Friday, February 4, 2011

The Innocent Review and Interview

Getting caught is simply not an option.


It's been a year since Jack Marconi's wife was killed. Ever since, he's been slipping up at his job as warden at an upstate New York prison. It makes him the perfect patsy when a cop-killer breaks out--with the help of someone on the inside. Throwing himself into the hunt for the fleeing con, Jack doesn't see what's coming.Suddenly the walls are closing in. And in the next twenty-four hours, Jack will defy direct orders, tamper with evidence, kidnap the con's girlfriend--and run from the law with a .45 hidden beneath his sports coat. Because Jack Marconi, keeper of laws, men, secrets, and memories, has been set up--by a conspiracy that has turned everyone he ever trusted into an enemy. And everything he ever believed in into the worst kind of lie.

After I read this book I had the craziest dream that was a cross between the novels The Innocent, The Shining and the tv shows Paranormal State and Sisterwives. That's what Vincent Zandri's his magic power...his books take you to the depths of your morality, emotions and imagination. When you fall asleep after reading his work you are left asking yourself questions, "Would I have done the same thing? How would I have reacted? Do men really look at women when they stretch?"
Ok so that last part maybe not everyone would. I did. Once again we come to his gift. He provides an insight into people, men, women (he proved that in The Remains) and characters in a way people don't normally consider. He did it again in the Innocent. If I were back home in the south this would have already traveled the gossips circles twice before Sunday morning church. The Innocent a must have.

 Interview with Vincent Zandri...

1.      What did you see the first time you googled yourself?
I saw the future…Google would become the information source for me, my books, my adventures, my life…my cyber information mirror that will grow and live long after I’m dust.
          Did I read somewhere that you actually stay overnight in a prison? Is that true? What was it like? Were you shanked?

I did. When researching The Innocent, I spent two days and a night in the “honor block” of Sing Sing Prison. No I wasn’t shanked. The honor block consists mostly of old men who’ve been in prison so long they wouldn’t know what to do on the outside. Some of them maintain gardens outside the block walls. The warden couldn’t put me in General Population. Because then for certain I would have been shanked or shivved.

3.    What was your research like on this project?

Months of interviews with the late David Harris, New York State’s first Black Max Security warden. Months of field trips to Sing Sing and Green Haven prison. Months inside a library, and online. I was also in writing school at the time up in Vermont. It was an exhausting but at the same time exhilarating experience. When I was done with the writing, I spent three days in bed. That’s around the time my first wife told me she was divorcing me. I said, “Promise?”    
(Really?...I would have shanked you while you were sleeping.)

4.    How many virtual blog tours have you done to date? What kind of success have you had from them?

I believe this is my fourth. Success is dictated by how well you work the tour stops over the social networks. All my recently published novels have been Amazon bestsellers in several categories including hard-boiled and psychological suspense. Even romantic suspense. I guess that means my characters are tough, will play with your mind, and make great lovers. (two out of three ain't bad.)

5.    The Innocent was published previously…(I won’t say the other title because I think it is a horrid wretched title and I forbid you to use it at all on my page!) would you please summarize what happened?

The novel was published by one of the Big Six some years ago. It got amazing reviews like “Brilliant…” in the New York Post, and “The most arresting crime novel to break into print this season,” by The Boston Herald. Even Harlan Coben and Don Winslow willingly provided awesome blurbs. DreamWorks gave it three reads and there was talk of an option from none other than Steven Spielberg. Clooney read it, and so did Pacino. Some others too. Foreign rights were sold to Japan and the Netherlands. Then the corporate boys in NYC decided to merge my imprint with another and everyone in my house got either canned or assimilated into the other house. Interest in promoting the book was halted and in no time, it was remaindered. However, they refused to give up the rights to this one and the follow-up Godchild for quite a few years. In other words, they held two books of mine hostage. 
(hearing stuff like this gives me nightmares!)

Now since The Innocent is back out, it’s been an Amazon Kindle Bestseller in both Hard-Boiled and Psychological Suspense. Godchild has also just been re-released, and I fully expect it to be a bestseller. StoneGate Ink is planning on putting both books together in a special Kindle collectors edition in a few months. 

6.       You mentioned in a post once that you marketed yourself aggressively for a year and that you were going to stop that. I have noticed your marketing is formidably lighter than before. Has that had a negative impact on your sales? (do I sound like I stalk you here)

Actually, I believe I said I would stop the aggressive guerrilla marketing now that I had been back on the scene for a full year. I now have enough of an audience…a steadily expanding audience…that I can handle marketing my books via blogs, hosting guest blogs, virtual tours, appearances, social networking, trailer teasers and more, without having to email people personally begging them to give my books a try. It’s too much like spam and sometimes it can piss people off…something I’ve always been pretty good at without filling up their email bins. But that kind of aggressive approach was necessary at the time. And sales have doubled and tripled since this time last year. I expect them to double and triple again over the course of 2011. Same for 2012, and so on…probably for a 5 year period or so. Soon I won’t have to do so much journalism to make a living. Or, at the very least, I’ll be able to be more selective with my story topics. 

