Thursday, 3 May 2012

Interview with John Zunski: Author of Cemetery Street

Original Title: Cemetery Street
Author: John Zunski
Published Date: May 16th 2011

In a world where dreams are possible and nightmares come true, can you romance a memory? James Morrison thinks so. In a snowy cemetery, James reenacts a childhood ritual, unleashing an avalanche of memories. Laugh, cry, and blush with James as he recounts a late twentieth century American life.


1.  Is there an inspiration behind why you chose writing?

      I think you may have to ask the muse why it chose me.  What? That answer doesn’t count? Okay, how about this… I’ve always loved stories, for me they were magical places and I wanted to be a magician so people could enjoy the magical places I created.

2.  When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

       I was a cliché’ kind of kid, I wanted to be a firefighter. Then I wanted to be a hockey player and somewhere in between I wanted to be a writer. Luckily, I chased my dreams and was/am all three.

3.  Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is....


       Cemetery Street… Oh, wait I did.  Okay, that’s cheap, I wish I could take credit for The Godfather.

4.  What are your current literary works?  Any sneak peaks?
     Cemetery Street
     Shangri-La Trailer Park -  a politically incorrect yarn about a dysfunctional trailer park
     Nightwatching –  a ghost story that will be release later 2012.

     How about the opening chapter of Cemetery Street?

Chapter 1:
On the Cusp

“Get up!” she cried. “Run!” she smiled over her shoulder. The earth shook beneath our feet. “Faster! Faster!” Her voice swirled in the wind. “Feel it?” she shrieked, her hair dancing behind her. “Feels great. Just great!” Her laugh pierced the freight’s roar. Swimming through the train’s blast, she reminded me of a salmon - always heading upstream.
Moments earlier, she danced across a warped balance beam forty feet above the river. “If I lose my balance, even for a second - a second - I could die!” Ignoring our pleas, her forehead etched with concentration, she continued. “For what? Like there has to be a what! Would you say I died in vain, died for the thrill?” Her arms flailed. “Yes,” she answered. “Died of stupidity! Died for nothing, what a way to die! I like that. There isn’t pressure in nothing.”
Me, I’ve always felt pressure - even in nothing, even today. So I watch, I’ve always watched! Even today - I watch a snowflake slide down the front of her headstone and crash to the ground. I watch countless others stick atop her headstone. When I grow tired of watching, I run my hand over the smooth granite wiping away heaven’s frozen tears.
A breeze rustled the trees, their bare limbs swaying to the sound of her voice. I turned praying she would be sitting on the sandstone bench like she was thirteen years ago - Indian style, her wild mane speckled with snow flakes. I imagine her gaze staring across the dozing river, past the distant rushing traffic, into eternity. My gaze was met by a dusting of snow atop the bench. Disappointment consumed me. “People who do nothing but watch, feel nothing but disappointment,” she once scolded.
Today would have been her twenty-seventh birthday. Ten days ago was the first anniversary of her death. Two days from now the world will be standing on the cusp of a new millennium - without her; it will be so empty, it will be dawn without the sun.
“Happy Birthday Bug,” I whispered. “I have a surprise. It’s your favorite.” Careful not to spill a drop, I poured the steaming coffee on the ground in front of her stone. “How did you guess?” I watched the snow evaporate. “Yes, you’re right. Of course I remembered. How could I forget? ” I tell her.
“If eyes are the gateway to the soul,” she wrote prior to her accident. “Our memories are its gatekeepers.” Like a dutiful gatekeeper, I guard our memories. “Out of memory comes ritual,” she said, hiding in the breeze. “Out of ritual - meaning, out of meaning - warmth, out of warmth - love, out of love...”
“Us,” I whispered to the wind. “Beyond anyone, I remember you!”
“I didn’t forget,” I stroked the polished granite’s face. “It’s your recipe,” I confided as I placed the pie pan atop the coffee soaked soil. I retreated to the bench and cast my gaze over the sleepy river and past the rushing traffic, listening for echoes of her laughter on the wind.

5.  If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

     Without a doubt, into the future, the past is the past, and by going into the past, I would be afraid I would screw something up and alter the course of history and then somehow, someway, erase my existence. That would create one heck of paradox.  Plus, if I went too far into the past, there wouldn’t be any keyboards; I’m a better writer with a keyboard than with a pen.

6.  If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?

Hermes…  the God of literature, not to mention trade, travel and diplomacy… wait, I may need help with diplomacy, my idea of diplomacy is waving a one-finger flag. Why? I would love to have a God’s mastery of language.

7.  Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Cemetery Street envelopes the reader with raw emotion and promises a unpredictable ride; it isn’t for the faint of heart.

8.  Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

    Learning the impact Cemetery Street has made in reader’s lives. One review in particular made me glow.
Wow. It’s so powerful and moving. I laughed out loud, I cried silently. I prayed with James and became carefree with Shannie. I saw what my life would be like in her eyes, she encouraged me. I fell in love with Count and mourned his passing. I skydived with James, I felt his sorrow and rejoiced at the burning of the monument.  I loved it, such a powerful, touching novel, probably the best I have ever read.  –Jennifer

When you hear something like that, it makes the long hours and heartbreak so worth the effort.

9.  What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Be flippin’ tenacious. Don’t let anyone, I mean anyone stand between you and your dreams. When you start getting rejection slips, use them to fuel your fire.  The other important element, never, ever, rest on your laurels when it comes to developing your craft.

10.  If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?

The Broad Street Bullies.  It’s the story of the Philadelphia Flyers first Stanley Cup. I was a kid when it was written and would loved to have been a player at the time. 

11.  If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

 Don’t Stop Believing

12.  What is your favorite scene in the book and why do you love it?

The last seven seconds of the  2000 National Championship game in Dekhockey. I was the goalie and made 3 saves to preserve the victory. When the buzzer sounded, I remember rolling onto my back and laughing so hard while my team piled on. It was the realization of a life-long dream.

13.  What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you'd be embarrassed to admit?

  How about a radio show?   I get a kick out of Out Q on Sirius Satellite Radio, but certain friends would raise an eyebrow if that was public knowledge.

14.  What is one book everyone should read?

     I don’t think there is a book that everyone should read.  Taste and believes are subjective and individual. Risking breaking my own tenet, I have to give Cemetery Street the plug ;)

15.  One food you would never eat?

Shrimp. Blah, I hate seafood!


Favorite place?

Best Christmas present?
In 7th Grade… a ten speed bike

Favorite book?
A Prayer for Owen Meany

Favorite author?
Don’t have one…  Usually the one I’m currently reading

Favorite smell?
Freshly ground coffee beans.

Favorite series?
The Sopranos

Da Jew… which is funny, ‘cause I’m not Jewish.

Favorite writing spot?
My kitchen table

Favorite movie?
The Godfather

Favorite dish?

Favorite color?

Favorite quote?
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Your best trait?

Your worst trait?


John was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia. In 2003, he sailed across the country in a U-haul and settled in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. He is the Author of Cemetery Street and Shangri-la Trailer Park. Nightwatching, a ghost story, will be released in 2012. He is currently working on Cemetery Street's sequel, Montana Rural.

*** This post is part of the tour for Orangeberry Book Tours ***

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