What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “It’s nothing personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” This was said by Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, in the 1972 Best Picture Oscar winner, The Godfather. If you can’t tell, I’m a huge movie nut. This quote always stood out to me, because at this point in the film, Michael has thrown himself completely into the family business, which he worked so hard to stay out of. Here he realizes that he needs to step up for his family, to do what is necessary to survive. The implications of what Michael is saying carry the maturity of manhood, looking outside himself to satisfy the needs of those he cares about. He does what is necessary. He does what others can’t or won’t. He becomes the go-to guy. I admire those who take control and get the job done. Of course the morality of this instance is questionable, but the motivation behind it is what I cling to.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? Wow. There are so many things in my life that I can look back on and ask, “Did I do that”. I’m not a big believer in regret, so I tend to find the best in any situation. Especially those tough situations in life, I try to find something I can learn from and make me a better person for the next encounter. But, if I must toot my horn a little, I would have to say that I am proudest on my accomplishments in the film and television industry. I started out as an actor in an out-of-market area. Gigs were tough and few. So, I made my own gigs. I got into writing my own scripts, producing my own films, directing my own crew and cast. I heard a quote once, actually it was Billy Zane in Titanic, he said, “A real man makes his own luck”. Well, his character was pompous and arrogant, but that line always stuck with me. I’m definitely a person who tries to make things happen.
What is your favorite color? Believe it or not… Orange. Followed closely by Pinstripe. I know, that’s not a real color but what’s a Yankees fan to do??
What is your favorite food? I love anything Oriental. Chinese, Japanese, it doesn’t matter. My father was stationed in Japan for a few years and the cuisine stuck with the whole family.
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? While there are many places I’d love to visit and see, there is nowhere on Earth quite like NYC! New York City will always have a place in my heart as “home”. Even now I hear New York State of Mind tripping in my mind’s ear.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My upbringing always fostered the creative spirit. Between my father’s love of story and storytelling and my mother’s creative overdrive (crafts, writing, acting, painting, drawing, sculpting, cooking), there was not a deficiency in support. I remember after I discovered acting in high school, I knew I had found my calling. I told my parents that after I graduated I was going to fly out to Hollywood and make it big as a movie star. I said I would give it two weeks and that should be plenty of time. What did my parents do? Encouraged me every step of the way. I never did go to Hollywood, but the support never faded. So when I decided to move from writing screenplays to novels, my parents were the first to read it and praise it. But, of course, parents are supposed to stuff like that, right?
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Writing, like most of my other creative outlets, started as just that, an outlet. I hated the routine of life. School, homework, dinner, chores, bed. How can anyone live like that? I needed to create something. It all started with erector sets and legos as a kid. Then I moved on drawing and painting and sculpting and performing. But writing was something that could be done anywhere with nothing but a pencil, paper, and time. I could do it in class during lectures (I probably shouldn’t admit that…) or waiting in the doctor’s office.
When and why did you begin writing? I seriously started writing after college. My situation forced me to leave New York and move back to my hometown. That destroyed me. So I wrote. It wasn’t anything structured, no story arcs, no character development. It was slice of life and just described experiences. Mainly it was about a man who sought redemption and restoration (hmm). For years I thought of nothing but returning to NYC. I found relief in writing narrative.
How long have you been writing? Technically you could say I’ve been writing for all of my adult life. But I didn’t start paying attention to the fundamentals of writing until about 1997 when I wrote my first screenplay. Man, what a piece of trash that was. But, we all have to start somewhere.
When did you first know you could be a writer? Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible to be a “writer”. That thought began to change after I was offered my publishing deal. The idea that someone was willing to give me money for the words I wrote, shook me. It wasn’t until that day. Actually, I still struggle with it sometimes.