Jack Engelhard: From Indecent Proposal To The Girls Of Cincinnati

Jack EnglehardAuthor Jack Engelhard is probably best-known for his international bestselling novel Indecent Proposal, which was made into the blockbuster movie of the same name starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore.

Indecent Proposal has sold over 4 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 22 languages. Jack is also receiving inquiries from different movie studios interested in a re-make of Indecent Proposal.

Jack’s career spans nearly five decades, starting out as a young newspaper reporter in his 20s, then to writing plays, then on to novels, where he made his mark with multiple bestsellers.

Now with millions of fans and millions of books sold, he is considered one of the true masters of the craft.

Jack Engelhard Interview

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Books by Jack Engelhard

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Jack Engelhard Transcript

Tim Knox: Jack, welcome to the program.

Jack Engelhard: My pleasure being here, Tim.

Tim Knox: I’m very excited to have you here. I mentioned on the pre-call I am a fan of your work. I’m really interested in hearing what you have to say. Before we get into it though if you will, just give the audience a little background on you.

Jack Engelhard: Well that will take all day. Of course that’s why I write books so I don’t have to tell people the story orally. Gee whiz. I come from all over the place and settled in New Jersey awhile back and began writing journalism in my 20’s and a little while later I began writing plays then novels. It’s a long story but basically that’s it. I’m a journalist and a novelist. I’m an American novelist, very proud of that, good family and we do the best we can.

Tim Knox: Very good. If you don’t mind let’s kind of go back to the beginning. Were you always a writer? Is that always what you wanted to do?

Jack Engelhard: Yeah I think so. Those who much can’t do anything else become writers. I became attracted to writing very early, although to some people it’s called late. I’d say my early 20’s. That’s pretty early. I found that journalism was the way to get in but I do have journalism in my blood though after all because you automatically have to have that interest. You’re always asking questions when you’re a journalist. So it’s easy to transfer that interest into writing novels. Though they both kind of work simultaneously.

Tim Knox: Right. Did you write as a young man, a younger man?

Jack Engelhard: Before that, yeah I think I did. The first story I wrote was Cincinnati, Ohio where I was living for about 10 years, a quiet little town. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. I wrote a short piece. I was very young. I may have been 19 or 20. My parents had just come over from Europe, from the worst kind of hell, and they had voted for the first time. I thought let me try to write a story on that and I did. I beat up a little typewriter that we used in those days.

My friend said, “Why don’t you take this over to the Cincinnati Enquirer,” and I did. I was shocked. The guy, the editor said, “Hey, go ahead. We’ll publish this.” It was 700 words and the first thing I ever wrote got published. I said to myself, “Oh this is easy.” Little did I know when you embark on a career as a writer, boy, there’s going to be lots and lots and lots of downs.

Tim Knox: Exactly. Now at what point did you go into journalism?

Jack Engelhard: Soon after that. I came through the east, New York, Philadelphia then New York, and I began to write for small newspapers and then I was picked up by a large one, the Philadelphia Enquirer. For quite a few years I began writing an op-ed column and large features, very long mini-books. Before that my journalism was really the hard stuff, the front page stuff – covering fires, police work and stuff like that. My interest was always in fiction so writing commentary, writing columns is a form of fiction.

Tim Knox: Exactly and it was good training, wasn’t it?

Jack Engelhard: Oh yeah, no question about that. This is where I disputed Ernest Hemmingway, what he said about journalism, which he did for the Kansas City Star and also the Toronto Star I believe. He said that blunts the instrument for the writer. He was totally wrong because it made him a great writer because he learned to get the reader interested from the very first sentence or paragraph and you learn to write tight. You learn how not to meander around.

When you’re writing a news story for the newspaper you’re not going to start going off into all kinds of different areas. You’re going to get right to the point. So that applies to fiction writing as well, at least the kind of writing that I like.

