Interview with Joel Steinberg

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in South Florida. Even at that time there were a lot of Spanish-speaking people walking on the street. In 9th grade I took Spanish. I became fascinated that a second language was another way to think. I began approaching people on the street who were speaking Spanish to try my Spanish on them. Most of them were very patient with a pimply faced 14 or 15 year old kid. Then I discovered that learning Spanish taught me more about English and its structure than any course in grammar I had ever taken. In 10th grade I made my first new numerical system. It was based on base 7. I wanted to make sure that everything about math that was true in our decimal system was true in other systems. That turned out to be the case. Funforms is a binary, tally mark, place order system that will teach the learner many things about the decimal system that are not easily available from within the system itself.
When did you first start writing?
My career as a physician has led to the necessity to do a great deal of writing; reports and things like that. I did not begin writing Funforms until 1984. At that time I met a man who had similar interests. Harold Larson is the co-author of Funforms. Unfortunately, he died many years ago. We had a good time developing the new math learning system together.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I wanted others to have the benefit of learning a second math language. I remember when one of my children, having learned Funforms at age 15, had a "Eureka moment". Looking at fractions in Funforms, he said, "Oh that's why half of one fourth is 1/8!"

I was surprised by his response and I said, "You didn't know that?"

He replied, "Oh, sure, I knew that. I just did not know why one half of one fourth was 1/8. Now I know why."

I had a similar experience regarding the nature of division. I predict that anyone who becomes proficient at Funforms will have many different but similar insights about how our decimal system works
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted wide circulation of the information without substantial cost. This seemed to be the best way to accomplish that task at this time.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords provides a wonderful service basically at no cost. It is good for authors and also good for readers.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Anticipating the benefits of learning a math second language to a variety of people – most of whom I will never know...
What do your fans mean to you?
I welcome any questions and any commentary. Other people have different insights. Some of those insights would not have been apparent to me without their commentary.
What are you working on next?
Professional publications and perhaps someday, a work of fiction.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I find living itself to be a joyful experience. I love to learn.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoyed reading, corresponding with friends by email, eating out, travel, contact with my children and grandchildren and contact with friends.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was about a six year old boy named Wajah. I was six years old at the time.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Before I learned to read I enjoyed radio plays. I particularly enjoyed the Lone Ranger and The Shadow and the Hallmark theater programs. I remember reading The Earth for Sam and Mr. Popper's Penguins, but I am not sure which one of them I read first. Each of them was a spectacular experience.
How do you approach cover design?
I tried to pick something that fascinates me. In regard to Funforms, I had just received that picture of my granddaughter and I thought it would appeal to many people. It has nothing to do with the content of the book, however.
What do you read for pleasure?
I usually only read for pleasure when I am on vacation. At those times I enjoy action books, spy stories, detective stories, etc. My favorite nonfiction author is Brian Green.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My iPad.
Describe your desk
My desk is chaos. Thank heavens for my "office wife". Periodically she straightens it for me.
Published 2013-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Funforms, A New Way to Understand Math
Price: Free! Words: 4,100. Language: English. Published: January 9, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Education and Study Guides » Study guides - Mathematics, Nonfiction » Education and Study Guides » Home schooling
Funforms is a new math symbol system. Unlike Roman Numerals, it is iconic and ideographic. It makes the continuity between whole numbers and fractions easily understood. It is a binary tally mark place order system. It is a math second language, giving the learner the opportunity to review what s/he learned before s/he had fully developed critical thinking skills. Try it, you'll like it!