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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Writer's Life 2/23 - Honored

About a month ago I was contacted by a woman who works at my alma mater, Western Michigan University. She was interested in my literary efforts and submitted questions in a series of emails. It led to the following profile, which is now up on WMU's website. My thanks to Catherine VanDerMas. I am honored, madam.

“Five Cents,” Vic Fortezza’s (B.S.’71, Physical Education) newest novel, is now available. Set in a town named Kazoo, “Five Cents” takes place in the early 70s and revolves around a returning Vietnam Vet, a love story, the changes American was undergoing, and joy brought by the senses.

Fortezza, who has now released eight books, six of them novels, says while his themes are universal to all writers his greatest source of inspiration comes from real life; things he’s personally experienced or read about in the news.

He’s explored why someone might go off ‘the deep end’ (“Close to the Edge”), the act of killing (“Killing”), working on the commodities trading floor (“Exchanges”), and the sordid history of a fictional rock band (“Rising Star”). Additionally, “A Hitch in the Twilight” is a short story collection influenced by The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock, something Fortezza says is “sheer fun.” He’s also released “Billionths of a Lifetime,” which contains two screenplays.

As a student at WMU, Fortezza studied physical education and played football during his first year.

“I was a huge sports fan and at the time I thought coaching would be my life,” Fortezza said. That was not the case. After coaching football for several years at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo and then at his own high school in Brooklyn, Fortezza decided he wanted experience outside of school buildings. He began tending bar and eventually landed at the Commodity Exchange in lower Manhattan. All the while, Fortezza was writing.

“It was the perfect place for a writer,” Fortezza said, “teeming with life and filled with a variety of human beings.”

Fortezza, who lives in Brooklyn, left the Commodity Exchange in 2007 and continues to write. He’s currently working on a new manuscript, his ninth book, and has plans for two additional.

“This is the best time to be a writer,” Fortezza said. “The internet affords opportunity to everyone, not just an elite few.” He suggests new writers start out by blogging for practice. “If you have articles or stories you're uncertain about, post an excerpt and ask for feedback.”

Fortezza also points out that aspiring writers can publish their works for free on various websites if they can’t seem to attract the attention of publishers.

“Keep your expectations modest,” Fortezza explains. “There are at least 13 million titles available at Amazon. That's a lot of competition. I sell my books on the street because web sales are few and far between.”

In one of those odd turns life takes, last evening I got a phone call from an old WMU friend, whom I hadn't spoken to, other than at Facebook, in many years. He chuckled when I told him I used his name in Five Cents. I read the excerpt to him. Here it is:

His next entry would be about the night the girls turned the tables on the guys, flocking to the grounds of Harvey Hall and shouting toward the windows: “We want jocks!” Pump and Binky, roommates, suggested mooning them, and Tom eagerly joined in. While Keith Volk, varsity starting right guard, academic All-American, manned the switch, the three of them stood on Binky's bed, dropped their drawers and turned their butts to the window. “Now!” said Pump, and Keith hit the switch. Screams followed. The three pranksters fell about, laughing.

Keith had no recollection of it. A few minutes after the incident I re-approached the window and caught sight of Sharon Duffy, a cheerleader, as pretty as any girl on campus, whose face was known to probably every male in the school's population of 20,000+. I sensed she knew I was one of the three stooges. I wish I'd included that part in the novel. It came to me just now. Once again it proves no book is ever finished. 99% completion is as high as a writer can expect. I would be surprised if Miss Duffy has not had a fulfilling life. Not only was she gorgeous, she seemed highly intelligent. In the vernacular of the times, it would have been said: "She really has her s--- together." That vulgarity doesn't do her justice. She embodied the girl every male dreams of marrying. I wonder if she wed the guy she was dating, a pitcher on the school's baseball team, Marty something. He would have been crazy not to have married her.

All seven sales today were books in Russian. My thanks to the two ladies who bought them. For the first time in 2017, I had a visit from Ol' Smoky. He's living in Flatbush at an former asylum undergoing renovation, waiting to be set up in an apartment. If spring is early, I wouldn't be surprised if he bailed. He hates living under rules and regulations, and in proximity to people who are a constant bother. He seems a magnet for them.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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