Tim Knox: Right and I’ve talked to several authors who have been around for a while and actually got their start in writing in newspapers and a couple of them – I think Stephen Hunter was one of them – were talking about back before the internet came around. The news print was actually a place where authors could go and get their stories published and the quality of the writers was very impressive for the time, don’t you think?

Jack Engelhard: Definitely, definitely. There’s a whole strain of that in New York. Some of the greatest novelists, that we call novelists today, began as writers for New York’s newspapers – New York Daily News, New York Post. They went on to write some of the greatest novels of the current generation. So there’s nothing that beats it. To me, that would be my first word of advice is to go get a job writing journalism.

First of all, it teaches you to adhere to a deadline. If you can’t be principled about your writing you’ll never get it done. In journalism you know that at a certain moment in fact you got to get that story done. So the same thing applies to writing.

When I began writing all my novels, all 9 or 10 of them, even though when I didn’t have a deadline I would impose one upon myself and say, look, by 9 o’clock tonight you’ve got to have six pages done. That all comes from the journalism.

Tim Knox: That’s exactly what Hunter said. I don’t know if you know Stephen.

Jack Engelhard: I know about him, yeah.

Tim Knox: He was a film critic primarily but even when he’s writing books he said he imposes that deadline on himself just like he was still back writing for the paper.

Jack Engelhard: That’s totally correct and without that discipline I don’t know how some writers manage to just write whenever they feel like it. I don’t think that’s possible to do that because you’ll never get it done. I lived in Greenwich Village for about four years and there are many writers who you’ll never hear about because… we all used to get together at the coffee houses and how many times have I heard, “Oh yeah, one day I’ll start that novel”? The guy who says that, forget about it. It’s never going to happen. If the guy shuts up and goes home and starts writing, that’s the guy who writes a novel.

Tim Knox: You said you were always attracted to fiction. What was the first book that you wrote that you attempted to get published and were you successful with that book?

Jack Engelhard: Interesting you say that. I want to see if I can get this real short. This book has just been republished. All my books are being republished by… I got Paul Rabinowitz, a wonderful publisher at DayRay Publishing. Every single book that I ever wrote is in his hands and he’s republished about 80% of them, most recently the one that you’re mentioning. It’s called The Girls of Cincinnati.

It’s a novel I wrote as a very young guy who had just had a terrific romance with the Bell of Cincinnati, a gorgeous woman there. I was about 22 at the time, 23. I left heartbroken and came to live in the east as I said. I began writing this novel at the same time that I was doing my journalism. It was a novel, one of those novels you write that’s painful but it’s straight from the heart. I loved writing it. It was one of those novels you write literally sweating.

I kept working on it for years. I never wanted to lose that innocence of the writing when you’re young. When you get to be older you get to know all the tricks. Another writer will always spot those tricks and you don’t want to do that. You want to keep that freshness you had when you were young and you were still passionate. So I didn’t mess with it too much.

In other words I wrote that novel how many years ago? I don’t even want to know but many years ago and I finally handed it Paul and he republished it and it’s on sale right now on Amazon.

Tim Knox: That’s amazing. You wrote that a number of years ago. Do you look at it now as an older, more seasoned writer and are you tempted to change it?

Jack Engelhard: No, no. I say to myself I wish I could recapture that purity, that innocence. I made a point not to sophisticate it. I made it a point not to make it more current. I kept it as is. I may have made 0.5-1% changes. The Girls in Cincinnati is pretty much the way I wrote it, all the love and the heartbreak and the thrills and the horror of it. I mean it also has to do with pursuing these lovers and it gets very dangerous.

It’s fiction but at the base every work of fiction has strong elements of truth in it. There’s no such thing as total fiction. Something happened.

Tim Knox: Right. There were moments of truth. I think the one thing I love about this is it’s almost like there’s this innocence of youth air about the book.

Jack Engelhard: That’s exactly right and that’s why I was very careful over the years never to tamper too much with it. I did tamper with one thing. I called it originally by another title but it had already been used sort of by a movie and I figured we don’t want to do that. It does take place in Cincinnati. It’s also a novel about the town, a novel about the Midwest.

