Starting April 4th please join us on the General Fiction book club at B&N.com for the month long discussion of The Collectibles with the author James J Kaufman. It's not too late here is a link to the book club, buy the book here
Interview with James J. Kaufman
Jim first of all I want to tell you how much I appreciate you’re willingness to be with us for the discussion of your wonderful novel The Collectibles in April at the General Fiction Book club atB&N.com
Debbie - Is Joe based on you, do you have Collectibles too?
Jim - In creating Joe, I have drawn upon my life experiences with several characters, observing their behavior patterns and idiosyncrasies, and assessing their character, core values, and decision making process. Joe was an orphan. Joe’s attitudes toward others were also shaped by his being raised in the rural Adirondacks by his Uncle Howard and Aunt Lettie, the discipline of the Navy (and particularly life at sea in a nuclear sub), and of course Ashley’s influence and love. Clearly, I drew upon my personal, business and professional experiences, together with my love of the mountain wilderness in shaping Joe’s character, outlook and approach.
Yes, I have Collectibles.
You are a wonderful storyteller and I just wondered if you’ll be writing another novel
Thank you. I am writing another novel. I hesitate to talk about it until it is finished. I hope you understand.
I also saw that you’re working on a screenplay for The Collectibles, is the process of writing a screen play similar to writing a novel, are you hoping for the large or small screen?
I have learned that there are many similarities but several important differences. The screenplay depends heavily upon each scene as it will be seen and heard. The scenes in The Collectibles are so clear in my head. I can see the movie now. My challenge is to bring that clarity to the reader of the screenplay. I confess that I dream about seeing this story on both screens.
When in school I was always told when attempting an assignment “write what you know”, from looking at your bio on your website it looks like you followed that lesson too. Did the fact that you knew what you were writing about make the novel go smoother or do you think now that your first novel is under your belt that it would be easier to write something outside of your area of expertise?
The former. Having experienced so much of whom and what is written about in The Collectibles made the writing more accurate, but not necessarily smoother. That part came with endless re-writes. I would rather not write about something outside my area of expertise or my experiences and feelings.
I can’t imagine how difficult a job it must be to be a Judge, deciding at times life altering outcomes. To me it seems like the hardest job in the world but it also seems like one where you can really make a difference in someone’s life with compassion and knowing who can rise to the occasion. So I guess in a round about way I’m asking if this question comes close to reality.
It can, and in my case it did. One of the proudest moments in my judicial career occurred during the nomination process at a routine pre-election caucus. I was nominated as a candidate for judge – as I had been 4 and 8 years before, and there were several “seconds” of the nomination. Then, to everyone’s surprise, a man unknown to the caucus came forward from the back of the room and asked if he could say a few words. During his remarks he talked about how Judge Kaufman had sent him to jail and that the discussions that I had with him prior, during and after sentencing, as well as communications with him while he was in jail, changed his life. There were many opportunities during my years on the bench to deal with serious social problems, many involving battered women, alcoholics, men in difficulty and troubled young people. I tried to deal with these issues in depth, with sensitivity and hopefully some creativity.
I see you have partnered with the not-for-profit Imaging the World- can you tell us a little about them and why you decided to support this particular foundation.
At Imaging the World (ITW) we believe that all people deserve the health advantages of modern tools for diagnostic disease. What I particularly like is that ITW directly saves lives by providing diagnostic imaging to rural communities around the world who would otherwise not have access. For example, in Uganda, where 25% of pregnant mothers die upon childbirth, ITW has been able to train community members to capture medical images through portable ultrasound and transmit them to a network of volunteer imaging specialist for early diagnosis and treatment recommendations – and in the process, save lives. I am proud to be a member of ITW’s board and Vice President of Business and Strategy.
The one thing that stood out to me after I finished your novel was that I wanted to be a better person and “help the other fella”, do you get that reaction often?
Actually, I am delighted to say, all the time, and by men as well as women. Several readers have written to me and in one form or another said the book changed their lives. It is very humbling and heartening.
I have so many compelling and competing interests and hobbies. My first thought in off time is to spend time with my wife, with whom I am still hopelessly in love after 44 years of marriage. Then of course, my children (now adults) and my grandchildren. I love travel, fast cars, racing motorcycles, scuba diving, mountain bike riding, boating, photography, music, art, woodworking, and of course, reading and writing. I love the mountains and I love the beach. Spending time with friends (including my Collectibles) during any of these pursuits or otherwise is always relaxing and pleasurable.
Thank you so much for allowing the interview and now I can’t wait to get started on the discussion, which will start Monday April 4, 2011.
To find out more about the author go to his website here