If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? I’d stick with right now. Every era has its ups and downs, depending where you are. For example, we think of the Middle Ages as a plague-ridden time of suffering and ignorance in Europe, but the Islamic world basked in a Golden Age. The future? Probably equal parts glory and gloom.
If I had to travel, I’d go back and visit myself at a few difficult times in my life, to encourage or advise the younger me, although I doubt I’d take my own advice.
Your book is a slightly futuristic technothriller, but the reviews focus on the characters you’ve built. Tell us a bit about them. The characters are the foundation of the book and I believe in them. I informed the main character, Eva Rozen, with my childhood anger as well as my sense of loyalty to friends. Her back story includes a horrific scene of violence that shaped her. I didn’t suffer that!
Is there a lot of violence? No, just one crucial scene. I was uncomfortable writing it. One of my mentors explained to me that the act of killing demands that the killer reach deep into a core of rage. So, the question became, What caused the rage? A violent event.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters? Oh yes. There are life events in the lives of three characters. The husband of the hero is a bit autobiographical. The character has to grapple with anger as well.
Did your book mirror your childhood? A horror story?
No, no horror story, but some scary moments. I grew up in the 1950s when parental violence and spousal abuse was commonplace. There are some scenes taken from my past, both good and bad.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
My wife, my father (we’re talking resurrection here), my son, granddaughter—these are the past, present, future and future perfect generations. The fifth would be J. S. Bach, my Number One Hero.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? A fully-stocked, sea-worthy boat, a GPS gizmo, and a radio.
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? I’d like to spend more time with my father. If it were a historical figure, I’d bring back Marie Curie. First woman to win the Nobel Prize; only woman to win two. Hers was the first biography I remember reading. That was a child’s book, the biography, and highlighted her instruction that a good scientist cleans up as she goes along. I try to apply that to cooking.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (true).
Night owl or early bird? Definitely an early bird. I have always liked the hours before dawn. Everything is so quiet and peaceful. When I was in high school and college, this was my time for homework. Now it’s my writing time.
One food you would never eat? Something really oogy, like live caterpillars or moths. Probably no turtles either.
Pet Peeves? People talking in movie theaters.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I’m working on All Dead Generations, the sequel to Little Deadly Things. I don’t have much to say about it just yet. I’m also working on the marketing of LDT.
What inspired you to want to become a writer? As a kid, my dad made me write compositions on Saturday mornings. I sat in the bathroom, and wrote on a pale blue, three-legged stool. We used to talk about the meanings of words. He was impassioned about honing a sentence to as few words as possible. Funny thing—he was a dentist.
I wish I’d asked my dad why he picked the bathroom as a work area.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. My wife said that she’s proud of me.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be? The New York of Mark Helprin’s Winters Tale.
What is your dream cast for your book? Great question! I’d cast a younger Linda Hunt as Eva Rozen. Or Christina Ricci. Jesse Eisenberg as Jim Ecco—he could do the high school Jim Ecco as well as the adult character. A British stage actor, John Guerrasio as Coombs. I’d want an unknown as Marta Cruz.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. That was the first book I can remember selecting and reading on my own.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? I hear “The Moldau” from Ma Vlast. Smetana’s portrayal of the turbulent and beautiful course of that river captures Eva Rozen’s madness and might-have-been beauty.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Tricky question. When you say, “aspiring author”, do you mean “want-to-be-published-and-successful”? If so, then my advice is to spend damned good money on great editing and fabulous cover design. Those things sell books. If you mean, “productive writer”, then my advice would be to find a regular time of day and write—every day.
If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why? Right where I am, so I could be with my wife. If I had to choose another time to live, I think I’d pick the Gay 90s or the Roaring 20s…or the future.
If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why? I wouldn’t: too much strife! More fighting on Mt. Olympus than the Middle East. Instead, I think I’d be Belleraphon because he had some cool technological tools. I’d just be careful with the hubris thing.
What is your favorite Quote? Victor Frankl, “…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
How did you know you should become an author? About four years ago, my wife had occasion to read some of the poetry I wrote when I was 18—some 40 years earlier. She turned to me and said, “Why aren’t you a writer?”
Who are your favorite authors of all time? Oh boy, I love this question! Frank Herbert, Julian May, Stephen King (I don’t like the genre, but love the writing) John Irving, Lee Child, Mark Helprin…is that too many?
How do you react to a bad review? Two things. First, I read with an open mind to see if there’s something I can learn from it. Then I put it aside. Same with good reviews: I love ‘em, but try to put ‘em aside ASAP.
If you were a bird, which one would you be? A goony bird. Or a dodo. Cookoo?
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy? I have the things I want. I’d love to found a music festival devoted to J. S. Bach. I confess that I have a strange weakness for headphones and flashlights. A house in the warm part of the world with a good space for writing, maybe.
Which authors have influence you most, how? Stephen King—in two ways: I admire his style and work habits. His use of simple language inspires me. In, On Writing, King discusses, “meeting the muse.” I believe that habit is an important tool for a writer.
I love O. Henry, for the twist at the end of each story. James Thurber: I’d love to write some humor.
What do you do in your free time? Adore my wife. I work with my dogs and I’m a volunteer dog trainer at the MSPCA. I could cuddle with canines till the cows come home. Nose leather rules! I read a lot.
Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again. I get up about 4:30AM, feed the dogs, make a giant latte and sit down and write. Somewhere in the next few hours I’ll make breakfast, one or two peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and another cuppa java. My dogs join me for breakfast. I work till about 8:00 or so and then go walk the dogs. Hygiene and chores next or back to work, including working on my marketing. Errands in the afternoon, if needed. Early dinner. Read or watch the tube with my wife. Early to bed, 8:30PM, maybe.
What’s your favorite season/weather? Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime. I like winter, but only because I can dress like a dork and nobody cares. Fall is beautiful except for the feeling of impending doom. Spring in Boston sucks—one cannot rely on warm weather until July.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? I celebrated more when the book started selling. It’s a Kindle best-seller in the Technothriller and High Tech Science Fiction categories. I allowed myself to feel proud.
What is your guilty pleasure? Middle-of-the-night snacks (toast and jam) while watching reruns of Cops. Don’t ask me why, but that puts me to sleep.
Favorite music? J.S. Bach, and the Grateful Dead. Throw in a bit of the Airplane, Allman Brothers, and Beatles. Bruckner symphonies and Mahler symphonies. That’s all you need to know about me!
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with? Stephen King
What did you think of this interview? Fun, but my spell-checker says that my responses are written at a third-grade level. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG13
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