|JACOB M. APPEL|
the author of the Coulrophobia &Fata Morgana
Jacob M. Appel is the author of the novels, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, which won the 2012 Dundee International Book Award, and The Biology of Luck (2013). His story collection, Scouting for the Reaper (2014), won the Hudson Prize. Other collections include The Magic Laundry (2015) and Phoning Home: Essays (2014). He taught for many years at Brown University and currently practices medicine at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital.
While working on a retelling of Gone With the Wind from the wind’s point of view…
With hope to embark on a joint venture with Sofia Loren, possibly a marriage license…
On the short break between two patients…
Dr. Jacob gave us this interview.
(not sure about patients…)
ALM: Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
JMA: So I suppose I should begin by saying I’m not the Jacob Appel who wrote More Than Good Intentions. That’s a different Jacob Appel—and a delightful person, I’m told. But not me. Nor am I the eighteenth century Dutch painter. If you’re looking for still life of dollhouses, you’ve come to the wrong place. So, in the spirit of full-disclosure and self-reflection, I’m the third most famous Jacob Appel, at least for the moment. But I am a Jewish doctor. Basically, if you’re looking to fix up your granddaughter with someone you’ll like more than her current fiancé, I’m your man.
I’ve published eleven books. I’ve written countless more, but they remain in crates inside my closet. If you know anyone who’d like to buy a novel manuscript, please send them my way. Or old lawn chairs, for that matter, while I’m cleaning out my closets….
ALM: What is the title of your latest book and what inspired it?
JMA: My latest book is The Mask of Sanity. It’s about a sociopathic physician. I swear it is not biographical.
ALM: How long did it take you to write your latest book and how fast do you write?
JMA: I write at about sixty words per minute, depending on the typewriter. I also take shorthand and make coffee, but I don’t clean windows or perform heavy lifting. Am I hired? (My latest book took quite a while, because it’s about a serial killer, and I had to murder six strangers over a period of several years to make sure I had the details correct.)
ALM: Do you have any unusual writing habits?
JMA: I only write facing east. Or, occasionally, facing Mecca.
ALM: What authors, or books have influenced you?
JMA: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It keeps me on my toes. As for influences on my writing, I’d have to start with drama that captures the bittersweet brevity of life: Thornton Wilder, Paula Vogel, Sarah Ruhl. That moment in Death of a Salesman where Linda says to Biff: “You’ve got to get it into your head now that one day you’ll knock on this door and there’ll be strange people here—“
ALM: What is your best method (or website) when it comes to promoting your books?
JMA: I give away as many free electronic copies of my books as possible. If you know of anyone who might like a copy, please have them email me at: email@example.com
ALM: Do you have any advice for new authors?
JMA: Be relentless. Never give up. And if you ever have a chance to marry into money, jump at the opportunity.
ALM: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
JMA: Always wear clean underpants on a first date. There’s no harm in being optimistic.
ALM: What are you reading now?
JMA: I just finished Michelle Herman’s brilliant memoir, The Middle of Everything. A penetrating commentary on parenthood, friendship and mental illness. Next on my list is Richard Wiley’s Bob Stevenson, a novel about dissociative identity disorder and Robert Louis Stevenson. He’s an extremely clever writer, so I am looking forward to it.
ALM: Who are your favorite authors and what are your favorite books ever?
JMA: Isn’t this one of those questions they ask in computer dating? If so, I suppose I shouldn’t answer honestly, or I’ll likely receive messages from very odd people. But I will confess I love The Magus by John Fowles and Anna Karenina and Malamud’s The Fixer. And, of course, comedies of manners, even those that aren’t particularly funny—Fielding, Austin, Galsworthy, Kingsley Amis, Graham Greene. ALM: Thank you Jacob. Good luck with Sofia Loren… and writing.