Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Fred Venturini, Author of The Heart Does Not Grow Back + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Heart Does Not Grow Back
Fred Venturini

Every superhero needs to start somewhere...

Dale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.

When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini.

Things You Didn't Know About Fred or His Debut Novel

  1. I wrote about the power of healing because I have so much experience with it. The novel’s hero, Dale Sampson, is perpetually healing because he can regenerate from any injury. He can regrow his organs and limbs, but at the same pace that your or I might heal, so even though it’s a superpower, it’s an agonizing one to own. I have a personal connection to this character because it always felt as if I was perpetually healing from a variety of bad breaks and horrible injuries when I was a teenager. A kid set me on fire, leaving me with burn scars all over the right side of my body. I broke my neck in a car accident soon after getting my heart shattered for the first time. Healing is truly everyone’s superpower, but with Dale, I simply magnified that power for narrative effect.
  2. Even though lots of people know the book was released through an indie press in 2011 (The Samaritan), only a handful of people know it was truly born as a short story, "Love in Standard Definition," in 2009.
  3. Dale’s lothario best friend, Mack “Truck” Tucker, isn’t based on one actual person (contrary to popular belief among my circle of friends). The character is all of my impossibly crazy friends rolled up into one and cranked to eleven. Most of Mack’s antics and jokes can be traced to actual experiences with a variety of my very best friends.
  4. In the novel, a toaster is used as an assault weapon. The choice wasn’t random— in college, I was blindsided in the head by a toaster when I walked into my dorm room—one of the many dangers of having a fervent wrestling fan as a friend. I was far more entertained than injured... as long as you get the broad side of the toaster, it just caves in and doesn’t hurt that bad. You want to avoid the corners, however...
  5. I “sold” the original version of the novel through sheer luck. I never submitted it. I was about a third of the way through the manuscript when an indie press in St. Louis, Blank Slate Press, got in touch with me and urged me to fill out their questionnaire. I couldn’t resist and I ended up being their debut author.
  6. Even though I have an office, I write in irregular bursts from the bed, the couch, the recliner, the basement. I’m a binge writer who may only have one or two sessions per week with a pretty high volume. I listen to trailer music and movie scores while I write—I have a huge Hans Zimmer playlist on Spotify.
  7. I mapped out an entire five-season run of a possible TV show based on the novel with a TV writer who is now one of my good friends. While the project stalled, some of those brainstorming sessions helped fill out the later rewrites of the novel, and has given me a few options to continue telling stories in Dale Sampson’s world.
  8. While the black market for organs and body parts doesn’t play a huge role in the final version of the novel, that was the part that required the most research. In fact, I thought the FBI might be calling my house since I was actively trying to map out how to sell a body part. I was surprised to learn that there was such a robust market for even dead body parts, like feet or arms, and that our altruistic organ donation system is fundamentally broken and doesn’t provide the organs we need to save many completely savable lives.
  9. The meth-related facts from the book were easy to get right—I used to be a Park Ranger, and since we patrolled rural areas at all times of the night and day, we got training materials on meth addicts and how they cook their product. The goal was to identify possible meth lab locations so we could report them accordingly. The other thing I remember from that training is that tweakers were pretty much insane and dangerous.
  10. While many call this a “superhero” novel, I’ve had more than a few people ask me, Where is the supervillain? I like that Dale encounters “normal” villains in his life, the types of conflicts we’ve all experienced—the awkward teenage years where he just wants to be noticed by a girl, up to the adult years where he has to figure out how to make money, how to be happy, how to impact the lives of others. However, there is a supervillain born by the end of the novel, but you might overlook it. The only hint I can give you: the heart may not grow back, but it can be “moved.”

About the Author

Fred Venturini grew up in Patoka, Illinois. His short fiction has been published in the Booked Anthology, Noir at the Bar 2, and Surreal South ’13. In 2014, his story “Gasoline” will be featured in Chuck Palahniuk’s Burnt Tongues collection. He lives in Southern Illinois with his wife and daughter.

The Heart Does Not Grow Back is his first full-length novel.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Heart Does Not Grow Back—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Fred's question below:
What would the worst superpower be, and why? I'd like to know because in the book, Dale's power really isn't that glamorous.
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Fred and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher and tour publicist—a huge thank you to the folks at Picador and TLC Book Tours!
Giveaway ends October 28th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canadian residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!