Interview with Vincent Zandri: ‘Welcome to the new world publishing order’
Vincent Zandri standing in front of Lenin’s tomb, in Red Square, Moscow
October 2, 2008
Albany, New York
In the deep night, a woman sits down at her writing table. Fingering a newly sharpened pencil, she focuses her eyes upon the blank paper, brings the black pencil tip to it.
She begins to write.
I’ve been dreaming about you again. I don’t think a night has gone by in the past few weeks when I haven’t seen your face. Our face, I should say. The face is always in my head; implanted in my memories. The dream is nothing new. It’s thirty years ago again. It’s October. I’m walking close behind you through the tall grass towards the woods. Your hair is loose and long. You’re wearing cut-offs, white Keds with the laces untied and a red T-shirt that says ‘Paul McCartney and Wings’ on the front. You’re walking ahead of me while I try to keep up; but afraid to keep up. Soon we come to the tree line, and while my heart beats in my throat, we walk into the trees. But then comes a noise—a snapping of twigs and branches. The gaunt face of a man appears. A man who lives in a house in the woods.
Then, just like that, the dream shifts and I see you kneeling beside me inside the dark empty basement. I hear the sound of your sniffles, smell the wormy raw earth, feel the cold touch of a man’s hand. You turn and you look at me with your solid steel eyes. And then I wake up.
We survived the house in the woods together, Mol, and we never told a soul. We just couldn’t risk it. Whelan would have come back for us. He would have found us. He would have found mom and dad. Even today, I know he surely would have. He would have killed them, Mol. He would have killed us. In just five days, thirty years will have passed. Three entire decades and I’m still convinced we did the right thing by keeping that afternoon in the woods our secret.
When I see you in my dreams it’s like looking in a mirror. The blue eyes, the thick lips, the dirty blond hair forever just touching the shoulders. My hair is finally showing signs of grey, Mol.
I wonder, do you get gray hair in heaven? I wonder if Whelan’s hair burned off in hell? I wonder if he suffers?
All my love,
Your twin sister,
Rebecca Rose Underhill
Exhaling, the woman folds the letter neatly into thirds, slips it into a blank stationary envelope, her initials RRU embossed on the label. Running the bitter sticky glue interior over her tongue, she seals the envelope, sets it back down onto the writing table. Once more she picks up the pencil, brings the now dulled tip to the envelope’s face. Addressing it she writes only a name:
Molly Rose Underhill
The job done, the woman smiles sadly. Opening the table drawer, she sets the letter inside, on top of a stack of nine identical letters-never-sent. One for every year her sister has been gone.
Closing the drawer she hears her cell phone begin to vibrate, then softly chime. Picking it up off the desktop, she opens the phone, sees that a new text has been forwarded to her electronic mailbox. Fingering the in-box, she retrieves the message.
Rebecca is all it says.
Punching the command that reveals the name and number of the sender she finds “Caller Unknown.” The sender’s number has been blocked. Closing the phone back up, she sets it down on the desk. That’s when the wind picks up, blows and whistles through the open window.
“Mol,” she says, staring out into the darkness. “Mol, is that you?”
Omg, does that give you shivers or what? When you think thriller, forget Alfred Hitchcock. Zandri is Hitchcock reincarnated but with a fresher touch!
I loved Moonlight Falls, Zandri’s last thriller which became a Kindle bestseller before his virtual book tour was over in May, but this latest one, The Remains, which is already on the Amazon bestsellers list, is unbelievable.
What is even more unbelievable is the fact people are now accepting the idea of reading books over e-readers. Back when I was younger (many moons ago), there was no such thing as e-books or e-readers, but I’m really delighted there is now an alternative to reading books other than paper (which incidentally hurts our environment). Not saying I don’t love curling up on the porch swing to catch up on my TBR pile with the latest paperback, but now I can go anywhere with my e-reader in which I downloaded my favorite book in less than a few minutes and the fact that I’m paying oh so less for these enables me to buy even more. Yes, Virginia, there is a such thing as e-books and they are wonderful.
Now for my special treat. I interviewed Zandri to find out more about e-books and his views on the whole scheme of things. If you want to download your copy of The Remains at Amazon in under 5 minutes and for only $2.99 (can’t beat that!), click here.
Thank you for this interview, Vincent. Your book, The Remains, has just been released on Kindle, then the trade paperback will be released this fall. How do you feel about having your book in this medium first and paperback later?
