- How important is research to you when writing a book?
Extremely important. First, it is necessary for world-building, that is, creating a real world that the reader can believe in. Second, it sometimes help me construct the plot and develop the story’s characters.
- What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
My habit is to write out my stories longhand in a journal (I am up to #58) and then revise them on the computer. I need to use a certain pen, one that feels comfortable and slides across the page.
- When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
In my teenage years, I became a science fiction fan and tried to write stories in that genre. It has never stopped.
- What inspires you to write?
To entertain readers with compelling stories and interesting characters chasing a goal.
- How often do you write?
Every day. When I don’t write, I am miserable. Thus, even on vacation, on the beach or wherever, I will find the time to write.
- Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
If you wait for inspiration, you will never finish anything. You must do it! That is, write, because the finished work is accomplished in the revision process. Thus, I write whenever I can.
- How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Accepting the idea that the final product is accomplished through the revision process, it has become easy to sit down and start writing. That is because I know I’ll be fixing it eventually.
- Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
It is preferable for me to outline some semblance of a plot and characters engaged in it before tackling the story.
- What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Building a world that is logical and believable and entertaining.
- What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
Building a world that is logical and believable and entertaining!
- Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?
Early on in my writing, I used to wait for “inspiration.” However, I soon learned that there is really no such thing. Writing a compelling believable story with interesting characters is no easy task. However, the main part of writing is in the revision. Thus, even when uninspired or sick of writing, I’ll write because I know I can always fix a badly written story. And sometimes, the inspiration strikes in the middle of such forced writing that takes the story off to new heights.
- Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
As said in the Nike commercial: JUST DO IT! That is, write, whether you feel inspired or not, knowing that the real writing, and fun, comes during the revision process.
- Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Reading is essential to becoming a good author. I have many, many favorite authors.
- Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
I have gained confidence in my ability to tell a good story. I also have come to accept that the revision process is where the real work of world-building and character development is accomplished.
- Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I go over my work several times for both typographical or grammar issues and content before I send it to my publisher. He then assigns it to an editor and we start the process again. It can take 3-6 months to get it right after what I had believed was the final version.
- Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
Who hasn’t? My novel about the coming of a modern Jesus-like figure, “The Messiah,” came to me in the early 1970s, after listening to the rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” After many, many starts and stops, I finally put it together 45 years after the thought of writing it occurred to me. The kernel for “The Anonymous Man” came to me in the early 1980s, but the novel was not published until 2013.
- What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
Has a built a believable world and developed interesting characters engaged in a quest that entertains the reader?
- What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
The title and cover are essential to sales. They are the first impression the reader gets. Sales of my novel, “The Anonymous Man” soared after I changed publishers and the new publisher re-designed the cover.
- Does a bad review affect your writing?
Sometimes. You must have thick skin as a writer and accept honest, constructive criticism. Readers are your audience and if any of them is booing or heckling your work, you need to figure out why.
- Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
- Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
- What did you want to become when you were a kid?
A professional astronomer.
- Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
The one that comes to mind is the Foundation Series by Asimov.
- Did you ever think you would be unable to finish your first novel?
Yes, the first one is difficult. The idea of writing 70,000 or more words in daunting. But once I did that (“The Anonymous Man”), and wrote another and another, it becomes a piece of cake.
- Do you read any of your own work?
Yes, and it’s not bad!
- Do your novels carry a message?
My novels are written to entertain not preach.
- How much of yourself do you put into your books?
It is impossible not to put yourself into one’s books.
- Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Yes. My Lawyers Gone Bad series of novels (“Lawyers Gone Bad,” “Personal Injuries” and “Winning is Everything”) are based upon my experiences as Deputy Chief Counsel for over 18 years for a lawyer disciplinary agency in Buffalo. The bad lawyers are all based, loosely of course, on real lawyers as well as the bad things they did. The characters are all based, in part, or an amalgam, of real people.
- Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?
“The Son” by Phillip Meyer. It is extremely entertaining. I am in the world he has constructed and like the characters he has developed.
- Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
I have several projects swimming around in my head. I recently sent off “Still Anonymous,” the sequel to “The Anonymous Man” to my publisher and am very much satisfied where the story went. I don’t like to give away my ideas because I don’t trust other writers!
- Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
My wife of 38 years, Rosanne.