A reader, a writer, my story

I discovered the absolute joy of reading in 2nd grade when I was 8 years old.  That year, I met The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.  After this introduction, I proceeded to read all 18 novels in The Black Stallion series twice that same year, setting a precedent I have repeated many times since.   Over the course of my life, I have read my favorite novels multiple times, more than happy to immerse myself in the amazing world of fiction.  It was not long after first immersing in the Walter Farley series that I knew I would one day call myself an author.  I wrote my first play in 4th grade, and then I was off and running.

My life has fed my creative dreams and provided me with an ample backdrop from which I draw my storylines.  I have always been a positive thinker and believe in the greater good.  I grew up in a family of athletes and academics so no surprise that my two favorite activities are reading and training. I’ve spent more time reading than anything else I’ve done in my life.  Time in the gym takes second place.

The defining moments of my life are as follows: at 6 years old, the first time I saw the night sky of the New Mexico desert on a family car trip coast to coast; at 9 years old, when I ran through a plate glass window leaving a four-inch scar on my left arm that continually reminds me of my impulse to act before I think; at 15 years old, when an accident in which my bike and body collided with a moving car put me in the intensive care unit for awhile, gave my family a good scare, and shifted the direction of my life; at just shy of 24, when I flew out to L.A. to visit and never left; when I took a job as an assistant at a real estate office with absolutely no intention of ever becoming a Realtor; when I decided to walk into a local spin studio on a whim and met my future wife; when my wife said yes; when our son Zion was born, a day etched in my mind for all time; when our daughter joined this world, an event I am still happily processing.  These are some of the most important moments that have made me who I am now.

I would be remiss in describing who I am without mentioning the books that have shaped my writing.  The Black Stallion series, all 18 books, was my first love.  Not long after, I met Watership Down by Richard Adams, a book I have read numerous times.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy kept me entranced many times. At 10, I met The Count of Monte Cristo and Alexandre Dumas set the bar for me.  I compare all books before, and since, to this one.  The story of a simple man who completes a metamorphosis of gargantuan proportions to commit the ultimate revenge cannot be matched.  Lest I not forget to also mention Banker by Dick Francis, the first of his almost 40 books that I devoured.

The writers of the great fiction novels listed above taught me the form of a good story; I wrote my first novel, Jon Fixx, with these teachings at its core. I hope to write a few more in honor of these amazing writers before my end.

Behind the lines – an interview with the author

When did you first get the idea of Jon Fixx?

In 1998, I came up with the idea of Jon’s job as a real life wedding novella writer. I ended up interviewing one couple, friends of mine, and writing their love story. Jon Fixx came to me when I was working on a play and a short film script in 1999. Different characteristics of Jon showed up in characters of each piece. I quickly coupled these characteristics with the job of writing love stories and Jon Fixx was born. I sat down and wrote the first 20 pages. Then they got put away for quite some time, years in fact.

Was there a specific incident or series of incidences that tumbled into the character of Jon Fixx?

So many of the characters I read seem to have a handle on things and are able to make good decisions all the time. Jon has the interesting knack of being able to look at himself and know that he often acts like a fool, mostly when it comes to love, and he’s still unable to stop himself. This part of Jon is based both on my own experiences as well as many friends who often would go against the advice of others when the heart was involved. For me, that is Jon’s most realistic and endearing quality.

Did moving to Los Angeles from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, give you the inspiration to write Jon Fixx? 

I’m not sure if the move from Lancaster to Los Angeles specifically inspired me to write Jon Fixx, but Jon Fixx and Los Angeles are very much a part of one another. Los Angeles can be a hard town in which to find a partner, both because of the geography of it—everything is so spread out, you need a car to get anywhere—and because of the underlying superficiality that is inherent in the lifestyle out here as a result of the entertainment business. Therefore, there is a great deal of disconnectedness in Los Angeles. Jon lives that disconnected life. He does not have many friends, and his life is centered on his girlfriend and his career. When either of those goes sideways, so does Jon.

Where did the idea of Luci and Donovan come from?

Luci is a combination of two close friends of mine from my days in Lancaster, PA. My two buddies could not have been more different, so I combined the opposites, and threw in a little Mr. Miyagi as an added bonus. Jon and Luci were both with me from the start. Donovan appeared to me during the writing process. He showed up one day and became an integral part of the story. I like him so much now I plan on centering one of my subsequent novel storylines on his character.

Did you research the Mafia to write Jon Fixx? And how did you dream up the plot?

I did a great deal of reading to nail down the Mafia. I was concerned that my writing about the Mafia would be cliché, so I did my best to keep it as close as I could to reality, based on what I could find out about the Five Families of New York. The plot unfolded as I wrote. I had the general strokes early on, but several of the best twists and turns actually showed up while I was writing. I did not know how it was going to end until I got there.

What was the most important part of growing up that made you want to write a novel? 

I fell in love with books when I was in 2nd grade. I bought and read the entire Black Stallion series that year. The process of choosing the book at the book store, taking it home, cracking the spine, and disappearing into this other world hooked me at a very young age. Early on, I knew I wanted to write one day.

How long did it take you to write Jon Fixx?

I wrote the book in fits and starts. It took me way too long. Every couple of years I would come back to Jon Fixx and write a few more chapters, and then it would get shelved. Jon first came to me in 1999, so you do the math.

What did you learn from writing your first novel?

That it’s fulfilling, frustrating, time consuming, and mind altering all at the same time.

This interview was originally posted on bookscover2cover.com.