Name Jack Carlow
Where are you from Boston
A little about your self your education Family life etc.
Grew up in a loving Catholic home with 4 siblings. Attended parochial high school. Degree in Engineering and an MBA. Worked in many large and small companies before starting my own consulting firm advising small companies in how to grow. Many successful clients; many friends that go back as far as high school that I still see regularly and play golf with.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Just published “A Catholic Engineer Searches For God”, a book for people questioning their religious beliefs –which probably includes 50%-75% of all people in this country and all other “civilized” countries in the world. Using small words and easily understood concepts, the book logically takes the reader from belief to questioning to nonbelief. Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? have baffled philosophers for millenia–I’ve tried to answer these “big questions” in a logical, easy to understand style with some humor thrown in, and in a way that will hopefully have the reader agree with me as they finish the book. Many books written about the existence of God require a PhD in physics/religion etc. in order to follow the authors’ train of thought. Common sense says that the decision making a person uses in deciding that they believe God exists, should be rather straight forward and not difficult. And if they believe that God doesn’t exist, that shouldn’t be difficult either. So, I’ve tried to follow that approach–determining/believing whether God exists, in a simple, easily understood, straightforward manner. Fiona, I would guess that you’re rather busy, but if you happen to be one of those who is wondering/questioning what you believe, you may find this book of interest.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Have written 10,000+ business plans, proposals, memos, etc. Began writing this book in mid April 2014 as a result of discussions with my siblings about God/religion and my desire to logically sum up my views on the subject. Decided that I wanted to try and provide insight to big questions/subjects encountered during one’s life. Wanted to be able to explain things that people wondered about with small words, short sentences, easy to grasp ideas.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always thought that I could write from the time my 8th grade battlaxe teacher, Alice B. Wallace, demanded that we diagram sentences properly and use correct grammar– I thank her to this day. (Later during that year I also delivered newspapers to her house and realized that she was a nice lady who actually liked me.)
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Frustration with the reluctance of the majority of the public to question things that they encounter in their lives, their lack of curiosity,
their reluctance to question authority figures, etc. A few people feel that I express some anger in the book, but it’s really only frustration.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to write in a conversational style that’s easily grasped/easily understood. I’m not really interested in The Chicago Manual Of Style.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Original title was “God Of Nonsense” but I thought it was a little harsh and could turn some people off. “A Catholic Engineer Searches For God” is a play on words–a Catholic by definition doesn’t need to search for God–they already believe. But, on the other hand, the title sums up the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The messages are: religion is nonsense(a little harsh I know but neverless true); there (most probably) is no God; think for yourself–ask questions–be curious.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
100%–This is the answer to 2,000+ years of philosophers questions–in a sense, it doesn’t get more realistic than this.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of the above plus thousands of years of human history. In the book, Mary Sullivan(name changed), my cousin who died of breast cancer while praying and forgoing medical treatment is a true story. As is Bill Arpano(name changed), a former college classmate and Christian Scientist who died of prostate cancer as a result of rejecting medical treatment and praying instead. As an adult, in general, depending on the subject, you research, you discuss, you question
and then determine what to believe. But with religion/God first you believe and as time goes on maybe you research, you discuss, you question–totally backwards.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Tough to say–maybe all the books(including The Bible, Shakespeare,etc. [amazing how many everyday expressions come from those two]) encountered through years of formal schooling; but more likely the 3-4 newspapers that I read daily and other periodicals.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
One doesn’t stand out but obviously Shakespeare and the other classic writers including whoever wrote Dick And Jane which was my first encounter.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Vince Flynn (Mitch Rapp) writing from beyond the grave(by Kyle Mills), Ted Bell, Daniel Silva—all espionage, adventure, escapism.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Sorry, but not really.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
May write a book–“The Color Lie”–describing how most immigrant groups to this country were discriminated against–how they overcame discrimination–why blacks have not risen as successfully as these other groups–and why it’s not about color.
Another book may be “The Tipping Point” which will trace the rise of fire department staffing levels over the last 100 years even though there are far fewer fires today (more fire retardant materials, no open flames/candles, advent of central heating,etc.) and how this creeping rise will eventually lead to an election tipping point where government workers (local, state, and federal)along with those receiving government assistance (welfare, social security, etc.) will control elections leading us to gradually, inevitably becoming Greece.
