Author Interview: Vincent Zandri, author of The Ashes & Giveaway!

Winner of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback Novel, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE No.1 bestselling author of more than 25 novels including THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT WEEPS, EVERYTHING BURNS, and ORCHARD GROVE. He is also the author of numerous Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA among them. 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, while his foreign publisher is Meme Publishers of Milan and Paris. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri's work is translated in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, 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 New York and Florence, Italy.



Inside the Book:

It’s been eight years since artist and single mom, Rebecca Underhill, was abducted and left to die in an old broken down house located in the middle of the dark woods. But even if her abductor, Joseph
William Whalen, has since been killed, another, more insidious evil is once more out to get her in the form of the Skinner. The son of an abusive butcher, Skinner intends on finishing the job Whalen started but failed at.

How is he going to get to Rebecca?

He’s going to do it through her children, by luring them into the cornfield behind the old farmhouse they live in.

Now, armed with the knowledge that the Skinner has escaped incarceration at a downstate facility for the criminally insane, Rebecca must face the most horrifying challenge of her adult life: Rescuing the children not from a house in the woods, but from the abandoned tunnels that run underneath her property.

But the Skinner is watching Rebecca’s every move.

Horrifying question is, will she live long enough to save the children?



Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

After The Remains hit the overall No. 1 spot on the Amazon charts, a ton of reviews were pouring in and readers began to ask me if I had any plans to write a sequel to the story. Because after all, a lot of the main characters were still alive and kicking, especially the protagonist, artist and single mom, Rebecca Underhill. I delved further into the story and discovered that the antagonist of The Remains, Joseph William Whalen, did indeed share his cell in Green Haven Maximum Security Prison with a psychopath who refers to himself as The Skinner, due to his propensity for skinning his victims alive. When The Skinner manages to escape a prison for the criminally insane in upstate New York, he makes the decision not only to finish the crime Whalen started but failed at, but he also wants to go after Rebecca’s child.  

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Sequels are difficult in general because you don’t want to fall into that trap of explaining the events of the first book in the second book. But of course, you can’t possibly avoid some mention of the past and how your characters got to where they are today. On the other hand…and this is the truly tricky part…you want to write the book in such a way that it works as a stand-alone. Plenty of readers are going to read The Ashes before they pick up The Remains, so you want it to be independent even if it is technically Part II in a trilogy or a series.  

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I’m a hybrid author, meaning I publish both traditionally and independently. I do this because I’m prolific, and I’m a full-timer, and my traditional publishers could never keep up with my yearly output, nor would they want to. Thomas & Mercer, Amazon Publishing’s crime imprint and publisher of The Remains, felt as though The Ashes, in terms of a sequel, was coming way too late in the publishing process, despite my having sold literally hundreds of thousands of copies of “Remains.” We had other offers to publish “Ashes” traditionally, but seeing as I’m contracted with Polis Books for hard-cover releases in January ’17, January ’18, and January ’19, I decided to put the book out under my own Bear Media label. A good thing too because thus far anyway, the novel has proven my absolute bestseller next to The Remains and The Shroud Key.   

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Looking back on my first major publishing experience in 1998, when The Innocent was acquired in a $250,000 deal, is how that kind of money can easily kill a career if you don’t earn out. Not a good thing if you’re a very young writer just starting out like I was. It took me a while to nab another contract after that initial publishing success. My family and I went through some pretty hard times. But I never gave up on the writing, knowing full well that publishing at best is a shyster business. It’s all about the money and the stupidest decisions are made based on algorithms or a marketing board that might perceive a book to be non-politically correct, for instance, or maybe they just don’t like the author. It’s all a big gamble. Essentially, publishers have no clue what’s going to sell and what won’t. It’s still a game of toss something at the wall, then stand around to see if it sticks. If it doesn’t, it’s the author’s fault, if it does, the publisher will gladly take a bow. My advice to all authors is become hybrid, take control of your product, and don’t become a slave to the market. Because that’s what most writers are…slaves to the old system. I’ve been around long enough to see so many editors and marketing people come and go. Most will never be heard from again. But I’m still here, because I persevere. I’m a survivor.   

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m working on several new books and short stories. The Corruptions, based on the Hollywood style prison escape by two psychopathic cons last June at Dannemora Prison, has just been released in hard-cover as well as eBook and audio. Chase Baker and the Dutch Diamonds, the newest in my Chase Baker action/adventure series, comes out in March. Chase Baker and the Spear of Destiny will arrive in the early fall. Moonlight Weeps won the ITW Thriller Award and the PWA Shamus Award last year, so there will be another Moonlight novel coming in the very near future. In the meantime, I’m working on the pilot novels in two new series. Plus some new short stories for the magazines and one anthology at Down & Out Books. In the meantime, my agent has been working some Hollywood action. More on that at a later date.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

That it’s possible to successfully marry several different genres in a single novel. It’s possible to categorize The Ashes as horror, romantic suspense, and psychological thriller. Yet there’s a literary component there also. A man and woman who love one another, despite the ghosts of the past that keep reappearing. And a non-traditional family who love and support one another at all costs. The Ashes is entertainment to be sure, but it’s also a deep, thoughtful novel. Or, that’s what I was going for anyway. The third and final book in the series will arrive at some point before 2020. It will be hard to walk away from these characters when the saga is finally completed. 

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Protect your children no matter what.
…and don’t go down into the cellar all alone.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for having me. As for final words, for you newbie writers out there, listen up. Take control of your work and your rights, early on. Don’t get suckered into bad publishing deals just for the sake of a deal. Maintain control of every aspect of your career and work as hard as you possibly can. Eventually, if you have the talent, you will make a nice living. If anyone would like to know more about me and my books, or you’d like to drop me a line, please go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM or contact my agent, Chip MacGregor at

Giveaway Details:

Vincent is giving away ten Kindle e-copies of THE ASHES!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Ten winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight May 31.
Good luck everyone!


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