Where are you from?
I am a born and bred New Yorker
Who are your favorite writers?
John O’Hara’s short stories, Gore Vidal’s essays, the early writing of Henry James, anything Capote, anything Cather, Sara Pritchard’s wonderful quirky fiction, Katherine Lanpher’s touching memoir about leaping in mid-life, Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction, John Colapinto’s and Adam Gopnick’s magazine journalism, Frances Kiernan’s documentary-like biography of Mary McCarthy Amanda Vail’s biography of the Murphy’s and Jerome Robbins, Honor Moore’s memoir of her father and biography of her grandmother, Tom Stoppard’s plays, Oscar Hammerstein’s, Steven Sondheim’s and Paul Simon’s lyrics, all the early Dylan, every stage of Leonard Cohen, and closer to home - my grandfather (Frank Meier)’s books about the sea and storms and Frank Delaney’s books, screenplays and stories.
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Maybe not books.
Maybe Aaron Copland, Steven Sohdheim, MGM in 1939 -- and -- Randy Newman.
Maybe the necessity to be clear and compelling in copy.
Maybe the early belief that “White Paper” professional/corporate writing needed to be inspirational to effect change.
Maybe the idea that all good communication is personal.
Maybe having a series of operations when I was seven that kept me from contact with other children and had me reading on a 12th grade level before I was eight.
Can we ever know?
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Not unlike Teddy: Designing houses, barns and gardens; their form, style and decoration– from color to furniture to painting murals on the walls and detailing the carpentry for the craftsmen. Beyond that, there are far too many to list – but here are some:
Playing the piano, singing along and crying at the sentimental parts.
Cooking for friends.
German Shorthaired Pointers.
Painting and sculpture.
Old movies – especially those prior to 1945.
Broadway musicals and American Standards.
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Live your values, don’t make a fuss and leave something positive, powerful and permanent in your wake.
What is your favorite quote?
“It’s not so much that you do what you like as it is that you like what you do”—Sondheim, Sunday in the Park With George
What inspired you to write your first book?
New American Wedding was the first book. I saw a hole in the market. I simply couldn’t believe there was nothing in the market to guide a bride who was neither young, nor wasp-waisted nor blushing.
This book, on the other hand, was really written as an exercise for an actor Frank would have liked to include in a screenplay he was writing for Masterpiece Theater. Because he didn’t look like a ‘leading man’, Frank felt that he would be limited in the roles he might play --never be cast as a hero. I imagined a ‘set piece’ for him – where we root for him to grow beyond the limits that seem almost too set in stone to push aside – and that became this m/s. Frank liked the outline and encouraged me to write it as a novel.
Where do you write?
In my office in New York, as I wait for clients to call me back or a job to go on press. At home, in NYC or CT, when Frank is writing away on deadline and I don’t want to go to a movie or theater he won’t be able to see, or go out with friends, if he can’t share that time. Truth is, I just fill in the gaps by pulling up my m/s and seeing what I’ve done and taking it from there. And I can pick it up and put it down without much angst. I can be interrupted. I can work it into a dozen tiny opportunities through the day, and a thousand through the week. It isn’t any more magical than that. I hope that doesn’t spoil anyone’s idea of creative inspiration – but there it is. At least for me.