When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
As long as I can remember. I got my first library card the summer before I began kindergarten, and immediately fell in love with books. I knew then, that I had to have a book of my own sitting in libraries.
What are the issues you like to write about?
I like the challenge of “making sense of things.” That generally sends me toward history because most issues are best understood when placed in their proper context.
How did you come to write “Boardwalk Empire”?
I represented the A.C. Planning Board during the early days of casino gambling. I saw so much disfunction and corruption in City Hall that I had to discover the roots of it all.
How did you get “B/E” published and then work its way to the HBO series?
One word, Persistence. Not enough time or space on this website to discuss the entire adventure from writing to creation of the series.
Any advice to aspiring authors?
Writing is re-writing. Know starting out that writing well requires a serious investment of your time.
Any additional advice?
Write your passion. When you are passionate about something, put all your energy into researching and writing about it. Even if no one else likes what you’ve written, you will. Query, is passion the highest form of reason, or is reason the highest form of passion?
Any additional advice?
If you have a preference of genres, read it regularly and see how successful writers address those matters that interest you.
What is your writing schedule?
Most mornings I rise about 5-5:30, do my daily stretching routine and begin work by 5:45-6:00. I will generally work until noon. I walk my dog, swim, bike ride, read, cook, eat, tv, spend time with my Bride, etc. and usually take time in the evening to edit/re-write something I wrote earlier.
Any role models for writing generally?
Ernest Hemingway, Robert Caro, Jill Lepore, Jane Mayer, David McCullough, and many others. Every aspiring writer would benefit from the several works on writing by William Zinsser.
Of your three books, which is most fulfilling?
The Northside. I captured a story that I believe was in danger of being lost to history.
What are you working on now?
The two worst years in the life of the legendary lawyer, Clarence Darrow: 1911-13. Darrow and his wife, Ruby traveled to Los Angeles to represent union terrorists, the “McNamara Brothers,” responsible for the destruction of the Los Angeles Times building, killing 20 people. To save them from hanging, Darrow pled the brothers, but within weeks of the guilty pleas, Darrow himself was charged with attempting to bribe a juror. He was represented by an extraordinary attorney, Earl Rogers. The trial transcript runs 8,500(+) pages, and is filled with many cinematic scenes. I believe that I am the only author to write about the trial who has read the entire transcript.