Ron and I talk about writing, story telling and character development.
I'm Larry Barsh. And you are listening to specifically for seniors, the podcast, for those of us in the remember when generation
This podcast is brought to you in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Association's longest day fundraiser on June 21st, 2022. If you are enjoying our podcasts, or if you would like to, or memorialize a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, please consider making a email@example.com. Your donation will help increase awareness, support caregivers, and fund research necessary to eventually cure this disease, please visit www.specificallyforseniors.com to make a donation. Thank you. Today's guest on specifically for seniors. Is Ron Feldman, an author whose work has been compared with that of David bald. Dachi high praise indeed. Thanks for coming on specifically for seniors, Ron.
Ron Feldman (01:33):
Oh, thanks for having me. I appreciate it very much.
Before we talk about fiction, let's start with a little non-fiction you the teller, not me.
Ron Feldman (01:45):
Tell the listeners your story. When did you love of writing for a start?
Ron Feldman (01:53):
Well, you know, my even before that, my life began in a place in Brooklyn in 1943. And during those young years, my mother read books to me and I got interested in stories. And what happened to the characters and what, what, what happened next and why it happened and how it happened. As years went by, I read a lot as a young person. When I was in high school, I had my first us byline for this school newspaper. And it was exciting to see my name by Ron Feldman on, on this story, which was about my buddy who played football with me. And he was the best player on a team. So that got me excited. That got me to think, you know, maybe I could do this as he is, went by, I, I began to write for myself as most writers do, because we're all kind of intimidated about writing for others.
Ron Feldman (02:53):
So we, what we, we write and stick things in a drawer or so stick things in a file cabinet and let it sit there for many years. I was a teacher and I taught English and writing. I was a university professor where, where I taught journalism and broadcast news. But I was also an industry as marketing ex executive where I had to write for the commercial world for, let's say Bloomberg radio. I, I wrote a a story for yeah, Bloomberg radio and, and other magazines for the construction industry, but all along writing. And I, I was, I was invite to write a screenplay by a fellow named a mill red several years ago. We wrote it long distance on the phone back and forth from California to, to Florida where I was at at the time.
Ron Feldman (03:52):
And it was submitted to Warner brothers. It was submitted a little late. He told me that, you know, there's like 3000 scripts in January submitted. So the likelihood of this getting produced is low and he was right. He was right. But, but over the years I had written many things. My wife, my late wife was an actress. And as a result, I wrote a, a stage play, which was not produced, but was done as a, a stage reading by a, by a buddy of mine who was an actor. And, and he brought in, he brought in real actors New York city equity actors. And it was amazing to, to hear the words come out of their mouth, gave it so much more reality than the words on the page and even buzzing around my head that excited me to do even more, even more so I've been writing a long time short stories and all, all kinds of things I got into this, this last phase of writing after several daunting events in my life occurred.
Ron Feldman (05:06):
The, the first was, was losing my wife at the Sloan Kettering, literally in my arms and the second, even more tragic to me. And it's hard to believe it, but losing my son on his daughter's 13th birthday that, that changed me completely from an, an outgoing, interesting, interested person to pretty close to Ave a vegetable. I was, I was locked down completely and utterly. My family said, don't stay here in New York of Florida staying grandma's condo. And I did that. I got to, to like the sun and not having to shovel the snow. But I had a hard time. I had a very hard time I couldn't read newspapers or couldn't do anything. My brother who's a psychologist suggested that perhaps some medication might help. And he suggested something that I didn't really know about something called Adderall, which is an amphetamine.
Ron Feldman (06:12):
And so I went through a bunch of tests with person. They all said, yeah, I'm healthy enough to take it. And I took it. And as a result, my focus came back. My prior focus from years of working came back, a side effect was that it also decreased the level of depression that I was feeling at the time for the loss of my son. And so I wrote that was my therapy. I just, I just wrote, I would go to the gym in the morning, I'd work out, I'd come back and, and, and write till three or four, five in the afternoon some days. And that helped me to get through that time. And that first book, the one that I don't know which, which one I gave you, but this, the, the first book is little secret, big lies right. Which establishes the two characters.
Let's, let's get to that in just a second. Okay. are you a discipline writer what's day? Like, I mean, did you schedule time to write and you try to get so many words done in a day.
Ron Feldman (07:25):
Yes. In fact, I have a, I have a sign up here on my on my pin board. It says 1000 words a day, just do it. So that's my minimum. 1000 words a day in a year's time, that's, that's 365,000 words. I don't, I don't need to do that, but most of my books are about 85,000 words, give or take. And I try to be very disciplined. As I said, I go to the gym in the morning, most days I did, and then I would come home, eat something and I'd start work maybe at 10 or, and worked till 3, 4, 5 in the afternoon. And that was easy to do because after a while I got into this, the characters, and that was very helpful to do.
We'll talk about that. I'm, I'm, I'm very, I'm very interested in that. I want to ask you some specific questions. How do you research his stories? You've got a lot of background
Ron Feldman (08:24):
It's, you know I'll tell you another sidebar. I, I had a friend of mine back in New York who was a pharmacist, and he knew that I was writing. And he said, he said to me says, Ron, Ron, he says, I have, I have a great idea for, you know, I, I know I have a story. I have a good story. I'm gonna write this. I said, so what is it? What is, what, what is it? He said, well, you take a bunch of information and you put it in a pill. So I looked at him the way you're looking at me now. And, and, and I said, well, that's not a story. That's a gimmick. A story is much more than that. A story has a lot to do with, with, with, with, with that. And so, so, you know, over the years, over the years, I, I had taught many things.
Ron Feldman (09:13):
There's different kind of writing motion pictures are based on visuals, a stage plays based on dialogue characters, talking to each other, but a novel is based on the words and the words become important to the reader, telling the story, presenting a visual, presenting a dialogue. And, and, and so I found myself being able to do that because I had understood the different kinds of writing the different formats. And I try to stick somewhat rigidly to the, to the out of, of telling a story and, and, and moving on with, with the next event,
You've written a bunch of different things. You've written a young adult mystery, the crossover mystery, a coming of age book, read red hook,
Ron Feldman (10:16):
Just, just, just so happened to have it, but it's all backwards. Yes.
Ron Feldman (10:21):
Red hook is where I was born. And in fact, I literally lived in these, in these buildings. I don't know whether you can see them. I can as a kid. Yes.
I think of most interest to the listeners of specifically for seniors is your truth thriller series. There are now three books in that series.
Ron Feldman (10:45):
There are three that are published. I think I, I showed you this one.
Ron Feldman (10:50):
That's little secrets, big lies. The truth be told
Ron Feldman (10:55):
This, this one, if truth be told, which is a, got a five star rating from a group called reader's favorites. And the last publish book was far from the truth. Also a five star rating from reader's favorites.
That's the one I'm in the middle of reading right now.
Ron Feldman (11:14):
Oh, that's the one I gave you. Okay. Yeah.
Which of them compared you to David bocci?
Ron Feldman (11:21):
The, this one? The, this, this one? Yeah,
Far from the truth.
Ron Feldman (11:27):
How was that done?
Ron Feldman (11:31):
You know, I, I, I, I bumped into a guy at a a book conference in Manhattan at the tra at the I can't think of a center, big center in Manhattan and
Java Java center.
Ron Feldman (11:48):
Javitz thank you. Yes. JZ at the Javit center. And he he, you know, he told me what he did. He, you know, he said he has this website a, a big website that, that he uses. And if I submit to him, he'll do an analysis of my book. And I don't know whether this is based on an, an algorithm. I think it probably was. So I sent, I sent it to him and then sent me that piece of paper that I think I passed off to you showing you know, to what degree I am like David BDA and two other writers. I, I read BDA a lot. And so maybe, maybe that's part of what happened. I kind of not stole. Right. But I kind of mimic some of the way he writes.
And what you're referring to is a I guess, a website called store it.
Ron Feldman (12:43):
Yes. Correct. I'm sorry. Score
Ron Feldman (12:45):
I'm sorry. Yes. Yes.
And it compared 96, 90 9% in different categories to David Zahi. Well, yeah,
Ron Feldman (12:57):
I was, I was, I was very shocked and, and, you know, more than a little proud to be compared to him because he's a, he is, he's a world class writer
Now let's talk about the series.
Ron Feldman (13:10):
There are three books, a fourth one is coming out shortly.
Ron Feldman (13:16):
Yes. I just finished it within the past couple of weeks. I'm still playing with with the some of the content and some of the things that I, you know, I have to do and hopefully probably by the end of may, it'll be available. I I'm thinking,
I know there are people here are in the community, very anxious to see, and to read that next book.
Ron Feldman (13:39):
Is that right?