7.     From one author to another do you have any pet words that you have a habit of using in your writing? (Mine are Perhaps and Nevertheless) If so how do you reign in their use?

A fan of mine once wrote me to point out that I use the “worm smell” metaphor at least once in every one of my novels. In other words, “the hospital room where the body was laid out smelled like wet worms.” Or something like that.  Now I want to use the worm smell thing once in every book I write just to make sure he reads them. (so your saying that if I point something out to will compulsively write it in your books? Wow the possibilities....)

8.     The Concrete Pearl is your next female protagonist led novel…tell us about that…(Tarnation I’m so a cyber stalker…you need a cyber restraining order!)

I was raised and groomed for the construction business, my dad being the president of pretty good sized commercial firm in Albany. I wanted to wrap a story around what I knew about the business. When some dudes I knew personally got involved in an asbestos abatement scam and were eventually busted for it by the FBI, I knew I had the basis for what eventually became what I hope will be viewed as a pretty unique suspense thriller—a female construction business owner goes on the hunt for a disappeared asbestos removal contractor after he’s exposed more than 300 kids of deadly asbestos fibers for more than a year.

My protagonist, Ava “Spike” Harrison, is both beautiful and brassy (sort of like you, Bri!) and up against it. She carries framing hammer (what she called her “equalizer’) instead of a pistol. I’d try and date her if she didn’t live inside my head. By the way: the last time I heard the word “tarnation” was on a Bonanza rerun. (Awe thanks for the compliment V...whats a Bonanza?)

9.   How many emails on average do you get a day? How many do you return?

It varies, but about 100, give or take. I open only a few of them and return even less, because I can either write or stare at AOL all day. And I never answer IMs I get during the day. However, if you are a writer, especially newbie, and you’d like some advice, etc. please don’t hesitate to write and I will try and get to you in a timely manner. Just put something in the subject heading that makes me aware of your presence…something like “NOT SPAM!” 
(I'll personally valge for that one. He is amazing at supporting those that are genuinely seeking advice. I stress genuine. He's not one to coddle or placate an me.)

10.   In the beginning of The Innocent there is  commentary from Heath Lowrance that I just loved. It was very funny and beautifully worded, truly complementary. However,  on  the part where he says “Some say Zandri—who, remember, is a sort of world traveling action man type—was forced on the lam after seducing the wife of a prominent South East Asian warlord.” Why would he say something like that?

Actually, he got the geography wrong. I have been to South East Asia but I made it out unscathed, having only begun a small affair with my translator/guide. Or, I believe, I tried to start a small affair with her, and her quick bruising slap to the left side of my face made it clear that No Means No!

What Heath is referring to is when I was in West Africa on assignment for RT last June, I found myself alone inside a hut with the daughter (not wife) of a voodoo master (Benin is the voodoo capital of the world). While gripping a machete, the master kindly asked me to perform a ceremonial ritual…You know what? Maybe I’d better leave it at that.   

Well leave it to Vincent to weave a tale into two paragraphs. Thanks for visiting us and I do hope you will come again. Perhaps finish that tale of a ceremonial ritual. You are going to at least tell me right?
If anyone has any questions please leave them below. He is great at answering them. If you are interested in purchasing The Remains or The Innocent or checking out more about Vincent Zandri...well just click the high lighted words.



  1. Brillian interview on both parties' behalfs! Thanks so much for posting this, Bri!

  2. BTW, I have Vincent beat...I probably get about 300 emails, lol. I went back in and reread this and have sent the link to one of my groups so someone might be over from there, but this is really a very insightful interview.

    BTW, he'll be attending and giving away a few of his books at a Facebook party I'm giving for all the authors at the end of the month. Do join in! Par---tay!

  3. Thanks for the compliments. 300 jiminey crickets! I'm struggling averaging 50 a day. I keep up with my iPhone. Send over anyone you want. I love hosting Vin he's a blast.

  4. Experiencing what you're writing about had to have been very helpful in creating accuracy in your novel. Did you leave feeling different as well?

  5. Sure, living anything will make you an expert in terms of how you feel about something...But I think you'd have to live it for a while to really get it I think ...

  6. Excellent interview. I've read The Innocent and really want to read The Remains now. Vincent's books definitely pull you in.


  7. Love love love this interview!! Bri and Vincent this was such a fun read and so incredibly informative! I am reading The Innocent right now and loving it!!

  8. Great interview!

    Hey, Bri,

    I just became your new follower. I hope you'll follow back! :-)