Jacob Appel interview with David Alan Binder

posted Sep 1, 2016, 6:08 AM by David Alan Binder

Jacob Appel interview with David Alan Binder

Bio from his website:  Jacob M. Appel's first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012.  His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and was published by Black Lawrence in November 2013.  He is the author of five other collections of short stories:  The Magic Laundry, The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street, Einstein's Beach House, Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana and Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets; an essay collection, Phoning Home; and another novel, The Biology of Luck.

Jacob has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals including Agni, Alaska Quarterly Review, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, Story Quarterly, Subtropics, Threepenny Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch.  He has won the New Millennium Writings contest four times, the Writer's Digest "grand prize" twice, and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom competition in both fiction and creative nonfiction.  He has also won annual contests sponsored by Boston Review, Missouri Review, Arts & Letters, Bellingham Review, Briar Cliff Review, North American Review, Sycamore Review, Writers' Voice, the Dana Awards, the Salem Center for Women Writers, and Washington Square.  His work has been short listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), Best American Essays (2011, 2012), and received "special mention" for the Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013.

Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown University, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia University, an M.S. in bioethics from the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College, an M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, an M.F.A. in playwriting from Queens College, an M.P.H. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He has most recently taught at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was honored with the Undergraduate Council of Students Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003, and at the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City.  He also publishes in the field of bioethics and contributes to such publications as the Journal of Clinical Ethics, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the Hastings Center Report, and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.  His essays have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Times, The Providence Journal and many regional newspapers.

Jacob has been admitted to the practice of law in New York State and Rhode Island, and is a licensed New York City sightseeing guide.

 Website:  www.jacobmappel.com

 Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Jacob-M-Appel/e/B00FIG0XVM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1472317590&sr=8-2

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6884139.Jacob_M_Appel?from_search=true

 Please note that readers can also email me directly at jacobmappel@gmail.com for complimentary PDFs of several of my recent books.

 

1.     How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)? 

Accent on the second syllable – to rhyme with “a well” – not like the fruit.  That being said, I’ll answer to almost anything.  Jeopardy rules apply:  Spelling doesn’t count, but if you spell Norway F-I-N-L-A-N-D, you don’t get credit. 

 

2.     Where are you currently living?

In Sophia Loren’s future apartment.  She hasn’t agreed to move in yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

 

3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

Always cap the pen before you put it back in your pocket.

 

4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

I have received 21,000+ (THIS IS NOT A TYPO, twenty one thousand) rejection letters….and yet I keep on trying.  And that figure doesn’t even count the women who turned my down for dates in college.

 

5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

There are so many wonderful small presses these days, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would self-publish except in niche fields.  The most important question to ask in advance is, How will I distribute this book?  If you don’t have a good answer to that question, you’re not ready to publish. 

 

a.     What is the name of your publisher and in what state are they?

            I’ve worked with a number of excellent publishers including Elephant Rock

          (Connecticut), Pressgang (Indiana), Snake Nation (Georgia), Black

 Lawrence (Pennsylvania), Howling Bird (Minnesota), CozyCat (Iowa),

 Permanent Press (New York) and the University of South Carolina Press.

 

6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Print books generally prove much more enjoyable during lengthy power outages.  They’re also a much better source of protein.

 

7.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?  

Marry a Nobel Prize winner.  If that’s not an option, sleep with as many editors as possible.

 

8.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I acquired my agent by luck.  I would recommend literary talent as a preferable alternative.

 

9.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Be relentless.  Send your work out early and often.  My challenge to your readers is to name a writer who found success by hoarding his work under his mattress until he achieved perfection.

10.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

No matter how many hours I spend writing each day, they still charge me $2.75 to get on the subway.

11.                        How many books have you written? 

Dozens.  But I’ve only published ten.

 

12.                          Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? 

If you’ve written something you’re afraid to show your mother, you have a worthwhile book on your hands.  If you’ve written something you’re afraid to show your spouse, be prepared for a lot of marital counseling. 

 

13.                          Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

 When in doubt, introduce a dog.  Dogs are unpredictable.  And that way, even if your story doesn’t work out, at least you’ll have a dog.

14.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

The hundred dollar bills I often tape inside the front covers.

 

15.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?

I give away complimentary eBooks.  Please email me at jacobmappel@gmail.com for copies.  I visit bookstores, libraries and book clubs.  Please email me if you would like a guest.

 

16.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I’d win a Pulitzer for my first book and live off the laurels.

 

17.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

Be optimistic.  Always put on clean underwear if you’re going on a date.

 

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