Sunni: Hi, Jerry, and thanks for taking some time out of your schedule to talk with me. How've you been?
Jerry:I'm doing better than I have any right to be. At my age most writers are washed up or past their prime. They seem to have used up everything they have to say and start repeating themselves or else become caricatures of themselves. Hemingway and Fitzgerald were classic examples. They did more drinking than writing later in life. But I consider myself fortunate that I have enough ideas left to last the rest of my life. I've always defined happiness by how well the writing is going, so at the moment I'm doing swimmingly well.
Sunni: That's great to hear. I imagine most folks reading this will know you primarily as the author of It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand and its follow-up, It Still Begins with Ayn Rand. But you've written a slew of other books and had a very interesting life so far. What else would you like people to know about you, by way of background?
Jerry: By way of background, I come from a working class neighborhood in the Bronx where street fighting was the major contact sport. Combine that with a stultifying Catholic Church upbringing, and you've got someone who couldn't wait to get away from the old neighborhood as quickly as possible. Somewhere along the way, in a life filled with a quest for alternative spiritual fulfillment along with sexual adventure, I became a lean, mean writing machine, trying to work out the old devils by putting words down on paper. It was a form of therapy, although it had unforeseen consequences in that it was a compulsion. You might call it creative neurosis since I was driven to write and get published at all costs. That kind of obsession makes you a bit ruthless and totally self-absorbed, which is tough on those who choose to share their lives with you. Despite it all, I've managed to stay married to the same woman for 41 years with many bumps along the way. At this stage of life I have two grown children and three grandsons, who have the effect of mellowing me somewhat.
Sunni: Does that therapy work for you? How effectively does it banish those old devils?
Jerry: As a writer I'm reluctant to banish all my devils. I believe some of those devils are what drive writers to keep on writing. You never want to lose the passion that motivated you to write in the first place. I guess I have a fear of losing my edge and becoming too comfortable with the status quo.
Sunni: It is impressive to me that you've stayed married through some tough times, which were hinted at in your latest book, Heretic. How have you accomplished that?
Jerry: Love and friendship and a lot of hard work are what keep a marriage or any relationship going. I don't think most of us are comfortable with monogamy, but you're got to make that sacrifice and commitment to keep it going.