Each time I have written a book I am asked, “why did you write it?” So, I thought I’d answer this question by doing what I love to do, write. I am passionate about breaking down stereotypes, making the invisible people – on skid row, wait-servers, bar tenders, taxi drivers – visible; they all have a story. Over the course of a half-century practicing as a psychotherapist, I have learned that all people have a dark and a light side; no one is all good or all bad. Given the right confluence of events, circumstances, even the best of us can do things we never thought possible. Each of my novels explore these concepts. The characters in my stories are based on real people or clusters of people with similar issues whom I have met or with whom I have worked.
What follows is a brief glimpse into what motivated me to write each of eleven books I have written so far – five nonfiction and six fiction – beginning with the most recent.
HER OTHER FAMILY was prompted by a conversations with people – patients, family members, and friends – who were adopted at birth. While many of them have shown little interest in learning about their biological parents, several have searched out their biological parents. Some simply wanted to learn more about their own medical history, while others wanted to learn the story of why they were placed up for adoption in the first place. In some instances the outcome of the search was enlightening and resulted in a sense of closure and reunification with an extended family, in other instances the birth parent wanted no contact, in still other situations the result was painful. Seeking out a birth-parent can be frustrating, enlightening, rewarding, painful — it is always a crap-shoot. In Her Other Family, Marianna Bolton searches for her biological father who, according to what her mother told her, left her mother even before Marianna’s birth. Marianna locates her birth-father and learns two facts – one, her mother lied about the circumstances of her birth and two, her birth-father is the son of a mafia kingpin. Both of these facts completely turn Marianna’s world upside down.
SHATTERED DIRECTION, though a fictionalized version of the life of a patient I had seen forty years ago, his story is representative of may people whose dreams were hijacked by circumstances and choices – they lose their direction and their sense of self, often becoming someone they barely recognize.When people think of men who are in the pornography industry, they think of them as sleazy, lowlifes, who exploit women. The book’s protagonist, Harry Moreland, was an idealistic young man who aspired to be a documentarian who would direct films with a social conscience. The book takes the reader on his journey from idealism to cynic – Harry loses his direction as he is seduced by the glitz, money, and drugs of Hollywood found in the world of adult film and subsequently struggles for redemption.
GAG RULE is based on a true story, but the protagonist is not unique. She is representative of countless numbers of women in similar situations who become incidental casualties of their husbands’ transgressions. These women have been silenced by social mores, convention, parental injunctions, fear of retribution, and a host of other reasons – they feel or have been gagged, with no voice. Much like many of the women who have been molested by celebrities and men in power, they have held their tongue. This book tells the story of Dolores Miller, the wife of the high school music teacher and town music man, who is the passenger seat of her narcissistic husband as he is accused of molesting the high school students in his classes and goes on trial as a sex offender.
THE MIDNIGHT SHRINK is a partially autobiographical novel based on a period in my life when I worked with “night people” and “street people; I listened to their stories and found them compelling. There is an entirely different world taking place after the sun goes down. It is my hope that the reader will walk away with a new appreciation for the individuals who inhabit the night. Dr. David Edmundson, a clinical and forensic psychologist, works with the night people and the street people; his office his his custom outfitted Toyota van. He works from 9 PM to 5 PM on the streets of Los Angeles. The story is a psychological thriller – Dr. Edmundson works with his two best friends, Lt. Sal Catena, an LAPD detective, and Dr. Henry Brown, an emergency room physician, to discover the serial killer who has been murdering strippers along the area known as Skid Row.
BUDDIES, the story of four men, friends since they were ten years old, who are accused of murdering a Manhattan antique dealer, was inspired by the men whom I have treated in my practice for the past fifty years. The vast majority of these men are quite successful in the business life, but struggle in their marriages and relationships. They suffer from an inability to be vulnerable, open, disclosing, and sharing of their fears and feelings; hence, they have difficulty in developing and maintaining truly intimate relationships. BUDDIES portrays the downside of the masculine value of being strong and silent when, unbeknown to one another, they each fall in love with the same woman and are accused of killing her husband.
MICKEY AND THE PLOW HORSE, my first novel, was inspired a conversation I had with a very successful lawyer who acknowledged that he felt as though he was a plow horse going from his home stable to his office everyday, back and forth, doing his job, making money, but without passion – “I am just a highly paid plow horse,” he proclaimed. When I asked him whether he had always wanted to be a lawyer, he looked at me wistfully and said, “no, I wanted to be an actor, but my father wouldn’t support anything but law school.” Too often I have heard similar tales of people who sacrificed the passions for expediency, whether due to circumstances or external pressures. Similarly, there are many adults and children who, because of either social, psychological or physical challenges are relegated to being outliers. They are marginalized. In all these instances, the inner potential, the inner passion, of these people is not realized until someone else, often a psychotherapist, sees that passion and through the magic of a connection, facilitates the emergence of the thoroughbred that lies within. This is the story of Mickey and the Plow Horse.