Name Jack Getze
Where are you from?
Southern California. I was born in New Orleans where my Dad was stationed during the war. He fought the tough battles of WWII writing Army press releases. But my Dad grew up in Oceanside, CA where my mother spent her teenage summers (a Southern belle from Mississippi). My older brother was born in Oceanside and I lived there until I was three. We moved to a burb in East Los Angeles when my Dad got a job with the Los Angeles Mirror.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect
Everybody read books in my house, my Dad and brother only stopping for dinner. Everybody was a college graduate but me, although part of the reason I did so poorly in high school were the books and stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Somerset Maugham. They were much more interesting to read than algebra, science, and history books, so I read like crazy in high school, just not the stuff I was supposed to. I worked in a gas station after HS graduation, then a Chevrolet agency, and finally as a copyboy for the old L.A. Herald-Examiner. I earned my first byline at 19, and moved to the L.A. Times as a reporter when I was 24.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m working with a new agent, Paula Munier of Talcott Notch, who’s trying to find my Austin Carr series a new home. Paula has a great sense of humor and right now is my favorite person alive.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I tried some short stories for English in grammar school and decided it was even more fun writing than reading them. I was a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur C. Doyle, so I started trying myself. Making stuff up, coming up with twists and surprises, was very entertaining, especially when the teacher read them in class.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I saw my first byline in the LA Herald Examiner. I was 19. That was an exciting day. I realized I wanted to keep seeing my byline, maybe on bigger and bigger stories.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The Vietnam War, or maybe it was For Whom the Bell Tolls. Let me explain: I was in my early 20s, had already lost two friends to the war, and no one could explain to me why people had to die there. If they wanted to be Communists, I reasoned, let them be Communists. It’s their freaking country. At the time I was also reading Hemingway, so I started my first novel about a group of young people hiding in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles and starting a revolution. I didn’t get too far, thank goodness. My first published book was BIG NUMBERS.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Reviewers have called my writing short and punchy, but I’d rather believe I’m being very clear. Clarity is the most important thing in writing, of course. People must understand what you’re saying, although sometimes I think some critics and many so-called literary writers don’t agree. That’s okay. “Literary” writers and I rarely agree about anything.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
BIG NUMBERS is a phrase used inside brokerage offices all day long. Brokers could be talking about a single trade, their commission run, or a big client. Selling securities is a game of numbers, and brokers like nothing better than BIG ones.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, and it’s pretty obvious. Men often think with their penis and this leads to very bad decisions. Ha. And we (well, some of us) do it over and over again, too, all of our freaking lives.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I exaggerate a lot (ask my wife on our wedding night), but every major event and every single story is based on truth. The giant tuna. My hero living in his camper. And especially the way brokers look at and talk about clients and other brokers. It’s a cutthroat business. I actually had a (former) friend rifle my desk one night to find the phone number of my very rich client. He left soon thereafter and within a week I’d lost that big client. I have no idea what he said to the guy. But it worked. For a few months there, I would have started a fight if I’d seen him. Ha.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
That’s my life, Fiona. Divorce. Campers. Redheads. The tuna happened to somebody else.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Catcher in the Rye first of all. The world just opened up to me after reading that book. I’m not sure why. It felt like he was talking to me and I knew exactly what he was complaining about. That book cemented my idea about being a writer. After that, I’d say Chandler, Hammitt, and John D. Macdonald showed me how to write a novel – or the kind of book I love to read anyway. That’s what I strive for.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Elmore Leonard. I think he’s the best novelist working. Twice the writer of anyone hailed by the critics as a literary genius. I don’t even want to mention their names, but you know whom I mean. You work at their novels, study them, try to understand what they’re attempting to tell you. Elmore’s writing is so smooth; you hardly know you’re reading. And his characters are the stuff of Dickens and Shakespeare, not the tortured creeps of today’s “literature.”
