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JAMES B. FLAHERTY | Screenwriter. Novelist. Wordsmith.
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ABOUT JAMES | James B. Flaherty | Storyteller Extraordinaire
INTERVIEW WITH JAMES B. FLAHERTY

DECEMBER 15TH, 2019 ON WNYC'S "THIS WEEK IN AMERICA" WITH HOST RIC BRATTON

"WHY DO YOU WRITE?"

Isaac Asimov said, ”If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”
 
Faulkner said:  “read read read..read everything—trash, classics, good and bad and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.  Then write. If its good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.”

"AND WHY DID YOU WRITE FICTION?"

After years of being an advertising writer creative director, and selling goods and services, British Airways, The Avon Lady, Smirnoff Vodka, I wondered if I could sell emotion? So I re-watched the magic of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, the best series ever written for TV, and found myself laughing with them, and crying with them.  Decided to give it a shot, myself. And what’s nice is it’s fiction, I guess created by me, but I’ve always felt the characters in my books have the strongest influence on the story.  Often, when writing, I’ve heard one of the characters say, wait a minute Flaherty, you know I’d hate doing that—so I’d change direction.  I mean there’s birth and death, romance, and sex where necessary although it’s not the driving force of the books, there’s Broadway and some international travel, marriage, divorce, some sadness, some happiness.  I reread one of my novels recently and was pleased to find myself teary eyed in sections and laughing out loud other times.

"TELL ME ABOUT THE SEX IN YOUR NOVELS, JIM."

One of my best girl chums, friends for 50 years said, I had no idea you were so knowledgeable about Sex, Jim.  And I said, I’m not, but my characters are.  I learned quite a bit from them. Too bad I’m too old to practice what they preach.  It was kind of fun to write about it, though.

"YOUR BOOKS REVOLVE AROUND WOMEN. WHY?"

If you want to call Advertising a profession, it was one of the first to recognize Her as being as smart if not smarter than Him, so I was professionally joined at the hip with some spectacular brainy talented women, many of whom are still close friends.  And then I had two daughters I still love. And have found that woman, much more than men, create a pool of friends who love and support them, and I’ve always admired it. Soooo, underneath all the drama and trauma and romance in the novels, there’s an underlying story about women supporting one another.

"IS THERE A VILLAIN OR VILLAINS IN YOUR NOVELS?"

Yeah, Life.  Each of us creates a villain now and then—you can meet him or her in your bathroom mirror.  How you change roles from villain to someone you really like, that takes guts and honesty.  But my Heroes….are women—gutsy, honest women.

"ANY CRITIQUES OF YOUR NOVELS?"

Yes, Pacific Book Review said THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME IS... “A marvelous and inspiring tale of a woman who creates her own fairytale. She maximizes her natural talents and becomes part of worlds she had only dreamed about. She finds herself on center stage and must navigate new challenges including heartbreak and taking on new and unexpected roles.? The author is a wonderful storyteller and has skillfully written romantic and amorous scenes too and has created male characters that will make readers swoon.”  Wow, I thought I made characters to make you swoon?!

"BACK TO BASICS, JIM.  WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR READER TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS?"

First, I want to entertain them. A book should give them pleasure, even the sad moments.  They will also hopefully learn something, maybe about how to balance difficult relationships, or learn something from exposure to a couple of foreign ports, specifically London and Ireland… or get a hint of what life on Broadway is like, or rich living in Manhattan.  I’d like them to think about the people and be glad they were part of their lives.  And then I’d like them to write me and tell me why they like or dislike someone.  Write me:  talktome@jamesbflaherty.com

"DO YOUR BOOKS HAVE A HAPPY ENDING?"

Uhm, for some people, it’s a happy ending.  But you know, if there’s a happy ending for some, there’s some unhappiness for others, whether they deserve it or not.

"DO YOU HAVE ANY SEQUELS PLANNED, JIM?"

Naw, not really.  THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME and CLARE: WIFE, MOTHER, MISTRESS, Murderer?  Are stand alone novels, although I like the people in them enough to write more about them.  Right now I’m writing a kind of a memoir and a homage, a book praising the elderly.  I’ve always had older friends who helped me make the right professional decisions, people who helped me become me, and made it good to be Jim.  That book is called DEAR OLD FRIENDS, AND I HOPE THAT’LL BE OUT IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

"SO WHAT’S NEXT, JIM?"

I’D LIKE A Literary Agent to take me on and keep me disciplined, and maybe sell my books as fodder for film or a TV series.  Meanwhile, I’m going to continue living by the golden rule—my mother was big on that.  As a writer, I hated the way it was written—I mean lay these words on a five year old:  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.   Huh?  So I rewrote it for my daughters and myself, just five little words with a big meaning:  You Get What You Give.  Give generosity of spirit and a helping hand and a warm smile—and guess what, that’s what you get in return.  If you give the opposite of that, a frown a criticism a disapproval, watch out, cause it’s gonna come back and smother you.

SO, IN SIGNING OFF, ALL I CAN SAY IS READ:

Do you know Pat Conroy’s novels?  God, he’s brilliant.  Or Elizabeth Berg? Oh, don’t get me started.  Thank goodness for the Kindle. I used to travel with 10 or 12 novels in my luggage.

I am James B. Flaherty…call me Jim.  And enjoy THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME and CLARE.  Goodbye, Ric, and thanks for the opportunity to chat with everyone. 



Ric Bratton and Jim had a lively conversation about his passion, writing, his novels and the joy of writing. 


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