Interview With The Author: Vito Racanelli


John Dwaine McKenna 

Today’s guest is a newsman, foreign correspondent and bureau chief turned thriller writer named Vito Rancanelli, whose new novel,  The Man in Milan, is reviewed in Mysterious Book Report No. 422.

His insights reflect his vast work experience and a continental point-of-view that will present our fans and MBR readers with a refreshing new perspective on the writer’s craft.  With many thanks for joining us today . . . here’s Vito Rancanelli.  Our first question is:

Take us through The Man in Milan’s publishing journey. How long did it take?

The actual writing took about a year including a six-month sabbatical from work, and not counting the publisher/agent suggested changes, which took another few months. Then it took a few years for a publisher to bite.

Where do you get most, some, or any of your story ideas from? What inspired The Man in Milan?

I have many short stories published (you can find them on my website, Some are ripped from the headlines but many just come to me, often inspired by things I observe.

In the case of The Man in Milan, the kernel of the story is based on a real event, the downing of an airliner in Italy in 1980. This period was called Gli Anni di Piomobo, or the Years of Lead (the 1970-80s saw a great deal of terrorism in Italy). The investigation dragged on and on and it seemed that the authorities didn’t want it solved. That intrigued me. The rest is in the novel.

Who inspired you to write? 

Technically my 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Hogan. But actually, it was my parents, who both came from immigrant backgrounds. They instilled in me a heavy desire to read and write.

What makes a character compelling?

Character flaws, as they help readers feel for and even identify with the character, and grit.

What makes a character despicable?

An evil nature, or doing bad things, but I think a lack of passion and compassion are at the top, because it makes the character less human.

What type of scene is most difficult for you to write?

Frankly, sex scenes.

What’s your next project?

A sequel to The Man in Milan. I’ve already got the basic challenge/premise for Paul and Hamilton to work out, and chapter 1, but I’m also working on a novel about an Italian soldier’s journey home during WW2.

Bonus questions 

Do you have any other comments, suggestions, tips, anecdotes, quotes or inspirational material you’d like to share?

This might sound hackneyed, but never give up if you want to be a writer. It is already hard enough to be a writer. I have seen many good writers give up. I believe there are three factors to success in the arts: talent, persistence and luck. Any two will do.

Where can you be reached on the World Wide Web?

Through my website

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About the Author 

Vito Racanelli’s short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” series; the Boiler; the Literarian; Newtown Literary; KGB Bar Lit Magazine;; Dark Corners; a “great weather for Media” short story collection, and River and South Review. His works have also been performed at Liar’s League NYC and broadcast by BBC4, as part of its Sunday afternoon story series.

His “A Trip to the Trees Place,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He was a 2013 and 2018 Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Story Prize finalist, placed a “notable” story in the Gemini 2016 Short Story contest, and was a participant in the 2013 Pen World Festival.

Vito’s non-fiction has appeared in The Wall Street JournalThe Newark Star Ledger, and San Francisco Chronicle, and the Far Eastern Economic Review, among other newspapers. He is a Barron’s Staff Writer, and is regularly interviewed by U.S. and European TV and radio programs such as WABC, BBC, and CNBC. He was the Associated Press-Dow Jones News Bureau Chief, in Italy 2/94-10/9, and led the bureau’s wide range of coverage of Italian financial markets and news. Visit his website at: