Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Interview with Lanny Larcjnese, DEATH IN THE FAMILY

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Death in the Family is a reverse series. (“What? th…?”) Though it’s my second novel published, it was my first novel written. This results in some strangeness, e.g., a character who had a supporting role in Death in the Family became the protagonist in the next book, which, again, was the first book published. Also, Death in the Family is written in the first person but the next book written in the third. So both published novels share characters, including back stories, but have different protagonists, different plots, stakes, etc. Got it? (I barely do.) Finally, Death in the Family has an ending that lends itself to a follow-up; however, it’s follow up is not my work in progress. A totally different story is. So anybody who thinks linear, please move to the next question!

Do you have a favorite character?
In Death in the Family it has to be Antwyne Claxton, a young man of color who was a thug in high school and then-nemesis of the protagonist, Donny Lentini. But Anwyne joins the Marines, goes into AA, totally redeems himself and becomes friend and guardian angel to Donny, who grows to rely on him, need him, and love him.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Not in the same book, but subsequent book, (See ans. #1 above), and not go from minor to major but major to minor. Within the same book, many characters originally intended to be major or minor changed status as I wrote. See Ques. #13 for an explanation of how this happens. And yes, when it happens, it does change the direction of the story.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
Beginning from the point when I first sat down to write a novel, it took about four years to find a publisher. As mentioned in Ques. #1, the first novel published was the second one written. Between and during writing novels, I wrote short stories, entered them in contests which was very successful, had them published, etc.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
Denise and Austin Camacho of Intrigue Publishers were active successive years at the Philadelphia Writers Conference. I pitched Denise at the conference’s pitch session. She liked the book I pitched, requested a manuscript, and ultimately agreed to publish the book. I had shopped the book previously, with no success --- meaning no response whatsoever, let alone a “not interested” by many of the agents I shopped. At the time I connected with Denise, my intention was to continue shopping the book. Without persistence and a thick skin in this business, you’re dead. But I adore Intrigue, and couldn’t be more proud than to share stable space with some really outstanding writers.

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first or latest book.
A vivid image spontaneously popped into my mind: two high school boys, one a bully, meet behind the gym to have it out. I had no idea what the provenance of that image was, but it was so vivid I had to write it down. After, I asked myself, how did they get there? Then I wrote that out, and the process kept going until it became a (bad) novel. After much study of craft, working with editors, and many revisions, it became a good novel. It’s called Death in the Family.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I would not join a critique group since I feel that what I try to do with my stories is a little out of the box, viz., they are layered with a superficial plot level of, say, vengeance and crime, but also layers of relationship dynamics and sub-texts of moral, legal, or ethical issues. Of course, the book needs to be entertaining at least on the surface level, but if readers get the other stuff they will simply get more out of their reading experience. I do, however, need my work edited and would not consider submitting without a protracted dialogue with a developmental editor, and after that, the publisher’s editor.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
Total silence. Me and the keyboard and the screen, but also restaurant napkins, the margins of the NYT, random notebooks, jumping out of bed at 1:00 a.m. when just the right adjective pops into my head, endless discussions to the point if I don’t bite my tongue somebody will stab me, etc.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Dyed in the wool pantser here. I can no more look at a blank legal pad to outline than look at a blank screen on Word. I write atmosphere so that it talks to me; I create characters and let them talk to me; I design plot events and they tell me where they want to go. I could outline, but then have to change it a hundred times, after which, what’s the use?

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Always. I need it, not only because of my loosey-goosey method described in Ques. #13, but also because I tend toward long sentences which I like for the musicality of the words (being Italian and  all), but that entails lots of phrases and I am weak on syntax. I rely heavily on editorial support.

What’s next for you?
My work in progress is a novel called “Fire in the Belly,” a fictional treatment of the 1985 MOVE cult disaster in which the Philadelphia police dropped a satchel charge onto the cult’s fortress and sixteen people burned to death plus 62 row houses allowed to burn to the ground.


Donny Lentini is a talented young man hungry for his mother's love. To please her, he becomes guardian angel to his mob-wannabe father. When the father is murdered and found with his hands hacked off, Donny is dealt a set of cards in a game called vengeance. The pot is stacked high with chips; the ante, his soul and the lives of loved-ones. With the help of friends—ex-con, defrocked Jesuit Bill Conlon along with former high-school nemesis, Antwyne Claxton—he digs for whether the murder had anything to do with the mob's lust for a real estate parcel owned by the family of Donny's lover. He's new at this game. He doesn't cheat, but plays his cards well. And he gets what he wants.

Buy Link:


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.

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  1. Replies
    1. Add my thanks also, Debra. BTW, I really like your site --- clean & user friendly.

  2. Thank you for sharing your book with us. I always look forward to finding out about another great read.

    1. Hi James, thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the contest.

    2. James, let me add my thanks to Debra's!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you Egar. The keyboard-life is a solitary one, so any chance writers have to commune with know...people, is welcome. I hope you enjoy the book, too.

  4. Just want to say how proud we are at Intrigue Publishing to have Lanny on our team. His work really fits our slogan - Writing that cannot be ignored!

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you Rita, I hope it wasn't too confusing. I hope you enjoy the book. It's a complex story -- not difficult to read -- but with underlying relationship dynamics involving both of the main character's "families."

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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