Name Anthony Schiavino
Where are you from New Jersey
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m a graphic designer that has worked in everything from books to magazines, comic books and a little of everything else in between. I’m a father (My greatest achievement). A husband. Born and raised in New Jersey.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
While other people have maybe been promoting much more, I’ve taken a breath and a step back in some cases to focus on my own life and the writing as well as it comes. I’ve spent the past year scrutinizing my online presence to pair it back to the most essential. Not because of what’s trending but because of what fits my life. I’ve been able to talk to people more, engage in conversation more, and make actual friends rather than just numbers with a sales pitch. It’s been cathartic.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I don’t remember the moment but I’m sure it started with a comic book. The whole idea of sequential storytelling appealed to me, and that in turn piqued my interest in film. Much of how I write is more so based on elements from those industries. I look at the world through an internal lens.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I finished my first draft of my first novel. I had written before and had work produced. But I had spent the better part of the year, with a newborn in our house, writing this story from almost start to finish. It originally started as a comic book that I adapted, changed, chopped up, reconfigured, and put back together in a much stronger form. I owned the process. I had written. No matter what happened after, no matter what people said of me or the work, I was and am a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A few things. The initial story and some of the back story elements that I gleaned from life. Old Film Noir. Bogie and Bacall. My love of the 1940s and the 1950s. That other era where things seemed to be black and white but the reality was murky. I found a time that reflected our own. The country was trying to keep its head above water, coming out of two wars and an economic downturn and the fear of the Reds and Communism lurked in every corner. A Cold War loomed. Just replace Reds with (now) ISIS and Communism with Islam and the headlines almost match.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know if I have a style yet, with only one book under my belt, but I know what I’m trying for. For me, the process is just as much about the writing as the writing itself.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
From an old blog post I did, which explains it all.
It′s not a typo.
It′s smashed together and worse than shattered. It′s a bullet-riddled, spider-web fractured membrane of the psyche crumbling all around. With a backwards R in places. Reflective of the times they lived, traumatic and stressed. Skewed by burning glasses of alcohol.
Be it the 1950s when Shotglass Memories takes place, or whenever else, your memories of the past are tainted. Foggy around the edges, fading as time goes by. Everyone talks about how things were so much better back “then” as if “then” was a specific moment when a switched flipped. But it′s your personal romanticized view of better times in your life. It′s what you saw on television, which defined an era. It′s what the news wanted you to know. Picture perfect, with gelatin encased desserts that nobody loved.
“Between planks of driftwood and what lurked in the saltwater below, Joe sat alone just off the coast of New Jersey, getting wasted on Shotglass Memories.”
We just moved two minutes closer to midnight. Three minutes away from death. But, essentially, from World War II on through the Cold War and all the wars or skirmishes or quagmires in between, we’ve been much closer to doomsday. None of it was metaphor. My book opens up with a specific date for a reason. I didn′t make it up, even if the events on the page are a work of fiction.
Between those perfect memories lurk the things you don′t remember. Creeping in with that fog. The memories you forgot you weren′t told. There are gaps big enough to drive a tank with tail fins through. You just don’t realize it until you stop to take a breath.
Shotglass Memories plays with what the characters remember and what actually occurred. It plays with the reader′s perception of the time period. Joe Sinclair′s life is beyond shattered on so many levels. So many holes are scattered about his memory. It′s a puzzle with more than a handful of missing pieces as he copes with what he does remember between the moments of his daily life. But not just Joe. Kelsey, Norah, Deargood, Gabriel, and a whole mess of other characters dealing with murder and romance on the coast of New Jersey. But will any of them make it out alive?
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not all scars are visible. Many run as deep as the soul.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Most of it. I said it was based on a comic book I had written, Sergeant Zero, but at some point I decided I was going to write the novel. Then I did some more research and found that most of what I had already was based in fact. It’s a work of fiction and I took some creative liberties, but the big reveals and the plot twists are reflections of the real world.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I was never a soldier but I’d have to say most of the book, and most of the characters are based on something in my life, in some form. Some dialogue definitely.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Never had a mentor. While books do influence my life, I’m an avid reader, I don’t know that a particular book influenced my life. It’s more so writers.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I always have multiple books going across genres. I just finished The Revenant, A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke. If the movie is half as brutal, and it looks to be it is, we’re in for a ride.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Loved The Martian by Andy Weir. The audiobook is amazing and I think lent itself to how much I truly enjoyed the story. Which is also his first book and look how that turned out. While she isn’t a new writer, she just wrote her first book, I adored Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). And Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull is a must for anyone in any kind of creative industry including writing.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m working on the follow up to Shotglass Memories. It’s called No Shelter from the Cold or Into the Breach on a Blood-Red Tide. It takes place just after the events of Shotglass. Saying anything else would not only cut into the process of this book, but spoil what happens in the first. I do turn the knife even more. Don’t get attached to anyone or anything….
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’d have to go with faith. Going with that gut feeling that guides you. That almost tangible presence just beyond the corner of your eyes.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Well, as it turns out, my career is in graphic design. I’ve been doing that for almost two decades. Because of that I get to write when the need arises or the project presents itself. Could it be a career? Sure. Do I see it likely happening with the choices I’ve made? Time will tell. I’ve always talked about some kind of production company. Bad Robot is something of an inspiration to me, if a company can be an inspiration. Collaborating with others on projects and, while I do love writing in solitude putting the weight of a story on myself, I have a few people in mind. Maybe one day when schedules permit.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t want to pull a George Lucas with an original cut, then a Special Edition, followed by more changes to the DVD and Blu-Ray. The thing is, you can always massage the text a little bit more. A good sign of growth is knowing when to stop. I experimented. Some people understood that some chapters were confusing on purpose. Others were just confused and that’s fine too. We’re in the protagonists head and he’s dealing with PTSD, and a whole slew of other things. Maybe on the next one I’ll write a little more straight-forward. But always change the next one. Learn from the process. Typos are mistakes. Trying something new isn’t a mistake. It’s okay to fail and if you don’t see it as a failure, it doesn’t matter otherwise.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Not particularly. I think it’s always been there. I know I found it myself, within myself.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Fast forward a few months, after the holidays in early 1957. Because of the ending of Shotglass Memories, there’s a new dynamic between the characters. I’m taking the work as Book Two might be a reader’s Book One. It should be self-contained but with an overall arc. If you read the first one you get more out of the story but I don’t want the reader to be lost not having done so. We see Joe Sinclair. Kelsey Halliday. The River’s End Diner. It’s the middle of winter in New Jersey. Shore life without the attractions. The past comes knocking again.