Yeah. From what I've heard now throughout these three and fourth book, is there a continuing storyline does it continue from one to the next?
Ron Feldman (13:56):
Well, the storyline that does continue is the subtext of the relationship between Carl and, and Lisa and Lindsay. They meet in the first book under extraordinary circumstances. He is a, a police officer who helps saves her life at the end of it. In, in the second book, they move on to a, another relationship thing, but the stories, the main stories, the protagonists and the antagonists are, are, are the, are the primary stories. They're, they're the they're growing relationship comes the secondary stories, but they, but they have a, a growing relationship from book 1, 2, 3, and also through four each, each book though has, has different characters and different different problems. The, the, the last book that I just finished is, is, is based on two things, two stories one having to do with some, something called, which the police call wi with sick, w I T S C C the witness protection pro gram an elderly man is murdered.
Ron Feldman (15:14):
They don't know why. And eventually they find out that it probably has something to do with the fact that he, he was in, he was in the witness protection program. That's a secondary story, but a primary story. And that's the biggest one that, that takes up. Most of the space of the book is a about cyber stalking and cyber ransomware. And that demanded a tremendous amount of research in double research and vetting to make sure I know what I was talking about for the wi for the wit sec, I I, I I had a high school buddy who became an, a police officer, a detective Sergeant and, and an undercover agent. So I would be on the phone with George reading to George George, does this make any sense, is this right? Is this wrong? What do people think about it? And George would gimme the best answers that he, that he, he was very, very honest and very direct. So I, I was grateful to have his help and his support, but I had none for the, for the a year cyber problem. And I had to do a tremendous amount of research about how it works, what happens to it. And, and, and then I had to develop a character who did this kind of thing because he was his personality kind of demanded it. And <affirmative>, and that's, that's that's sort of each of the books, I developed characters who,
Ron Feldman (16:40):
Who must do what they, what they do,
Which, which of the books was the most challenging, the first one, or as you go along in the series.
Ron Feldman (16:51):
I think the last one of number of four it's called chasing elusive truths. Because I took on a lot, I took on a lot you know, the witness protection program and, and the cyber stalking and, and the, the growing relationship between me, Carl and leader of the Peter, Carl, and, and Lindsay got to be significant. And I had to make it as real believable, engaging interesting as possible. And that was, that was more of a challenge than the other books. For some reason,
You bring up a, a, an interesting question in my mind, which it's the old chicken and egg question, which comes first, the story, or the characters, or do they develop together?
Ron Feldman (17:51):
Well, Lindsay and Carl developed over the, over the books, but the, but the antagonists develop based on events that I, that you know, that I make up. And then I have to build the characters, the, the antagonists, I, I have to make more than just a, a, a bad guy or a bad gal. And so that, that becomes that becomes a an issue also this, this cyber stalker is a son of two Russian people who came to this country to escape a very poor, a life in Russia. When they came here, he was a kid. And as a kid, he was rejected because he didn't speak English. Well, he, he was an outcast, he was an outsider that made him seek control of his life. And eventually that's how he got into coding and cyberware. And so I, you know, making him a real person was difficult and challenging in a psychological way. I had to determine why he did what he did. It was always very important to me. Why would he do this? How come he did this? And in each stage of, of, of, of his story an event occurred, which challenged him even more and made him continue on with what he was doing, which is cyberstalking a young woman and cyberstalking banks and, and other places across the country. And eventually that led to a very tragic event.
I'm pausing for a minute. Just thinking about the way you develop a character it, it sort of blows my mind a little bit. No, I, I, I try, I tried to write a novel and I got 60,000 words to it. That's
Ron Feldman (19:52):
And decided that I didn't like any of the characters they weren't developing properly. Maybe I'll talk to you anyway enough. This is gonna be a strange question. As you go on writing a, a particular story with particular protagonists and an miss, how much influence do the characters themselves have on the way you are writing the story? Do they talk to you?
Ron Feldman (20:23):
You, well, I, I, I think we, we, we chatted about this once before, when you, when we spoke on the phone and the answer is an absolute. Yes. and, and the, the, the first few times this happened at I thought maybe I was getting a little psychotic. I would've thought maybe I was getting crazy, because if I would, if I would, if I would want to have the characters do something that wasn't, befiting who I made them to be beforehand they wouldn't do it. And, and, and, and, and somehow they had controlled my fingers on the laptop to, to, to, to insert, you know, the right keystrokes to make sure that it was it, it was more genuine to who they really were. Not who, not, not, not making them for an audience, but rather for the, for, you know, for them. And so yes they take over sometimes and they, and they, and they do that. They, they do take over good guys and bad guys as well.
