Author, storyteller...persistent writer
I've been writing ever since I learned to make letters at the age of four, at a blackboard my parents set up in the kitchen (Yes, my long-term memory is prodigious; short-term, not so great) I had fifteen minutes of literary fame in the 1990s when Dutton/Penguin/Putnam published one of my books, then lots of hard anonymous slogging since. But I've learned to dig in and keep writing, because as they say, if you sit at the table long enough, eventually the chips (a metaphor here for faithful readers) do come your way.
The word "quirky" is often used to describe my writing (Publishers Weekly used it twice in a recent review), which I don't like because it makes me seem weird and nerdy, when I'm really more down-to-earth. My writing is definitely old-school, rising up from all the jam-packed, angst-ridden and non-minimalist fiction of the mid-20th century, good and bad. I once worked in a library, so I've read it all. My narratives are mostly character-driven, because I'm endlessly fascinated by other human beings. I try to write the kind of stuff I crave: Strong plausible stories with compelling people, unusual settings, interesting ideas and big dollops of humor. I don't necessarily need books that make me cry, but I do love books that teach me things, and make me laugh!
I worked for years in the New York City publishing industry, and so I also currently edit and evaluate other writers' books, with a particular mission to encourage small and independent publishing, and unheard voices. And yes, I'm a practicing Catholic (on the progressive end of the spectrum, not ultra-conservative), and like it or not, that does find its way into my work.
See my recent article in Publisher's Weekly (Sept.3, 2018)https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/77889-on-being-a-catholic-writer.html
Hard Cider Abbey: Out of the seven novels I've written, I think this one is my all-time favorite--which is why I'm making it into a series. I had the concept and characters in my head for years, but I had to learn how to plot a good mystery novel first. Hard Cider Abbey is set in the unlikely terrain of the Appalachian Mountains of contemporary West Virginia. A small abbey with medieval French roots (the "Order of Saint Philbert") becomes locally famous, not for its pious adherence to monasticism, but for its strong and deliciously fermented cider. Brother Odo, barely twenty, arrives from Northern Quebec, only to literally stumble upon the body of the abbey’s librarian and hagiographer, seemingly a suicide. Odo soon bonds with Brother Emerick, a young, Appalachian-born combat veteran, who has entered the abbey to find solace and sanity. Convinced their librarian has been murdered, they join forces to root out his killer, but find themselves unraveling a scandalous secret that could destroy the monastery. The cover features the outstanding artwork of regional painter Will Harmuth. Available as an ebook ($2.99, or free on KindleUnlimited) and as a paperback ($14.99)
Watch for the next installment Names of the Father, in early December--just in time for Christmas!
Called to Serve: The Untold Story of Father Irenaeus Herscher OFM (Franciscan Institute Publications, franciscanpublications.com) November 2018
In his classic memoir of spiritual epiphany, Thomas Merton tells of a sweet and friendly Franciscan friar who freely lends him books and discusses matters of the spirit with him. This biography tells the full story of that man, Father Irenaeus Herscher OFM, detailing not only his friendship with Merton, and the poet Robert Lax, but also his own American-immigrant narrative and how he went on to create a thriving, world-class academic library, basically from scratch. He also plays his own unique role in American Catholic popular culture in the mid-20th century, and his legacy lives on through his beloved library at Saint Bonaventure University.
Available November 2018. Order directly through the Franciscan Institute at franciscanpublications.com
Story of a Book Cover
I’ve received many compliments on the cover of my biography, Called to Serve: The Untold Story of Father Irenaeus Herscher; and how we came up with it is an interesting story...