For thirty-seven years, Max has been a devoted, loving husband. When Rosie is dying of Alzheimer's, he has been her primary caregiver until he agrees to his daughter Leah's insistence that they hire a live-in nurse. Robin is not only a competent nurse, she is also beautiful and sexy and Max finds himself increasingly desiring her and feeling guilty. He doesn't want to betray his marriage vows. Robin also finds herself falling in love with Max, but she is also resisting letting anything happen. Even though, Rosie no longer recognizes Max, he remains devoted to her, even though he desires Robin. When she dies, Robin's job as a nurse is over. He is dreading her leaving. While Max is watching her reluctantly packing, he doesn't know how to prevent the inevitable until something amazing happens that changes both of their lives.
Hi J.E., welcome to the Snarkology. Please tell us about yourself and your writing.
I wrote my first poem when I was nine, and then found myself writing more poetry. All through my teens I wrote poetry and knew I wanted to be a poet. I didn't realize it at the time, but it dawned on me one day, I was already a poet. I remember thinking, if I'm a poet, I want to master the craft. I began reading a lot of poets and practicing writing different forms. I intuitively knew that when I was older and would have more to say, I wanted to have the skill to write as subtly, deeply and simply as I could. I have had an adventurous life after joining the navy and also working on freighters and traveling all through the Mediterranean and Middle East. Now, after being an educator for forty years, a farmer, baker, cafe owner, husband and the father of four children, I am now able to write full-time. For the past seven years I have been getting up at 4 am and write every day. I have written a collection of essays on education, five novels, and three books of poetry under my real name, Arnold Greenberg. I started writing sensual romance books under the name J.E. Wiseman and have ten books published by Sweet Cravings Publishing. I guess you would say I'm prolific.
What does your writing space look like?
I live in a tiny pentagon shaped cabin. It has six floor to ceiling windows overlooking a large trout pond. It feels like I am living on a small boat except it's in the woods. I live with my dog, Charley and am reclusive. I love my simple life and the chance to write without distraction. In addition to my stories, I've been writing pond poems and have enough for a small book which will be called “Ponderings.”
Do you have a process for coming up with character names and book titles?
It's hard to explain how poems and stories come to me. I get grabbed with an idea or feeling and the stories unfold. Once I get started, I just write the first draft, then go back and revise and revise and revise. The characters take on a life of their own and the titles usually come easily, but sometimes I struggle with the title. I literally do not know what is going to happen until I write it. It's like watching a movie and writing what I see...except it's really hard work getting it right. I am also grateful to have ELF as an editor. All writers need a good editor.
What inspired your current book?
I've competed the first draft of Chaordia—A Novel of Transformation. Chaordia is a combination of the words “chaos” and “order.” It's like the Phoenix rising from the ashes and is inspired by my concerns about climate change and how to live in a future that will be quite different than the past. I have a trilogy called Children of the Dream based on the Atantis legend, and my new novel has what happened to the lost continent as a back story or sub-plot.
How do you come up with your book titles?
Titles are so important. Often the title comes easily, but I have also changed titles. My most recent romance book is based on the Orpheus-Eurydice legend and was originally called “The Music of Orpheus.” I changed the title to “The Blue Guitar” so that it would sound more contemporary.
How do you name your characters?
The names of the characters just come to me and I have a mental image of them. Occasionally, I change the name, but rarely. I really care about my characters.
If you could choose any actor/actress (living or dead) to play your protagonist, who would it be and why?
Most of my male characters are older with a beard and longish hair, but the actor that comes to mind is Anthony Hopkins without a British accent and with a graying beard and hair. He has a quiet dignity but is intensely passionate. He's an amazing actor.
Do you write with music going in the background? What are some of your favorite types/bands?
I never write with music. I need absolute quiet. My favorite music is jazz and classical.
Albert Einstein. Though he was a scientist, he was also a poet. His language was mathematics. He was a non-conformist which enabled his originality.
What is your favorite book genre? Who are your favorite authors?
I love biographies of significant people—usually writers. I have many poets I love, but W.B. Yeats is a poet who influenced me, though there were others. Saul Bellow, Philip Roth are novelists I admire.