Yeah. I, I found that a couple of the victims I was trying to write about refused to be victims in the way I wanted them to be <laugh>. So it just a very strange feeling, even as a, a very amateur amateur attempt at writing
Ron Feldman (21:47):
It is, it, it is bizarre, but it, you know, I I, I thought at first I was the only one who felt this way, but over the years, I've I've spoken to other writers and many have the same understanding of their characters, especially if they have characters that go from one book to another and, and, and the relationships grow and, and, and the charact grow you know, that does happen. Yes.
How well did you get to know Lindsay and Carl? Wow. I mean, I I'm asking it like, these people really exist, but to you, apparently they do
Ron Feldman (22:27):
Well, you know, Lindsay has gone through a, a terrible event in the first book which caused her to do things that she would never have done as a psychologist as, as, as a well trained psychologist. And so she, she, she had to develop past the pro problem and I, and I had to make her develop past the problem. And, and, you know, I think, I think part of what I was able to do and understand was based on the undergraduate degree I have in psychology, in English. And so, and, and the fact that my brother, my brother is, is a psychologist. And so I, I, I always wanted to, to know why somebody did something and what effect it had on them. And also when you write about characters, there are two sides to the character. One is what the character thinks of him or herself, I'm this I'm that. And the other is what the, what the others outside of that character, the, the other, the other characters think of that character. And you have to balance that because sometimes they don't, they, most of the times they, they don't match. But as I developed Carl and Lindsay, they became almost like one, they knew each other thoroughly, they respected each other thoroughly and eventually fell in love thoroughly.
Do they become your friends
Ron Feldman (24:02):
To become my friends? I, if that's a good question, I'm
In a way, I mean, I know they're characters, so they're not real, but
Ron Feldman (24:10):
Yeah. Do I like them? Do, do, do I respect them? Would I, would, I wanna have a drink with, with, with Carl cause he, he drinks scotch as I do. Would I wanna have a scotch with him? Yes. Would, would I wanna sit in, in with you know, Lindsay's office and, and tell her all my troubles <laugh> yes. So in that sense, I, I think, I think the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes. Even though they're much younger than me,
This is, this has been, this has been fascinating. <Laugh>, I mean, I, I have really enjoyed this conversation <affirmative> and I'm anxious. I probably should start with the first book and let them develop as they go along.
Ron Feldman (24:55):
It's a very different story than the other ones, because she, she, she is introduced and he, he, he comes along later on. But it's, it's it's a good beginning. It's a good beginning. It's a good beginning for the characters that develop later on. Yes.
Because the first book doesn't say truth in the title.
Ron Feldman (25:23):
No. It starts out with lies. <Affirmative> rather than truth.
Ron Feldman (25:29):
Right. Little secrets, big lies. And, and, and, and that's, that's what happens in that story she has just been divorced is, is vulnerable. And she meets a man who is not exactly what he seems to be, Which causes her tremendous problems and a problem for one of her patients. And she has to deal with it. She has to deal with the regret and she has to deal with the potential guilt that she feels for bringing this guy into her life.
How did it evolve from big lies to truths?
Ron Feldman (26:15):
Well, you know, the opposite of lies are truth. So the, the, the
There must change in focus or
Ron Feldman (26:29):
No, I, I, I never felt it was a difference to be honest with you. I never felt it was a difference. You know, this, the, the, the title of second book, if truth be told is, is is based on a bunch of lies that the, that the antagonists tell everybody. And so I, maybe I, maybe I just sort of flipped it over from lies to, to the truth and the third book which is far from the truth, because it's, it's it, it's kind of an international story but, but, you know, I never thought about it that way. I don't know. I don't know how it happened. I honestly don't know <laugh>.
This is, as I said before, this has been a great conversation. Thank you. You anticipate the fourth book to be of available.
