Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Meet Luca Pesaro, author of 'Zero Alternative'


Tell us about your latest book.
ZA is an international action/conspiracy thriller that draws from my background in investment banking, and from my knowledge of Italy (I was born there and spent my first seventeen years in the country) and Europe. It’s the story of Scott Walker, a successful bank trader who has helped a friend develop an extraordinary machine that can predict future financial events. When his friend is murdered by someone after the software, and Walker is framed for it, he has to run and hide across Europe, trying to survive and fight back. With the dubious help of characters who all have their own agenda, he will need to learn who to trust and face a cabal of shadow powers that’s been shaping world events to its own ends.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
Parts of the plot have been sitting at the back of my mind for many years, inspired by the what I was witnessing first-hand in my job as a derivatives trader. ZA is obviously fiction, and the thriller element is dominant - but it draws heavily from current events, from the recent financial crisis to the ascent of spying technology and divisive politics.
Who and what inspire you to write?
Passion, and a love of books first of all. I also did have an actual writing mentor, Lino Aldani. His name will be meaningless to you but he was a fairly well-know Italian SF Author who lived near my hometown – I sent him some of my short stories in my late teens and he published them in his magazine, and he was always available to advise and correct me. As far as authors who have inspired me with their technique and skills: style-wise – but I know I’ll never be nearly as good – for thrillers the model has to be LeCarre. And if I had to pick a writer to read and reread for his visionary quality, it would be Philip K. Dick. This is all on the commercial side of course; no point in naming all the great classic writers we all love and enjoy, though Hemingway was always a particular favourite of mine.
Each author has his or her own inspiring journey. How did you begin writing?
I have been writing ever since I was a kid, and really picked it up after attending a summer Creative Writing course at Harvard University. I had published several short stories and a novel in Italian a long time ago (which is why I consider ZA my debut - it's definitely my first long work in English). I also wrote the script for the independent movie ‘The Seer’ in 2007 and last year, when my bank shut down the department I was working in, I finally got the push I needed – should I immediately look for another trading job or should I sit down and write the stories I wished to tell?

It turned out to be a very easy decision ­– I just wanted/needed to take some time off to try and do what has always been in my blood. One of the lessons you learn in Finance is that you must take your chances whenever you have the right opportunity.
What has been the most pleasant surprise about writing? How about an unexpected down side?
You get to live the stories you always wanted to read, with a depth of feeling and detail that you can’t really get from someone else’s books. It’s like being immersed in your own private universe, and it forces you to set your own rules, and stick to them. It’s the ultimate self-restrained freedom. But getting stuck, the frustration when something is not working as it should and you can’t see a way out of a plot hole can be quite unpleasant.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I write at home, starting as soon as the kids have gone to school, and I have a special room with wonderful views over the Thames, the City of London and its skyscrapers. Staring at water is soothing, and I find it helps me relax when I become entangled in some particularly obscure plot twist, or if I need to sharpen dialogue. Also, maybe because I worked on trading floors for many years, I’m not bothered by noise too much – some of my best scene planning/outlining is done down my local pub (without excessive alcohol, of course. I can’t really Hemingway things...)
Do you write your books in order?
Pretty much, yes. I always like to write the final page as soon as I get the first one done – as a beacon, if you want. But then I tend to follow an outline – though it’s not very detailed. As someone once rightly said, you don’t get all your best ideas in one day, and getting side-tracked or coming up with a new twist is one of the delights of writing.
What is on your writing playlist for this book?
Some of the old rock classics I love – Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen and U2 mainly. Quite a bit of Italian rock (Yes, it does exist – check out Ligabue if you don’t believe me!). Of newer stuff, definitely the Adele Skyfall album, but the playlist top definitely has to be Stereophonics’ “Indian Summer”.
Any favorite writing snacks?
I’ve been trying to lose some weight so I’ve sort of kept it under control, but I can’t resist nibbling on some proper aged Parmesan cheese.
What advice would you give writers who aspire to be published?
Take it seriously, as if it was a full-time job. Make space and time whenever you can, it’s just too easy sometimes to find excuses not to deal with an empty page. And most of all – do not ever, EVER, give up. Believe you will get better, and you will.
Are you working on anything new right now?
Another thriller, inspired by chess – one of my great passions as I was growing up. It’s called ‘A Game of Kings’ and it’s a Ludlum-type story, where people are being manoeuvred as chess pieces without their knowledge. It will be a little broader in scope than ZA, with various POV characters.
Who is your favorite character in your current book?
DM – a quirky, pot-smoking mathematician. And Layla, the female lead – though she’s far too sleek and hot for me (and don’t tell my wife!)
What is your favorite book of all time?
The Lord of the Rings.
Tell us in one sentence why we should read your book.
Because it will take you on a rollercoaster of action and emotions – and it will open your eyes to some of the dark shadows out there.

zeroalternative3D“Sometimes you must destroy first.”


To stay alive, Scott Walker must bring down a corrupt international bank. And possibly shatter the world’s economy. Because finance is a black hole ready to chew up countries and people before spitting them out rich, or broken. Or both. In love with a woman he can’t trust. As he hides from hitmen across Europe, Walker has only one card to play – DeepShare. A silicon oracle that could predict a slice of the future, and that everyone wants. Governments and insane billionaires, criminals and anarchist hackers stand in his way, some even promising help – though with dangerous strings attached.

As Walker struggles to survive and digs deeper into the dark heart of the global economy, one question torments him: how much will the world have to pay?

ZERO ALTERNATIVE is an action-packed conspiracy thriller that plucks at the heart of human nature. When our grip on love, hope and morality starts to slide, the only future worth living is the one we choose for ourselves.

Add Zero Alternative to your Goodreads TBR list!

Buy on Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK)


About the Author:

Luca Pesaro was born in Italy in 1971, but he has spent most of his adult life in the US or UK. After long years gaining a degree and masters in the pseudo-science that is Economics he got bored, jumped the gun and became a derivatives trader in financial markets - first with the tragic Lehman Brothers, then with a bunch of other banks, somehow always managing not to blow up.

Recently he has decided to dedicate himself fully to his great passion since the age of eight – writing, mainly Fiction, but anything that amuses him at any given time. Zero Alternative is his first English novel, and he is hard at work on his second thriller: A Game of Kings.

He is married to the awesome F. and has two children, A. and J. who always manage to annoy, surprise and delight him beyond any reasonable expectation.

Follow Luca:

Twitter | Literary Addicts | Website | FaceBook | Goodreads


  1. Thanks very much for the lovely interview, and congrats on the great blog!


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