Bridge Across the Ocean Author Q&A

1) What surprised you the most in your research for this book?
How many cyclists are killed in accidents with cars. It’s like almost a thousand each year, just in the US. Losing a friend of a friend inspired me to write this novel, and I dedicated it to him and to all the lost souls run down by cars and trucks. Two people were killed, days apart, in the town next to mine just two weeks ago. That’s why I’m donating the 100% of book’s proceeds to the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition and its cycling safety programs.

2) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Def a plotter when it comes to the story, but also a pantser when it comes to character development. I recognize them as people and let them go and do what they want to go and do. Sometimes I’m even surprised by that.

3) How do you handle writer’s block?
I don’t have it, don’t believe in it, and would never surrender to it.

4) Can you describe your writing space and writing style/ritual?
I have two. My home office in Lexington, Mass is decorated in Southwest style. I have a beautiful handmade desk from New Mexico, a gift from my mother. A sofa for naps. Books everywhere. Lots of personal memorabilia on the walls. A favorite photo of five New Hampshire cyclists, circa the 1930s, all wearing mustaches and knickerbocker pants — and one of them is smoking a cigarette! I keep novel notes on my phone. I write at all times of the day and night. I’ll let a first draft gestate for as long as a year before I begin a revision. I revise at least three times. Bridge was revised and reconfigured over ten years. I ended up with a manuscript 118,000 in length – too long for a commercial novel, but I couldn’t figure out how to cut it down myself. So I asked Tori Merkle, my associate editor to do it. She shortened it to 86,000 words. It turned out beautifully.

5) What was your favorite part and least favorite part of the publishing journey?
I lovelovelove to write. I also enjoy revising. I don’t enjoy anything about maintaining social media platforms, except for blogging.

6) How long have you been a writer and reader?
I would have to say my whole life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing or reading. It’s a great pleasure these days to write book reviews every other week on JackBoston.com, and doing so actually interests people enough that they subscribe.

7) What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?
In 1973, while working my way through college as a handyman, I cut off the better ends of three fingers in a power saw accident. But I can still type!

8) What do you love most about this book?
How Jed and Jung-Shan struggled to overcome so many obstacles to their falling in love. I was reading aloud a passage about them to my wife’s ladies’ luncheon last week and it made me cry — me, the one who wrote it!!

9) What is next?
A bit of a crazed story about two outliers who incongruously meet and end up joining together to save the earth from certain destruction.

10) What advice would you give to new writers?
Write, write, write, the best is yet to come. Revise, revise, revise, for this is how you layer your work with texture and meaning. I love reading a first novel for its spirited accomplishment, then a later work by the same author, seeing how much they have learned about the art and the craft of writing.