Death on the River by Diane Fanning
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Fanning knows her way around a true crime, that's for sure! She has written 10+ novels in this genre, and she brings the same level of thoughtfulness, insight, and humanity to Death on the River as she has to all her books. What is interesting about this particular story is that it's not a gruesome, pre-meditated murder. It is, seemingly, a boat trip gone wrong, but begs the question, "given circumstance and opportunity, would you be capable of allowing someone close to you to die?" A chilling question that will send your book club discussion off to the races!
Author Interview - Diane Fanning
Queenie D had the privilege of talking with Mrs. Fanning about her novel. We hope you enjoy!
Q: Why did you choose to write the story of Angelika and Vince?
A: I was drawn to this story first by the characters. Angelika, an immigrant who once lived behind the iron curtain and Vinnie, a well-loved good guy with a strong streak of boyishness. Secondly, I’ve always been enchanted with the Hudson River and the oversized role it played in the early history of the country. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the big question over whether if it was an accident or if there was criminal intent hung in the air like a luscious piece of fruit ready for plucking.
Q: Your acknowledgements thank Mary Ann Viafore, Vinnie’s mother, for her time. Was she your main source? Tell us about the process for this book.
A: Mary Ann Viafore was an excellent source for information about her son’s childhood and a
mother’s view of his adulthood. That, however, was only part of the story. Vinnie’s friends provided additional information about the man they knew and those who knew both Vinnie and Angelika provided much needed detail about the two of them as a couple. Additionally, court records, police filings and other paperwork helped complete the picture. I do start with the people because in any story that is the most important element. I expand to include legal and technical data.
Q: You’ve also written some fiction? Which do you enjoy writing more? Do you have a preference?
A: I love writing both. However, fiction is easier. You may need to do some research but the actual writing, the words on paper are of paramount importance. True Crime presents additional challenges. You need to jump through hoops with the authorities and navigate family and friends to get interviews. It can be very painful to look at crime scene photos, read
autopsy reports and listen to loved ones cry. Beyond the emotional price, there is often an urge to change the ending, but you cannot. With true crime, your story is the facts. With fiction, you can imprison, assault, or kill whomever you want.
Q: Even though in the true crime genre, you easily turn the facts into an effortless story. Many times, I stopped to admire a particularly lovely sentence. For example:
"Angelika had fallen in love at first sight with the quirky island, the romance of the ruins, and the very presence of a castle in New York. As a native of Europe, she was used to seeing castles all over the place and finding one here was a surprise that embraced her heart like the comfort of home." (4)
Can you tell us a little about how you take a factual situation and turn it into wonderful prose?
A: Wow, I really don’t know. I simply try to sense the emotions evoked by the feelings of others
and the ambiance of the environment. The words are the natural outcome. Certainly, they need polish after the initial draft, but the sentence is undergirded by the sentiment.
Q: Something I’ve wanted to ask you for years is your hashtag #seeonateeshirt. Your posts on this always make me giggle. How did this get started?!
A: I attended a seminar years ago where the speaker emphasized the need for a consistent presence online. I had already tried blogging but found it ate up a lot of the time I could be devoting to writing and researching my books. At first it was fun, but it quickly became an unwelcome chore. I needed something that I could plan long ahead that would reach out and touch my fan base every day. I certainly didn’t want to make them cry each time they turned to my page, and that made humor a natural basis for my daily posts. When I started, we were still under the 140-character maximum on twitter. T-shirt
sayings were a natural for that venue. Glad that you’ve enjoyed #seenonateeshirt. I do enjoy gathering them together to share.
Learn more about Diane:
Diane on FB
Diane on Goodreads
Diane on Insta
Diane on Twitter
1. Get right to it -- do you think Angelika is guilty of Vincent's death? Why or why not?
2. Discuss the police procedures in this case. Did you feel they were fair in their initial questioning of Angelika?
3. Do you think Vincent was as Angelika described? Or as his friends and family described him?
4. What did you think about the defense team's questioning technique?
5. Do you think the life insurance money had anything to do with what happened on the river? Why or why not?
Angelika is still out-and-about living life and posting on social media. It's as if Vincent never existed. While we won't share any links, you are encouraged to google her name if you wish to learn more.
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Until next time, happy reading!
Desiree, aka Queenie D
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