Also at that time it was an area of American innocence. From Montreal, where I was living before that, walking into Cincinnati was like walking into Ozzie and Harriet neighborhood. It was all American all the way, Cincinnati Reds and all of that. You left your car doors unlocked. Every street was safe and people said, “Howdy” to you on the street. I loved the town. It became kind of the focal point. It became a character in the novel too.

Tim Knox: Right. Now did you get an agent to sell that book for you? What was your process to publish?

Jack Engelhard: I’m trying to remember because throughout my career I’ve been off and on with agents. I may not have had an agent for that, no. No, I had an agent for other books of mine but not for that one. Girls in Cincinnati is my baby. Others may say other novels of mine are better. I don’t know; let them say what they want but Girls in Cincinnati will always be my special little baby.

Tim Knox: That’s your favorite child.

Jack Engelhard: I think so. If you were going to ask me if it was my best. I don’t know. You talk about children, which is your favorite child.

Tim Knox: It may not be the best one but she’s still your favorite.

Jack Engelhard: Yeah.

Tim Knox: How was it received? Did it sell well initially?

Jack Engelhard: It just came out.

Tim Knox: Oh okay.

Jack Engelhard: Girls in Cincinnati came out like a month ago and Paul has not yet done anything to market it. Nothing’s been done. It’s a brand new girl, a brand new baby.

Tim Knox: Okay. So you’ve had it a while though, right?

Jack Engelhard: Oh yeah. We’re talking decade after decade. I let that simmer because I didn’t want that novel to… I don’t know. Because it’s my first novel I kind of wanted it to be my last novel. It just so happens I’m writing something else now though. Life is funny.

Tim Knox: So you wrote this years and years ago but you never published it until now. That’s my confusion.

Jack Engelhard: There were some experimental things where I sent it out to some publishing. I did it by myself just to get it out there but no, the publishing has just been done now.

Tim Knox: Okay, fantastic. In your early career what was the first novel that you should?

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Jack Engelhard: That would be The Horsemen. It was not a novel. I’ve written two books that are non-fiction. One of them is a memoir called Escape from Mount Moriah and the other one is The Horsemen. That one was very big. The Horsemen is a behind the scenes look. It’s not published now. It’s out of print and will come out sometime in a couple of years again from Paul.

It’s the first book as far as I know that ever went behind the scenes of thoroughbred racing. I talked to 1,000 jockeys and trainers. For a year I learned what that world was all about and it was a very successful book. It got great reviews. The New York Times used an excerpt. They used the entire front page of its sport section. It got great reviews. It didn’t make much money though but it got great reviews.

Tim Knox: Exactly. You’ve kind of crossed genres because you’ve written novels, fiction, non-fiction, a memoir. Do you have a favorite genre? Are you comfortable in all of them?

Jack Engelhard: The critics, the reviewers claimed that my expertise is moral dilemmas where you place your characters in a situation where they have to make more or less life and death decisions and they have to decide which way to go. I don’t intentionally sit down to do that but I got to say it does come out that way. It certainly came out that way for Indecent Proposal which is, people tell me, the ultimate dilemma.

Tim Knox: Well that was. The book as well as the movie asked the age old moral question – what would you do for a million bucks? I find it very interesting. How did you come up with that?

Jack Engelhard: I don’t know. I don’t know. There are many beginnings and I don’t know which one to choose. Is it the beginning where you’re seated at a party as a journalist and seated next to somebody like Donald Trump and you’re not doing well and you feel like leaning over and saying, “Hey Donald, can you lend me a million dollars?” or “Can you give me a million dollars? Why not? You’re worth 12 billion,” just as a joke and you wonder what their reaction might be.

But I don’t know where it began but I was tempted to know what would happen to a happy married couple who were very moral, had very high ethical standards. What would happen to tempt them? Then against that you come up with a billionaire and in the case of Indecent Proposal, the novel… I don’t know whether people know this; the billionaire is a Sultan from an oil rich Middle East country. He’s not Robert Redford.

