Hey Brian! First I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer my questions for you!
(Lets begin shall we?)
What was your inspiration for writing The Last Bar In NYC?
The end of my troubled business partnership in a NYC bar, Circa Tabac. A mega chapter in my life. It was a challenge to keep the business up and running smoothly for nearly 15 years with dramatic ups and downs along the way. Love of my bar patrons, people who appreciated the comfort and ambience I put together for their enjoyment, they motivated me for so long. But enough was enough. One night, after it was settled that I was selling the joint, I was harping on and on with a friend about my scheming business partners and he told me, “Sounds like a good book.” The writing started. After hammering out parts of the Circa Tabac saga, I instinctively began reaching back further in time, all the way to the beginning of my life in bars at 2 yrs old. Eventually it all came together. In the end, it explained a lot about myself that I didn’t know; just how did I get where I am today. It’s been a bumpy road, a stumble and tumble life experience. But as the old saying goes, I’m still standing.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for The Last Bar In NYC?
I don’t have a trailer. I like the idea of a book trailer. I’ve even put together a concept for a trailer. Sadly I haven’t had the time to get it done. Between working a job, tending a small family, promoting The Last Bar In NYC with hardly a dime, and working on a new book, every minute is accounted for.
What book do you wish you could have written?
The Bible. Of course, I kid you - sort of.
With so many amazing books it’s a tough choice. I am sentimental so perhaps I’d go with a children’s classic like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Treasure Island. I’ve enjoyed real life adventuring, traveling, meeting new and interesting people, basically dealing with unforeseen situations anywhere they can be found. I don’t do much of it anymore, adventuring. But the desire for the unknown, it seems to be still bubbling inside of me. I suspect it’s quite normal. It’s also normal that getting older has a slow down effect, and adventuring works best with energy. Also, the modern world is getting smaller and smaller by the minute leaving almost no place on earth unvisited or unknown. Smartphones and the internet are numbing all human interactions to predictable patterns. There appears to be no escape from the mundane. So, yeah, writing a timeless book about adventuring would be grand.
Just as your book inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
One of them is Raymond Carver. I wasn’t sure about the writing craft until I read his work. Everything before him had a sheen of uber importance, something beyond my reach, far from my stature, something only highly respected individuals from the right sort of background could do well. Carver made it seem so easy. Writing is not easy. A lot of work goes into a book. Carver simply opened my eyes to something I could do, pulled down the curtain of pretense. I don’t think we have the same style. But I think we have similar goals with the type of stories we tell, sensitive character driven stories.
I’m also impressed with Kurt Vonnegut. So smart, entertaining, strangely common and unique, a sense of real experience in his storytelling. His books stay with you. I could read his novels cover to cover, take a bathroom break, and then read them again. He’s just great.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I’m not much of a fame gawker. Working in NYC bars for decades, I’ve managed to meet quite a number of famous people. One thing that is clear across the board, for the most part, they’re just like you and I. Perhaps they have more money, or better looks, or more notoriety, or a better reputation, or more friends, or none of it. I’ve discovered that plenty of them, like with all people I’ve met, they can be great guys and gals or complete assholes. I don’t have much room in my life for more than family, friends and a few associates. If you fit into that circle, I don’t care if you are famous or not. I just want to enjoy and be honest with our time together.
That was my humble answer. I’d be lying if I were to tell you that I wasn’t thrilled to the bone after running into Kurt Vonnegut on the Eastside one afternoon. I was waiting on a girlfriend near the UN. There was an old guy sitting on the bench next to me. He was smoking so I bummed one. When I got a look at him I blurted out with all my Bronx refinement, “You’re fucking Kurt Vonnegut.” He quickly replied, “You’re fucking right.” We chatted friendly for about five minutes till my girl showed up. It was hot and the UN building was casting shade. He told me that that was the only good thing about the place.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s a bit simple and sappy but it rings true for me: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Producing a child at 50 years old. I’m now 54 and it is a completely new world, like nothing I ever imagined before. Life before was simple in comparison, easy as pie. Now getting a decent night of sleep is major feat. It’s strange, with all of the serious difficulties a child brings, I couldn’t imagine life without him.
