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This week has been a series of hot, hot days. I am so glad to be able to leave this state, transport down to Florida to pick up this week’s featured author. We’re off to New York City and the famous Algonquin Hotel at 59 West 44th Street in the heart of Manhatten. Built in 1902, the Algonquin has been a standard for luxury and comfort for decades. They’ve recently remodeled with some contemporary modernity, but have kept their classic look. If you’ve never been here, it’s amazing. We’re lounging in some low chairs, sipping drinks (which aren’t cheap, by the way). Tall wooden support columns line the room and provide semi-privacy for our interview.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I’m embarrassed by the second part of your question so I’ll answer the first part first. I’m a novelist, more a storyteller of mysteries and thrillers. I enjoy comedy and generally add comic relief to my stories, especially in 666 Kendall Drive, a short story about a landlord dealing with tenants. The story is mostly true so for me it was a horror story.
As far as fascinating, I’m a big star in the Lichtenberg household!
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
Outside of my family and close friends very few people know I was an IRS agent in my other life. There, it’s out of the bag!
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as an international oil magnate?
From an early age I enjoyed telling stories. I started with fibs mostly to get out of trouble with my parents. When I began reading mysteries around age seventeen, I was intrigued and thought I could write stories. Only it took years before I built up enough courage.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
Honestly there are so many. I love talking shop with mystery writers. But if I had one choice, I think it would be Edgar Allan Poe, the undisputed “Father” of the Detective Story. I really would love to know what made him tick.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
I’ve been told that my books are page turners with fast chapters and plenty of twists and turns. In fact, one reader emailed me after reading Hunter’s World on his flight fromMiamito LA. He enjoyed the flight.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
Oh, boy rewrites! We’ll get back to that. My writing style is a bit unorthodox in that I generally don’t use an outline. When I come up with an idea, I work through the beginning and end in my head. Sure I make notes but nothing formal.
Since I don’t do series books, my characters are always built around the story rather than the other way around. With Hunter’s World, which deals with a small town, I needed to explore the type of people that live there without producing a stereotype figure. I read books and visited small towns onLong Island.
In Double Trouble, which deals with twins separated at birth, I researched (I Google all the time) the biological and environmental differences. In the story, one twin is a detective and the other a hit man for the mob, so I needed to draw on the physical similarities as well as their separate upbringing.
I usually start writing when my coffee is brewing and work as long as I feel productive. Sometimes it lasts all day. On occasion, I feel stifled and call it a day after an hour or two.
Now back to the rewrites. It’s a slow and tedious process. Surely, for me, it’s the worst part of the job. But then I review the end product and know it was worth it.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Sure. There are certain tenets writers need to follow. But when an idea surfaces the writer should follow his/her instincts. Think how your story will begin and end, which point of view, that is who is telling the story? Murder mysteries are pretty straightforward: murder victim, police procedure, apprehension of the killer (maybe). Sometimes flashbacks are good as in my next novel Murder 1040.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
I’ve learned over the years that life is finite. We can either be positive or negative. We either feel sorry for ourselves because our plans aren’t panning out the way we wanted: work, relationships, etc.( Double Trouble brings this out big time). But negativity only digs one deeper into the ground. It’s exhausting! I try balancing the good with the bad, and in the end, realize life is pretty good.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
Writing is a passion. Why would I give that up? I actually have several projects in the works. I mentioned Murder 1040. For those who have to file tax returns, I think you’ll get the idea of the story. I just completed a mystery farce set inSouth Florida, a mix of Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard, which deals with Medicare fraud, pill clinics and a Ponzi scheme.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
They can start by visiting my website at fredlichtenberg.com.
I’m on Facebook.com/fredlichtenberg.
And on Twitter @fredlichtenberg
Double Trouble is now available as an e-reader ($3.99) at the following link:
Double Trouble softcover ($12.99) – Link at https://www.createspace.com/3844245
Hunter’s World, is now an e-book ($3.99) at http://www.amazon.com/Hunters-World-ebook/dp/B008CP0ZS2/
And please, Google me!