Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. In fact, I began writing a novel as a teenager that eventually became my first literary novel, YONKERS Yonkers! (Published 2018) A sequel to the first Yonkers book, The Heart of Yonkers, will be released (Spring 2020). Book three in the Yonkers series is in development. I have also published three business books: “PR for People,” “STEPS My not-so-secret life as an adult dancer and how it impacts my life and business,” and “American Spin.” In addition to writing literary fiction and serious nonfiction, I also love to write thrillers. My first thriller “One Small Murder” was republished in 2012. Personally speaking, in my spare time, I train in ballet, four classes a week and alternate my non-ballet days with cardio, Zumba, weights and Pilates. This workout-regimen keeps me very disciplined and hyper-focused, which definitely has an impact in how approach my writing. I also love to cook Italian food for my husband—we’re both half Italian and half Irish. I travel frequently to New York City, Boston, New Hampshire and Denver to visit family. I divide my time between homes in downtown Seattle and the north coast of Oregon.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book, “The Heart of Yonkers,” (Spring 2020), is a sequel to “YONKERS Yonkers!” (Published 2018). The third book in this trilogy is in development. My inspiration comes from having had the opportunity to grow up in working-class Yonkers. Although Yonkers is the fourth largest city in New York State, and has/had its own identity, it was sadly eclipsed by its neighboring mecca New York City. Growing up in “the city” made me streetwise at an early age. Because of the city’s complex ethnic diversity, it made me accepting of the full range of humanity. Here’s a funny story: When I was sending out agent queries for “YONKERS Yonkers!,” one agent told me the character was too young for the story. I told her: “Lady, what planet are you from?” I guess she had a more sheltered and rarefied background than I had experienced growing up that made her naïve about the reality of working-class teenagers from Yonkers. Yonkers girls grow up fast, maybe too fast.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I constantly keep notes—everywhere. I never face the blank page. I can’t recall the last time I faced writer’s block. Maybe this is due to my many years of writing professionally. Regardless of whether I felt like writing or not, I was getting paid to hit a deadline. When you’re getting paid, too much procrastination is not an option. You can’t tell a client: Sorry, I have writer’s block.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Five literary nonfiction works and their authors have had profound influence on my work as a writer of essays and articles: the ground-breaking open letter “J’Accuse…!” written by the French writer Émile Zola and published in 1898 in the newspaper L’Aurore. Other influential works include “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl; Ralph Waldo Emerson’s masterpiece, “Self Reliance,” Eric Hoffer’s seminal work “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements,” and Susan Sontag’s “Illness as Metaphor.”
Other authors that have had profound influence on her work include Doris Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates, Iris Murdoch, Patti Smith, and, especially, the Irish writer Edna O’Brien whose coming-of-age trilogy “The Country Girls” possesses the same spirit as my Yonkers trilogy. Of all novelists, I greatly admire the Italian Author Elsa Morante. I think Morante’s novel History, (Italian: La Storia) is one of the greatest literary works of all time.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing a thriller that is based on a story that I wrote nearly thirty years ago. The original manuscript was not my finest hour as an author, but after so many years of honing my craft, I think I can turn it into a more compelling story. Originally it was titled “Two :30s and a :10.” The title is too confusing to people who never worked in the film industry, so I’ve renamed it, but I’m not ready to disclose the new title. The story involves the circumstances around the brutal murder of a commercial film director named Harry Hill. Any number of people would have liked to have killed him, the question is who? I am also writing a collection of essays: NOTES FROM THE WORKING-CLASS. So far, I have written nine essays. Some can be found in my press kit: http://www.prforpeople.com/patriciavaccarino
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I work hard to build my community-of-interest. I identify my potential audience for my work and then I reach out to them. For example, I have built a community among people who have either grown up in Yonkers or who have close ties to this city. The Yonkers community is interested in my work. The most effective way to stay in touch with my community is by continuing to write quality work. Over time, I am beginning to develop a following. There are no shortcuts and there is no such thing as an overnight success. As the old adage goes, the writer who goes to sleep one night and wakes up in the morning as a raging success has actually been asleep, metaphorically speaking, for ten years.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write everything. Write in mediums that you are not particularly skilled in. Every time you turn a phrase, you are exercising your craft. Put your time in. Don’t just think about writing. You must write as often as possible.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
There are no shortcuts to becoming a good writer. Aside from developing the habit or writing, a writer must read everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. If you keep your head riveted in words, you will never drown in the blank page.
What are you reading now?
I tend to read two to three books within the same time frame, alternating back and forth between each book. I’m currently reading “Aracoeli” by Elsa Morante, “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras, and “On Desperate Ground” by Hampton Sides.
What’s next for you as a writer?
For my own work: I keep many ideas or concepts in my files, but not all evolve to become fully formed books. Sometimes, there is internal competition among my concepts—which book should get written first? When I find myself in that dilemma, I pay close attention to my dreams. I find that my dreams will dictate the book that needs to get written now! My dreams can be disturbing or enchanting, ugly or dark and occasionally funny, but they are never dull.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
I would take my Yonkers trilogy to agonize over what I want to rewrite.