Watch Video Pitch for the Novel STAY AWHILE:
Get to know writer Anthony Vecchiarello:
1. What is the theme of your story?
There are a couple of themes in “Stay Awhile”. I think the initial one is that karma has a way of getting back at us for the things we’ve done wrong. Troy was someone who was a thief criminal that took advantage of his best friend Damien. If you noticed in the flashback chapters, Troy never seems to listen to Damien nor does he take awareness of danger signs. Troy finds himself in the worst case scenario where he steals from people who turn out to be cannibals and even worse an entire town full of this sadistic cannibalistic cult. His friend dies and in the end he changes. His horrifying experience led him to feel again for others while feeling that he needed to be punished for his crimes. When he falls to his knees and when he is in the bar, he is finally realizing how much he cared for Damien. Damien was the brother he never had.
The second theme is you don’t fully appreciate something until it’s gone.
Third Theme – There is an underlying darkness and light within all of us. In order for Troy to survive, he had to go to a really dark place where his actions became self-defense instinct, like animals that are preyed upon in the wild. From personal experiences I’ve gone into dark places after having spouts of: anger, hatred, sadness, guilt, and suffering.
Fourth Theme – don’t be easily manipulated. The head priest Alakazar is a representation of propaganda. He is this malignant being that convinced an entire village of people to commit cannibalism, just on the notion that it may give them eternal life. The Craven’s past has not been nearly explained yet but from what I gather and hints toward the sequel is that this cult has been around for hundreds of years. These traditional ways were past down from generation to generation. So these worshippers just think that eating other people is the norm. Alakazar is symbolic of a figure that promises a fulfilling future or life when in reality he is purging his own people and/or the world. Think of Hitler, Stalin, Vlad the Impaler (person who inspired Dracula) and even Kim Jong-il.
2. Why do people need to know about your story?
It is an original idea and a twist on the fact that the protagonist is actually the “criminal” or the victim. You see this family come home and first feel bad because there is an intruder hiding in their closet. You soon have to switch gears once you find out that this seemingly normal middle class family are actual the ones to be afraid of.
Although, the antagonist is the members of the Craven that Troy encounters throughout his quest for survival in Clean Village, Troy isn’t a saint either. He shot that preacher (though immortal) in a matter of a minute, killed the Senator, murdered those nude skinless cannibals and other members of the cult.
Also, I wanted to write a really terrifying book, one that will engross readers in that atmosphere. This story plays like a contemporary survival horror video game. Video games today are just as good at storytelling as books, films, and television. Young people will be awe inspired by its comparison to video games.
Lastly, people need to read this thinking that something of this magnitude could happen. Take some of the most infamous serial killers and cults that have plagued our American history. I wanted to shed the ugly light on how demented a cult can go. In my opinion, all cults should be disbanded. This is from the mindset of a journalist of which I studied for four years and received a Bachelor’s degree in.
3. How long have you been writing stories?
Ever since I was a kid writing vivid memoirs.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
Probably, “The Matrix”. I cannot even count the numbers of times I saw it, but growing up that movie changed my life. It follows the principles of “The Heroes Journey” perfectly.
5. What artists would you love to work with?
Stephen King, JK Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Robert Kirkman, Frank Miller, Ray Bradbury(If he was still alive) and Madeleine L’Engle (if she was still alive). They all seem like cool people.
6. How many stories have you written?
Possibly hundreds – published one thus far. I’ve written so many short stories and micro fictions in my Creative Writing classes (both in college and high school). I have also written a plethora of articles and stories in my journalism field.
7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
An accomplished author with a couple of published books under my belt. I want to be living in a peaceful environment and where I will be making enough income to support myself without any issues.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
Depending on the genre of my story, I try to get myself engulfed in that environment by listening to an ongoing score through my ear buds on YouTube. Writing horror helps when I can hear creepy music in the background. I usually only write if I have enough of a drive to do it in that moment. I tend to write in the evening closer to night time when it’s a horror story. However, if I’m writing a colorful scene or a pleasant story I try to write it during the day, when the sun is lighting up the blue sky. During my periods of writing which I type on Microsoft Word, I create a document of just Character Biographies; it helps me get a better picture of where I want to take each character. Any major plotlines, I type in my notes.
My only method is that I try to paint a picture with the images that are in my head. The story is already there forming in my mind, I just need to write it down.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Reading up on news in pop culture whether it’s about movies, television, video games, etc.
