What inspired you to write?
I love stories, and I love language. Communication is one of the noblest qualities of humanity. At a young age, I found that I could express myself through writing. At first through poetry and then stories. The part I liked best was knowing I could infuse the writing with my personality. Writers, just like artists, seek to share their vision. We pass through this world once (as far as we know), and what's better than leaving behind the distillation of our thought and vision? Writing gives the individual a shot at immortality. Hallelujah!
Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
The inspiration came after an elementary school writing assignment,"My Summer Vacation." I thought something had to be better than this. During my school years, I continued with poetry and ventured into journalism, becoming an award-winning journalist. Later in life, I joined a writing group. Every week I brought a poem or two for a critique. It took the group five minutes to listen and give me feedback. Then I listened to their chapters for the remaining two and half hours. To redress the imbalance, I decided to write a book so they would listen to my chapters.
How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
First, I decided who my protagonist was. Then, in my mind, I developed a generalized plot. The progression and details were molded by my imagination and research.
Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
Art proceeds from within.
What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
The creativity and research. My action/adventure series, based on the Benny Goldfarb character, uses Latin American countries as settings. I enjoy the vicarious travel, cultures, foods and language that appear in the books.
Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
I noticed my height diminished by an inch from prolonged sitting at the computer.
What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Nothing really gets in the way of my creativity. The issue is not knowing exactly what your character will do next. I find that beginning the session with research opens the door to the process of writing.
What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
If the criticism is reasonable, I embrace it. I believe that criticism is like market research. Knowing other people's thoughts about your product can only help you in producing a better product. The more a point of view is shared by critics, the more I am compelled to listen and act. If the criticism is not reasonable, I ignore it.
Have you received any accolades for your books?
My children's book, "We're All Nuts!" received a great review from the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. The story is about a peanut who discovers he is not a nut, but a legume. He would rather be a nut. The peanut has a crisis of self-acceptance but comes to a happy conclusion.
Tell us more about yourself. Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up in the Catskill Mountains, Jeffersonville, New York. Not far from my house was a creek. In the winter, the creek would freeze over. But often the ice was not thick enough to support my weight. My cousin lived on the other side of the creek. If I wanted to visit him, I had to decide whether to take the long way around or to take the short-cut, crossing the creek. I would test the ice with one foot while the other remained planted on the bank. Then the moment of decision: step onto the ice or go around. Most of the time my feet would plunge through the ice and cold water filled my boots. When I returned home, my mother would say, "Oh, Howard, not another wet foot." For some reason, the defeats never stopped me from trying next time. I savored the few victories. I guess the lesson is I never let ice cold water keep me from taking a chance. The line between determination and stupidity is very thin.
Do you have a favorite quote?
My favorite quote is from my mother. "Howie, boy, there's no time like the present."
What is your favorite show on TV?
Blues Brothers and Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Edgar Allan Poe, short stories and poems
Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Is there a talent you wish you had?
Sailing a boat against the wind.
What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I enjoyed a very successful career in sales.
Describe yourself in 3 words!
Curious, humorous, grateful