Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Born and raised in New England, I’ve spent most of my adult life traveling the world — more than 200,000 miles a year on average in the last 6 years alone. I started out my career as an entrepreneur, but shifted to finance later in life, and ended up working for some of the wealthiest people in the world managing multi-billion dollar portfolios. I have written one book so far, and have another serious project that is well underway, which I hope to finish by the middle of this year (2017). I studied Philosophy at Georgetown University in DC, and later did my graduate work at the University of Oxford in England (Merton College). I like to tell people that I traded my career to hang out with my Basset Hound, which is more or less completely true. I started my first business so I could bring my dog to work…and I ended up stopping my fast-paced career to do exactly the same thing – to hang out with my dog….
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My book is called “Perceiving Purpose” and it was inspired by my late Basset Hound, Cody. Over the last 30 years since I began studying Philosophy and Theology, and the science of perception, I have been looking for a framework that helps us understand how we can make better choices in our lives that don’t conflict with our sense of self. Observing my Basset Hound gave me the idea that when you start from a point of pure honesty (as dogs are), it is easier to examine your motives and get to the truth of what really guides your sense of purpose. I call it “Dognosticism” — not quite a religion, or a philosophy of life, but a kind of perception that is grounded in truth through critical examination.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think you can answer this question honestly without completely making a fool of yourself. Like everything else in life, the little idiosyncrasies that we have shine through when we do things that we are really passionate about. My strangest habit is that I can’t write if there is a big mess around me — I can’t handle the clutter. I also can’t deal with noise when I write – so I use 3M 120 dB sound shielding ear muffs so I can’t anything but my breathing, and the beating of my heart. It drives my family nuts, though.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
J.D. Salinger has been a huge influence on me, mainly because of his dedication to the short story, which I adore as a format. I am also a big fan of reading Philosophy in general; The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche remains an important part of my thinking, as well as assorted works from Kant, Kierkegaard, Rousseau, and Descartes.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a piece of fiction that I have tentatively titled as “The Crossing Guard”. It deals with several major issues in Philosophy — free will vs. determinism, thought experiments like the the “Trolley Problem”, and perception. It is not as ambitious as it sounds; the story is actually quite fast paced and relatable, but buried into the narrative and the plot are major questions about how we perceive the world, how we deal with ethical dilemmas, and whether or not we are actually free, or blind to our true reality.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I don’t know if I have found a best method yet. I use Facebook extensively to help generate some buzz, but it is terribly expensive. I’m still experimenting with different pricing and promotional models to see what attracts readers, but marketing has got to be one of my least favorite activities by far. I’d rather just write and let someone who knows what they are doing handle it…but that resource is only available to “successful” authors it seems!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Put it out there. Just put it out there. The amount of self-doubt and existential wrangling that all authors seem to experience is just horrific. The reality is, you are not going to please everyone, and you might be surprised by who/how many people you do please with your work. You cannot have a fear of judgment, because you need to hear what works for people, and what doesn’t. If you don’t take the risk, you will never learn from the wisdom of readers who will give you their time. To me, that is the greatest gift – feedback from my readers.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“In each and every thing, assume that you will fail. That way, you will never be disappointed — only pleasantly surprised”.
This was something my father taught me when I was very young. You can interpret it as defeatist, but his message was more complex; show humility — true humility — and take nothing for granted. Be prepared for the reality that life is not going to be fair or always great. Accept it, and have the courage to fail. And if you succeed – enjoy it. But not too much…
What are you reading now?
The Social Contract, Jean-Jaques Rousseau. It is probably the 10th time I’ve read it. I love social contract theory. (snore….)
What’s next for you as a writer?
To take everything I have learned to this point, and keep building on it. It seems like there is never enough time to learn this business — it has changed so much.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The Republic, Plato
Deathworld, Harry Harrison
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