Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Author Interview with Frank Zaccari, Author of Inside The Spaghetti Bowl

In association with Pump Up Your Book!, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host a Virtual Book Tour Event: Author Interview with Frank Zaccari, Author of Inside The Spaghetti Bowl!

Welcome Frank to Jersey Girl Book Reviews!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

A:  Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you and your readers.  The short version of my background is I come from a very large New York Italian family. I moved to California at age 19 in the military. The weather was better so I stayed out west. I was a high tech executive for over 25 years with a specialty in turn-around management. I loved the high tech industry – it was very challenging and rewarding. The downside was extensive travel both foreign and domestic. I left the high tech world when I became a single custodial parent with two teenage daughters. I bought a small business so I could be home for my children. Raising two teenage daughters is both the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done and will ever do.  My daughters are my strength and inspiration.

Interview Questions:

How long have you been a writer?

A: I am very new to the literary world. I started writing books two years ago when I became a single custodial parent.  My daughters and I were in counseling when one of the counselors suggested I write a journal. So when my emotions wouldn’t let me sleep I would get up and write. This journal evolved into my first book When the Wife Cheats. Once this book was completed and published I discovered that writing became a form of relaxation and stress relief.  Inside the Spaghetti Bowl is my third book.

Do you have a "day job," or is being an author your career?

A: What a great question.  Hopefully one of my books will become a best seller and I can focus solely on writing, but until that occurs, like most authors, I do have a “day job”.  When I became a single parent I had to stop traveling so I bought an insurance agency.  During the day I am a business owner and from 1:00 to 4:00 in the morning I write.

What inspired you to become a writer?

A: Throughout my business career, I traveled extensively both foreign and domestic and often presented business plans to employees, investors, suppliers and bankers. I discovered I enjoy preparing and telling a story.
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 When the Wife Cheats I was hooked.

What was your inspiration for your first book?

A. The first book was to help my daughters cope with the pain of divorce. As I mentioned, I became a single custodial parent after nearly 25 years of marriage. My daughters were devastated when their mother left. We spent many hours in counseling.
One counselor suggested that I write a book. She said it will help my daughters validate their feelings. Being a guy – I had no desire to even talk about this situation let alone write a book, but I did discuss it with my daughters. They both agreed it would be a good idea and they wanted to be involved in the process.  My oldest daughter said if this helps one family avoid this horrible situation then it will be worth the effort. My daughters told me they felt a great deal of relief and closure once When the Wife Cheats was published.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Inside The Spaghetti Bowl.

A:  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 a celebration of life, family, culture and tradition.  It documents the last eight days of my mother’s life. “Inside the Spaghetti Bowl” shares the tales about the memories, trials and sacrifices made by my parents and grandparents that allowed the family to live the American dream.
The book’s main theme discusses the unconditional love families share through the good and the bad. It is about a family that is always there for each other no matter what the cost. I hope readers will see their own family and the memories make them smile.

What was the inspiration for this story?

A: My inspiration for Inside the Spaghetti Bowl was the chilling fact that my family was probably not the only one dealing with this unfortunate scenario. As the baby boomer generation ages, so do the parents who raised us.
I was flying across the country to come back to my hometown three times in three months. 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. 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. 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.

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

A:  Two of my three books (When the Wife Cheats and Inside the Spaghetti Bowl) deal with family and relationships so it appears my writing lean in that direction. Growing up I enjoyed biographies or autobiographies about sports stars such as Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays or political leaders such as John and Robert Kennedy. I wanted to understand how they achieved their success.
Today I enjoy books by Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Mitch Albom, Nicholas Sparks and Tim Russert.  

Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?

A:  I write in one of the bedrooms at my house that I made into a make shift office. It is a very Spartan like environment. I have a desk with a PC, a hanging desk lap, a file box with notes and research and several pictures of my two daughters.  I have the basic tools that I need and pictures of two most important people in my life.
When I started writing my first book, my youngest daughter was still living with me (she is in college now).  I did not want to upset her while I was writing the book and I also wanted to be completely available for her when she wanted to talk or vent. So after she went to bed, on the nights when my emotions would not let me sleep I would get up, go into the extra bedroom and write the book. The large majority of my writing is done between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 in the morning.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

A:  I don’t have that amazing creative gene of the great fiction writers, so I write about things I know or have experienced in my life.  Day-to- day life provides me with a great deal of material to expand into a story. 

