Sunday, March 14, 2010

Author Q&A with John McMullen, "The Inwood Book"

Meet John McMullen

John F. McMullen, "johnmac the bard", is a poet, author, journalist, technologist, college professor, consultant, and denizen of cyberspace. He is a graduate of Iona College and holds two Masters degrees from Marist College. He was an executive of two major Wall Street firms, an officer of three consulting firms (including his own), and has taught at NYU, The New School for Social Research, Marist College, Westchester Community College, and Monroe College. The title poem of his first poetry collection, "Cashing A Check," won third place in the 2009 Writer's Place National Poetry Contest. "Cashing A Check" was followed by three more collections, "Writing In My Head," the chapbook, "With A Chip On My Shoulder," and "New and Collected Poems". He is the author of "The Inwood Book", an omnibus containing poems, short stories and a novel, "Offering It Up", and the co-author of "Microcomputer Communications - A Window on the World" and was a contributor (with Esther Dyson, Ray Bradbury, William F. Buckley, Jr, Thom Hartmann, Steve Wozniak, John D. MacDonald, and many others) to the well-ahead-of-its-time "Digital Deli," the author of over 1,500 news stories, articles, columns, and academic papers, and the editor of "Web 2.0 The Magazine." He also maintains a blog, “johnmac’s rants”. He is a native of the Inwood section of Manhattan Island and resides in Jefferson Valley, NY, with his wife Barbara E. McMullen, an educator and entrepreneur. He may be reached at and at Facebook and on Twitter.

About “The Inwood Book”

The novel portion of “The Inwood Book," “Offering It Up” had been running around in my head for over seven years. I began to get serious about it when I began to write poetry. Both were a departure for me as all of my published writing had been non-fiction about technology. A lot of my poetry revolved around the New York City Irish Catholic / Jewish neighborhood, of my youth, the same setting for the novel, so they fed each other. Once I completed the novel, it made sense to make it part of a “package” with the poems about the neighborhood and some short stories also Inwood-centered.

How did you get your start in writing?

I’ve been writing all my life. I wrote a piece in the seventh grade about Joe DiMaggio that was so good that the teacher accused me of copying from a sports magazine. In sophomore year in high school; I put myself in the first person of Joseph of Arimethia to turn a boring religious assignment into a short story and I was a sports columnist for the high school paper. I got sidetracked in college by beer and basketball and by the fact that I couldn’t type (I still can’t). After college, I spent 20 years in the Information Technology field, writing only business memos. It was only after starting my own consulting business, building a name as an expert with microcomputers, and latching on to an Apple II (allowing me to type, mistype, and edit) that I was able to write for publication when I was asked to do a piece for Popular Computing Magazine. This piece led to fifteen hundred articles, columns, and news stories. I never made enough writing “to pay the rent” but it was always the portion of my professional life that enjoyed the most -- I covered computer crime cases, trials, a suspected murder related to high-tech theft and wrote a lot of opinion pieces. Now, I’m trying to make writing my primary career (my son is a Hollywood screenwriter who has never done anything else; his success gives me something to shoot at).

What does my writing routine look like?

It’s too haphazard to be called a routine. I always have notebooks and my iTouch and T-Mobile G1 with me so ideas or full poems get written down immediately. I spend a lot of time at my local Barnes and Noble and usually have a Netbook with me and write quite a lot there. At home, my primary computer is a Macintosh – so the most current material is always on a USB drive around my neck for transfer to whatever computer that I’m about to use. – the USB also serves as a backup for the work. I don’t yet have a regimented schedule for writing – and I know I should. When I interviewed Mary Higgins Clark years ago, she told me that she got up at six each morning and wrote until lunchtime and Stephen King, in his wonderful “On Writing”, posits the need for a routine – so I know I should have one; I just haven’t gotten there yet.

Tell us some writers whose work you admire and why:

I read a great deal and admire many writers for different reasons. Ray Kurzweil and the late Pierre Teilhard de Chardin boggle my mind because they are so bright and their brilliance comes through in everything they write. I love the way that Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin turn a phrase. Andrew Greeley’s ear for language is an inspiration to someone writing about “neighborhood people” while the bizarre humor of a Christopher Moore, Tom Robbins, or Christopher Buckley cracks me up and the tight dialogue of Robert Parker or Elmore Leonard is to be admired. Finally, I read a lot of mysteries and really enjoy Lawrence Block, Max Allan Collins. Linda Fairstein, Robert K. Tannenbaum (really his ghostwriter), Patricia Cornwall, Michael Connolly, Sara Paretsky, Ed McBain / Evan Hunter, Dorothy Sayers, Robert Crais, Kathy Reichs, Jeffrey Deaver, and Sue Grafton. – I could go on; when I’m reading mysteries, I usually do one or more a day; I’m very lucky that I read very rapidly (unlucky that I spend more on books than many small town libraries).

What are you working on next?

I have some poems in the safe, I’ve begun a sequel to “Offering It Up, and I’ve outlined some short stories that, depending on the timing, will either stand alone or be packaged with the novel.

What challenges did you face with this book?

Getting serious enough to write enough to let the characters take over and finish it for me. Hopefully, that will not be a problem with the sequel.

1 comment:

Art - Dr Jan White said...

Hi John - love your site - intend to buy one of your books and do some more reading!