Mostly fiction but I have been known to stray into politics, science, comedy and religion when the author interests me. It explains why Stephen Hawking shares shelf space with Jimmy Carter, George Carlin and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In the case of Hawking, he made physics more entertaining and enlightening than high school ever could; that, in itself, was pleasurable.
Describe your desk
I am a pile-maker. My desk is a portrait in chaos to anyone but me. What I need is always there. I can always find random pieces of paper, character sketches, location research, phone numbers, takeout menus,or those all-important 4 A.M. thoughts by burrowing down through the pile. It is a system that works...until someone decides to clean. Then, it really is chaos!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I am a child of Brooklyn, New York but I am not convinced my urban upbringing influenced my writing as much as my early education and those first few jobs during high school and college. I went to Catholic School and absolutely hated those elementary years. I found it so bad that, years later, I told my parents I would have dropped out at sixteen had Catholic High School been as bad. It wasn't. In fact, it was such a perfect experience that my love of learning blossomed during those years. My earliest jobs included factory work, shipping, cooking, driving and tending bar. It offered an incredibly rich and varied character pool and allowed me to study the way different people spoke. The sound, the lyricism, of language is very important to me; I think it is why most of my writing is in the first person.
When did you first start writing?
I was a teenager, barely a high school freshman, when I started sketching out short dialogues and one-act plays.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Auf Wiedersehen, Lampione" is the story of a man who loves the memories of his youth and adolescence but finds he is unable to recreate those memories for his wife and children. As an adult, he grows to blame and then to hate his wife; she is responsible for every perceived failure,for the loss of what he considers his legacy. He loses himself in one dark and dangerous plot after another until, finally, he has no choice but to act.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I generally don't write a lot during the summertime. I spend it with the grand kids, going to the beach. keeping and passing along family traditions that started with my parents.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was thirteen. It was a spy story and it was absolutely horrible. Thinking back, it was probably my first practical lesson in "writing what you know".
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
After the story, finding the right voice, the right sound, that allows the story to breath naturally. Some days - especially during rewrites - it might take all day to settle on one sentence or even one word but when that word comes into focus, it is a good day.
What are you working on next?
I am going back to the Brooklyn of my youth to craft a tale of family and community that masks a generational mystery. I've spent some recent free time visiting old haunts, researching those landmarks that no longer exist and enjoying some of the ones that do. It was fun riding the "Cyclone" once again. I've entitled it, "Unspoken History".
Who are your favorite authors?
George Steiner, Anthony Burgess, William Golding, Langston Hughes, John Grisham, Tennessee Williams, Horton Foote, Stephen King, Henry Miller and... It is a long list. There are a lot of brilliant writers out there and I have eclectic tastes.
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