The couple is more or less in their late 30’s or early 40’s and they suffer middle class malaise, which means you’re not really poor but you’re poor in dreams. Where are you going to go after this? You go to a 9-5 job and it’s not going to get any better. That’s one of the worst things that can happen to life, don’t you think?

Tim Knox: I do.

Jack Engelhard: 30 more years of this and it’s not going to get any better. Along comes a billionaire and you have a gorgeous wife. The thing that fascinates me so much is what happens to someone who’s so wealthy, truly a multi-billionaire where anything can be yours? The only thing that can’t be yours is perhaps the most beautiful woman in the world who’s happily married. So there you have your Indecent Proposal.

Tim Knox: It was a wonderful premise for a book. Talk a little bit if you will because you’ve had a lot of dealings with Hollywood and that sort of thing. What was the experience for you like when they brought Indecent Proposal to the movies?

Jack Engelhard: It was a family experience. I’m a yokel. Believe me, I’ve studied all these other writers who have been to Hollywood and come away very disgusted. I mean Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Chandler, all those guys. I never got that because I’m awed by Hollywood and I go there like a tourist. Everything I did, I did with my family. I have a wife and two kids. My mouth was open all the time saying, “Oh gosh.” It’s like the yokel with the shrub between his teeth. I took everything as a gift. I never came away sour or bitter by the experience. I came away just the opposite, overjoyed.

Tim Knox: I find that really interesting because I’ve interviewed a lot of authors and many of them have had the Hollywood experience and there seems to be two completely different camps. Number one is the camp that walks away soured and ticked off. The other camp is the ones that just enjoyed the process.

Jack Engelhard: Well I think some of them will deny it. I think the chances are better of becoming President of the United States than getting your novel made into a movie. Look at it like this. I think a million books are written each year in the United States. This is not counting the books that have already been written. There are billions of books out there. What are the odds of you selling a book to Hollywood, number one?

Number two, what are the odds of this movie being made? Now you have to realize that there’s such a thing called the development hell. With Indecent Proposal my novel was indeed in development hell for a year or two because with Paramount everything that’s been on the desk to get made gets put into file 13 and this happened to us. We got lucky.

Given development hell… so once Hollywood buys your book the next odds that are against you is never getting it made. Once you get it made the odds are if you get stars and a director that will do it any good. Then once that happens what are the odds of it being a success? Out of the 10,000 movies that are made every year maybe 2% are successful. So, you know, that’s what I mean by a gift. The movie was a tremendous hit here and worldwide and so was the book.

I will say this. The book is different in some respects, in quite a few respects. It’s quite deeper. It opens up a lot of cultural and political questions and the movie only skimmed that part. But that’s Hollywood for you. Their idea is box office. Sometimes a movie can swamp a book but fortunately it helped but there are times when it swamps it. People say, “Oh you wrote Indecent Proposal?” “Yeah.” “Great movie.” “No, no, I wrote the book.”

Tim Knox: Right.

Jack Engelhard: Or people call me and complain about the movie. I’m like shut up. I did not write the movie. Somebody else did that. They hired some writer to do that.

Tim Knox: That’s what I was going to ask you. How was it for you when they take the book and rewrite it into the movie? I had one author tell me, “I didn’t really sell them the book. I sold them a concept and they made it a movie.”

Jack Engelhard: That’s pretty much it. Yeah I think so. I will say that the screenwriter who took my book and took the concept. I’ll say this. She took a lot of knocks. She kept the idea about temptation, sin, regret, forgiveness. I’m missing one element there. Those she kept. Those are from the novel.

I’ll tell you what happened. It was my wife who said, “Don’t be surprised if your rugged, handsome Arab Prince that comes on a shiny white horse and captures the love or he tries to capture the love of a Grace Kelly type women turned into just a white bread character.” I said, “Really?” She said, “Yeah.” Up until that point we were sitting at the kitchen table coming up with names of these kind of Middle Eastern type guys, if you know Armand Assante if you know who he is.

