Our first collaboration was "Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1", which has Lincoln surviving his assassination by virtue of a voodoo-cursed bullet, lying in a coma until he awakens in 1933 and is faced with a world that has passed him by, and a government that very much wants to keep his existence a secret. This book was borne out of a student film project from our days at Emerson College. It had Lincoln in John Dillinger's role and we shot an entire bank-robbing scene and were due to shoot his "death" scene, but it was so cold the cameras froze up. Years later, in 2012, we were reminiscing about the film, whereupon I had an idea that we should turn it into a novel. And while the film was meant to be a one-joke film, we decided to write this story completely straight, peppered with Lincoln's humor throughout. We had so much fun writing this book that we knew we wanted to write a sequel. We thought about having Lincoln during World War II or in the 50s, but the psychedelic 60s seemed like the best bet for another odyssey.
2. What is it about?
In "Abe Lincoln On Acid" Abe reawakens in 1963 and at the outset he has no desire to leave the confines of the dwelling where J. Edgar Hoover is keeping him under house arrest. But as he watches the 60s unfold on his television set, he becomes more and more upset at what is happening to his country. Thus, he conspires to escape his confinement and begins a journey that will have him crisscrossing the country.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
The best thing they could take away from this book, as well as the first one, is that they were entertained and informed. To my thinking taking someone out of their daily lives and giving them a memorable adventure is the highest of callings.
4. What advice do you have for writers?
I'm not going to tell them to write every day, no matter what, because I don't. I really envy the prolific brand name authors out there who can crank out the bestsellers one after another. I don't know how they do it, and I suspect more than a few of them are getting more help than they will admit, but that's another story. However, once I've started a project, my goal is three pages a day—no matter what. Sometimes it's hard, and sometimes those three pages get thrown out the next day, but carving out that special time of day where you focus your energies on the writing is paramount. That's where discipline comes in to play. So, my advice to writers is that once they have that burning idea, don't let it go until it's finished.
5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I don't even pretend to know the answer to that question, and I look at someone who says they know where the industry is heading with a bit of a jaundiced eye. People were saying the print book would be dead by now because of ebooks, but the truth is they each have their place and seem to be coexisting nicely. I also believe that big publishers still have the edge when it comes to launching a new author in a big way. If they want to get behind someone and really push them, they have the money and the resources to make someone a bestselling author right out of the gate. Now, with everyone self-publishing and selling his or her book on the Internet, we have a deluge of material, most of it bad, being foisted on the reading public. And that public has become very adept at tuning out hype. Thus, it has become VERY hard to sell a book by an unknown writer to any meaningful degree. Most of these writers don't have the amount of money it would take to make more than a minor splash in the market. It's disheartening to say the least. Still, writing is what I do, what I love to do, and what I need to do, so I persevere.
6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
The biggest challenge was using as much real history as we could. That was the challenge with both "Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1" and "Abe Lincoln On Acid." The other challenge for me personally was what to do with myself when the manuscript was with my co-author. While writing "Abe Lincoln On Acid" I actually started another novel I could write while Brian had the Lincoln manuscript. It saved me from a bad case of thumb-twiddling.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
I would have to say that it's an honest and carefully researched attempt to portray Abraham Lincoln as a real person, and what he might have made of, and brought to, current world problems. Thus, I think it's safe to say the book has a unique point of view.