Well, to be more precise, The Remains is released first as an E-Book, which means it will be available on Kindle, I-pod, Smashwords, Nook, and just about any electronic device known to man and robot. The fact that it will be released first as an E-Book and later as paper makes perfect sense to me, for two reasons. The New York City big publishers I used to publish with release their books in just the opposite order, which tells me Stone House is doing something right. The old big houses have an antiquated system which still relies on a small percentage of sales revenues going to the author. They also are tied into that terrible system of allowing bookstores the option of returning books. I simply never understood the logic or the business model. By being released as an E-Book first, there is a strong likelihood The Remains will hit the Number One spot on Amazon or at least come close. That alone will fuel a very good print run later on down the line. I suppose for a more complete answer you would have to speak with my publisher and agent, but what I’ve told you comes pretty close to the mark.
Whose idea was it to do it this way and what is their strategy?
Again, you’d have to refer to the publisher. But like I just answered, bestselling electronic sales will fuel an excellent print run later on down the line. And since the printing method will be POD, it will be a responsible print run with zero returns. This new method of publishing also allows me a huge percentage of sales that I would have only dreamt about with the NYC Biggies. Finally, The Remains will be in print and available as an E-Book forever and ever. It will be the gift that keeps on giving. Welcome to the new world publishing order.
Do you think people are going to be receptive to reading your book on an e-reader rather than paper?
Initially some will, and some won’t. People like my parents and their generation, might prefer to wait until the novel is available in paper. Some people like myself, who own an extensive library, will prefer to wait until it comes out on paper. But those who live and die by their Kindles and IPods, they will be more than receptive. In fact, I’m frantically working on another novel, The Concrete Pearl, which will be a new series, in order to help feed their habit. But of course, first Stone House has to read and decide whether or not to take it on. By the way, I’m told that Kindle books and the like are outselling paper books by a margin of 6-1!
What’s your experience with ebooks? Do you own an e-reader and, if so, have you ever read an ebook? If not, have you read one through your computer? Do you know anyone with an e-reader?
Well, I own a Kindle on my computer and I’ve downloaded the reader to my Blackberry. I’ve yet to read a book on Kindle, but as a journalist I fly to Europe and other destinations fairly often. Now, instead of packing six pounds worth of books, I’ll use my reader. When I get back, if I want to order those same books in hard or soft cover for my library, I will do so. Oh, and also, lots of indy publishers, Like R.J. Buckley for instance, who published my recent noir thriller, Moonlight Falls on Kindle and as a trade paperback, now forward galley proofs as electronic PDFs. So in that sense, I have already read my first novel in electronic format.
Regardless of which format they choose to read your new book, I’m sure it’s going to be another Vincent Zandri winner. How is it different from your first book, MoonlightFalls? Everyone I have talked to fell in love with that one!
In technical terms, MoonlightFalls is my first noir thriller in a while. The first two, As Catch Can and Godchild, were published by Dell, and quickly made unavailable even after a mid-six-figure advance and awesome reviews like “Brilliant…” by the New York Post and “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season,” by the Boston Herald. In fact those two books are now considered noir classics in some circles and were recently included in an extensive history of noir written by Detroit author and noir critic, Heath Lowrance.
As for the difference between The Remains and Moonlight Falls? The Remains features a very strong, female protagonist, painter and painting teacher, caught up in a nightmarish situation. She’s simply different from Richard Moonlight in that she’s a little more controlled. She’s even got a real job! But much like Richard Moonlight, some of the life-and-death problems that stem from her past have now come back to haunt her. Or, in this case, come back to literally kill her. While Moonlight Falls is not necessarily a novel for everyone, due to its subject matter, style, and language The Remains is a far more accessible mainstream read for all sort of readers, ages and tastes. It’s still dark, still pile-driver plotted, still noir, but no one’s doing heroin in this one, if you get my drift. PG as opposed to R-rated.
I love (as you know!) the haunted looking house on the cover. Why is the house significant?
That’s the place where my protagonist Rebecca Underhill and her late twin sister Molly, were abducted, tortured and kept in a basement 30 years ago by a murderer and serial rapist named Joseph William Whalen. Having been in prison all these years, Joseph is back on the streets and he once more wants to spend a little quality time with his one surviving girl. The image and the novel were inspired by the nightmares we’ve all had at one time or another in which you find yourself alone inside an abandoned house or building.
If you could compare your book to a movie, which one would that be?
Think Along Came a Spider meets The Blair Witch Project!
Thank you so much for this interview, Vincent. Do you have any final words?
Final words? Is my computer about to explode in my face? Ha !!! LOL.
Ok, my final words are these: please check in to The Remains website (www.vincentzandritheremains.com) each and everyday beginning in mid June to take part in the Virtual Tour that is being run by the stunning and talented Dorothy Thompson and her fabulous Pump Up Your Books Promotions. Also, look for the new book trailer which will be coming soon. To check out the Moonlight Falls book trailer, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swD2-jAS03I
Thank you so much for your time in answering our questions, Vincent. Godspeed to you! Vincent will be on virtual book tour throughout the months of July to talk about his book, The Remains. If you’d like to visit his official tour page where you can read more interviews and guest posts from this talented author, click here.