Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Special Weekend Writer's Feature: Larry Kaplan

Today I'm happy to introduce Larry Kaplan, who's stopping by on his blog tour to promote his new release, House of Ghosts. And at the end of this interview you'll find details on how to win his book! Here's a blurb to whet your reader's appetite:

Imagine that Raymond Chandler wrote The Winds of War and you can begin to understand why House of Ghosts is such different and compelling detective story. Detective Joe Henderson is the modern incarnation of Philip Marlowe--hard boiled, hard drinking, hard loving, delightfully cynical, offering wry observations of life in the age of Starbucks.

The tale begins in the sweltering summer of 2000 when Preston Swedge, an alcoholic recluse and World War II veteran, has died in Westfield, New Jersey. At his estate sale, retired local police detective Joe Henderson discovers a 1944 diary describing a rogue attempt by a Jewish-American pilot named Paul Rothstein to drop his bombs on Auschwitz's killing complex where nearly 300,000 captives were about to be murdered.

With the fortitude of a Maccabean zealot and the patriotism of an American freedom fighter Rothstein had set out to defy his commanders who had prohibited any attempt to save Jewish lives. Joe Henderson's curiosity launches him on a crusade for the truth and a shocking revelation when he tracks down the last living witness who can solve the mystery of why the raid never happened.

Epic in its breadth, House of Ghosts sweeps effortlessly from contemporary Westfield, New Jersey to the Princeton University of 1939, and on to the aerial battle above Italy and Poland in 1944. Along the way you'll meet up with notables such as Charles Lindbergh, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., General Fulgencio Batista, and Alina Gilbert, the exotic dancer who helps to make this the hottest summer on record.

Larry, welcome to Allie's Musings. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I graduated from the NYU College of Dentistry in 1979, completed a residency at the Mt. Sinai Hospital, NYC and have been in solo practice practice since 1983. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with my wife Anne, two dogs, four cats, and a parrot named Boeing. Michelle and Richard are my children from my first marriage.

I grew up in a middle class section of Union, New Jersey with my parents, Jack and Selda and older brother, Ron. A child of the 1950s, I played punch ball in the street, didn’t go to camp, and didn’t talk back. It was a world where kids rode their bikes to get where they needed to go, mothers stayed home, and no one had two cars. And most important, people gave a damn about each other.

My dad was a dental technician; this inspired me to go into dentistry. So, in 1979, I graduated NYU's College of Dentistry, then completed a dental residency at Mount Sinai Hospital, NYC. I stayed in Jersey, opened my dental practice, and lived the life of a successful suburban doctor. That could have been the whole story of my life. But that wasn't the way it turned out.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

I’ve been blessed or cursed with a fertile imagination and have never faced dealing with writer’s block. I have more plots than time to write with three manuscripts currently under construction. My problem is when writing a novel, I lapse into the motor-mouth mode and have to edit and re-edit, paring out the extraneous.

Describe your writing space...

My desk isn’t sterile. It looks completely disorganized, but as hard as it is to believe, I can find everything at a moment's notice as long as the moment is extended and stretched. Being locked in an undisclosed location doesn’t work. Occasionally, I’ll shift to the porch and hang out with the cats.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Unfortunately, my writing career to this point hasn’t allowed me to give up my day job. Running a full-time dental practice and dealing with the detritus of daily life fills out my calendar. Anne and I are active in a number of community organizations that pinch into our off hours. Living in the “country” two minutes from the Delaware river affords plenty of recreation choices. Last but least, the four legged “kids” filter into the mix and my big-mouth parrot is never short on demanding shoulder time.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

I’m not interested in writing the run of the mill mystery. Anyone can murder a character, commit the most heinous crimes, and live an alter-ego existence. While the Joe Henderson mystery series carries many of the same characters, different issues are examined—historical, medical, and political. Contrary to my mother’s opinion that she has the two smartest boys, I spend an inordinate amount of time researching a topic. I find it amazing that I can conceive, do the research, and cobble the bits together. Maybe my mother is right after all.

What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?

I’ll be fifty-seven in July and that puts me on the cusp, no dental pun intended, of being an old geezer. I don’t watch a lot of movies, but do tune in Turner Classics on the cable. The flicks of Bogart and Gable, tough guys doing right in the end somehow filter into my writing. The war picture Twelve O’clock High with Gregory Peck played into the House of Ghosts character Paul Rothstein.

Larry, thanks so much for being here today. Is there anything else you'd like to mention?

Writing is tough. It is a full boar commitment, filled with promise, joy, anticipation, and rejection. I’ve learned not to take things personally, to put the rejection slips in the folder marked “dumb bastards” and to keep at it.

Readers, I hope you've enjoyed today's peek into Larry Kaplan's world. For a chance to win an autographed copy of his novel, go to his tour webpage and enter this PIN: 3738. And have a great day!

1 comment:

itsamystery said...

Thanks for sharing. Your last comment "don't take anything personally" is golden! Keep writing - it sounds like a wonderful passion for you.