2017 Q&A: When you develop characters for a book; do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

It’s probably a bit of both for me.  When I come up with an idea for a book, I generally sit down and start brainstorming.  Part of that is coming up with characters, and I make a lot of notes about the characters.  My next step is to organize and formalize the ideas, and I usually do this by outlining the sequence of events and doing a bit of a write up about the characters.  What inevitably happens, though, is that the characters develop on their own throughout the story.  I start writing and then I see where it takes me.  Sometimes the characters end up the same as I originally envisioned but more often than not they evolve a bit as I write the story and develop them more thoroughly and in depth.  Sometimes the story sort of dictates how the characters develop and who and what they become.  It’s always very interesting to see what becomes of each character, how they change, and how they grow.

2017 Q&A: What are your biggest challenges with this book?

The biggest challenge is finding time as it is with any book.  Writing is my passion, but it’s also something I do when I can make the time.  My business interests require a good deal of my attention, so that comes first and writing comes second.  I guess another big challenge has been the depth of this novel.  It’s a pretty intricate storyline; there’s a lot going on in this book, and it takes time to lay everything out in the book.  There are a lot of characters involved, and they all have to be developed.  Having said all this, the book is progressing nicely.  I’m happy with what I’ve done with it so far, and I’m very excited to get it completed, perhaps later this year.  I think it’s going to be very well received by the readers.  Not only does it have elements of a good drama, but I am working in a murder and plenty of mystery as well.

2017 Q&A: Tell us about the protagonist for your upcoming book.

The central figure in Gems & Jewels is Jarrod Van Kliem.  The story starts out with him returning to Orlando from Congo Free State where he had successfully settled labor unrest among workers with his family’s company, Jewel Enterprises.  He’s treated a bit like a celebrity billionaire businessman, but he is also intensely unpopular with certain elements in the public.  He’s also very unpopular with certain members of his family who are convinced he’s returned to attempt to take over the company.  He’s a bit of a ladies’ man.  He owns a jai alai froton, among other business interests.  He has a very close and powerful inner circle which protects him, advises him, and does the dirty work from time to time.  He can be ruthless, and he certainly has a dark side but by all accounts he’s fair and decent.  Is he the good guy or is he the bad guy?  The readers will have to decide based on what they learn about him in Book II.

2017 Q&A: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Both.  I’m very blessed that I’ve been given the gift to write books that keep people entertained.  It’s not an easy task to sit down and put together a storyline and then write the novel.  It’s truly an art, and as with any artist, you have to be gifted.  At the same time, it can be a curse.  I’ve spent many a sleepless night trying to work through problems I’ve created for myself in a manuscript and countless hours fretting over getting the manuscript completed.  And I’ve frustrated myself to no end when I’ve sat down and tried to write but it just wasn’t working for me.  I’ve said before that you have to be in the right frame of mind to write your best; you can’t force it.  You just have to let it happen, yet I’ve sad looking at the blank computer screen and tried to force it because I wanted so much to keep moving the project along.  You’re cursed in that you have high expectations for yourself, and if the book doesn’t turn out the way you want or doesn’t live up to your expectations or those of your readers, you’re very hurt and frustrated.  You’re cursed in that you never feel the book is good enough, and you strive to make the next book better.  So, I think it’s both a gift and a curse.  Is this why so many artists and writers kill themselves?

2017 Q & A: You were a supporter of Donald Trump, what is your opinion on the job he is doing thus far?

I think President Trump is doing a great job thus far, given he’s only been in office a number of weeks.  He is laying the groundwork to do exactly what he promised to do on the campaign trail. He has rolled back a number of Obama’s executive orders.  He has selected a great candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Scalia.  He has put together an impressive cabinet comprised of individuals with political, military and most importantly real-world business experience.  These people aren’t just more bureaucrats.  These are people who have built and run successful businesses.  They’ve led men and women in the military.  So, overall I think the cabinet is going to prove very successful in helping forward the agenda that the President laid out.  I am still very pleased to see him taking on the media.  In fact, I would almost prefer that he not have press conference but instead get his message out to the people via on-going campaign rallies.  I think it’s great that he has been meeting with business leaders to hear their concerns and get their input and ideas.   This is what great leaders do.  They surround themselves with good people and get the input from various stakeholders.  He’s making progress on tax reform proposals, border security, trade, job creation, and immigration reform.  These are all things that were totally neglected over the last eight years that have resulted in the mess we have here in America—low growth, high unemployment (if you look at the real numbers), unsafe borders, high taxes and the list goes on.  Time will tell if he will be able to make a huge difference, but at least he’s continuing to talk about the issues and making an effort to address them.  I think we’ll see good things happening in the future.

2017 Q & A: You were a regular participant in the Thinking Outside The Boxe Symposium until this year. Why is that?

I was invited to participate in Thinking Outside the Boxe’s annual symposium and their champagne summits over the holidays, and I did attend the event.  In fact, I did participate in the panels on a limited basis this year but the transcripts of my comments will not be released per an agreement made between my counsel and counsel for Thinking Outside the Boxe.  This may change in the future.