Front Page Palooka (the latest addition to the Fight Card series), is a debut novel from the dynamic Anthony Venutolo. When he’s not hanging with his family, or chronicling the antics of Boardwalk Empire for the Star Ledger, the New Jersey based Venutolo inhabits Bukowski’s Basement – a blog dedicated to the Skid Row poet and all things flash fiction.
In Front Page Palooka, Venutolo gives us Bogart inspired newshound, Nick Moretti – charming, yet cynical, burned-out, whiskey-sodden, and not above making sure the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Front Page Palooka has it all … dames, dives, and hard-punching attitude.
Front Page Palooka reads like a vintage movie. What were your influences while banging out your prose?
Is it blasphemous to say that I try not to read in the genre I’m writing? Instead of soaking up the obvious masters like Chandler, Spillane, Robert E. Howard or any of the pulps, I went on a film noir watching tear for about roughly a year and soaked up pretty much every film I could get my eyes on. The great thing is that between sites like YouTube, Netflix and the Internet Archive, a treasure trove of both classics and B-flicks can be found to stream. Also, cable providers like Comcast have their own stupendous movie collections that can be watched OnDemand at home or via WiFi through an app. It’s ridiculous how many hidden noir repositories there are.
So when would I watch? I’d average a film or two every couple of days. Since my story was set in 1954, I really wanted to get a handle on how people lived, worked, spoke, dressed, worked, walked, talked, etc. It was a wonderful experience living in that retro world of George Raft, Richard Conte, Glenn Ford, William Holden, Richard Widmark, Robert Mitchum, Fred MacMurray, Sterling Hayden, Orson Welles and of course, my favorite, Bogart.
(Laughing) Even though I said I wouldn’t READ Chandler, I certainly dove into Marlowe – in radio form – by soaking up a plethora of vintage radio dramas via the Internet Archive. Again, it’s all there. You just have to know what you’re looking for.
How did you use Internet resources such as Pinterest and Spotify to help inspire the writing of Front Page Palooka?
Great question. If writers today don’t take advantage of what certain social networks are offering than they’re missing out. While Facebook and Twitter are great to get your overall platform up ad running, sites like Pinterest and Spotify can foster creativity – and even can be a creative well for a potential project. For example, I created a Pinterest board (named for my character Nick Moretti) and would ‘pin’ inspirational photos of things in his world – places he’d go, clothes he’d wear and booze he’d even drink. Not only was it fun, but, moreover, inspirational when the muse wasn’t doing her thing.
By the same token, a Spotify playlist was created in the same vein using songs from the era – 1954 – that would often be played while I was writing.
What was the process for creating the book trailer for Front Page Palooka?
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t adore making the book trailer for ‘Palooka.’ I also majored in TV production a million years ago back in college so there’s part of me that is a frustrated producer. I love combing through raw footage of video clips and seeing how I can tie them all together very extremely satisfying.
I knew I wanted my book trailer to be comprised mainly of video clips. I see too many book trailers that are glorified slideshows and, most of the time, they feel amateurish. It was my goal for the trailer to look as produced as possible.
How is working with Fight Card’s author cooperative different than traditional publishing?
Well, this is my first time out of the gate so working with the FIGHT CARD team has been a blast. As far as I can tell, there isn’t a more supportive bunch of guys. From the writers (who give great advice) to co-creator Paul Bishop (who gave great edits); the whole experience was not as painful as it could have been.
What’s next for Anthony Venutolo?
That’s the $25,000 question. I’d love to explore Nick Moretti’s world again. He came so naturally to me that I think getting back into his headspace wouldn’t be a problem. That said, there’s a bunch of ideas floating around in my brain. So many potential projects – I’ve been meaning to release a couple different collections of flash fiction that I’ve written through the years. I also started a couple of other projects in different mediums that I think could easily work as fiction – so much so that I’m ashamed to say I didn’t conceive them as such first. There’s also that that cocktail vampire novella that I always joke I’m going to write one of these days. I know… A day late and a dollar short. Still, THAT dude is gonna be a blast to write.
To find out more about the Fight Card series visit www.fightcardbooks.com