What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world. It is, indeed, the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead
This is one of my favorite quotes because of the underlying paradox, which doesn’t immediately occur to most readers. How people react to this quote tells me much about their unconscious nature: do they see this thought as positive? Or negative? I do not believe that Dr. Mead meant it negatively – but words, you know, slippery creatures.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I am an intrepid traveler and I especially like exotic solo travel. I feel most accomplished as a person when I step off of a plane by myself in the middle of China, or Russia, or the Czech Republic, and although I do not speak the language, and everything around me is strange, I push myself into the unknown thinking “I can do this.”
When did you first know you could be a writer? It took me a long time to commit to writing as a way of life and not simply a personality trait. I tried numerous other jobs while always writing on the side. Then, I got “down-sized” while working at an advertising agency in New York City. I was about twenty-five years old. I decided I needed to figure out how to actually making a living as a writer. I knew all of the steady work was in Los Angeles and so I moved there and began screenwriting.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? My writing friends have been known to call me a stem cell writer. Where many of them specialize in particular genres or formats, I have had assignments in nearly every genre: comedy, horror, drama, thriller, docu-drama, children’s, and in all categories: fiction, non-fiction, adaptation…I am most happy when switching around.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began? In the beginning, it was all about getting paid. I needed to support myself first. I understood that very practical exigency, and so I was influenced to write what I believed would sell. Later on, I began to do more of what appealed to me. Not surprisingly, when you must make money writing, the drive to turn-out pages is enhanced, and so I do not think that was a negative at all. While I was creatively frustrated at the time it taught me so much, and it has influenced the way I work ever after.
Who is your favorite author and why? Sounds like a simple question – it’s not. Writers are so different it is like asking what is your favorite thing to eat? I’d ask for which: breakfast, dessert, dinner, on a hike, a picnic? You get the picture. I admire and appreciate so many writers for different reasons: if I’m reading history I love Thomas Cahill and I’ve read his hinges of history series several times; for essays, to my mind, there is not a living or dead writer who can match David Foster Wallace in psychological insight, humor, vocabulary, or erudition; for fiction, I will always read Ann Patchett and Barbara Kingsolver. All that said, if I were forced to choose one writer, just one, I would choose Charles Dickens. Dickens is in a world of his own. His fiction writing literally changed society, influenced child labor laws, helped to abolish debtor prisons, and gave a human face (however ugly) to both sides the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. He makes me laugh and cry while composing some of the most beautiful and often recited passages in English literature. Can anything more be expected of a writer?
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? On my Kindle I’m reading Justine by Lawrence Durrell, on my iPhone I listening to Kafka on the Shore by Murakami, and in paperback I just picked up The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley.
Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why? Yes, I just read a book by Alice Albinia titled Leela’s Book. Albinia is a British writer who spent a number of years in India. This is a captivating modern take on an ancient epic text. She is a beautiful writer.
If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Try to read outside your usual genre. I run into readers who say they only like thrillers or romance or fantasy. I believe this is more habit than reality. Dabble a bit. Now that you can do this inexpensively with ebooks I encourage you to reach out and about. You may surprise yourself.
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Genre - Thriller
Rating – R