I encourage other to have them, a lot of them. For all the troubles society faces it’ll be a human that might solve them. So why not increase our odds and fill the world with them. At 54, sadly, I won’t be having anymore - unless I become a Bestselling Author and convince my not-much-younger-than-me wife to go for it again.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In a small room with an open window and lot’s of fresh air, and one of those handy little push-button espresso/coffee machines that make a light brown frothy top up to the brim. I’ll be working on my 12th novel.
What is your favorite book and why?
Plato’s Republic. Not because of a masterful writing style, nor its tenets, but because it is the blueprint for the control freaks that run the world, and subsequently have too much influence on my life. The Republic is the perfect world according to a hyper-rational-elitist mindset. There’s no room for mutts and misfits. Worst of all, no room for freedom. It’s good to know what the enemy of mankind has planned for all of us so you can properly rail against it.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Notebook. Comfortable chair. One page at a time. If your lucky, an in-house editor. Oh yeah, revision.
If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?
A painter, artist. But I suspect making a living at that would be near impossible considering the Art world is a racket and I don’t work well with rackets. An answer closer to reality? I’d own and operate another NYC bar. It’s a great life if you can keep tabs on your drinking. You get to meet so many people. I love people.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Both. I plan out the book. Then I plan out the chapters. I end up with a really good but boring outline. Then I’m a pantster and fill out the story. The outline usually comes undone.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Do I read my reviews? Only like a hundred times. I write for people. I write what I think is good stuff to share with people. So I love to hear their thoughts. There are so many bright book reviewers. It’s a blessing to get feedback from them.
I try to respond to every reviewer. So far there have not been many reviews so the task has been sort of easy. Bottom line, I’ve enjoyed the back and forth I’ve had with those who have read and reviewed The Last Bar In NYC and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability.
Negative reviews? If the person points out legitimate trouble with the book, I only have gratitude for teaching me something. Sadly some people use reviews as a means of lashing out to relieve their own stress from problems and confusions. It’s unfair but life is unfair. I try not to dwell on the bad.
What is your thoughts on writing a book series vs. stand alone novels? Which do you prefer?
Book series are great. If I can conceive of something worth the commitment needed for a series, I’d go for it in a New York minute. That said, I also love the weight a novel can carry.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
I had a lot of miscommunication (for the lack of a better word) with agents. My sense of the publishing world is that it is an agenda driven industry. That is to say, there are corporate overlords looking to control all narratives as means to their end. Essentially, it’s mainstream culture jamming where merit has no place unless it serves the master. Maybe a metaphor could illustrate: corporate GMO as opposed to independent Organic.
The writing process is a lot of hard work. If you have a regular job and a family, that hard work is usually late at night when you should be getting healthy sleep. The upside to writing is when a scene comes together and rings with truth - it’s worth the exhaustion.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Not that I can think of. I would never write porn for the sake of porn. Nor would I ever glorify brutality, the abuse of innocents or indulgence. If a story needs debauchery, it goes there for a reason, not merely for titillation.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I didn’t start reading routinely until I was an adult. I was without a place to live and an older friend allowed me to stay in the basement of his Hell’s Kitchen building, or should I say, his library. He had so many books that covered every topic. There was no television and at the time I was trying to avoid NYC nightlife. I ended up reading a lot of great books.
Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy? Emotional?
I guess they are all hard to write. I’m not the type of writer that can one-off a story. I have many, many drafts. Revision is the name of the game for me. I also know that incorporating many types of scenes into story is only going to make it a better read, so I’d never shy away from any of them.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
I’ve written a hundred page novella and about forty or fifty short stories before The Last Bar In NYC. One of my short stories was published in a CUNY Literary Journal and turned into an independent short film. I also have an ambitious historical novel that was never finished from 10 years ago; a story I’ll likely never go back to finishing despite a few hundred pages of hard work that went into it.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I’m writing a Romance novel. I don’t think it will be a typical Romance novel because there will be other interesting themes in the underlay that will compete with the love story; identity; child abuse; war; global finance; dogs and cats; opposing generations; espionage and murder; baking. It’s not finished yet. It could end up being something altogether different.
Thanks for taking your time to answer all of my questions!
About The Author
The Last Bar In NYC- Rated a 5 Star By Me