All the way through my schooling, kindergarten through high school and then college, I was an okay student, but nothing exceptional. My mind was too active, dreaming of all of the romantic possibilities that life offered to pay much heed to the facts imparted by books and teachers. Absorbing the mechanics of the English language came easy, and I was the top speller in my third grade class in central Iowa. In high school and college, I earned top marks for theme papers, essays and dissertations because they required original thinking and a writing facility, in which I excelled. However, in my college Shakespeare course, for example, I performed dismally on the daily quizzes, while scoring top marks on two required essays. After the professor had graded one of them, he stared at me with a look that said, “Is this the same guy who does so awful in my quizzes?”
I became enamored of good literature, and had two-thirds of The Great Gatsby’s final page memorized, its eloquence moving me. One day, I decided, I would write a novel. But that requires inspiration, a passion for a particular topic or cause. I wrote a few short stories, including one prompted by a three-month excursion in Germany that was critiqued by the late Kurt Vonnegut, who was artist in residence at the University of Iowa’s famed Writers’ Workshop.
Over a period of decades, I nursed the idea for a novel about a teenager who is all mixed up and struggles mightily against his internal demons for several years until he wills himself to break free of his background and embark on a path of self-realization. In late-middle-age, I honed that amorphous concept into a solid structure, and the result after years of introspection was BREAKING OUT.
A friend recommended me to a woman looking for a ghost writer who could depict her heroic attempts to have a baby through in vitro fertilization. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, she jetted there from her South Florida home to be injected with sperm provided by five friends, no one knowing which donor’s sperm was chosen. After several mind-numbing disappointments amid four trips, she gave birth to a bubbly little girl. The book is A TALE OF TWO CONTINENTS: Jetting Across the Globe to Have a Baby.
I didn’t need to search for the subject of my next, current novel, MURDER IN PALM BEACH: The Homicide That Never Died. It fell into my lap. Working for Palm Beach Illustrated magazine, I intended to write a recap of events surrounding a sensational murder that occurred in January 1976 in the posh, ocean-side town. But I learned much more from a reporter colleague: shocking information about the murderer and the person behind the deed. The magazine never ran the story because it conflicted with the luxury-lifestyle format, but I inadvertently came across the reporter’s chief source of the new information a few years later. We planned a factual book, but he was afraid to provide certain names, and I wrote a novel instead. It has made Amazon’s No. 1 ranking in one category.
At the moment, I am working on a third novel. Like MURDER IN PALM BEACH, it is a mystery about injustice.