Q. Are these really frequently asked questions?
A. Well, not yet.
Q. Are your novels suitable for young children?
A. It’s purely arbitrary, but I think the message of The Fraternity might be lost on people under 14—and that isn’t meant to disparage the intellect of 14-year-olds. There are a handful of sexual references and one semi-descriptive sex scene, but certainly nothing that would cause anyone to faint. (Unlike the childbirth film I watched in sophomore health class—holy cow, how about some warning next time?) The language in The Fraternity is far cleaner than what you’d hear in an actual frat house, but that’s just because I didn’t want it to be a distraction. Trombone Answers, The Rocheville Devil, and Love and Corn and Whatnot all have more adult language and sexual references, but again, I’d say mature teenagers would enjoy them. I’m writing with adults in mind, but not in the gratuitous sense.
Q. Are you your main characters?
A. Well, Doug Halloran and Parker Graham are both kids who have locked themselves into “a parent-pleasing groove” (as Parker puts it), and they’re both a little bit scared of the world. I remember relating to that. They’re also both decent young men trying to figure out their place in the world, and heck, 30-some years after college I’m still chipping away at that. But sure, while they’re not memoirs, these stories come from a perspective I identify strongly with, and that’s what makes them so real. Now, if you're asking about The Rocheville Devil, Tom Skolka and I were both sixth-graders in an elementary school's final year, but thankfully the similarity ends there.
Q. What’s up next?
A. I have two novels in editing-and-fixing mode: Kerouac's Ghost, about an aging professor who might or might not be getting visits from the ghost of Jack Kerouac; and The Smalltown Way, which covers 13 years in Colby County, Illinois. This might sound overly ambitious, but I'm thinking about releasing both novels--and a collection of short stories--at the same time.
Q. Do you ever imagine what actors would play your characters in the unlikely event someone wanted to make a movie based on your work?
A. I do. Unfortunately I've already missed out on two of them. I always thought Robin Williams would have made a great Tom Skolka in The Rocheville Devil, and Beau Bopko from Fluffball! was written with Bruno Kirby in mind. Speaking of Fluffball!, how great would it be to see Tim Robbins and Jeff Goldblum as Don Gooding and Lum Billingsley?
Q. Is independent publishing for everyone?
A. Well, it's probably unnecessary for writers who know they're going to sell a million books every time out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the easy availability of independent publishing has probably emboldened a lot of people who are more desperate to be authors than writers. There's a fine line. Are my novels potential best-sellers that would have earned big bucks for publishing-company shareholders? Probably not. Are they worth reading? Certainly.