Brooklyn born Vic Fortezza is the author whose interview I'm posting this week. His book, A Hitch in Twilight is twenty short works in the style of The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock. What I find most interesting about Vic is the way he goes out on the streets to talk about his writing with anyone he can meet. This is what storytelling should be about, one on one contact with the reader, like a medieval minstrel. Technology has helped us get closer to people all over the world, but in many ways it has hurt our ability to talk the people who live close by. I love the fact that Vic is doing this with a book styled after TV shows from the fifties.
How long have you been writing?
Since 1975. I wrote three novels before I attempted a short story, Rude Awakening, which was based on the strained relationship of my immigrant parents. It was published in 1988 by Unknowns Magazine out of Atlanta. Thereafter, getting stories into print was sporadic until 1999, when I finally heeded the advice of friends and went online. I was amazed how easy submission was. I sometimes heard from an editor the same day, as opposed to a year or more using snail mail. It also saved me the expense and annoyance of dealing with the post office. It may have been the best thing I’ve ever done - ever.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I’ve completed a short story of 1000+ words, Oblivious. I will read through the file a couple of more times to make sure it’s as good as can be. It’s about the dangers we all face that we are completely unaware of, most of which never occur. It was probably influenced by the TV show Criminal Minds, which is extremely unpleasant but is to be commended for its uncompromising nature and reluctance to put things into a tidy politically correct context - except for its occasional playing of mopey songs at the end.
I’ve also submitted a novel, Killing, to All Things That Matter Press. It encompasses many aspects of the theme. Of the nine novels I’ve written, of which two have been published, I believe it is the most meaningful. I don’t know if anyone has ever examined the theme to such an extent.
What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
I’ve been a teacher’s aide, a bartender, a messenger and, for nearly 25 years, a data entry person and supervisor at the Commodity Exchange in Manhattan. I worked in the madness of the pit and at the podium trying to manage the three circus that the open outcry system, which has largely given way to electronic trading, had been. It was a wonderful place for a writer, as the gamut of behavior could be observed. I even wrote a raucous novel about a year in the life of a supervisor, Exchanges. Trouble is, it is so vulgar and politically incorrect I don’t know that any publisher would touch it.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
During Christmas break my freshman year in college I spotted Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment on a rack at a newsstand. My two best campus friends, who were really intelligent despite the fact that they were football players, had mentioned him a few times. I was prepared for the humiliation of not being able to understand the book. To my surprise, I not only understood it but was amazed and frightened at how I identified with the main character. Prior to this, it was almost strictly Batman and Superman comics.
I also admired Henry Miller’s fearlessness, although in the end he may simply have been the world’s greatest pornographer. The novels I respect most are those that get life right, like Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, perhaps the most beautifully written of all.
Who's your best/worst critic?
I beat myself up pretty well about all aspects of my life, even something so silly as a once a week round of golf.
What's the last thing you think of before you fall asleep at night? First thing in the morning?
I often use a budding short story as a means of counting sheep. In the morning it’s about seizing the day, hoping for at least one book sale on the street.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
90% of my work is mainstream or literary. I’m fascinated by the bittersweet mystery of life, by what makes people tick, by peeling away as many of the layers of personality as possible. The other ten percent is borne of the love I had for The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock as a youth. I’ve never found it difficult to differentiate between the two.
Vic's Website: http://vicfortezza.homestead.com/
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Blog: http://blogs.myspace.com/vicf1
A Hitch in Twilight on Kindle: http://amzn.to/9E4Crc