On this the last day of my virtual book tour for "Jesse's Girl," many thanks to all my supportive colleagues who have stopped by!!!
Novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein is the author of four novels. In addition to Jesse’s Girl, a thriller about a widowed father’s search for his adopted teenage son who has run away from a drug treatment program to find his biological sister, his books include the romantic triangle Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, the political thriller Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man performed to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival. His other full-length work, You Can’t Grow Tomatoes in the Bronx, is in development. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Morgenstein/1011217889
Q: It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life? Have they influenced/inspired your writing?
Writing is 24/7, living in this bizarre dimension populated by characters of your own imagination who talk to you and become your friends, your alter ego, your nemesis. Sort of like being Alice in Wonderland without the hookah. My other jobs over the last two decades have been in television PR, currently at Syfy Channel. I think it’s hard to say one job or many jobs or one experience or person specifically influence a writer when the entire world inspires you. Like a sponge-like voyeur, we absorb and use and indeed, exploit everything, from an interesting person we pass on the street who might someday, unwittingly become a character, to the pain of a childhood memory.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
When I was in kindergarten in the Bronx, my mother was called to school. Through the old-fashioned mesh window in the door, she watched me vigorously and loudly playing with pencils, creating characters and a story as the entire class watched, transfixed. My mother nearly fainted, thinking her son was brain-damaged and would spend the rest of his life sitting in the sun with a blanket over his knees. But the teacher assured her my creativity was normal and should be encouraged, only the class was more interested in my stories than her teaching!
Q: Tell us briefly about your book.
If you’ve ever been a parent or child, I think Jesse’s Girl will resonate with you. Jesse’s Girl is a thriller about a father, Teddy Mentor, willing to sacrifice anything for his son. In the book, the teenage Jesse runs away from a wilderness drug treatment program in Montana to find his biological sister; he is adopted. Teddy and Jesse become ensnared in a grisly crime and flee across the state of Kentucky, pursued by a psychopath, bonding and quarreling and rediscovering each other as they totter on the precipice of disaster with ultimately, only each other to depend upon.
Q: Do you have a favourite character? Why is s/he your favourite?
Teddy Mentor, the main character in Jesse’s Girl, is my favourite because he is a father, as am I. His pain and confusion and anger and love for his son can be overwhelming. They say when you marry it is until death do you part. As someone who is divorced, I can attest that isn’t so. But when you are a parent, you are a parent until the day you die.
Q: What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write? Do you need the noise or the silence?
Like Marcel Proust, I often write propped up in bed. However, unlike Proust, I write on a laptop and listen to rock and roll. Whether it is The Beatles, Stones or Finnish heavy metal depends on my mood and what I’m writing. Unlike Proust, I don’t speak a word of French beyond “oui” and “you have gorgeous eyes, madame,” but I do like dry red wine and cheese.
Q: The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?
I’m careful not to model characters entirely after real people (what, my characters aren’t real?). People can get might angry at you, which isn’t fun, and it can also be very boring. You can easily get caught up in making sure that you are being faithful to the real person rather than to the novel, which is so not the point of fiction writing. A little of me seeps into most main characters but, again, I want to create, not replicate. Otherwise where’s the fun? I mean, there has to be some fun in writing.
Q: Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I’m a great fan of Ernest Hemingway. His spare, powerful writing is like a boxer punching away; there was a reason he was a huge fight fan. I think For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of the best novels ever written and I periodically re-read it and highly recommend it and him.
Q: What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?
I love reading science fiction because of all the limitless possibilities the genre offers. And I love politics and history because we must understand what came before. It can be reassuring actually, when you realize that the sky is not falling onto your head and our species has survived worse. All it takes is courage and faith.
Q: When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?
First of all, here is hoping the obit is still lots of time away. Indulge me as I engage in a little shtetl suspicions and spit on the ground to ward off the evil spirits your question has aroused. But I would hope they’d say I touched people with my words. That is the magic of writing, to enter the lives of perfect strangers and become their friends through your art.
Q: Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?
I am on virtual book tour throughout October thanks to the wonderful Dorothy Thompson & Co. at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
Q: It’s one thing to write a book and another to edit it. How do you feel about the editing process? What was it like to edit your book?
William Faulkner said that a writer must learn to devour his young. In other words, be prepared to look at something you’d written and say, who wrote this nonsense? Even harder is when you look at something and you say, well, not bad, but it just doesn’t fit into this particular story. That hurts, but it must be done. The real key to good writing is ruthless editing.
Q: Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?
I wish. It’s the same process, the dreaded blank page, the scouring deep within yourself for inspiration, for clarity. The nagging doubt and insecurity that you have nothing left to say and what you have to say rots. Then again, when it is all over and there is a book in your hands, you can step back and say, Hey, I wrote that book. I breathed life into this. My creation. I am Dr. Frankenstein! And just maybe someone out there will be affected by what I’ve written.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Here is the link to my novels on Amazon where you can also plug into my author’s page http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-ke...
If you want to contact me at Facebook, I am at www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Morgenstein/1011217889. I also blog at redroom.com.