Another is titled “State Of Fear” describing how the media has convinced every mother in America that there are killers lurking behind every tree which is why you don’t see kids playing ball at the park by themselves, building tree houses by themselves, playing in the neighborhood streets with other kids, exploring fields and woods, etc. and the effect this may have on their own independence, creativity, initiative,etc. in the long run. When I grew up, TV was just starting and there were only 2-3 channels. Now, there’s too many channels chasing too little news.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Friends. I have a lot of friends from parochial high school days (which I assume is rather not typical). Some of them I see weekly especially during the golf season. Some have provided feedback on the book (generally very positive). The book is really not for “believers” but rather for those questioning their beliefs– which is a far bigger population. One of my buddies “accidentally” forwarded the book to another friend who happens to be a deacon in the Church. I’m waiting to hear his feedback–meanwhile we’ll always remain friends.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing could be my second career–there’s lots of big issues (like as previously stated why haven’t blacks as a group achieved as much as other discriminated minorities such as Asians and Jews–breakdown of the family unit? missing black fathers?) that need to be discussed/ explained to the great mass of people. Religion/God which I’ve tried to cover in this book is one of the biggest, broadest subjects that people need to come to grips with.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Maybe I could soften some of the wording but I really feel that I said all I could say, all I wanted and needed to say about the subject. Some of the subjects/ideas in the book could be expanded upon endlessly, but without contributing much additional insight. I think I’m truly satisfied that the book accomplishes its objectives in a reasonable, readable, focused , hold your attention, limited number of words manner. Maybe in writing fiction the more words the better –to enhance characters, lengthen the story, delay the inevitable end when people put the book down and “say goodbye to a friend”. But in nonfiction maybe it’s better to get to the point/conclusion more quickly and clearly.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Really don’t recall–just always thought that I had an ability to communicate/connect with people both verbally in person and in writing in a conversational, direct, to the point style that’s easy to grasp/understand.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Readers can go to my website to read an excerpt: http://www.jackcarlow.com/?page_id=8
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It’s not the writing (that just takes discipline/ stick-to-itiveness) –and it’s not getting published what with print-on-demand/self publishing– it’s the marketing/ getting people to buy. Do you have any help/any advice? I know this book is “my baby”, but even given that, I wish that it could be visible/ read/available to all those in particular of Catholic heritage (especially those over the age 30 or maybe 50) as it might help them crystallize feelings/doubts/questions that are on their minds.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
No favorite authors. What strikes me about Flynn, Bell, and Silva is that, in a way, they keep repeating the same book–just change some of the locales and villains names–but they’re still enjoyable.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, thanks to the subject matter and the internet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
A friend, who at this point due to the subject matter would rather remain unnamed.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
No hardest part my thoughts in writing. On the other hand, I don’t think that I could have written this book 40 years ago at age 20, and maybe not even 20 or 30 years ago. For me, I think it took this long except having these ideas stew in my mind for decades until circumstances motivated me to put to overcome the initial religious programming, to become frustrated with people’s lack of questioning, and to formulate my own ideas.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Doing this book, learned loads of detailed things about ancient Egypt, evolution, the Big Bang, etc. but they’re just details to the big question of “Is There A God?” Perhaps most rewarding was that by going through the writing process, I was forced to clearly, logically present my thoughts and ideas about God/religion first to myself and then (hopefully) to other readers of this book.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just do it–don’t let the literary “elite” dissuade you–everybody’s got at least one book in them needing to be expressed/written.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Don’t be afraid to question–it’s the right and duty of every citizen of the country, the planet, the Universe. Don’t let The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe et al tell you how to think. Besides, as regards the subject matter in this book, if there is a benevolent God, He, She, or It would not penalize you for questioning.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
” Dick And Jane” –1st grade–maybe the most “impactful” book of my life.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My kids, my family, my friends, myself–occasionally a movie/TV–like Cheers, Wings, All In The Family, The Cosby Show (maybe not so much now), Frazier, Mad About You, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiam, old Woody Allen movies, old Saturday Night Live, I Love Lucy(can still hear my Mom laughing hysterically), George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, Johnny Carson, Steve Allen, Carol Burnett, Henny Youngman, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Billy Crystal, etc. There’s too many sitcoms now (and for many years) that are not only stupid, but commit the cardinal sin of not being funny.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Too many to list– but the most important person to meet (that many people have difficulty with and never meet) is oneself.
Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone and why?
Want to be cremated and ashes spread to favorite places like golf courses, Bermuda, Sanibel, etc.–after a generation or two, nobody reads headstones. Epitaph: he was unique, he made you think, he was a great father and grandfather(I hope).
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Running (2 Boston Marathons), golf (including a hole in one-1996), the gym, travel, vacations, family, friends.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Usually action/adventure, travel, news, educational, Rick Steves, Nova, Frontline, Sunday morning political shows, Mad Money, Morning Joe, sports, Anthony Bourdain, CNN.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Depends on the day, mood, etc.–way too many variables. When I was recently in Germany, the basic German food bordered on inedible so we mainly ate Italian which was terrific. Music– the great American songbook, sometimes classical depending on my stress level of the day, Sinatra, etc. When it comes to color, how can there be a favorite? I like navy blue sweatshirts but not navy blue pants–prefer shades of khaki. Love the aquamarine water as you fly in to Bermuda. Love a great red sauce on pizza and pasta. Red looks good on lobster as well. Love the big orange rising Moon or setting Sun. The dark, bright green grass at Fenway Park on a warm summer night is just magical. The vibrant green in Green Giant frozen peas is just right–what if they were purple? Wonderful tree frogs in Bermuda are different shades of green (to blend with the plants). Love to watch quickly moving puffy white clouds–also like white sneakers. Hershey’s kisses couldn’t be any other color except dark brown. British Racing Green is the only color for a Jaguar (and the color of my 2003 XJ8 with 110,000 miles). What does it mean if a person only likes one color? Are they missing whole other interesting aspects of life?
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
My first career was/is in business specializing as a consultant to primarily small businesses advising them how to grow. The “fun” in working with small companies is that you work directly with the decision maker(the owner) so things can happen fast; also helping companies grow is exiting (as opposed to helping them solve problems). Maybe I would have been in investment banking (I like to think that I’m good at selling/ good with numbers/ good at seeing patterns/good at analysis) or maybe some other entrepreneurial adventure. I’m Irish so I would have been good at politics or maybe investigative journalism. Probably would have been a good lawyer(litigator) but may have been bored out of my mind–I have a low tolerance for boredom.
. Fiona: Do you have a blog/website?
If so what is it? http://www.jackcarlow.com/
Amazon Authors Page http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Carlow/e/B0157D8WD6/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1