Why do you write?
I’ve always loved words, and I like to listen to and/or read stories. Always wanted to be a good storyteller. Even when I’m writing a silly song parody or a goofy email to a friend, I always feel most connected to myself when I’m writing something.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Three Fs…. Faith, Family, Friends; and how fortunate I am to have these three pillars. I guess Fortunate would be the fourth F.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I can recall writing was a parody of the Flintstones; might’ve been in sixth or seventh grade. I can’t remember much about it, except that I was the only one who thought it was funny.
What is your writing process?
I’ve read advice about writing, and most advice-givers advocate starting with a tight outline and profiles of the characters. That doesn’t work for me. I don’t really have a “process” per se. I start with a vague idea that sounds like fun to expand upon, then I get curious about what happens next. I often surprise myself with the way plots unfold.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember reading Of Mice And Men at a young age. To this day, it’s one of my favorite books, and I’ve read it many times over the years. I remember feeling so sorry for poor innocent Lenny. In retrospect, the ending was probably too much for a youngster, because I remember crying when I finished the book.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Wow. Let’s see… the Bible (because it’s the Bible!); the Godfather(the book is even better than the movie, which is the greatest movie of all time); Of Mice and Men(first book I can recall reading as a kid); To Kill A Mockingbird(they say you don’t remember great plots; you remember great characters. I remember Atticus Finch and Scout.); Memories of a Mangy Lover by Groucho Marx(one of the truly great minds of the 20th century: comic genius and closet author.)
Name FIVE people from history you’d like to spend an hour with…
5. Groucho Marx- great comedic mind, but also an underappreciated author. How could you not be intrigued by a guy who said “I would never want to belong to a club that would have a guy like me for a member”. He wrote many articles and a few books that were praised by legit writers, all of which display an unparalleled wit- particularly since he was self-educated. I was gonna call him an autodidact, but that would be pretty pretentious of me to use a word like that.
4. Robin Williams– yeah, I know, another comedian. Perfect example of a razor-sharp comedic mind jammed into the personage of a troubled human. I get the feeling that I wouldn’t get a chance to ask many questions, though. He’d just wear me out riffing on his observations. Unbelievably quick mind with a keen eye for irony.
3. Augustus Caesar- he basically created the Roman Empire, ending the civil wars that had plagued the republic for generations. Ushered in the Pax Romana, reorganizing the Roman government such that peace and prosperity were maintained for two centuries. This allowed Rome to reach unparalleled progress in architecture, art, engineering, literature and military capability. Gaius Octavius was his real name, but you have to admit, “Augustus” is way cooler.
2. Leonardo da Vinci- perhaps the most brilliant person in history. An endlessly curious and unsurpassed polymath whose mind seemed too vast & dynamic for his human persona to contain. (as you might surmise, I’m a fan). He had a habit of starting something, then once he figured it out he didn’t finish it and went on to the next idea. Sculpture, painting, anatomy, poetry, music, physics, geometry, botany.. nothing escaped his raging intellect. Sadly, his last words were allegedly, “Tell me, was anything ever done?”
1. Jesus– OK, couldn’t leave the big guy off the list: the king of kings, son of God, Messiah, great shepherd, lamb of God, son of man.. wow he had a lot of titles. Mostly I’d like to ask him whether he was the proto-hippy, flowers-in-his-hair, peace-and-love guy from Godspell— OR — the badass wearing a leather jacket and ripped jeans who opened up a can of messianic whup-ass in the temple that day. Oh, and I want to ask him when the hell he’s coming back. Seems like he’s overdue.
Napoleon, who had a short-man complex which up to that time had no name.
The persons who invented fire, the wheel, and St Joseph’s zeppole.
Frank Sinatra (come on, he’s Sinatra!)
Queen Isabella (she wore the pants, Ferdinand was a wimp)
Buddha – I’d like to see if I could piss him off. Also, want to ask him who’d win in a fight, him or Jesus
Cleopatra- Had a lot of power in an era when that was very unusual for a woman. Also heard she had a killer Asp (sorry).
WC Fields- yeah, another comic. Fascinating life of the ultimate curmudgeon. “I love children, especially when they’re properly cooked”
Al Capone- he was running the largest criminal empire in America by the time he was 27! OK, maybe had a couple of minor character flaws.
Thomas Jefferson- almost a mini-Leonardo da Vinci. Tommy was into everything from Botany to fine wines. And he wrote the original version of “Movin’ on up” for the TV show (sorry again)
Musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robert Johnson, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan (yeah, I know, he ain’t dead), Ella Fitzgerald, Mario Lanza, Billie Holliday…