Our Interview with Stephen Grossman!
Stephen Grossman was born in New Jersey but has lived in Vilnius, Lithuania for the past 20 years. He has a slight Jersey accent when he speaks and believes he often speaks Cantonese when he sleeps. Mr. Grossman writes novels for “big people” who wish they were still small and stories for “little people” who wish they were big. He rescues companies globally and dogs & cats locally. Before becoming a turnaround specialist and international negotiator, Mr. Grossman’s employment mural covers hosting & producing his own FM Rock-n-Talk radio show, a fleeting moment as a stand-up comedian, a foreign correspondent, a university lecturer, 2 days as a limo driver, an ice cream vendor, and a tour guide at Universal Studios.
Though he thoroughly enjoys smoky jazz, travel, cooking (and eating), film, stand-up comedy, and single malt whiskey, Mr. Grossman’s greatest joy is growing up a second time with his children.
Bio provided by author’s site
It was our great pleasure to get the opportunity to get a chance to know more about Stephen and learn how he became an author. Stephen has been writing for “Big” and “Little” people alike. So grab a warm mug of your favorite beverage and please give a warm welcome to Stephen!
1. What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?I’ve never read a good answer to the question where does one’s inspiration come from, probably because it comes from everywhere and everything around us and inside us. The question is perhaps better answered by saying: It’s not where inspiration comes from but what one does with one’s inspiration.
2. Are you an organized writer? Do you do things like take notes and make lists of characters? Or do you free write and work it out as you go?Yes and no. What appears to be writing from the hip, jazz riffing, free flow composition actually comes from a fairly well pre-formed structure and destination in my mind. However, I leave a lot to improvisation and free thought, sanding down and re-shaping as I go along.
3. What is your normal writing day like? Do you write when you are inspired or do you have a schedule?I am always writing, mostly in my head, and not always consciously. When I have a specific project I have started and am determined to complete it, I write daily from morning until evening, with short breaks in between, occasionally going back to it late at night.
4. Who is your favorite author and how did they inspire you to write?There are many authors I enjoy and admire. I don’t like selecting just one, but if I had to, I would have to give that honor to Dr. Suess. He inspired me the most as a child and still invigorates me now as an adult. It was his vivid and free imagination, the complexity of his seemingly simple stories, but most of all the musicality and composition of his verse and prose. It was Suess who made me realize words could make music, paint pictures, create emotion, stimulate thought . . . It was Suess who made me first appreciate how a great writer turns our world inside out and upside down and right side in. But if to be granted a Pantheon of favorite authors, I would add Philip Roth, Henry Miller, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, William Shakespeare, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Jack Kerouac.
5. It’s easy to see that you have a passion for writing but is there any part of it you don’t like?No. But to be fair, editing is part of writing (I say with clenched teeth). I’m not a good editor. But I appreciate great editors. As a journalist, I had the privilege to work with a few of the best. They make you a better writer and make your work a better read.
6. Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?When I find something I enjoy then it’s never a question of finding time to read it. Just like it is NEVER a question to find time to write. I’m always in between several books at once.
7. How did you get started in writing in the romantic comedy genre? Is there personal life experience in the writing?Honestly, I don’t write in any genre. That has frustrated the few agents I’ve had over the years and potential publishers. These days, marketers want to box everything into neat little packages with tight labels to spell out clearly “this belongs here and that belongs there”. My work has never fit nicely here or there. I don’t really remember what got me started. I think it was discovering my father’s typewriter in his office. The sound and feel of the keys tapping against a crisp new page of paper was a real rush for me . . . and the words and feelings and thoughts, even then, at a very early age (I must have been about 12 or so) just flowed out. It felt right to write and I kept wanting more and more often to return to the “keyboard” and play and sing (off key most of the time, I must admit).
8. Your books have been published with Amazon.com, Does this mean you see the publishing industry headed this way?I have always been a staunch believer in traditional publishing. As I said before, I believe in the editorial process, the vetting process and cross checks and challenges that come from talented editors. Therefore, I wanted to reject the ebook phenomenon. But the power of Amazon and other new channels for writers and journalist (professional and amateur) is so great that it is forcing even the most steadfast tradionalist to accept and embrace e-publishing and even self-publishing. It certainly has given me and so many others a chance to build a readership when we might be otherwise denied one. However, to abandon the discipline and craftsmanship that editing brings and the filtering out of utter crap that the vetting process traditional publishing long ago brought to the industry is a gigantic mistake. We are overloaded with noise these days and accept all-too-easily garbage as food-for-thought and half-baked truths as sustenance.
9. Do you have any online sites where others can read more of your writings? No. This is all very new for me. Baby steps. Amazon with one of my earlier novels (Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Body-Search-ebook/dp/B0077SW89Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330029982&sr=1-1) and a Facebook page dedicated to Body Search and related material: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-Grossman/363983810285903
10. Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?I have completed a few other adult fiction novels and children’s books and am currently working on a new novel.
11. Who would be your first choice to play Sidney Pelchik from your book “Body Search”?I don’t write characters with actors or famous people in mind. I had Sidney Pelchik in mind when I wrote him. I would like readers to go in to the book with an open mind and to build a living imagine of the character in their mind as they read. But your question makes me want to ask: Who did you see in your mind when you read the book?
12. If you could meet anyone from any time who would it be and what would be your first question?A Neanderthal. My first question would be a two-part question: One, are you certain your generation is the smartest and most advanced, that it is going to right the wrongs of your parents, etc.? That first one is to test my belief that every generation, regardless of history proving otherwise, has been dead sure it was the smartest and was going to fix the ills of the past and had superior technology and was entitled to take anything it wanted and to consume as much as it wished and be wasteful because it was at the top of the food chain and would live forever. My second question would be (and this is the one I am most interested in): When you’re in a crowded cave or at a gathering of other Neanderthals, do you ever stop and think how bad the others smell? I’m curious if they all smelled off because of sweat and eating raw or barely barbequed food, and from not having soap and deodorant or toothpaste. Or were each of them convinced that he or she smelled right but the others smelled off? Could they distinguish between a perceived good smell and a genuine bad smell?