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
SLUGFEST by Rosemary Harris. She’s very entertaining (which is the business writers are in folks) and makes me laugh out loud. She’s one heck of a writer, too.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I follow a couple of the young writers whose stories I’ve purchased for Spinetingler Magazine. Chris Holm is doing great. Hillary Davidson is another who’s achieving success. And I’m a fan of Sandra Ruttan, the young lady who founded Spinetingler.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m writing a thriller about a Native American trying to save his culture from extinction. It’s a story about the California desert and with an element of history from my family’s past.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Writers Retreat Workshop. Started 25 years ago by Gary Provost, WRW helps writers learn the craft of storytelling. It is NOT a God-given talent. I met friends at WRW 14 years ago that are my closest friends today. It’s amazing. Writers need other writers for support, and no one knows this more than me. I didn’t sell a thing for 20 years because I was locked in a room writing seven unpublished novels. I had to join WRW and see the light, get out into the world.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Nope. I made a living other ways. Writing has always been my art.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m sure I’d change words in every paragraph. I think that’s how I realize I’m done, ready to send the manuscript to my agent: I’m changing “the” to “a” or some such minor detail over and over again. Give up, Johnny Boy! Stick a fork in that puppy!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I mentioned, everyone in my family read books all the time. I learned to read early and loved stories. I wanted to make them, too.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Well, not much. Someone I love very much is very sick, and the situation has so affected me, I’ve been unable to work on my fiction every day for the first time in 30 years. I’ve turned to keeping a diary, one for therapy, two for my writing, and I’m investing so much of myself in the dairy, I hope someday I’ll be able to make a wonderful work of fiction from it. I’d rather not say anymore.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’m a big believe in Elmore Leonard’s idea that authors should leave out the kind of detail they skip when reading. I love Sue Grafton’s books, but I find myself skipping long paragraphs that begin with the size of the room and end 500 words later with a lamp. No problem, I just move ahead to where something happens. And looking at other successful authors, I think I often leave too much detail to the reader’s imagination. I’d love a top-notch editor one day.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Elmore Leonard. The stories are usually so good, always building to the kind of climax I love. The High Noon Showdown. Elmore just takes you places and into conversations that grab you by the throat. Remember the end of GET SHORTY, the bad guy has the good guy on that wooden balcony high above the lights of Hollywood? And the bolts from the railing have been removed? Somebody’s gonna fall …
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I thought promotion was important when the books came out, so yes, I traveled to eight or nine mystery conventions, the last one being Bouchercon 2009.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The covers you see now on Amazon and elsewhere sere designed by my former publisher. I have the rights to those two books now, plus I’ve written two more Austin Carr adventures. My agent is looking for a new home right now.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The first draft. You’re not sure exactly where things are headed, so you make mistakes, waste time, and create a good little pile of crappola that has to be chucked later. Meantime, you have to keep going with the story, not getting discouraged by the mistakes and inner voice saying the whole thing sucks.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
More than anything, I learned how hard it is to get anyone to read your work. Two million books published or self-published last year, maybe 2.5 million this year. Newspapers and magazines that cover fiction are shrinking. Online is where novelists can get some publicity, but much of the book buying public pays no attention. Book stores and librarians are inundated and thick-skinned. It’s a tough world.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Beginners should learn from my experience. Don’t lock yourself in a garret and write novel after novel without getting feedback. Join writers’ groups. Attend writing workshops. Learn about the CRAFT of writing fiction and storytelling. It’s a very special kind of writing that you need to learn. It does not come natural. Poetry does – great writing. But not storytelling. Also, learning to take criticism is an art unto itself. Learn it. That’s the only way you get better.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Austin Carr is still kicking. While preparing covers for a do-it-yourself, four-book splash on Kindle, an agent talking me into letting her try the traditional approach. I will give Ms. M. all the time she wants.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ? I love beachcombing and hiking through forests or deserts, my eyes on the ground hunting for stuff. Is this some kind of hunter-gatherer genetic thing? Anyway, if I could have made it through school (no way!) I would have liked anthropology, something where I’d get to walk around looking for stuff. My favorite TV show is Meteorite Men.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?
I slowed quite a bit blogging, but Austin Carr often talks about hot stocks and redheaded women at http://austincarrscrimediary.blogspot.com/
But I spend more time commenting on Spinetingler’s page lately.