Monday, June 2, 2014

Feature: Sheldon Greene, author of After The Parch


In the year 2075, after a long drought, the United States has collapsed and California is an independent republic dominated by a powerful corporation. "After the Parch" is a chilling vision of what we might become.

Bran, an 18-year-old shepherd, has ten days to keep his rural community from losing its land. He teams up with a runaway girl, a boy with uncanny skills, and a musician with a secret agenda. This vivid fantasy has a well crafted narrative that flows naturally, and keeps the reader hooked. Along the way, readers will learn something about loyalty, friendship, and trust.


“The spear-straight firs that had once covered the gentle slope and obscured the view of Templeton are now just a memory recalled by a cemetery of bleached and rotten stumps. Templeton is as Bran has always known it; green, slope-roofed, homely buildings, baled like recycled newspapers by its sixteen-foot-high double barbed-wire fence.”

After the Parch is available in soft cover and all e book formats, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the publisher, and independent book stores. 


What inspired you to write this book?

A: What I see as the rise of tribalism in the world generally and disturbingly in the United States as well. A recent survey revealed  that we don’t trust each other. Climate change, fundamentalism, technology, the power of big business, population demands, globalization, all combine to diminish our capacity to deal with our problems effectively. After the Parch was my attempt to project where we might end up.

Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?

            A:  Candide was the inspiration for the principal character, Bran.

How did you choose your title?

            A: A sustained drought ravages  California among other misfortunes.

Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.

            A: My daughter, Talia, is a working artist. She had a  multi-wall installation in Philadelphia, which depicted the nexus of man-made and environmental destruction. The cover design was taken from that installation.

Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?

            A: The short answer is that I don’t have the patience to look for an agent and then look for a mainstream publisher who is likely to give the book short shrift. The market for fiction, other than for debut novelists, cash cows, and celebrities is pretty tough. So I go the independent route. Srategic Publishing is a joint venture publisher and I think that it’s a model with potential.

What do you consider the most important part of a good story?

            A:  One that catches the reader’s attention early on and holds it. Engaging characters; whether or not you like them, you want to find out what happens to them.  

What is your writing process?

A: I start with an idea, maybe the seed of a story, and let it grow. For example the idea for, Burnt Umber came from noticing a sculpture in an Italian Restaurant. When I have a story, I expand it into an outline, develop bios of characters, and do a lot of research related to time and place. Then I start to write and let the characters interact and engage. It’s kind of mystical given that once the characters are alive in my head they do much of the work. They sometimes even take unpredictable turns.  The settings, landscapes, interiors, incidental characters simply appear all out of the imagination.  Then when the work is done, I revise and revise again until I am satisfied with it.

How long have you been writing?

A: Most of my life.

How did you get started writing?

A: I jumped off the career fast track, left the country, ended up in Jerusalem and wrote the first novel.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A: I am a careful plotter. I like to know where the novel is going, and that the trajectory  is consistent with the characters.

What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?

A: I don’t enjoy revision, particularly punctuation issues. But revision, editing, embellishing are imperative. There was one exception to that. I wrote my first published novel, Lost and Found, without revision, and my Random House editor, said “Don’t change a word of it.”

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?

A: It’s not an issue for me. I don’t write on a schedule. One step that might reduce the problem is to outline the book in sufficient detail with well drawn bios of the principal characters. Then you will know from sequence to sequence what you have to accomplish. That should make it much easier. Another suggestion, is, don’t force the process. If you are stuck, take a nap, take a run, drink a latte. Come back when you feel like it. You don’t have to produce two pages every time you sit down and look at the screen. And the bottom line; if it’s too painful, just don’t do it.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?

A: Classical, baroque.

Who is your favorite author?

A: I don’t have one. There are so many fine writers, living and dead. A few that come to mind are Marquez, Nabokov, Le Carre, Stegner.

Who is your favorite character from a book?

A: Same answer. Just too many. I will say that I don’t like exhibitionistic, dysfunctional neurotics. I like characters, who deal with problems and manage their limitations.

What is your favorite book?

A: Similarly, I have so many that I love. Here’s one. The Dream of Scipio, Iain Pears.

Read anything good lately?

A: Just about every novel. Here’s another one: Faithful Place, Tana French

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

A: Travel, tennis, yoga, singing the major choral works, gardening, sailing, watching live cultural events, music, theatre, analyzing and solving problems, eating good food, drinking good wine, spending time with people I love, and of course reading.

What advice would you give an author just starting out?

A: Don’t do it unless you really enjoy it and love it. If you do decide to seriously write fiction, write for yourself only. If other people get to read and enjoy it, that’s icing on the cake. If one or two people feel that reading your work made a difference in their lives, you’ve succeeded.  If you win the publisher’s lottery and get a big advance make the most of it. If you are frustrated and disappointed don’t let it taint all other dimensions of your life.
Have you had anything else published?

A: Yes, Four other novels.

What's your next project?

A: Revising the sequel to Lost and Found, my first published novel.



 Sheldon Greene is a critically acclaimed novelist who has been called “a born storyteller” by the Los Angeles Times for  "Lost and Found" (Random House); “immensely entertaining”  Dallas Morning News. This is his fifth novel. He is a lawyer, an executive in a wind energy development company, and has a background of high impact public interest litigation.

You can reach Sheldon Greene by e mail, Facebook, Twitter, or even sheldon

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