Q and A
Q: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
ROB: When I was seven years old I dreamed of either becoming a writer or playing right field for the Mets. Once I realized I couldn’t hit a curve ball, I focused on the writing. As a kid, when the weather wasn’t accommodating to hang out with my friends, I’d often spend a rainy or snowy day sitting on the floor in the my bedroom in Queens making up little stories in those old black and white composition books.
Q: What is your favorite part of writing?
ROB: The limitless potential. You can be a great actor but some of your films will bomb. You can be a great singer or songwriter but not every tune you come up with will be a hit. You can be a talented ballplayer but you’ll still fail seven out of ten times. I’ve always believed that with writing the only limit you have is that of your own mind. And really, that is limitless. To me, there is no better feeling than sitting down when you’re starting a novel and wondering where you will take it as well as where it will end up taking you.
Q: What is your biggest surprise about the business?
ROB: When I signed my first contract with a publisher, I related the information to a friend of mine who is a well-known author. She told me, “Congratulations on becoming a writer. Now you’ll have a lot less time to write.” No one likes to admit it. I sure didn’t. But writing, like everything else, is a business, one that is constantly changing and evolving.
Q: Who have been your biggest writing influences?
ROB: There are numerous authors who are extremely talented and exceedingly gifted. I'm a big-time fan of Michael Connelly, C J Box, James Grippando, Tess Gerritsen, Barry Eisler, Lisa Scottoline, Brad Thor, Archer Mayor, Linwood Barclay, Brian Freeman, Linda Castillo and the timeless works of Ed McBain. But as far as influencing me personally I’d have to say Vince Flynn. As embarrassing as this is to admit I never used to read. Then I came across Mr. Flynn's “Memorial Day” and got hooked. Sure, the writing, the prose, the characters, the plot twists and turns, were all flawless. But what I found most influential to me—what resonated with me personally--was the fact that he never gave up on his dream and went after it full throttle. To me that was more inspiring than any thriller a novelist could create.
Q: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
ROB: W. Somerset Maugham once said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” One school of thought is write what you know. Granted, if you're a lawyer you have an advantage if you’re writing a legal thriller. If you come from a medical background you have a step up writing a medical thriller. But personally, I’ve never bought into that. That’s like saying you can't write a murder mystery unless you’ve actually murdered someone. Or that you can't write a science fiction novel unless you’ve travelled to other planets. I think it’s critical to write what you feel comfortable with and where you feel your strengths are.
While I was trying to get published and the rejection letters were coming in day after day, a friend suggested I should write a zombie novel because they're popular. That’s not me. Sure, maybe I could. But it would be forced. My heart wouldn’t be in that genre and that would not only translate into my story but would also be evident to my fans. You have to be true to yourself but also true to your fans.
And even though it’s a cliché, if you want to write you must read. Early on I had never believed that but it is true. The more you read the better you write.
Q: What’s next?
ROB: Currently I’m promoting my two current novels, “Plain God” and "Sacrificing the Pawn," both released through Black Opal Books. My publisher also offered me a tw0-book deal on my latest manuscripts. One is a standalone titled "Punching at Fog" and the second id another story involving Detectives Frank Grace and Michelle Santana, the same recurring characters from "Sacrificing the Pawn." I'm extremely excited about sharing these two with my fans. In early 2018, I'll also be querying potential literary agents on another Grace/Santana novel titled "Lyon's Den."