Thursday, May 24, 2012
I showcased this book here last week, and today I'm pleased to welcome the man behind the story, author Barry Willdorf. Barry's answered my interview questions, and I've loved reading his deep, heart-felt answers.
Read on for a glimpse into his mind!
Tell us a bit about you, and something we don't know/wouldn't expect about you.
I am a winner of a Global E-book award in historical fiction and also an EPIC finalist for The Flight of the Sorceress (Wild Child Publishing). The first two parts of my 1970s Trilogy (mystery/suspense genre) have been published by Whiskey Creek Press, and Part Three is currently in edit. I also have published an e-book called See You In Court, to help non-lawyers to understand what is really going on in a courtroom and not rely on media myths. It’s available on Smashwords and Scribd for a buck. I am a semi-retired trial lawyer with over forty years of in-court experience. I have been an editor for Matthew Bender and a co-author of several legal publications. Before I became a lawyer, I was a criminal investigator in NYC. My life experiences include being the first surfer on Cape Ann, MA, deckhand on a charter fishing boat, and hand-building my own home in Mendocino County.
Wow! That's quite an impressive resume you've got there!
What’s your favorite moment of the day, and why?
When I get into bed and go to sleep. I like to pass out in comfort.
You're a color – which one are you and why?
I’m a chameleon. What do you expect from a lawyer?
Lol! Of course, that'd be fitting!
Why become a writer?
I’m not advocating it. It’s not for everybody, and these days a writer can’t just write but has to be a self-promoter and entrepreneur. In my opinion forcing writers who prefer to create into becoming shills, carney’s and small business people is a great way to insure that we don’t produce a lot of quality literature.
As writers, we are bombarded with ideas every minute of every day. How do you sort through these ideas, to stick to the 'viable' ones?
You need more than an idea to write. If that was all it took, we’d be producing 50,000 books a day instead of 1500. An idea requires a plan to implement it. You still need a plot that works. You need to do research. Ideas are a dime a dozen. I start with a story I want to tell. I work ideas into it. Usually I delete them by the fourth or fifth edit. It’s like having a brilliant dream. You wake up and realize it’s a pile of crap. Something inside is playing a game with you, telling you that you’ve just dreamed the great American novel. Freud didn’t know what he was talking about. Minds play games just to screw with their hosts. It’s not personal. It’s just what minds do, and believe it or not, we all have just about the same thoughts. It’s banal, but that’s how come some books resonate.
How do you develop an idea into a book?
Like I said, I have stories I want to tell. For example, my trilogy. In Burning Questions I wanted to tell about crooked real estate development and how some folks saw a town full of poor fishermen and thought, jeez, what a great place for summer homes. We can kick the shit out of the poor suckers who live here and they won’t know what hit them. It will be easy money. And so they will treat those in the lower classes with contempt, whenever necessary to make their killing. It’s a story I know. So I wanted to tell it, but without polemics. In A Shot In The Arm, I tell the story of how we all deal with race, and in the end (I’m not giving away the story) but even the good guys avoid confronting their racial privileges. Part Three, The Fourth Conspirator, is about family values. Like when somebody is killed, the cops look at the family members first for a suspect. That’s the reality behind the political bullshit we always hear about from politicians and pundits. That’s how I figure out what to write about.
If there's one book you wish you had written, which one is it and why that book in particular?
All Quiet on the Western Front. I was a civilian defense counsel during the Vietnam War and defended a lot of destroyed combat vets over a four-year period. I met a lot of young men who went into the service true believers and came out feeling betrayed, ripped off and burned. That’s what happens. It happened to Paul Bauer in the novel and he committed suicide by KIA. Others use drugs, or just beat the shit out of their wives until the cops cart them off. But it all comes down to the same thing. We say we’re supporting our troops by buying them a beer or pinning a medal on them, or giving them a parade. But when the hoopla is gone there’s just these guys alone and without the help they need. Not just in this country. It happens with vets everywhere.
It's a real-life tragedy, innit? More people should be bringing this plight to light.
Which is easier for you – narrative, or dialogue?
I don’t have a problem with either one. As a novelist you’re in control of both.
Preferred genre to write?
I like good clever mysteries and suspense. I like it well written, with tight narrative, a plot that makes sense, facts that are real and not made-up bullshit and believable characters. I like men who can fix plumbing and blondes who are neither ditzes nor femme fatales. No caricatures, no clichés.
How do you get into your characters' heads and shoes?
Being a trial lawyer and doing all kinds of cases from homicides to Ponzi schemes, I’ve met all kinds. I don’t have a problem getting grist for the character mill. My job was to get into people’s heads and also to walk in their shoes. Otherwise I couldn’t present a credible case.
That's amazing insight into the mind of a lawyer - thanks!
Drafts, edits, polishing – love or loathe? Can you please explain?
I am, never finished. I always want the prose tighter, the material clearer, the dialogue more real.
What unique factor do you think you bring to the book/story market?
I am trying to bring social and political issues to my readers in a way that doesn’t punch them in the face. I don’t want them to notice what they are learning from looking at issues from a different point of view. I want my books to provoke self-discovery, in the context of traditional genres.
Best advice you've received, and that you'd want others to know?
Don’t give up your day job.
Tell us about your latest release
My most recent novel is A Shot In The Arm. It’s part 2 of a trilogy called the 1970s Trilogy, even though part 1 is set in the Fall of 1969. I’m relying on comments by observers that the 60s were over in 1968, after the election of Nixon. Anyway, my two protagonists, Nate and Christina, are in San Francisco in 1973 living together in a rundown part of town, the Mission, Nate’s a lawyer operating out of a storefront. Christina’s at SF State. When a pretty young addict is found dead in her bed from an overdose, her treatment counselor, a black militant, is charged with providing her with drugs for sex. Nate is paid to defend him but learns too late that his retainer was stolen from rogue government agents involved in dealing drugs to buy guns for anti-communist guerrillas. There’s a lot of pushback from the agents and more than one death. But the kicker is how my protagonists behave based on the race of the client. Here are some reviews:
"A Shot In The Arm delivers a dark murder plot with characters that are right on the money." Mark Rudd, author of Underground: My life in SDS and the Weathermen.
"The legal details are sharp; the drinking and drugging and low life neighborhoods are Day-Glo vivid." Meredith Sue Willis, author of Ten Strategies to Write Your Novel and Out of the Mountains.
"A detective story with a sense of geography, a sense of morality, and a sense of humor." Frances Lefkowitz, author of To Have Not.
"Gripping. Exciting. Add 'A Shot in the Arm' to the classic tales of the City by the Bay." Hilton Obenzinger, author of Cannibal Eliot and the Lost Histories of San Francisco and Busy Dying.
In 5 words:
Your book: A Shot in the Arm
Your heroine: Christina, poor, Portuguese, smart and tough
Your hero: Nate, inexperienced young lawyer, finds trouble.
You as an author: humorous, historically accurate, gritty
Let's say your book is a movie – which one does it most closely resemble?
What real-life actors are playing the roles?
I don’t cast movies.
Now this movie needs a soundtrack – what songs/tracks best fit your book?
I like Steve Earle’s stuff. I’d go country on the white side and some Miles Davis, Winton Marsalis for the ghetto scenes.
Your characters end up in a world where everyone's a fashionista – how do they dress and what are they wearing?
You have to read the book to find out how they dress. I describe it many times.
Where can we find you and your books?
You can find me at the following places:
From Mauritius with love,