BY BENJAMIN MANDILE
Anthony Sciarratta, a Queens-based novelist, didn’t enjoy English until he attended college. But now he is set to release his second novel, “The Letter.”
“The Letter,” set to be released April 28 through Post Hill Press, focuses on Victor Esposito, a writer who falls into a coma, and his love affair Eva Abram. After Abram hears the news over a television broadcast, she recounts memories from her love affair with Esposito a decade earlier.
Sciarratta drew inspiration for his latest novel from re-watching the hit television show “The Sopranos,” a show he says he’s an “avid fan” of, in which one of the characters falls into a coma and lives out another world inside their mind. Sciarratta also drew inspiration for his novel from the movie “What Dreams May Come.”
“It was kind of like a little bit of a supernatural thing,” said Sciarratta of the scene from “The Sopranos.” “And I really like the idea of that device.”
He also draws inspiration from his own life in Queens and his Italian heritage, which he has included in his work as far back as he remembers. In both his first novel “Finding Forever: a 1970s Love Story” and “The Letter,” Queens neighborhoods are included in the prose.
Being an Italian-American is a badge he wears proudly, looking up to famous Italian-Americans such as Martin Scorsese and Sylvester Stallone.
“My goal is to make the reader feel like they’re not alone,” he said.
One trademark of his work is to always include an Italian male protagonist and a female protagonist who is not Italian.
Sciarratta said he was never much of a writer or a reader — just ask his fourth-grade teacher, he added.
But once he started his higher education at Queens College he pursued sports journalism and scored internships with SportsNet New York and the New York Jets.
He eventually retreated from sports journalism when he started to notice it took the fun out of football.
He tried his hand at the entertainment business, but eventually took his screenplay and turned it into his first book.
“The Letter” started taking form before his first book was even published, the second novel of the 24-year-old’s career is described as a more bold and dark story that allowed him to stretch his writing abilities.
It also includes a central theme of his work — to never settle for anything less than your dreams, whether that be in one’s career or personal ambitions. He said that as time goes on, he feels people are devaluing this virtue.
“We are thrilled to be working with such a talented young rising star,” said a representative from Post Hill Press. “‘The Letter’ is a timeless story of forbidden love that will appeal to fans of the romance genre at any age.”
His work includes references to mental health and supports speech and language organizations. Sciarratta has lived his own experiences with the two, being diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and a stutter.
Sciarratta said growing up with the two added difficulty to his life because in school people did not always understand. He previously tried to hide these aspects of himself, but as he grew older he realized they are strengths of his, not weaknesses.
He hopes to work with charities that advance advocacy for these groups as his career continues to blossom.
He said being an author is one of the greatest feelings in the world, but that authors must have a thick skin to deal with the criticism that comes with the territory.
While it can be scary in some regards, Sciarratta wouldn’t trade the position he is in now as a young writer in a field that does not have a paved path or a yellow brick road. He urges writers out there to take a chance on themselves.
“The Letter,” which is set to be released later this spring, will be available in all forms, including audio, and can be found online and wherever books are sold.