Rattle & Boom: Gloom
Underground Reading: His Own Man by Martha Gellhorn

PK Interview: Fred Venturini (Part 2)

In the first half of our interview with author Fred Venturini, we got him to confess to his reality tv experience and to talk about the American high school experience. He's recently finished a "virtual tour" for The Samaritan, so we put on our marketing hats (they look like this) and asked a few loaded questions about the experience.

The Samaritan


PK: We know you've had quite a busy month of virtual "touring" with over a dozen different blogs around the world. We're the last stop on the tour, so we wanted to give you a chance to share the experience from your perspective.

FV: It’s great, and sort of exhausting. Trying to keep up with all the comments and be engaged, trying to share the reviews and guest posts with people, all while trying to balance work on another master’s degree, a new house, a full time job, you know, a non-writerly lifestyle, it feels like a lot of work. It’s all worth it when you get that one email or friend request from someone you don’t know—you start making those peripheral connections, and that’s when it gets really exciting.

PK: Which is more nerve-wracking: waiting for reviews from professional reviewers or from the scarily-enthusiastic amateurs of the blogging world?

FV: I would say the writers who have put in enough work to get to the point where others are reviewing it should be pretty used to failure. When I was in college, my room at home was wallpapered with rejections (well-deserved ones, by the way). When you let the rejections or negative reviews motivate you, when you accept them as valuable pieces of what you’re trying to achieve, when you digest them as fuel and learn from them, they’re just as thrilling as a glowing review or a big stack of compliments.

I don’t differentiate between “professional” reviewers and the amateur bloggers. Honestly, they’re both well-read, passionate, and I respect their opinions immensely. Is a New York Times review more likely to get clipped and saved, or maybe framed? Yeah, that’s just the way it works. But a typo-ridden, run-on sentence of a review, man, I read it just as carefully, cherishing every sentence—because that’s someone who loves reading, that’s who I want to excite, that’s someone who’s going to tell others about my book.

PK: Just as a sampling process, this has definitely gotten you a dozen very different points of view on The Samaritan. Any positive surprises?

FV: I figured at least one of the reviews would just skewer me. Really. That wasn’t the case. Every person who read and reviewed the work, even if it wasn’t their cup of tea, they complimented the delivery, the writing. So I was surprised at how universal the praise was for that aspect. Pleasant surprise, I might add. And whenever I get a friend request or an email or a Twitter mention from someone I don’t recognize, it’s always like unwrapping a little Christmas present. It was enough to get me (shameless plug alert) to join Twitter, in fact (@fredventurini).

PK: ...and any horror stories?

FV: I wish, a horror story would be entertaining. The closest I can get to a horror story is a young adult website that reviewed the book and complimented the writing, but warned their readers off of the novel, and the comments piled up like, “Yeah, I’m going to pass” and “Nope, this one’s not on my list” and “Not for me.” On the bright side, if the Twilight readers are putting up their noses to my stuff, I can wear that badge with pride. I think I have that YA audience lathered up until page 65 or so, when our little love story takes a turn for the worse.

PK: Playing devil's advocate, do you think has it worked?

FV: Honestly, I don’t know. It’s my first foray into this realm. Time will tell. Although it’s not a matter of whether or not it “worked,” because it sure doesn’t hurt—it’s just a matter of degree of effectiveness. If anything, I have a wide sample of feedback from a big range of readers, it forced me into writing some essays for guest posts, which has me prepared for interviews, and I’m almost certain at least a few people got curious and picked up the book without telling me.

PK: Would you do it again for your second book?

FV: Absolutely, in a nanosecond. If I were Stephen King and selling millions of books, I’d still want to do it. Give me the folks who are writing about reading, free of charge, because they love it, any day of the week. I’ve connected with people that are truly the proof that books will never die, and I don’t want to get away from that if I’m lucky enough to get another novel out there.

PK: And finally... how are the Cubs doing next year?

FV: Little known fact for non-Cubs fans . . . after the opening pitch of opening day, lots of Cubs fans in the stands will turn to each other (or text each other) and say, “Oh well, wait ‘til next year” and smile a little. It’s getting to the point where the curse is bigger than any World Series. No one outside of St. Louis will remember their 2006 championship in a decade or two, but everyone, even non-baseball fans, will remember the Cubs drought. And when it ends? Biggest. Sports. Story. Ever.

And it will miraculously, improbably end in October, 2011. Mark it down. If not, hey, there’s always next year.

PK: Thank you very much for the time. I look forward to the Royals/Cubs World Series this fall.


Mr. Venturini's debut novel, The Samaritan, is out now from Blank Slate Press. You can also find some of his shorter work in collections from Comet Press and others. The first half of our interview was on Monday, and our review of The Samaritan is available here, if you need further convincing.