From concept to publication, about how long does it take for you to complete a book and have it released?

A:  Since I have only been writing for two years, I guess the old saying ignorance is bliss is true. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I just plowed forward, wrote and self-published a book. The actual writing for each book was about 60 to 90 days. Getting the book published wasn’t very difficult, however the promotion after getting it was published has been an adventure to say the least.
By self publishing I had more control over the publication process and timeframe, plus I avoided all the rejection letters from publishers.  Once I submitted the final manuscript it only took about 45 days for the books to be published and released.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

A:  I have never had any formal training as a writer so I don’t have a method or model to follow. I don’t really stick to a hard schedule. Once I have the idea, I start making notes as they come to me. The notes are more a random “stream of consciousness” than a formal structure. Once I have a number of these notes I put together a rough outline and start to write the first couple of chapters. Then I let the ideas develop in my mind for a few days and when the story starts to make sense I start writing. I might write for four or five consecutive days then let the ideas develop again. If my English teachers from high school and college are reading this they will probably have a heart attack…hahaha.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

A: I love to tell a story so developing a story line is fairly easy. Weeding through what is and is not relevant for the story is a little more difficult, but I completely despise the constant re-reading and proof reading. It seems I see what I wanted to say, not necessarily what is actually written on the page.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

A: Being a small business owner keeps me very busy.  When I lived in Seattle, I became heavily involved with the University of Washington volleyball program. The program has become my escape. In fact I wrote a book named From the Ashes: The story of the University of Washington volleyball program. I still spend time working on the program’s business plan, helping them raise money and traveling whenever possible to watch these amazing young women represent their university with pride and the utmost class.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

A: Follow you heart and your dream.  Don’t give any credence to all the people who tell you no or you can’t!!  I heard “No” far more times than I heard “yes”.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

A:  Holding a copy of my first book was exhilarating! I couldn’t believe I was actually holding a book with my name as the author.  It gives me a great deal of satisfaction that I have written three books. It would be better if one or all of them become a best seller (hahaha), but until that day comes I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

A: This is a continuous learning experience. Since I self published the entire writing world is a new experience.  Without a publisher all the marketing and promotion is up to me.  The virtual book tours have been a wonderful way to make contact with other writers and many potential readers.  They are also a great source for feedback.
I created a website as source of information. I contracted with a PR firm to help promote my first book. They were able to schedule some radio interviews and professional reviews. It was fun but a little pricey. I am starting to learn the “social media” tools. Lately, I have been using facebook to keep people informed and will have a give-away promotion in December. I am learning how to effectively use twitter – still have a long way to go however.  I found with twitter there are far too many posts announcing where someone is going for lunch. I haven’t found the magic formula yet, but I am going to keep trying. I am open to any all suggestions from your readers.

Are any things in your books based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

A: I envy fiction writers who can create a story purely from their imagination. I wish I had more of that skill. I live in all three of my books. When the Wife Cheats is based on a true story. From the Ashes: The Rise of the University of Washington Volleyball Program and Inside the Spaghetti Bowl are true stories. I enjoy telling real life stories.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

A: I love authors who tell great stories. I have read every Sidney Sheldon book. He was an amazing story teller. I enjoy Jeffrey Archer’s ability to create intrigue and the ability that Mitch Albom, Nicholas Sparks and Tim Russert have to touch the reader’s heart.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

A: Writing is like every other aspect in life. Many times it is going to be a challenging and very frustrating process. When you feel completely overwhelmed or frustrated and depressed to the point where you want to quit – remember this “Look Up…Get Up…And Never Ever Give Up”. 

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit with us?

A: I am just starting a book based on many of the funny stories I have heard from people over the age of 50 who suddenly find themselves single again.  At the moment it is called Now What?  I found keeping my sense of humor has made this traumatic experience more tolerable.

I would like to thank Frank for the opportunity to interview him and for being so gracious to spend some time with us! Good luck with your writing career, I look forward to reading many more of your books!


  1. Welcome, fellow Italian! Great interview!
    Joe Rinaldo

  2. Thanks Joe, I hope you enjoy the book and it brings happy memories of your family.
    Frank Zaccari