Five-time Pushcart Prize nominee Frank Scozzari resides in Nipomo, a small town on the California central coast. His award-winning short stories have appeared in more than one-hundred literary magazines, including The Kenyon Review, Tampa Review, Eleven Eleven (Cal Arts), Pacific Review, Reed Magazine, Minetta Review (NYU), The Nassau Review, War Literature, and the Arts (U.S. Air Force Academy), The Berkeley Fiction Review, Ellipsis Magazine, South Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, Hawai'i Pacific Review, and The MacGuffin. Writing awards include Winner of the National Writer’s Association Short Story Contest. Theatrical readings of his work have been performed at Speaking of Stories, Santa Barbara’s preeminent literary theater, featuring such artists as Jeff Bridges, Jane Seymour, and Elliot Gould. He worked in the California criminal justice system for twenty-five years and has been a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild for more than twenty years. As our Author of the Day, Scozzari tells us all about his book, From Afar.
Please give us a short introduction to what From Afar is about.
Burned-out with the American dating scene, Morgan Stanfield heads off to Russia in search of love where he encounters a Russian beauty, a prostitute, a wise old babushka, an American chauvinist, intellectuals, the Russian mafia, and the 'face' of love.
What inspired you to write about someone who went to Russia in search of love?
It is an autobiographical mixture of truth and fiction, interwoven with the experiences of a few friends.
Tell us more about Morgan Stanfield. What makes him tick?
Morgan is a hopeless romantic in search of love, willing to cross continents to find it.
Why did you pick the city of Saint Petersburg as the backdrop for your story?
Because it one of the great cities of the world and it is the city where a lot of American-Russian romances took place in the past twenty years.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
No secret skills, just an ordinary guy typing away on his computer keyboard.
Why did you title this "From Afar"?
The title comes from the search for love in a faraway place. It is from a foreign land that Morgan feels the call for love. Also, the underlining meaning of the novel revolves around the poetic notion that love from afar is more alluring than love close by.
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
Anastasia, because she's a composite of different women.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Creating characters that have a mind of there own. Truman Capote once said, "You can't blame a writer for what the characters say." I find that to be true.
Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? What inspired your debut?
From my earliest readings of Jack London novels, I knew I wanted to write someday. This novel was simply inspired by true-life events and the comedy that often surrounds the mating game.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
Best writing advice is to read, read, read. It is from reading you learn to write.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Yes, as stated earlier, sometimes we think that something that is difficult to obtain or is faraway is more valuable than things right in front of us. I guess it is human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
No interesting writing habits. When I write, I write. I get immersed in it and time flies by.
What are you working on right now?
Just finished a novel I have been working on for the past several years. The next project is to put together an anthology of short stories.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?