What is your greatest achievement?
I like to think I’m a decent and respectful human being.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
Really, to entertain people with a solid story and work in some ideas or questions that people can think about and take away.
What do you do to get away from it all?
Watch baseball. I continue to learn French and Spanish. I travel when I can. I have a wonderful wife whom I have no desire to get away from.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You’ll be sorry you asked…..
I’m frequently asked how I first got published, and there’s a wonderful story therein involving Robert Ludlum & James Baldwin and I’ll use this as an excuse to tell it.
As you know, Ludlum and Baldwin were huge literary stars from the sixties well up to the 1990's. Ludlum is such a big star that he continues to write thrillers after his 2005 death. But this space is not about that.......... These two men helped get me published, but not in the way you think. They didn't even know they were doing it. And I didn't either.
My first agent represented Mr. Baldwin at the time. This was in 1974. Baldwin, while a brilliant writer, had had some nasty dealings with the head of Dell Publishing. Dell held Jimmy's contract and he could not legally write for anyone else until he gave Dell a book that was under contract. He refused and went to Paris to sit things out.
The book was due to The Dial Press, which Dell owned. Baldwin was widely quoted as saying....and I'm cleaning up the quote here, that he was “no longer picking cotton on The Dell plantation."
The editor of The Dial Press was a stellar editor who was making a name for himself and a good bit of money for the company publishing thriller-author Robert Ludlum. Anyway, Baldwin fled New York for Paris. The editor followed, the assignment being to get him to come happily back to Dial.
As soon as the editor arrived, Baldwin fled to Algeria. Or maybe Tunisia. It hardly mattered because Baldwin was furious and simply wouldn't do a book for Dell/Dial. The editor returned to NY without his quarry. Things were at a standstill.