Playing video games; growing up that was one hobby that helped me escape from the dull and boring life of attending public school.
Binge watching on Netflix, haha, and I’m not even kidding. When I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in a day I like to sit back in my desk chair with a bottle of beer, bowl of ice cream, leftover dinner, etc. and watch my favorite shows: “The Walking Dead”, “Breaking Bad”, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” and “American Horror Story”. On HBO Go I watch “Game of Thrones”. On WB.com I used to stream “The O.C.”
I used to be passionate about voice-over. I would listen to some of the best voice actors and make recordings by doing impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Hamill’s Joker, Kevin Conroy’s Batman, Bane from Dark Knight Rises, Christian Bale’s Batman, Heath Ledger’s Joker, Troy Baker’s Joel from “The Last of Us”.
During my time in college, I would go in the lounge room and jam/practice on the piano for hours. I love music and sometimes I enjoy dancing to it in my room. Once in a while I dabble on the acoustic guitar.
Lastly, if I’m feeling really ambitious then I draw a portrait of a character in popular culture.
Someday, I want to take up surfing. I’m a water sign. Always loved the ocean and always will.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival?
It all started from a message I got on Twitter from WILDsound. Then it was an email and once I read the description of what the services offered I was immediately intrigued. As a writer, I always hoped that one of my published works would enter a festival. Never would I have thought that it would be my first novel!
I went to the last two NY Comic Cons and fell in love with that world where creative people from all different backgrounds come together and make a majestic event happen. The thought of my novel possibly being turned into a movie was another major influencer. And the fact that actors would be reading aloud the dialogue that I wrote just amazes me. It’s the best kind of exposure.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Work at it – Really focus and spend hours trying to get everything down as much as you can. We all have stories in our head, but it’s taking the action that really matters.
Research – Things you are not sure of, lengths of rooms or how certain things are in the world, or events that happened, research everything. The more accurate something is in a story, even if it is fiction, the more logical it will become in the storyline. This will make readers feel more attached to your work because it comes off as more real and relatable.
Start a blog – if you want to really hone your craft and improve your writing, start writing in a blog. Each blog post is like an unraveling of your psyche. You will naturally get better and appreciate the satisfaction you’ll receive from site views/visits or friendly comments.
Learn to swallow constructive criticism – I believe this is one of the most important aspects of being a writer is learning to accept the negative feedback about your work. No matter how good you think it is, someone will have something to say about it. There is always room for improvement. As writers, we can use that criticism to fuel ourselves and improve our craft for our future works. I had a professor in college who after we finished writing the rough drafts to our short fictions would have all the students face their desks in a circle. We would pick and read aloud about three stories per session. The professor would then stand in the center of the room and give his seemingly harsh but honest critique. Most of the time he had something negative to say. He was like Simon Cowell on American Idol. I remember how pissed I used to feel. But after going through I saw what he was talking about. All in all, it helped me to tolerate the naysayers. And never take it personal. If you do you will beat yourself up about it and not want to continue writing. There will always be people who will love your work.
Have fun – Writing is supposed to be fun. The more you have fun with a story the better it will become. And never force something in the plotline. Let the words and sentences write themselves. You can always go back and edit or revise later.
Have someone proofread it – It is extremely difficult for a writer to edit their own work. So revise and edit the best you can do until you’ve overly exhausted yourself and then ask a friend or family member to read it over and see if everything makes sense and is grammatically correct.
Join Writing Support Groups – You can easily do this through Facebook. There are a ton of writer and book groups that give support to the creativity of authors. Here you can discuss things in writing your passionate about and network with like minded people in the process.
Read – Probably one of the most important foundations of a writer. I am guilty of not reading enough chapter books, but instead I read a lot of articles per day. By reading your mind is already subconsciously seeing what forms of writing are more equated with your improvement. Reading always makes you a better writer. It also enhances your imagination which in term will skyrocket your writing.
Write from Personal Experience – Your writing will seem more relatable if you add tidbits of your personal experiences. It adds an extra layer of flair. It can also be very therapeutic. Why spend money on talking to a shrink when you can get all your aggressions out on paper? It can be quite fulfilling.
Deadline: VIDEO PITCH FESTIVAL – Submit your LOGLINE/STORY PITCH and we’ll make it into a movie: