Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Interview with mystery novelist Lanny Larcinese

Today’s special guest is mystery author Lanny Larcinese. He’s chatting with me about his new crime novel, Death in the Family.

During his virtual book tour, Lanny will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Lanny Larcinese’s short work has appeared in magazines and has won a handful of local prizes. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s a native mid-westerner transplanted to the City of Brotherly Love where he has been writing fiction for seven years. When not writing, he lets his daughter, Amanda, charm him out of his socks, and works at impressing Jackie, his long-time companion who keeps him honest and laughing—in addition to being his first-line writing critic. He also spends more time than he should on Facebook but feels suitably guilty for it.

Welcome, Lanny. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Death in the Family is the story of Donny Lentini, a talented young man caught between unrequited love from his mother and a father who is a low-level mob wannabe. When the father is found murdered with his hands cut off, the mother urges vengeance. An obvious mob hit, Donny doesn’t know exactly who or why, nor does he know why they are suddenly interested in Rosie’s Diner, owned by his girlfriend Pepper’s family and run by her. The two mysteries converge as Donny becomes more and more adept at dealing with his adversaries with the help of two close buddies. Donny’s fate at the conclusion of the story may come as a surprise to many.

What inspired you to write this book?
Interesting question. It began as a simple but vivid image that without any discernible provocation, popped into my head: two high school boys, one a bully, meet behind the gym for a confrontation. It was so vivid I had to write it out and describe it. Then I asked myself, why are they there? So I wrote that out. Then, what is their backstory? I wrote that out. So like a Big Bang, the entire story unfolded over months and successive drafts and three years and many versions later, will see the light of day. Of course, I did much other writing as Death in the Family lay dormant.

Excerpt from Death in the Family:
Meanwhile, I kept my job at the Association. Dad was networked into its clients and I could keep watch over him. But it also meant I had to put up with German’s side-eye and petty bullshit. He couldn’t push me around like Dad, I was too valuable. I’d mention Joojy’s name, hint how Dad was under Joojy’s umbrella and watch the green bile of German’s envy flare into blue flame. Fuck him.
“But so what,” I said to Dad, “why would you take such risks to impress bad guys? I don’t see the payoff. What would happen to Mother and me if something happened to you? Do you ever think of that?”
“You’d both be well taken care of.”
“You talking money? I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about a knife in the heart, especially Mother’s. Where is your damned head? You can be such a fool sometimes.”
I regretted it as soon as it came out. He said nothing but looked away, unable to see that being on the wrong track meant every station he went by was the wrong station. I didn’t know how to help him understand his aching need was little more than a screwed-up premise. Joojy owned him now. Dad had fully slid into the life. He had made life easy for me—a grassy neighborhood of playing fields and schools with talented friends who played tennis and squash—unlike his life of craps, three-card Monte and burning numbers slips. My life was so much better because he ate shit along the way, but his na├»ve impetuousness made him reliable as a tendril of mist and
vulnerable as a puppy in traffic.
“Just look over your shoulder, okay?” I said. “Those guys could shoot a pregnant woman and eat a tuna melt on her belly. You know that, right?”
“You been watching too many movies, Donny. They only want to make money. If you play it straight nobody gets hurt. That’s in the Statutes.”

Right. The South Philly Statutes. Some laws.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My work in progress is called “Fire in the Belly,” a novel inspired by an actual event in 1985 in Philadelphia during which the police dropped a satchel charge on the row house fortress of the weird, militant cult MOVE. Sixteen people burned to death and sixty-two row houses allowed to burn to the ground.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
While struggling through my first novel, caused by my delusion that a facility with language and occasional eloquence naturally resulted in story-telling skills, I wrote short stories. I submitted them in contests. When my short work resulted in first prizes at three successive Philadelphia Writers Conferences, and other work was published online, I thought, “I can do this.” Much education about craft followed before I became comfortable with novel writing. (Not sure “comfortable” is quite the right word; let’s just say, “not intimidated by…”)

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Writing comprises the dominant part of my time, psychic energy, activity, and conversation. I am a man whose life has been one of serial obsessions and writing is certainly one, but also by far the most gratifying and fulfilling over many others that have been rewarding in their own way. I awaken some mornings with a thank-you prayer, as it’s a gift—not necessarily skill which may be arguable—but the endeavor.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t shut up about it, and have to be on guard not to be a boor and leave space for others to talk about their interests and projects.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A businessman, which I became, in many expressions. I also wanted to be like my dad, a strong man, a reliable and competent one, a protective and generous one.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
We need readers, the ultimate arbiters of our work. Love to us is when a reader gets what we’re trying to do and likes the way we do it. “All stories have been told, different only by the manner in which they are told.”

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

James Robert said...

Hello! Thanks so much for sharing your book with us. Always fun reading about another book to enjoy.

Lanny Larcinese said...

Lisa, add my thanks to Goddess Fish Promotions. BTW, your site is very well constructed and easily navigable. It's a pleasure to be on it.

Lanny Larcinese said...

James, thank you for your comment. I hope you enjoy the book. It's a complex story --- not difficult to read --- but layered as to external and internal events and agendas.

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post, sounds like my kind of book!

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a good read.

Lanny Larcinese said...

Victoria and Rita, you'll forgive me for not posting directly under yours. I am a cyber-dummy akin to a medieval nun. But thank you for your comments. I hope you read and enjoy the book. I certainly enjoyed writing it.