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Interview: Vincent Zandri, Author of Moonlight Falls

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For those not presently familiar with the name Vincent Zandri, you are in for a treat, as are those who already have a sense of this man.  He is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist.  Zandri holds an M.F.A. in Writing, from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge.

His work has appeared in several magazines and publications throughout the world, and his novels have thrilled many readers.  With such novels as Godchild, Permanence, Moonlight Falls and the soon-to-be-released The Remains, Zandri knows a thing or two about the writing business, as well as how to entertain readers and keep them at the edge of their seats. 

Zandri's novels have been translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch. In addition, many of Vincent Zandri's novels have been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Moonlight Falls is his fourth novel.  

When not writing, Vincent Zandriis the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz, and divides his time between New York and Europe.

First of all, could you tell us a bit about Moonlight Falls?  What is the story about, who are the characters, etc.

Moonlight Falls is basically film noir on paper. It’s about Richard “Dick” Moonlight, suicide survivor who now must cope with a small piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged in his brain. Because it’s pressed up against his cerebral cortex he has trouble making good decisions and he suffers on occasion from short-term memory loss. In times of stress he passes out. He could suffer a major stroke or die at any moment. So time means little to him. When he makes the wrong decision to sleep with his former boss’s wife, the beautiful Scarlet Montana, and she later turns up brutally murdered, he believes it’s possible he might have killed her and just can’t remember it.

I believe I was down in Manhattan promoting As Catch Can with my then Delacorte editor, Jacob Hoye (now MTV Books), when I came across a story about a man who survived a suicide attempt and lived with a piece of bullet shrapnel still stuck in his brain. At the time I was also influenced by a self-stabbing suicide art exhibit that I caught in a Soho gallery by the infamous artist Damien Hirst. I’ve also been fascinated with a rarely spoken about story from my family history in which my paternal grandfather committed suicide by slicing his neck open with a straight razor in front of his grown children.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from Moonlight Falls. Could you share that with us, please?

Prologue

Man’s life is flashing before his eyes.

He’s a little amazed because it’s happening just like it does in a
sappy movie. You know, when they run real fast through some
homespun super-eight film starting with your birth, moving on to
toddler’s first step, then first day at kindergarten, first communion, first prom, first Gulf War, first marriage, firstborn son, first affair, first
divorce . . .

So why’s the life flashing by?

Man’s about to execute himself.

He sits alone at the kitchen table inside what used to be his
childhood home, pistol barrel pressed up tight against his head, only a half-inch or so behind the right earlobe. Thumb on the hammer, index finger wrapped around the trigger, hand trembling, eyes closed, big tears falling.

On the bright side of things, it’s beautiful sunny day.

Outside the kitchen window wispy clouds float by like giant
ghosts in a heavenly blue sky. Bluebirds chirp happily from the junipers that line the perimeter of the north Albany property. The cool wind blows, shaking the leaves on the trees. The fall air is cool, crisp and clean.

“Football weather” his mortician dad used to call it back when he was a happy-go-lucky kid.

On the not so bright side, a bullet is about to enter his brainpan.
But then, as much as the man wants to enter the spirit world, he’s not entirely insensitive. He’s thought things through. While he might have used his service-issued 9mm to do the job, he’s decided instead to go with the more lightweight .22—his backup piece. To some people, a pistol is a pistol. But to the man, nothing could be further from the truth.

Because had he chosen to “eat his piece” by pressing the pistol barrel up against his mouth’s soft upper palate, he’d guarantee himself an instant death.

A good death.

Problem is, that “good death” would leave one hell of a spatter
mess behind for some poor slob to clean up after his soul has left the building. So instead of choosing the safe “good death,” he’s opted for the more thoughtful no-mess, easy-clean-up kind of suicide—the assassin’s death. Because only a professional killer with a steady hand knows that a .22 caliber bullet hasn’t got a chance in hell of exiting the skull once it’s made jelly filling of your brains.

Outside the window, the wind picks up.

The chimes that hang from the eaves make a haunting, jingly
ghost music.

The super-eight memories inside his head have ceased. His life
story—the entire thirty-six year affair from birth to this very moment of truth have officially flashed before his eyes.

Roll credits . . .

Man swallows a lump, thumbs back the hammer. The
mechanical action reverberates inside his skull.

There’s no stopping him; no penetrating the resolve of the
already dead. He’s happy with himself for the first time in he can’t
remember how long. So happy, his entire body weight seems to empty itself from out the bottoms of his feet. That’s when a red robin perches itself on the brick ledge just outside the picture window. Just a small scarlet-feathered robin that’s beating its wings and staring into the house with its black eyes.

“Don’t look,” the man whispers.

He plants a smile on his face a split second before he pulls the
trigger.

What do you want readers to take away from reading Moonlight Falls?

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