby gone. Maybe she will retire early to bed while I put the headphones on and binge watch something on Netflix while taking notes. When that’s over, it’s off to bed to read. When morning comes, the process starts all over again.

It’s a lonely life, and I suspect that it’s even lonelier for those women who have tried to live with me. Two of them I married, and both ended up in divorce. One woman who I did not marry but with whom I shared a very serious relationship, eventually asked me to get the hell out. More recently, I had been enjoying a reunification with my second ex-wife. But after five years of my writing schedule and a travel log that can take me away for up to months at a time (I’m writing this post in Italy), she has asked me to leave…again.

“We’re just too different,” she says. “You’re writing will always come first.”

She’s probably right about that. It got me to thinking about some famous authors, their marriages and divorces.

Hemingway had four marriages, three divorces.

Mailer, eight wives, seven divorces.

Anais Nin married a couple of times and during one prolonged period entertained two different lovers on two different coasts.

Martha Gellhorn married and divorced thrice (one of them was with the aforementioned Papa Hemingway. She was the first woman to leave him, and he was devastated).

Mystery master Dash Hammett divorced a couple times and noir writer James Crumley married five times and divorced four.

Even our own noir man, Les Edgerton (with whom I graduated the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College in 1997), has been married and divorced so many times he’s lost count. One marriage lasted not even a full night, I kid you not.

Okay, I could go on and on, but let me tell you something, this is not a fun club to belong to. I love what I do, and even if I did not make any money at it, I would still do it. I am my happiest when I am sitting at my typewriter creating my stories as they reveal themselves in my head. At that moment, I am neither anxious, lonely, nor angry. I am only thrilled and overjoyed that I am one of the few lucky people on earth who make a living doing something they love more than anything in the world.

But then, that’s the problem. Doing something you love more than anything in the world. It makes your significant other feel less than significant. In the end, it’s both a blessing and a curse. While the writing is good for the soul, the relationships or lack thereof, can be hard on the heart.


Winner of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback Novel for MOONLIGHT WEEPS, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE No.1 bestselling author of more than 25 novels including THE REMAINS, EVERYTHING BURNS, ORCHARD GROVE and THE CORRUPTIONS. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational...Masterful...Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out Books, Thomas & Mercer, and Polis Books.

An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, Polish, and Japanese. Recently, Zandri was the subject of a major feature by the New York Times. He has also made appearances on Bloomberg TV and FOX news. In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named Zandri’s, THE SHROUD KEY, as one of the “Best Books of 2014.” Recently, Suspense Magazine selected WHEN SHADOWS COME as one of the “Best Books of 2016”. A freelance photo-journalist and the author of the popular “lit blog,” The Vincent Zandri Vox, Zandri has written for Living Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more. He lives in Albany, New York and Florence, Italy. For more go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM.

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