Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
After a career as a marketing executive, I left the corporate world to focus on activities that were more fulfilling on a personal level and more contributory to the world around me. Today I focus on writing and teaching. I’ve often said “I live the American dream” and that is indeed how I feel. With a wonderful wife, two grown children, great friends and a couple of rambunctious Labrador retrievers, I stay very active and involved.
How long have you been a writer?
Truly my whole life. Like many kids I starting writing goofy stories for my own enjoyment and to share with friends. I sold my first article when I was 16.
Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?
Writing is now my focus though I’m also an adjunct professor at Boston College and still do some consulting on the side.
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
I truly had no choice. It’s what I always wanted to be. My first book was a YA novel. Since then I’ve written several books of humor, two nonfiction books, and several adult novels.
Please give a brief description/storyline about Still Counting.
A young couple (Adam and Nina) share an immediate and powerful connection to each other. Nina sees life as a 1000 shades of gray, while Adam tends towards black-and-white. Their conflict – and the resulting damage to their relationship – revolves around Nina’s bisexuality. Adam somehow equates bisexuality to promiscuity and feels he now has to compete not just with other men but also with every other woman in their circle of friends and colleagues. Nina wants trust, but Adam delivers irrational jealousy.
What was the inspiration for this story?
I wanted to write something like Erich Segal’s classic Love Story for a 21st century audience that revolved around contemporary themes. I’d been holding onto the first line – “The first time I saw her it was raining.” – for a long time and finally had a place to use it. I think it served well as a powerful springboard for the characters and plotline.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
I was thrilled beyond belief. It had been a lifelong dream. It also provided affirmation that I wasn’t the worst writer that’s ever lived and encouraged me to continue – and maybe push the envelope a bit in terms of subject matter.
Do you write books for a specific genre?
My interests are quite broad so I tend to write in a variety of genres and on a broad array of topics. My focus now is on fiction that provides insight into male-female relationships – e.g., romance, chick-lit and women’s fiction.
What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
I’ve always had a soft spot for what I would call “mainstream/commercial literary fiction” – books like The World According to Garp, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and This Is Where I Leave You. They’re all funny, sad, and universally relatable. Also loved Still Alice and The Notebook – both of which combined stories of true love with the inevitability of aging and death.
Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?
I have two primary writing spots in my house – a small den where I work on a MacBook Air at my desk or while sitting on a comfy chair with a “lap-desk.” I also have an iMac set up in a nook in the basement, and I work there if I need the larger screen or am creating supporting multi-media like video trailers.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
I got a million of ‘em. Seriously, I have way more ideas, characters, and plot twists than I could ever use. I can’t point to how or why, they just pop into my head.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
I’m very disciplined. When I wrote Still Counting I had an objective of at least 500 words a day, 7 days a week. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll wait a long time.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I love writing dialogue and short scenes. I’m not a big fan of long detailed descriptive passages; I often skim them in books I read and I know I’m awful at writing them.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
My wife and I have two yellow Labs and we take them for a walk or two every day in nearby woods. I’m always reading two books at once – one novel and one nonfiction title. I could perhaps be defined as a Netflix addict but I prefer Netflix “enthusiast.” In all honesty, however, writing is my favorite thing to do.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
Just do it! You can think about it and agonize over minutiae but it’s all for naught unless you actually put words on paper.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
I love to hear that something I wrote touched the reader or provided insight. There’s nothing better than that.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
The usual suspects – Twitter, my Facebook Author Page, and blogging.
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
I don’t believe there is any fiction that has not been influenced by real-life experiences in some way. Having said that, the storyline is purely fiction and the characters are not based on particular individuals.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
I most loved Steinbeck, John O’Hara, and Philip Roth when I was younger. Still love Anne Tyler, Nick Hornby and Elizabeth Gilbert. The commonality is their writings focus on interpersonal relationships and always offer a few ah-ha epiphanies.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
Being read and enjoyed by a wide audience.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I have another book, Going Both Ways, coming out on March 18 from Wild Rose Press. It’s a gender-shifting paranormal romance. I’m currently writing two novels — a black-comedy and a road-tripper.