Writing About Maspeth - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the June 2017 Juniper Berry Magazine

Writing About Maspeth

I began school at Saint Stanislaus in 1965. While there my mother told me a story she had heard about a statue of the Blessed Virgin crying tears of blood. All writers have stories that brew in their subconscious, and this was mine. In 1985 I began my novel, The Third Miracle, which was about a statue of the Blessed Virgin crying tears of blood at Saint Stanislaus School and the priest who was assigned as a postulator to investigate a candidate for sainthood who had lived and died in the parish.

It took years of rewrites and publisher rejections before the novel was published by Carol & Graff in 1998 and then Simon & Schuster the following year. My screenplay adaptation for producer Francis Ford Coppola was released by Sony Picture Classics starring Ed Harris and was directed by the great Polish director, Agnieszka Holland. The only disappointing thing was that the story's location was changed to Chicago and shot in Toronto where it had its world premiere in 1999 at the Toronto Film Festival. The novel was translated into several languages and quickly became a Book of the Month Club selection in both Poland and Spain. Several years ago I wrote a stage version of the story and a composer is creating a musical version.

Since The Third Miracle I have written two other novels that are also connected to Maspeth. The Writers Afterlife was published in 2014 by Three Rooms Press and it is the story of a Maspeth writer, Tom Chillo, who dies at the age of forty-four and goes to a place called The Writers Afterlife. The novel is a comedy told in a style called magic realism and deals with the issues of death, artistic drive and immortality.

My novel Champagne and Cocaine, set in 1980, tells the story of struggling writer, Danny Ferraro, who grew up in Maspeth and lives in Queens, as he navigates the brutal world of gangsters, card sharks and immoral publishers. Danny finds himself in the crosshairs of a mob guy out for revenge and an accomplice to murder all the while plays poker to make a living and does coke as a means of survival.

Maspeth, with its working class characters all struggling to embrace the American Dream, and the dream-like Manhattan skyline looming in the eastern sky was enough to make a young man want to write.

All three of my novels can be found on Amazon.com and I may be reached at Vetrich88@aol.com if you have any questions.

June 2017 Juniper Berry Magazine

June 2017 Table of Contents