From Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village to St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows to Queens College in Flushing, Sciarratta spent the majority of his schooling in his home borough before obtaining a masters degree from NYIT.
It was there that his journey to publishing novels began, and though he lives in Manhattan, Sciarratta’s heart remained in Queens.
“I’m a local boy my entire life,” he said. “Queens the whole way through. And these areas speak to me, they’re like time capsules. They’re changing, but slowly.”
As someone whose favorite subject in school was history, it seems fitting that in choosing a time period for his first book, “Finding Forever: A 1970s Love Story,” Sciarratta was drawn to an era he built a relationship with through watching classic movies with his father as a kid.
The 1970s love story recounts tales of a young, neurotic Italian-American man - an aspiring writer - who falls for a quirky, all-American Broadway actress.
The novel takes place mainly in Astoria, but also features Queens neighborhoods such as Rego Park, Maspeth, Little Neck and Forest Hills, as well as local landmarks.
Yet, Sciarratta did not always set out to be an author. His dream was to be in film, and “Finding Forever” actually started as a screenplay.
“I never studied literature, I stopped in English,” Sciarratta recalled. “I never wanted to read, and I was one of those guys who was first to get the Sparknotes in school. I always had a creative mind though, and I always journaled.”
Without the funds to finance a movie, Sciarratta decided he would write the screenplay in the form of a book and self-publish it. However, he found attracting the attention of a publishing house for “Finding Forever” difficult.
Even though Sciarratta happened to make a connection to a literary publisher while pursuing a degree at NYIT, the author received more than 25 rejections for the book.
Unwilling to give up on the novel, Sciarratta made the decision to invest funds into Facebook marketing that targeted specific neighborhoods. He proceeded to post the link to his Amazon book to several local Facebook groups, including the one for Forest Hills.
Sciarratta noticed that many users in the group thought he was his grandfather, with whom he shares a name. It was clear that they missed Tony’s, and it was then that the idea came to reopen the beloved pizzeria if his literary endeavor became successful.
After he lowered the novel’s price to the lowest amount, one penny, Sciarratta sold more than 1,000 copies of “Finding Forever” in one month. The book skyrocketed to five stars on Amazon, and grew a notable fan base throughout the area.
“People who live here love that I brought the neighborhood back to a very iconic time,” he said.
Once Sciarratta gained enough traction, he flagged the attention of a publisher willing to republish his book. In November, “Finding Forever” was published under Post Hill Press, where he has another novel and a book of poetry slated for release.
And even though his journey wasn’t easy, Sciarratta says he would encourage all aspiring authors to self-publish.
“I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn’t self-publish,” he explained. “The great thing about it is that you have total control. Even though I was told my book wasn't' marketable, I proved them wrong and got the results.”
“Finding Forever” is currently on display at Sciarratta’s alma mater, Queens College, and available for purchase on Amazon, or wherever books are sold. In the coming months, the author plans to host several book signings around Queens.
Eventually, he may return to the story’s original medium and produce the novel as a feature film.
“It’s been a dream come true,” said Sciarratta. “I love the fact that when I die, I’ll have left something behind. This book could be in circulation 100 years from now. In other words, I made my mark on local history.”