Tim Knox: I do.

Jack Engelhard: And actors like that. We were considering it as if we had anything to do with it, which we didn’t. There were a lot of women who came to mind and that was one thing that kind of knocks me back. I said, “Okay, that’s possible.” Then my agent called me one day and said, “Jack, come on down.” This was in Philadelphia. “I have the script.” I said, “You do? I’m coming right down.” I took the subway, the train down and she said, “You’re going to be disappointed.” “Why?” “They changed a lot.” I read it right there and my wife pretty much had it down. It was what she thought.

A lot of my friends complained like crazy, the ones that read the novel. This was before the movie came out and they said, “I hear Robert Redford is going to be the billionaire.” “Yeah.” “He’s not an Arab Prince and what’s Demi Moore doing and Woody Harrelson? The guy who’s married to the woman is a Jewish war hero, a speech writer. How’d this happen?” “I don’t know what happened. It’s box office.”

Tim Knox: Right so you all of a sudden got the guy from Cheers but he did a great job though.

Jack Engelhard: Yeah, he did a wonderful job and he’s a great guy. We met him. We met all those people in Hollywood and he was particularly a nice guy. He was just a nice guy, the guy from Cheers exactly. I never watched Cheers but he was very good. He got it across I thought. Look, as far as the movie itself, it worked. Everything about the movie clicked so I have no complaints.

Tim Knox: Right, oh yeah. Was that really the biggest sticking point for you when they changed your hero from an Omar Sharif type to a Robert Redford type? Just as long as the check is good. I’ve had other authors tell me that too.

Jack Engelhard: You got it. That’s what I always say. The check cleared.

Tim Knox: How did the success of that book really change things for you, or did it?

Jack Engelhard: Well yeah. Suddenly people know you. When the book came out and it was republished with a movie title or whatever they call it by Pocket Books, they didn’t do it justice. That’s another story we can get in some other time. It began to sell around the world like crazy and a lot of reviews came in and for a while you’re a hero. Everywhere we went people would say, “Hey, there’s the guy who wrote Indecent Proposal.” Indecent Proposal at that time in 1993 was a very hot movie.

Tim Knox: Oh yeah, I remember.

Jack Engelhard: So the book became very hot and for a while there you are, the guy who wrote this book on the kitchen table when you’re sweating with the air conditioner off because you couldn’t afford to pay the air conditioning. Suddenly people are looking at you and saying, “Oh you’re the famous author,” and all that but you know it’s not going to last. For some people it does, Stephen King and others like that. At times there’s lots of success but also plenty of failures. It’s life of an author.

Tim Knox: Right, right and that’s really just the way the business works for most authors.

Jack Engelhard: Yeah. The odds of making it as an author are extremely low. I mean you don’t have a shingle to hang out in front of your door. You’re not going to get paid money automatically. You have to struggle every time and there’s a lot of people in the same business as you are and a lot of it had to do… it may have changed a bit now. You had to be part of the New York in-crowd to get the recognition. If you’re not, you really are starting from scratch.

Tim Knox: The industry and publishing itself has changed quite a bit over the years, especially the past few years with the internet and self-publishing and that sort of thing. What are your thoughts or reflections on how things have changed? Do you think it’s a better time now to be an author?

Jack Engelhard: It’s better and worse. There was a time when there were like 500 or 1,000 different major publishers in New York. Now there are three because they’ve all consolidated, one into the other. The big fish kept swallowing up the small fish. The industry’s very limited for a guy or woman just starting out. That’s the bad part.

The good part is there’s at least 10,000 new indie publishers that sprung up and a lot of publishing is being done online. We’re dealing in a whole different world now and so… okay, my answer would be is it’s better. It is better because it used to be if you hadn’t made it in New York, hadn’t sold your book to say Simon & Schuster you weren’t going to make it. There were always a few small town and University presses but with the consolidation it’s gotten out of the hands of New York.

