Upon reading the title of his guest blog one might be easily fooled into thinking that what follows is an expose on my love-life, such as it is. While it does have a whole lot to do with one of my “loves” and passions, it hardly has anything to do with sex. Sorry!
Well, that’s not entirely true since at any given time I might be writing a love scene for one of my noir novels. In any case, this is about where I write, day in and day out. It’s about the four walls that enclose me while I try and put black typewritten words to a blank page. It’s about the place I do it in. Where the magic happens: the bedrooms of the world.
First of all, I didn’t choose my space. Because I live where I do, for most of the year, the space chose me. For the past five years, I’ve lived in a two bedroom apartment in upstate New York. While my teenage sons share one bedroom, I share mine with my writing studio.
It’s a plain space, with white plaster and lath walls, and two double-hung style windows. The windows look out onto well kept grounds and pre-war, vine-covered, brick buildings that remind me of a collegiate campus. Say Brown University or Princeton. It’s a quiet place, and if I want I can play some classical music while I write. Vaughn Williams is usually my preferred choice.
For a part of every year I write inside the bedroom of a five floor walk-up in Florence, Italy. The window beside my desk looks out onto the tile roofs of the city, and often I smell meats simmering and bread baking in the trattoria directly below me.
I have to be honest here. I haven’t always written inside a bedroom. When I was married I wrote inside a back porch that was enclosed, but had no heat, so that in the winter I wrote with gloves on with the fingers chopped off. Later I wrote at the dining room table while the kids were watching videos and television.
I wrote my early stories and the novella Permanence to the tunes of Thomas the Tank Engine. In the months following my graduation from writing school, I wrote As Catch Can inside a small, back office I rented from a dying insurance agency. Godchild, it’s follow up, I wrote in the basement of my new home, just prior to my divorce. I wrote the second and third drafts in a Gramercy Park Hotel Room in New York City. I was officially back in the bedroom.
Moonlight Falls took me years to write. Since I was picking up lots of work as a freelance correspondent, I never worked on it in the same place twice. Or so it seemed. Just a few of the places I worked on it were New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Key West. I also worked on it in Florence, Italy; Benin, West Africa; Paris, France; Moscow, Russia; Bilbao, Spain; London, England and other places too.
The Concrete Pearl, a novel which Stone Noir will be publishing in early 2011, was written almost entirely in a hotel room in Lake Placid, New York in between fly fishing for trout and hikes in the Adirondack mountains.
More recently, the new hardcore noir novel I’m working on, Dead Man, has been written in the upstate, New York apartment bedroom I wrote about earlier. I hope my four-walled environment gives it the kind of claustrophobic Hitchcock quality I’m going for.
I guess what it comes down to is that no matter where I am in the world, I always end up writing in the same place. The bedroom. There’s something very enticing about waking up and seeing my laptop ready to go on the desktop. I’m sure it’s the same hopeful feeling Hemingway got when he used to wake up and stare at his Smith Corona. The feeling that anything can and will happen today, as soon as I get up and get to work putting words on a page.
The Remains author, Vincent Zandri, is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.”
Other novels include the bestselling, Moonlight Falls,Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT).
He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge.
Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.