Arthur, when did you first start writing?
My initial project was a television series created back in the mid-80s. (How old am I?) It was called A New Leash On Life – a sit-com about a New York City dog walker. Then I segued into writing plays and screenplays. And it wasn’t until 2005 that I wrote my first novel, On Picking Fruit. That was followed by it’s sequel Fruit Cocktail in 2007 and just recently, Birthday Pie.
Wait. I just lied. Recently, my mother found a children’s story that I had written and illustrated when I was maybe five-years-old. A story about ants called Skinny Malinky Long Legs and Umbrella Feet. Hmmm…maybe that will be my next project.
Can you tell us about Birthday Pie?
Birthday Pie is the story about Lex Martindale, a New York City writer who travels home to North Carolina to celebrate his birthday and say goodbye to his dying father. But Lex has a life-threatening health issue of his own and struggles with whether or not to share the recent news with his family. From all parts of the country, the eccentric family members convene and in less than 48 hours we travel through decades of their colorful and unpredictable lives. It’s a tragic story filled with hope and humor. A portrait of the all-American family, in all its glory and dysfunctional-ism.
It’s fiction. Having said that, I have to admit, that situations and scenarios have been taken from real life and then patched together. But the characters, themselves, are fictional.
You’re a writer and you live in New York City, is Lex based upon you?
OK Jen, you caught me. It’s autobiofictional. And Lex is loosely based upon me. But I’m just as much the 85-year-old grandmother, Anastasia Battles, 10-year-old Miss Malaprop, Mattie Lee or even 65-year-old Trudy Lee, the exasperating matriarch of the family. I love these characters, warts and all, passionately.
Where did you come up with the title Birthday Pie?
Throughout the story, Trudy Lee is baking her son, Lex, birthday pies and the funny thing is that I never explain why it isn’t a cake. Personally, I HATE cake. I can’t swallow it. I love pie.
Do you write full-time?
I’m writing almost full-time now. But as you know, marketing and working the social networks gobbles up tons of minutes of every day, too. But I’ve been a full-time shiatsu practitioner for 27 years. (And how old did we figure out I am?) Shiatsu, for those who don’t know, is a Japanese form of bodywork. Like acupuncture without the needles and wonderfully problem solving. Doing shiatsu for me is like deep meditation. It’s a very complementary career with the writing. I write for a couple of hours, then I squeeze a few necks. Nice balance.
On Picking Fruit and Fruit Cocktail were with a publishing house called Alyson Books. The printings sold out and the rights reverted back to me. So I’m gloriously republishing them through Galaxias Productions, my own company. Paperbacks of both novels and their eBook editions have all just launched.
And On Picking Fruit and Fruit Cocktail are about…?
Curtis Jenkins, a middle-aged gay writer, searching for his soul mate. Think gay dates from hell with a lot of heart. And eager to help Curtis on this quest is his irreverent mother, incorrigible best friend and unethical shrink. It’s FICTIONAL!
Switching gears a bit, favorite/least favorite food?
Love lobster. I could eat it morning, noon and night. And being a New Englander, I’ve been known to. Hate lima beans. Eating lima beans is like gnawing on wet wool.
Drink of choice?
My smart cocktails of choice are:
Wine – Pinot Grigio
Liquor – Maker’s Mark – chilled and served in a martini glass with a long stem cherry
Arthur is the author of the critically acclaimed novels On Picking Fruit and Fruit Cocktail and the short story, A Stroke Of Luck.
Also a playwright, his works include the award winning Birthday Pie, which had its world premiere at the Waterfront Playhouse, Key West, FL. His one act plays, Lily and The Lunch, have been produced Off-Off Broadway.
For two years he has been the humorist for the London based magazine, reFRESH.
Arthur grew up in Andover, MA and now resides in New York City.
Stop by his website for more about Arthur and his work (and where to get it!)