Tell us a bit about yourself – something that we will not find in the official author’s bio?
In my previous life, I taught science at a high-school science in northern New Jersey for four years. My first day on the job, I got a headache. My last day on the job the headache went away and I haven’t had one since. I am very much a loner and a recluse. Those traits led me to to rock skipping and bird-watching. I’m good at identifying birds in the forest, just not great. I’ll take on any and all skippers at the Brickyard Pond in Whippany, NJ. I guess the items that have most led me here are (1) baseball and (2) Patches, my dog. I spent my first 18 years hitting a baseball and when I realized I wasn’t good enough, I lived in a funk into my 30s. I guess I will never get past Patches and the day he died at 13+ years. That day was 57 years ago and I am still mourning. Whenever I get the urge to write I recall baseball and Patches. Somehow my thoughts of the past are evenly split. With a funny remembrance, the result is a light and lively event. A sad recollection leads me to a gloomy anecdote. I work a lot to get more humor flowing within me.
Do you remember what was your first story (article, essay, or poem) about and when did you write it?
That’s easy. About 50 years ago, my feet went numb and they still are. After 30 years, the MDs agreed I had idiopathic sensory neuropathy. That’s another way of saying, “The patient’s feet are numb and American medicine doesn’t know why.” So, my shrink said I should ignore my feet and write about what I know. My degrees are in biology and geology but an examination of and research into some aspect of science seemed to arduous for me; so I veered away from non- fiction question. That led me to fiction, fiction in search of a genre. I am still searching. I wrote my first prose-poem in 2012, title Near Rubber Road. It’s a descriptive account of the Brickyard Pond on a Friday night in November in the early 60s.
What is the title of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Forthcoming Jilt describes, in a non-chronological narrative, the life and times of Timothy Sailor Bratkowski, the self-anointed foremost leader of the baby-boom generation. Tim is clearly delusional but he is not . His exploits with their inevitable consequences demonstrate how he has not achieved much of anything except to antagonize his friends and families from infancy to today. Tim infuriates women most of all. For the men who might read it, the narrative depicts everyday miseries up to the ultimate failures of manhood. Women will find the story line a metaphor for their own lives as wives and mothers. Younger individuals will find more reasons to say, “OK, Boomer.”
How long did it take you to write your latest work and how fast do you write (how many words daily)?
I began writing TFJ in 2016 and finished this morning. I know, I must have given Adelaide Books editors conniptions for the shear numbers of final, final drafts I sent to them. I suffer every word when I write. The previous sentence alone took me 3 minutes too write and I am sure I will revise it several more times before I am satisfied. How many words daily? The answer is more like, how many words do I write daily that satisfy me. Not many I’m sad to say. Somehow, though, it all comes together and the finished product is filled with rich words, intriguing sentences, good characters, and a realistic story.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My writing style is all over the map. As a wanderer with a capacity to recall many items large and small, I save those recollections until I feel it’s time take a crack at that memory. I have hundreds of topics on the queue that have not, as yet, seen the light of day flickering in my mind. For some unknown reason, I am most satisfied with free verse that conveys a musical beat. Of course that ability leads me to old-fashioned rhyming schemes. In The Forthcoming Jilt, I rhyme ‘ Sabbath’ with ‘Rabbit’ which will offend literary purists and Christians in equal measures. I appreciate poems that affirm poetic devices like simile, metaphor, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, and all the magical ways to entice readers. Lastly, much of my prose-poetry keeps the plot moving forward which interferes with a more descriptive style. One thing I can say with confidence is my poems are never boring.
Is writing the only form of artistic expression that you utilize, or is there more to your creativity than just writing?
I have no other artistic expression, except at being mildly irksome to colleagues and a complete as***le to reactionaries across the nation.
Authors and books that have influenced your writings?
<I Write Like> is a website that tells me what person I most emulate in words and style. I’m sure the site is sneered at by academicians and commentators, but I think its a morale booster when a poem or prose-piece emulates James Joyce,, Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace Vladimir Nabokov, Ernest Hemingway. I also have some pieces that supposedly emulate Mary Shelley Margaret Atwood, Anne Rice, Alice Munro. That makes me think that I am not a mass of testosterone perambulating into a through my gray matter. In all, I was told I wrote poetry by New Jersey’s own William Carlos Williams. That was exciting to hear. Others have said, I write like Bruce Springsteen. That is an honor.
What are you working on right now? Anything new cooking in the wordsmith’s kitchen?
I have a final first draft, titled Boatload of Godless Apples that should be ready for someone to read in the next three years. I haven’t suffered enough sentences yet.
Did you ever think about the profile of your readers? What do you think – who reads and who should read your books?
My audience are friends from elementary school who reconnected with me over the past decade, individuals who enjoyed my self-published book, Autumn for a Day-old Toad. My books can be disturbing to read on first blush. Fortunately, The Forthcoming Jilt is funny that makes it easier reading for those used to tamer fare, My latest should be read by Baby Boomers, male and female. It will show to men and women have foolish our generation is.
Upon reading TFJ, Generation Xers and Millennials will get a better understanding of what makes these old people click. It would be better if children did not use this book to learn bigger words.
Do you have any advice for new writers/authors?
Do not write like I do, sentence by sentence. The story line and the characters are so much more important than what color ‘blue is the sky today. Don’t lose the story and the theme you are trying unscramble Once you forget your point-of-view, it might not be there when you want to find it again.
Also, Proofreading is a dying art. You can’t believe how many supposed proofreaders I engaged before sending the book on to Adelaide. Please, read, re-read, and re-read it more. So much less agony that way.
What is the best advice (about writing) you have ever heard?
“Write what you know. It’s more fun that way”
How many books you read annually and what are you reading now? What is your favorite literary genre?
I read about 25 books per year. And all sorts websites. I go through periods of interest in one genre then another. I am currently reading Human Errors by Nathan Lents. I have a Master’s degree in Geology, so books that deal with the Earth in a stratigraphic, paleontological, and anthropological sense, I’m gonna read it first hand.
What do you deem the most relevant about your writing? What is the most important to be remembered by readers?
Illumination of the mind. That is what The Forthcoming Jilt will convey to the reader for a long, long time. When I go to see Bruce Springsteen in concert, (199 times so far) it takes me weeks for my mind to move on to new targets. That is what I would like to offer the reader. Sure, I will offend someone but if TFJ makes the reader think of possibilities. I have succeeded at some key place in the mind.
What is your opinion about the publishing industry today and about the ways authors can best fit into the new trends?
I am 74 years old. Writing was essential for my career in non-profits, so I would say to the publishing industry that the country has a trainload of baby boomers who continue to read the ‘old-fashioned’ way to gain insight and direction in books that emphasize the significance of world events that have transformed America’s population from 1946 up to right now. I am certain that older Americans want to read about people, real or imagined, who have lived through these fast-moving and reckless times. TV and the Internet need quality scripts with an edge, so it will be absolutely vital for the communications industry to inspire those with a story to tell to come on board.