Please welcome Adam Mitzner to the blog! He kindly stopped by to answer a few of my questions about his brand new book, The Girl From Home, and courtesy of the nice folks at Gallery Books, we’ve got one copy to give away to one lucky winner, so be sure to enter to win at the bottom of the post!
Will you tell us a bit about The Girl From Home and what inspired you to write it?
When writing The Girl From Home, I was thinking about whether people can change. The book centers on Jonathan Caine, a fabulously wealthy investment banker who returns to his hometown to attend his 25th high school reunion and care for his ailing father. I started writing it around the time of my 30th high school reunion, which is about the time when most people evaluate their lives — I know that I was wondering whether my life had turned out the way that I had hoped when I was in high school, and then considering whether a different path was ever even really possible. That’s the central question of the book — can you change your life?
At first glance, Jonathan Caine is not an instantly relatable character. What do you think makes him compelling?
I think everyone imagines what it would be like to be Jonathan Caine. To be rich and glamorous in that way. What people ask themselves less, I think, is whether that would truly make them happy, or what they might have to do to keep what they’ve acquired. Jonathan may not be like you or me, but he’s likely got a life that is a lot like what you wish your life could be like, before you see how empty that kind of life can actually be.
What kind of research did you do for the book, and what is your writing process like?
I visited my hometown, which I hadn’t been back to since my parents moved away about fifteen years earlier. I walked around the mall, drove the streets, and ate at the local diner. It was all in an effort to feel like I was back there again, and remember how I felt when I lived there as a kid and I imagined what my adult life would be like.
How much has your background in law helped in your writing?
My legal career has helped my writing in two distinct ways. First, it’s allowed me to come in contact with personalities that I never could have dreamed existed. One of the best parts of being a lawyer is that you meet so many different types of people and are exposed to so many different work environments. Not only do I know my own law firm, but I’m also intimately familiar with my clients’ business. So one day I’m learning about the intricacies of a hedge fund manager’s day, and the next I’m doing work for an Italian fashion house, which is what allows me to understand (or imagine that I understand) what motivates a hedge fund manager and a fashion designer.
The other way my legal career has helped my writing is that when you’re a lawyer, many people edit your work before it is submitted. Through that process I learned that writing is really about editing. No matter how strong you think your draft is, it can always be better. I probably spend twice as much time editing my books as I do actually putting down the words.
What do you look for in a good story? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
First and foremost, I like to read about interesting people. They don’t have to be particularly likeable, but they do have to hold my interest. That pulls me in more than an exciting plot, although when you have both — great characters and an exciting plot — I can’t finish the book fast enough.
What authors have influenced you the most, in writing, and in life?
Scott Turow and John Grisham made me want to write legal thrillers, and so they probably come first. Writers from different genres — Jonathan Tropper, Ethan Canin, Donna Tartt — make me want to tackle bigger themes and focus on the language. And JK Rowling brought me hours and hours of pleasure reading to my daughter.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Batman comic books. I wish I could read them through a child’s eyes again.
What are you currently reading? Is there anything you’re looking forward to diving into?
I’m reading Ethan Canin’s A Doubter’s Almanac. Not a thriller, but he’s been one of my favorite authors for years and doesn’t publish that often. I had the publication date for this book on my calendar for a while.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m very excited about the prospect of The Girl From Home being made into a movie. Stone Village Productions has optioned it, and while most books that are optioned never make it to the silver screen, this is the first time I’ve had that experience, and so I’m enjoying it. I’m also finishing my next book, which my sixteen year old stepson has declared my best one yet.
About The Girl From Home:
The acclaimed author, whose recent novel of suspense Losing Faith was declared “startling…a well-crafted story” (Kirkus Reviews), takes you on a gripping psychological thrill ride in this electrifying tale of a millionaire who will go to deadly lengths to get what he wants.
Jonathan Caine is a true master of the universe—a currency wizard with a trophy wife, a penthouse condo with a view of the Statue of Liberty, and the desire for more—when his world comes crashing down, spiraling him into a relentless fall from grace. Devastated, Jonathan returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father and attend his twenty-fifth high school reunion, where he becomes reacquainted with former prom queen Jacqueline Williams. Back in the day, Jackie didn’t even know Jonathan existed. Now she is intrigued by the man he has become. But their budding relationship has problems, not the least of which is Jackie’s jealous and abusive husband. Jonathan is determined to learn from his mistakes, but is he capable of complete transformation? Or will a shocking temptation test his desire for redemption beyond anything he could have imagined?