New York is still the headquarters, yeah, but you no longer have to have the typical published by Random House, reviewed in the New York Times and the New Yorker. There are so many ways around that now because there’s a billion blogs out there. There’s 100,000 book blogs and all that. You can make it now and typically make it longer. You will not get that $15 million advance that Hillary Clinton got but you’re going to make it some other way if you’re good or lucky.

Tim Knox: Exactly. That’s such a good point because even though the internet and the self-publishing has I don’t want to say it’s opened the flood gates but I think it really has for anyone who, and I’m doing air quotes now, is an author – you still have to have the talent and the following to back it up, don’t you?

Jack Engelhard: Well now you can do it because you can develop through Facebook, Twitter. These worlds were not open to you 15 years ago. You really had to go and knock on the doors to get yourself known. You had to literally walk into the newspaper office or whatever and beg for a review or pay for advertising. You get more or less free advertising now if you develop a following on Facebook or Twitter or some of the other social media sites.

So yeah, I think in a way it’s better. The difficulty comes in to separate the strong from the weak. A lot of bad books get published too but then again a lot of bad books get published from the big time houses in New York too.

Tim Knox: That’s true. It is true. Really the reader is still going to decide whether or not a book is worth reading.

Jack Engelhard: Yeah. I’m kind of happy with the fact that books are still being read. Everybody kept saying that the novel is dead, books are dead. Well it’s true bookstores are dead. I think Amazon is now 50% of the market, which I think is a good thing frankly because bookstores were going out of business way before Amazon came along. I think Amazon saved the day actually but that’s another story.

Tim Knox: Right so your catalog you said you’ve got someone else handling it now. Are all of those going to be available digitally?

Jack Engelhard: They are now. I think six of my books have been republished by DayRay Literary Press. They’re all available on Amazon and on Kindle with three more to follow. Girls in Cincinnati and Indecent Proposal is all there beautifully done. The 25th anniversary of Indecent Proposal is now available. My latest novel is well Girls in Cincinnati but also Compulsive, which was published about six months ago.

Tim Knox: Tell us about Compulsive. What’s it about?

Jack Engelhard: Compulsive is about a compulsive gambler who’s being backed up against the wall to produce. He’s also a movie maker and he’s being backed up to pay for his debts by a real bully to make a movie about a… a very radical movie, a very bigoted movie in order to pay his debts. So there’s another moral dilemma. He’s got to pay for parents who are wasting away in a very evil old age home and I did some investigating on that too by the way, what that’s like living in these homes – some of them, some of the nursing homes.

So it is about the mind of a compulsive gambler and since I’m a horse player I know these people and I know what goes on in the mind of a compulsive gambler and I attended some of their meanings and it’s quite a strange world.

Tim Knox: Do you put a lot of yourself in your characters?

Jack Engelhard: Well I think there’s elements of yourself. For example, going back to Compulsive I’m not compulsive but belonging to that world as I have for many years, I certainly when I talk about racing I know what I’m talking about. I know the jockeys. I know the odds. I know all that from experience. I know the pains of being compulsive.

Others who have read the novel… I never saw it like that but some of the reviewers said, “Now wait a minute.” This one reviewer was a compulsive gambler and he wrote a heck of an interesting review. He said, “I loved it. I’m very grateful.” I didn’t know that I had hit a nerve with this guy but others tell me if they’re compulsive with alcohol or drugs, they say it really hits home. I did not write about that. It’s strictly about gambling and people who are compulsive that way can be just as ruinous of themselves and loved ones and all that.

Tim Knox: I think I read somewhere that Indecent Proposal may be remade. Is that true?

Jack Engelhard: Yeah there’s talk of remaking it in the United States. They’re still talking about making it in China and Russia. There’s always talk of that. It’s always in the works. A play is going to be produced in Israel in December.

Tim Knox: Interesting. Did you have a hand in that?

