Ron was recently interviewed by Writing Magazine which can be located on the web at www.writersnews.co.uk.
Did you approach publishers at the time? What was the response back then and did you continue writing?
A friend's mother represented Memory for awhile but lost interest in the face of a multitude of rejections. It's safe to say my feelings were hurt because I loved it and felt I had discovered a way of writing that worked for me. An idea of telling a story to myself rather than to a great faceless audience. Over the years this way of working began to give me back as much as I was giving it. I stopped being concerned about publication and accepted the day to day struggle with character and story and form as a reward in itself.
You have said that writing was something you 'didn't need permission to do'. Could you elaborate on that?
Writing, especially novel writing, isn't a communal act unless you're part of a T.V. team and unlike being an actor--which is how I made my living for years--you don't need some nod of approval to get on with it. I'd always find some time during my daily auditions and occasional jobs to spend a few hours with my pencil and paper at the Ne York Public Library.
As an actor and director you already work with words, what is it that drives you to write as well?
I have a very pronounced solitary part of me that always seems at odds with the performer. While I love acting and, of course, am very, very thankful for all the opportunities I've been given, the introspective side had always searched for a personal expression.
Stephen King's article in EW was instrumental in catapulting the book into the international publishing arena. Had you given up hope of publication by this time and what was the first you knew of this high-profile review? Have you met/spoken with Stephen King since? How did it feel to be feted and chased by the very publishers who had previously turned you down?
One of the hats I wear in the crazy acting game is as narrator for books on tape. I've worked for many companies, large and small. Fifteen or so years ago I was recording a book at a company that sells primarily over the internet. I suggested Memory as a great one for their catalog. It took alot of begging but I finally recorded it, got my vanity copy and forgot about it. I was driving from New York to Los Angeles for a part in the T.V. series, THE PRACTICE, when a friend called to tell me about this astonishing turn of events. I stopped in New Mexico and read it. The truth is I had stopped submitting my work but by the time I reached L.A. I found myself in an auction for MEMORY. No sooner had my deal with Viking been announced then a similar frenzy started in the film industry with rights going to Warner Bros. I called Stephen King and thanked him, of course. I don't know him so his act of kindness continues to astound me.
What are you working on now?
Penguin-Viking has committed to two additional novels. Traveler with a pub date of January 2007 andArt In America (Jan. 2008) so I'm very busy with the editing process as well as readying two new manuscripts for consideration by the powers that be.
Would you say that time spent learning your craft (writing) is more valuable than an overnight success where you have to make your mistakes in the public eye?
I'm pretty positive I'll continue making mistakes publicly and privately. How does a writer grow if everything, even experiments, are expected to conform to some university rule book? But yes, I'm happy to be where I am now and to have discovered a way to live a creative life without apologies.
How do you write: longhand, computer? Is it true you are an insomniac and write at night?
I struggle with sleep. I'm at my desk early, try to work for fours hours or so before ten or eleven and then carry it around in my pack (with pictures & resumes). Somedays if I'm lucky I still get to spend a few hours in the wonderful New York Public Library reading room. I take grief from the modern world because I'm computer illiterate. I write and correct in long hand, post every hundred or so pages to my typist in Los Angeles who e-mails it to my wife. I then re-work the pages and post them back. This is how my manuscripts take shape. I'm a caveman. Help!
What would you say to other writers who, like yourself, have been writing for years but not yet been published?
I've spoken at writer's conferences in America and Australia. The first was at Santa Barbara and I admit I was sort of frightened that I'd stand up there and let these other committed writers, who had paid to co-mingle and exchange ideas down. But I told them my story and what I have learned at pretty great cost. That ultimately your worth as a writer, or anyone standing out there in the cold insisting on living a creative life, can only be determined by yourself. Only YOU can give value to your work. You absolutely do not need publication to know your work has merit. Besides, if there is one thing I've learned about publication (and know it's true in all the arts) is that the artist needs alot of luck and alot of help.