Has anyone in particular been an influence on your writing?
As a poet, I have had many influences as I was learning to find my own voice. Keats, Yeats, Frost, Cummmings, Dylan Thomas. There are also female poets I admire...Mary Oliver is one. In prose: no one.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? Who is it and why?
I don't think I have a favorite character...it would be like saying who is my favorite child.
Tell us something strange or interesting about yourself.
I was a professional tap dancer in my youth. In addition to my passion for writing, I was part of a tap dancing trio called The Rhythm Boys and we performed all over: televison, night clubs, banquets and traveled with a USO troop. I can still tap dance.
What was your most embarrassing life experience? Your proudest?
When I was a tap dancer, we were performing in an after-hours night club and had to share a dressing room with a strip-tease dancer and had to change in front of her. I was 17. My proudest moment was being honored for starting an independent high school that is now in its forty-third year.
Is there anything else you'd really like our readers to know?
I would love to have my poetry and stories read and appreciated. Right now, I am very unknown. I don't want to be famous, but I do want to have a following of people who like what I write. Fame is dangerous. I have line in a poem: “Beware of fame for she's a whore who will break your heart.”
|Watermelon on Morguefile|
Favorite food? Fruit—especially watermelon.
Favorite color? Blue like the sky.
Favorite animal? Monkeys...I'd love to be a monkey, though I identify with the eagle....they fly high for an overview then can dive deep for their nourishment.
Biggest pet peeve? War and greed. Our country's war policies disturb me and come from greed.
Dream car? A car that runs on hydrogen and does not pollute.
The shrill sound of the teakettle shattered Max’s reverie. He was remembering when he and Rosie met thirty-eight years ago. He sighed deeply, looked down at the yellow mug and remembered the vision of the two of them rowing down the Charles River that May morning. It was the night after their first date, the first of many, before shocking everyone they knew and getting married one April weekend while still in their senior year of college. He had been attending Harvard and she was at Radcliffe, a few years after the two colleges had begun sharing courses. He often remembered Rosie walking in on the first day of their Chaucer course. She had stood at the doorway and looked around the crowded room for a seat. He was immediately captivated by her pretty, oval-shaped face, high cheekbones, and the serious intensity in her eyes as she scanned the crowded room, then the delighted, almost childlike smile when she saw the empty chair next to him.
She’d asked him if he minded her sitting there and he’d turned and looked around the room. “Well, there aren’t any other seats in the room, so I guess it’s okay.”
He could still see the way she looked with her thick, bushy brown hair and horn-rimmed glasses, an appearance so unlike most of the other women with their long straight hair, tailored clothes, aristocratic air, who looked as if they had just stepped out of an advertisement in Seventeen or Glamour. She was wearing a long flowery skirt that came below her knees and a baggy green turtleneck sweater, several rows of a beaded necklace and sandals.
He was struck by how different she looked, more bohemian than Ivy League, and when she sat down next to him, his heart leaped in a way that surprised him, having no idea at the time where that moment would lead.
Max poured the water into Rosie’s yellow mug. He glanced over at her as she sat at the kitchen table, staring out the window, her chin resting on her hand. He wondered what she could be thinking about, what she was trying to remember, now that memories were disappearing into the fog of her Alzheimer’s. Dipping the Earl Grey teabag into the mug, he watched the water turn bronze-colored, knowing how strong she liked her tea and how long the bag had to steep before it was just right. Stirring in a little honey, he heard the little ping of the toaster-oven and noticed the orange light go out then reached for the rye toast Rosie loved. He placed it on the plate with the blue lily enameled in the center. He made sure he served the rye toast on the same plate every time because of the way it made her smile.
She always said, “Ah, my favorite dish.” He liked it when she remembered little things like that. He had brought out the raspberry jam and now he spread it on the toast. This was their four o’clock ritual—tea and rye toast with raspberry jam.
I was born at a very early age in Chester, PA, but grew up in Philadelphia. I've been a tap dancer, sailor, educator, farmer, baker but always a writer.