Jack Engelhard: Yeah to the extent that I’m the author with the playwrights and he asked me if he could buy the playwrights to it. I said, “Yeah, go ahead. Do it.” I never met the guy. “You go ahead and do it.” He did it and it’s a whole heartbreaking story how that came about which I don’t think he’d like me to reveal but he fell in love with the novel. There’s personal reasons why he was really absorbed by Indecent Proposal. Something happened to him in his love life where he really connected to Indecent Proposal.

You can tell when a guy’s putting you on but he began by quoting a line from the novel and explained the novel and I said, “Okay, do the play,” and next thing you know four years later it’s being staged.

Tim Knox: Wow so he really had a personal connection, didn’t he?

Jack Engelhard: Yeah, a lot of people do. This guy quit his job as a physician. This guy quit his job and he spent four years to write the play. I had another gentleman who had been working on to make it into… he’s one of the people who wants to make it into a movie, redo it. He has studied the book and these people know it better than I do and I’m not kidding about that. He’s done studies on it. He’s gone to college, read books, just to be able to write the screenplay. I’m amazed. He was a physician. He takes each character of mine and does a whole biographical sketch on it, writing about 100 pages on each character. I said, “My gosh, go for it.”

Tim Knox: Do you ever scratch your head and wonder why they’re doing such a thing?

Jack Engelhard: I’ll tell you something. I’ll be very open with you now. I had to reread Indecent Proposal because when Paul Rabinowitz was going to republish it I had to reread it for typos because he’s very strict on that. There were a few. I was surprised at how damned good it was. It really ripped my heart. There’s a lot in there that’s really brutally honest that I began to say to myself, “Who wrote this thing?” So I’m not surprised.

Tim Knox: Now if you don’t mind let’s talk a little in the couple of minutes that we have left about your process. Do you still write every day?

Jack Engelhard: Yeah, I do.

Tim Knox: What are you working on currently?

Jack Engelhard: I said to myself I’m never going to write anything ever again but the idea popped into my mind. I said I’m going to write something that only runs about 50 pages, not a novel. Call it what you want but I’m going to just do it and I’m going to write in about three weeks. That’s what I plan to do. It has to do with a TV personality. I’ll say that and that’s it.

Tim Knox: Okay, we’ll just have to wait for the book.

Jack Engelhard: Yeah.

Tim Knox: That is one of the nice things about the way the business is now. You can write a book and be selling it within a month, can’t you?

Jack Engelhard: Definitely. Yeah that can happen. You don’t have to compel yourself to writing 300 pages. If it runs no longer than 50, maybe you said it already in 50 and maybe it’s just as good. Look, Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea was about 90 pages with big double sized print and wide margins on the side and the top and the bottom. A lot of the greatest novels are very, very short novels. I find the older I get the more I want to write just what I say and not worry about the other stuff, not worry about the underbrush.

Tim Knox: And that has to be very freeing.

Jack Engelhard: Yeah it is very freeing. I did that with Compulsive. I didn’t care – I never do anyway – care about descriptions and telling them where the character came from, what motivated the character or whatever. Look, he fell in love and that’s it. He gambled too much. Why? Because he did. That’s it.

Tim Knox: I think the basis of a lot of your books is the moral dilemma, the apple and the snake.

Jack Engelhard: That’s true. The good part of that is if you sit down before writing a novel and say this is what I want people to think then you’re done right away; you’re finished. You shouldn’t think that way. Don’t try to motivate people. Just write what comes to you out of your mind and through your heart and let the chips fall where they may.

Tim Knox: Jack Engelhard, that is wonderful advice. Where can folks find out more about your work? Do you have a website?

Jack Engelhard: Yeah, JackEngelhard.com. My books are available through there and also through Amazon, the Kindle and on paperback.

Tim Knox: Very good, Jack. We’ll put up links to everything. I would love to have you back after the new book comes out.

Jack Engelhard: Great, I’m here.

Tim Knox: Very good, Jack. I appreciate it.

Jack Engelhard: I appreciate it too.

 

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