Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we talked to Gary Friedman, about his writing and his recenetly released novel Stones and Glass Houses , a hard-hitting literary tale about how a single person’s choices in life can affect their loved ones (read the review here).
Gary Friedman has traveled a long road, interacting with people every step of the way. Gary makes contributions to the betterment of the world every day. Whether in his role as a non-profit volunteer, business owner, coach, counselor, federal employee, or author, it has always been important to Gary to leave the community a better place than when he found it. His home in Western New York has been the backdrop for most of the poignant work he has accomplished so far.
In each of his careers, Gary has made people a priority by observing, listening, and reaching out to those in need and those who need direction. He has authored a series of three inspirational novels, The Shepherd Chronicles, asserting that one man can make a difference, and frequently speaks to audiences promoting that message. Gary’s new novel, Stones and Glass Houses, demonstrates his intrigue with how humanity functions and interacts. His goal is to shake up the reader’s perspective and invoke curiosity and this book does not disappoint.
Enjoying his retirement from the Federal government, Gary spends his days enjoying time with family and friends, traveling and writing. Be sure to visit http://www.garyfriedmanbooks.com to find out more about Gary and The Shepherd Chronicles.
Tell us more about your book.
Stones and Glass Houses tells the intimate story of six main characters all presented with a crossroad in their lives at the same time by the unveiling of the lies told by one man for over thirty years. How they confront their issues and how they choose to move forward with their lives is the heart of the story. We follow each character through their own eyes and through the discovery of the lies, the confrontation that follows and finally where they have chosen to go from that point forward.
What inspired the premise of your book?
To some degree, all of my novels deal with that moment in time where a portion of our world has the potential to change our existence to some degree or another. I am a believer that people face these moments almost daily but by their own choice negotiate the moment away. In the case of this novel, the characters have no choice but to respond but that always isn’t the case. There were two such crossroads in my life, the first one was almost 50 years ago and I ignored it out of the immaturity of youth and the second one was 41 years ago and I acted on it and as a result my life changed dramatically.
Which character was the most challenging to create? Why?
I would say the character Will. He is the character that acts in an extreme way that causes the secrets to come to light. He accidently fell into the truth and felt obligated to act. The only choice he felt he had was the most extreme option and it served to expose the truth and place himself in the way of the gravest consequence one could imagine. He battled with his decision and regretted his choice almost immediately, but in the end was at peace with the future. Creating the emotions he dealt with were challenging as well as the emotions over the personal discovery he would make along the way. While he was the most challenging to deal with, he also became the character I most closely identified with and admired.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
The scene, later in the book, that took place in a cemetery was easily my favorite. It is the point where all the emotions of the main characters came to a head, creating a confrontation that filled in many of the unanswered questions of the story. We came to understand how the lies were told and concealed and even how they were accepted along the way. We come to understand the how of things but never really the why. We also discover another secret that devastates one of the main characters beyond his own imagination. This chapter serves to be an end of life as the all knew it and the beginning of how they will move on from there.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
The readers will come to know eight main characters in this story, 4 women and 4 men. I believe most readers will see a bit of themselves in one character and be able to sit back and wonder how they would have handled this story through the eyes of one of that characters. It may relate to choices they have made in the past or one they are currently facing. Either way, it may shine a light on who they are and why they have made the choices they have made. Even if that connection isn’t made, readers will enjoy the tale and find themselves drawn in to twists and turns no one expects
How does your faith life/ethical outlook inform your writing?
The one aspect of the book that we have yet to discuss is the voice of Humanity. It is that voice which introduces the story to the reader at the beginning and brings together the lessons learned at the end of the tale. Despite the fact that this voice has observed all of the inhabitants of this planet, he is never surprised by the choices people make or how the human race has evolved. This voice is the conscience of the story, sort of my own Rod Serling, who looks at the bigger picture of our times and what the road ahead may look like. It is through this voice that my “faith life/ethical” beliefs sneak in. It is through that voice that the reader is warned, “be careful of the choices you make, for you may not get another chance.”
Do you try to be more original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don’t see myself as a great literary writer. I view it more like I am a storyteller. I certainly hope my novels are original and the intent of writing them is to entertain but to do so with a message. The subtitle to my first novel was “One man can make a difference” I believe that the true measure of a person’s life is not the size of their house or bank account. It’s the number of people they have touched in a positive way, the number of people they have lifted up. I set out to write a story that will do just that and entertain in the process.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Above all, to listen. I mentioned earlier a crossroad I had fifty years ago that I ignored. Here it is. In my first college class, an English course with a full professor, we received an assignment to write a story about anything we like. That was a Monday morning. On Friday, he handed back the results except I didn’t get my paper back. He then told the class that he was going to read the best paper he had ever received in his 25 years of teaching. It was mine. I didn’t listen. Had I followed his direction, I would now have fifty years of writing experience. It took me 45 years to have my first novel published. I wasted an awful lot of time simply by ignoring the best compliment my writing has ever received.
Do you think someone could be a writer if the don’t feel emotions strongly?
Only if they write nonfiction. I believe writers write what they know. Even if you haven’t experienced a direct emotion felt by one of your characters, you have experienced it through a friend or relative. To be able to write convincingly you have to raise the reader to the level of emotion you project. Do you honestly think that someone that has never truly experienced love could describe how it feels, could imagine the intense passion that true love creates, or understand the sacrifices one would make for love simply being an outside observer of the emotion? I think not. Empathy will only take you so far and empathy in this day and age is in dwindling supply.
What does literary success look like to you?
Money is nice. It buys things we think we need. But in truth, that is not what drives my writing. The main character in my first three novels, “The Shepherd Chronicles” was a young man named David. He wandered the countryside making a difference to the lives of the people he encountered. In helping others to find their path, he discovered his own and changed the world. He made a difference. Many people have asked me if I am David. I tell them he is a fictional character, but in many ways, he carries my heart. I want to make a difference as he did. I want to touch people’s hearts. I want to open people’s eyes to see the world and their impact on in a different way. If I can do that, well, I will be a very wealthy man.
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