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Interview with Frank Zaccari, Author of Inside the Spaghetti Bowl

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Frank Zaccari has had a fulfilling life.  He was a medic in the U.S. Air Force and upon leaving earned a degree in finance from California State University at Sacramento. After spending more than 25 years in the high-tech industry holding positions from account representative to CEO, in that spending nearly 20 years specializing in turn-around management of companies, he decided to buy a small business in order to be home to raise his children.  

He is currently the owner of an insurance agency and resides in Sacramento, California. Inside the Spaghetti Bowl is Frank Zaccari’s third book. Previous books are: When the Wife Cheats and From The Ashes: The Rise of the University of Washington Volleyball Program.

You have had a pretty diverse life – can you tell us what made you decide to write this book?

The inspiration came when I was flying across the country to come back to my home town three times in three months as my mother was nearing death. Every family goes through difficult times when a loved one becomes ill. Even though your parents have lived a long and meaningful life, it is never easy to see them grow old and sick. Inside the Spaghetti Bowl is collaboration with my brothers Anthony and Steve. It is the actual story of our family dealing with the failing health of our mother.

Everyone will eventually have to go through the ordeal of burying a parent. It can tear a family apart or bring you closer together. The choice is up to you. As I heard the stories regarding the history, traditions, culture, good times and sad times, I knew I was not the only ‘baby boomer’ facing this heartbreaking task. This book is about a family who always put family first. The key message of this book is to cherish your family. Cherish your background, culture and traditions; because when all is said and done, the only thing you have is your family. Friends, jobs and acquaintances come and go, but family is forever.

I hope readers see their family in this book, and the memories make them smile.

What made you choose the title?

Many people have asked how we came up with the name Inside the Spaghetti Bowl. They often wonder if there is a hidden meaning or inside story. The fact is we had a great deal of difficulty coming up with a name. Naming the book Growing up Italian didn’t capture the complexity of a family. There are so many components that make up our family that is just starting its fourth generation in America. What title could symbolize all these components? How do we combine the original family members, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, traditions, culture, good times and bad times? I mentioned this to one of my customers, a seventy year old man who is a Marine and Korean War Veteran. While he is not Italian, he understood what I was saying. He suggested Inside the Spaghetti Bowl, saying “With spaghetti everything is mixed in together, the pasta, the sauce, meatballs, sausage, cheese, and all the spices. You throw everything in together and miraculously it all works. Sometimes it comes out great, sometimes not so much, just like a family.”  He was right.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Writing this book was extremely emotional. It is very difficult to write a story about your family – because you have to re-live the sad times.  Most books about aging and dying parents are very clinical. They discuss insurance, finding good home care, and how to cope with the situation. They tend to be very sad and depressing. This is not a self-help book. We wanted write a positive uplifting story.  This book is about the celebration of life, love and family. It is about putting family first and living your life with love, faith and integrity.

Are there similarities between this book and your previous two?

There are many similarities between my first book When the Wife Cheats and Inside the Spaghetti Bowl. Both have to do with family and relationships within a family. Both are events that I actually experienced. I enjoy reading, hearing and telling real life stories. For example, I love Tim Russert’s book Wisdom of our Fathers. While I have great admiration for people who can write fiction, I am more fascinated with real life stories. I believe most people can related too and appreciate reading about the triumphs and tribulations of real people facing the same challenges. It gives us the hope that we are not in this alone which helps us to draw the strength and courage to face life every day. 

I have self-published each of my three books. I don’t know if this is good or bad. Since I didn’t know what I didn’t know, I just ploughed forward, wrote and self-published the books. Getting the book published wasn’t very difficult, however the promotion after getting it published has been an adventure to say the least.

Can you tell us about any challenges you have had in your writing?

I am a new writer. I started my first book the day after Thanksgiving 2009. Every step of the writing, publishing, marketing, and promoting process has been a challenge.  I am shocked that I actually wrote a book. Like most people I often said, “I should write a book about this”, but never really believed I would find the inspiration, or take the time and effort to actually write a book. Once I started to write the challenge became will this interest anyone and then will anyone actually buy the book. Once I held When the Wife Cheats, my first book in my hands with my name on the cover, I was hooked. Hopefully, people will enjoy my books and I can become a full time author.

 Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my family’s story Inside the Spaghetti Bowl with you. I hope you and your readers will see your own family in this book and the memories make you smile.

You can visit Frank’s website or find him on Facebook.

You can follow him on Twitter at @FZaccari.

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