You can check out a couple of Pinterest moodboards I put together to give you a feel for both stories. They’ve ever changing but it allows me to cast my book in the process. https://www.pinterest.com/aschiavino/
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Not repeating yourself and, at the same time, remembering what you wrote to keep the story in continuity. The way I write, I only give the details I want you to know. If I point something out, pay attention. The challenge is really making sure the events are in order. Sometimes I’ll start with a scene and have to figure out the dialogue. Other times I start with dialogue and have to come up with a location. Some days are easier than others. You just have to keep your characters moving.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My Mt. Rushmore of writing would be Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane, Cormac McCarthy, and Ed Brubaker. Take from that what you will. There is a sense of beauty in the bleakness. A humanity in the darkness. Bad things happen. Bad people exist. But there’s never a loss of hope. I describe it as one foot in the darkness. It’s just that the other is also in the light. That being said I’m a fan of David Fincher’s work. I’d love for him to direct Shotglass Memories.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t. I think you can travel and it helps. I’ve certainly visited some of the locations in my book. The locations are important BUT I think you can take some creative liberties. You can give the essence for what the place is without needing to tell the reader how many tiles are on a floor. Our world today is a visual world. We have phones that can do a great many things. We have film. Television. Motion pictures in some form are a part of our world. Use it to your advantage. When I say diner, or the ocean, you as the reader bring your own version of that thing onto the page. I may point out specific details to the story but overall, I want my readers to bring their history to my story. I want their perception of the 1950s. When my characters walk down the sidewalk amidst a crowd, I want the reader to picture in their minds how many people and what they’re wearing. As long as I get the feel for something and or didn’t severely mess up the details, I can live with that.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The wall of self-doubt. It wasn’t the writing per-se or the outline. It wasn’t even finding the characters voice or my own voice within the writing. It was telling myself that I could write 80 thousand or more words. Forget climbing, once I figured out how to get the train through the wall, I stopped doubting myself. That spilled over into life.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That I’m capable of more than I thought I was.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
The most important thing I could say is break it down. A novel becomes chapters, becomes scenes, becomes pages to paragraphs through sentences and words. Keep breaking it down. Block it out. Think of it like your favorite movie as a starting point. Move the camera around. Get the scene down. Then when you go back in you can fine-tune the words. Each chapter could be four-thousand words. Which means you’ve got 20 chapters. If each chapter is a few scenes and you know each scene is a couple of thousand words, by the time you get to writing…you just write.
You’re writing less but in the end writing more because you don’t have that large number looming over you. You have little packages. Once I figured that all out, writing became manageable. Especially when pressed for time.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Trust No One.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Unfortunately I do not. But I’m also not the same person anymore so it’s fine.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My wife and daughter. It’s usually tears of joy.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
My grandfather. Every so often some more details come out about the man he was. He died when I was very young, two or three, and I never got to know him. But overall, I’m not somebody that particularly subscribes to the notion of never meet your heroes but I do feel that they are (or were) a person just like me. They’ve all very much flawed. Which can be a good thing or they can be a total dick. I’d like to meet J.J. Abrams or Steven Spielberg but I don’t even know what I’d say beyond hello or thank you. I’d rather just appreciate the work. But that’s my own self-doubt talking as well.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I’ll leave that up to my wife but I just hope at the end of it, people think I’m a decent person. That I did the right thing and right by people in life. That I wasn’t fake or a bully or quick to judge. That I erred on the side of compassion but I wasn’t a doormat. I’m not perfect in any regard. But I just want to be a good father, husband, and a decent person.
If you like my book: great. If it becomes a feature film: fantastic. But all that is irrelevant if I can’t look myself in the mirror every morning. I say that knowing I want my daughter to look up to me.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Reading. Collectibles. Photography. Movies. I’m at the point in life where I’m enjoying life. I’m finding new things, but at the same time, not finding new things for the sake of. I’m actually trying to collect less stuff.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Fargo has been amazing this season, as it was the last. Ash vs. Evil Dead has been surprising in a very good way. I’m enjoying Capaldi as the new Doctor (Who). Breaking Bad was the gold standard of television for me. So much so that I’ve only watched the pilot for Better Call Saul. I just can’t bring myself to watch that yet.
But Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark? Anytime. Anywhere.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: I’m simple. Pizza. Hot dogs. Pasta. Pork Roll (It’s not Taylor Ham.).
For music: The Gaslight Anthem. The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack. Amy Winehouse.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Probably graphic design. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. Very few people get to do what they want for a living. I have other interests but I want to also pay the bulls. I consider myself truly blessed. I’ve dug ditches. I’ve cleaned toilets. I’ve worked in copy shops. I have it pretty damn good. The writing is just the icing on top of the icing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
You can find me at a few places.
and Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/aschiavino
There’s also a whole slew of stuff and quotes here ,it’ll give your readers more content including a printable bookmark. https://schiavino.wordpress.com/body-of-work/shotglass-memories-a-novel/