*Correction: Professor Sciarrino served for three years as a U.S. Army officer during Vietnam but never served in Vietnam.
Al Sciarrino, associate business professor and self-proclaimed lover of bluegrass music, has taken one of his favorite bluegrass tunes and transformed it into an electrifying novel of love, war and motorcycles.
As an undergraduate at Geneseo, Sciarrino was drafted in 1966 and spent three years fighting in the Vietnam War. He returned to Geneseo to graduate in 1971 with a degree in English. He went on to become an attorney, publish numerous technical writings in law and accumulate over 30 years of teaching experience. He is now a professor of business law at Geneseo.
Sciarrino appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss his first novel, Officer Candidate School, which was based on his experiences in the army, and has recently released his second novel, Vincent Black Lightning 1952.
Sciarrino said that, for him, the writing process is something that "takes a lot of time and discipline."
"I write everyday; sometimes nothing comes out, and other times it flows and the characters just speak for themselves," he said.
When planning a novel, Sciarrino said, "I devour everything I can on a subject." He explained how he is now researching bioterrorism, a subject in his upcoming third novel, which discusses the end of the world.
His new novel, Vincent Black Lightning 1952, is based on a song with the same name, first sung by British musician Richard Thompson, and later performed by the bluegrass band Del McCoury. The song tells the story of a young British man, James Adie, who robs to pay for his 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, the world's fastest motorcycle at that time. Adie falls in love with the redheaded Red Molly, who fails to save him from the dangers of a life of crime. Adie dies after being shot during a robbery, but not before giving his motorcycle to Red Molly.
"I fell in love with the song," Sciarrino said. "But when I wrote the novel, I made it into an American story."
Sciarrino's Vincent Black Lightning 1952 chronicles the story of a Southern boy who returns from a stint as a paratrooper in Korea to find that his grandmother has lost the family farm. In order to buy back the farm, the character of James Adie trades in his grandfather's Norton motorcycle for a 1952 Vincent Black Lightning and competes in motorcycle races for money. When the money from the motorcycle races isn't enough, Adie begins to rob all of the characters involved in the foreclosure of the family farm and, just as in the song, meets a tragic end.
Sciarrino described the novel as a "powerful tale of young love, war, motorcycles and racing." He continued, "I think readers will really enjoy the hard-hitting battle scenes and the exploration of the ethical issues surrounding James Adie's robbing to secure his grandmother's farm."
The novel is sold exclusively online at vincent52.com.