I think I’ve always secretly wanted to be a writer. It was something I knew all the way back in grade school. My problem though has always been my confidence. For some reason I had a lot of negative reinforcement from various teachers and so I think I questioned whether I could even do it. As an adult, I went through a traumatic experience about ten years ago and that’s when I couldn’t get around the inescapable truth: I am a writer because I have no other choice.
How long does it take you to write a book?
About a year but I’m pretty slow these days. Sometimes a year doesn’t do it either. Last year I struggled through what amounted to little more than a stillborn effort. I actually wound up abandoning the project. It was just time to move on. I intend on going back to it but I guess you might say it took a year to write a negative book, as in minus one book.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I teach a college class and have my own law practice during the week. So my schedule is pretty tight. I write what I can at night, when I’m not reading. These days, I’m on a bit of a roll and getting in close to 1k words a night. I’m not complaining right now but there may be others who are (or at least should be).
How many crime novels have you written?
I guess 4 if you consider a spy thriller with a diabolical villain a crime novel. To be safe though, I’ll just say 3 – these represent the Hunter Gray legal thrillers. One was published and the other 2 are done, just awaiting a little TLC before sicking them on the public.
Which is your favourite and why?
I would have to say Justice Hunter because it’s my first published book. It was a struggle to get it done and I suppose I’ll always feel a little tug of pride when I reflect on that process. The one I’m doing now isn’t bad though. It’s a supernatural thriller and I think it’s my most intentional writing to date. What I’m trying to say is I think I’m finally in a place where my current stuff is my strongest because it is my most refined and deliberate product. Reading it doesn’t make me nauseous, which I think is a pretty good litmus.
Where do you get your ideas?
I pull them out of my -- . In all seriousness, I’m inspired by the fallibility of mankind and the city where I was raised – Philadelphia. Law also plays a part because I’m a lawyer and so I like to weave this sort of existence into interesting situations. The last part would have to be writing who and what I don’t really know. If an idea comes too easily I try to resist.
Right now I would have to say either Detective Phelps or Jack, one of the protagonists in my current one. Phelps is a washed-up f-up but he’s a lot smarter than he lets on. I sort of like that contradiction. Jack isn’t half-bad either. He’s a guy who came from nothing and finds himself living a privileged yet far less stable existence than he wants to believe.
Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Good question. I would say just about anyone created by Amis or Murakami. They’re 2 of my favourite writers: they don’t make too many mistakes in my eyes. As for Amis, it would be Nicola Six from London Fields, maybe Keith Talent … For Murakami, I’m intrigued by the aspiring novelist in IQ84. Novelists just intrigue me. What can I say?
If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
I have no idea. Maybe the guy who should’ve saved Kennedy…
What are you working on now?
Like I said, it’s this supernatural thriller, also set in my hometown – Philly. It’s been getting my blood flowing for the past few months and I’m really excited about the prospect of having what I’m pretty sure will be a very solid first draft. I had that feeling last night, the one that reminds me of why I do this masochistic thing to myself. I know you know what I’m talking about. I immediately emailed my writing coach and I’m pretty sure he thought I was high on something. Well, he would’ve been right. I was high on the process, knowing my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain and that the words on the page weren’t too bad . . .