Ron Feldman (27:25):
I think the end of may, I think the end of may you know, the, the, the, the first draft is finished. I've edited it twice. I have to send it out to an editor to make sure that mostly, mostly that the storyline makes sense. I don't need too much P proof reading, I don't think, but there's always, there's always things that I, that I don't see that might be you know, need to be fixed. So that has to be done. And I have a, a few other things that have to be done with the, with the formatting and so forth, because I self-publish these books. And so that it's gonna take, that's gonna take a while. And it's gonna take a while because I wanna reach the point where I feel comfortable putting it into the world. I wanna feel comfortable doing that. And sometimes the books challenge me to do that. Sometimes they sit for a little longer than they should waiting to be born. They're finished, but they're waiting to come outta the womb, so to speak. And this one, this one I'm gonna push out. I'm gonna push out. <Laugh> sometime by the end of may, I'm hoping.
And where will your, where are your books available for listeners who are interested in getting copies? Well,
Ron Feldman (28:48):
They're on amazon.com both in print, as you see, and as a, as a Kindle, but they're at a bunch of other sites as well. And, and they're also available on apple. They're also available on look, press from Barnes and noble. They're also available on Cobo, K O B O and prop probably 10 or 12 others. E-Readers around the world. I, I have, I have readers from many countries that I, you know, that I've never been to including a fellow from India who reads my books and, and even writes reviews for me, which is, which is what the goal of every writer is. You will wanna have a good review. You wanna have somebody write a review on for your book and say, it's good aside from just friends and, and relatives. And this guy who lives in, in India gave me a wonderful review on several books. So I'm, I'm pleased about that,
Ron. Thank you so much for coming on specifically.
Ron Feldman (29:46):
Its been my pleasure.
It's been fun.
Ron Feldman (29:49):
It's been it's yeah, it's been very good for me too. I appreciate you. Your, your helping getting me getting me connected and set up here this morning. <Laugh> yeah.
And getting the shades up so I can see
Ron Feldman (30:00):
You. Yes. Yes. <Laugh>
Thanks again, Ron. If you found this podcast interesting, fun or helpful, we'd appreciate it. If you tell your friends and family and click on the follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts until next time I'm Larry bar and you've been listening to specifically for seniors.
My love of story started when I was a child listening to my mother read to me. Later, in high school, I earned my first byline for the school newspaper. I have the copy to this day.
After high school I attended the University of Toledo where I earned a B.A. in English and psychology. I earned a Masters in English from Hofstra and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Administration and Management.
Over the many years that followed, I taught writing to high school and college journalism students at C.W. Post College of Long Island University. I was named Coordinator of the Print and Broadcast Journalism Department. I was the President of the School Press Association, as such I coordinated conferences at C.W. Post where invited Newsday and several broadcasters came to speak to the students attending.
As Director of Marketing and Advertising for WDF. Inc. - an HVAC and plumbing construction company -I wrote copy for Bloomberg Radio broadcast commercials highlighting our company. Also, worked withMcGraw-Hill posting ads in several of their construction magazines.
In private, I wrote throughout most of my adult life including screenplays requested by Hollywood producers (unfortunately none produced), a three one act play for a staged reading. Several magazine and newspaper stories for publications on Long Island, New York. One interest I had was Jazz. I wrote for a local magazine reviewing Jazz artists such as Paul Desmond and others less well known.
My work in writing grew to include over thirty published and not published writings; short stories, plays, screenplays, fiction for adults (the TRUTH thriller series which received two 5 star reviews -"If Truth Be Told", "Far From The Truth" and compared to David Baldacci, Young Adult mystery "The Crossover Mystery (published) and Middle Grade (published) coming of age book, "Red Hook Brooklyn". Book fourin my TRUTH thriller series ("Chasing Elusive Truths") is in post writing stages. The story involves a cyber stalker and his growing psychological decline into murder.
My writing has been praised for its fast paced, twisty stories with complicated and fully formed characters. Several readers said the stories would make a binge worthy streaming TV series. My fantasy is that it will happen.
Character and story are the basis, I believe, for an interesting tale told. Rounded, fully formed characters lead the way for story to evolve. As a result, my writing has less exposition than many literary writers.
My books are sold at: https://amzn.to/31LyYRe, little secrets, BIG LIES; http://bit.ly/2XEhOTm, review of If Truth Be Told; https://amzn.to/2CtZB2Y, If Truth Be Told; https://amzn.to/2RNuRzt, Far From the Truth ( see separate sheet comparing me to David Baldacci). Also at Apple, Kobo, Nook Press (Barnes and Noble) and several other e-Readers.
Books for younger readers: The Crossover Mystery (YA), https://amzn.to/2YcDdnX; Red Hook Brooklyn,
https://amn.to/2Ya8b09, Middle Grade book about three ten year old friends growing up in Brooklyn in 1953