Monday, March 20, 2017

Interview with humorous fiction writer Tom Starita

Author Tom Starita is chatting with me about his new humor novel, Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated.

Like the borough of Brooklyn, Starita’s resumé is diverse ranging from teaching religion, Sales, working for the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, and now helping foreign exchange students find homes in America. “The common thread among all my jobs is having personal experiences with a large cross section of America. The rationale behind people’s decisions has always fascinated me, and writing allows me to carry that to the most extreme level.”

Starita has made an impact on everyone he encounters. When asked for her thoughts about him, Oprah Winfrey said, "Who?" Tom Hanks refused to respond to an email asking for a quote and former Mets great Mookie Wilson once waved to him from a passing taxi.

Originally from Staten Island, NY Starita has now found a home in the beautiful beach community of Stratford, Connecticut where he remains a loyal fan of the New York Mets.

Welcome, Tom. Please tell us about your current release.
The best way to do this is to take it straight from Amazon:

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated is a classic coming-of-age story that takes a unique and comic look at what we all fear— having to grow up and abandon our dreams. For a charismatic man like Lucas James, life is a breeze because everyone else provides the wind. This man-child front man for a mediocre cover band has been mooching off of his fiancée Jackie for years until she finally decides she's had enough. Faced with the reality of having no income to support his carefree lifestyle, Lucas James abandons his principles and gets a job working in the stockroom at, “That Store.” How does he cope with this new found sense of responsibility? He casually steals... In a life spent bucking authority how will Lucas James deal with his manager, 'Victor the Dictator'? How long can he survive Ralph, a starry-eyed coworker who desires nothing more than to be best friends? Will Lori, a twenty-something cashier, be like everyone else and fall for his charms? Will he ever find a place to live? And is “growing up” just another way of saying “selling out?” With this hilarious and engaging novel, author Tom Starita perfectly captures a character we have all met and perhaps some of us know all too well.

What inspired you to write this book?
Did you ever have a bad day? Like a really bad day? That was me, except my bad day lasted for six months. It peaked (bottomed out) (careened off a cliff) in February 2013. I came down with the flu. Not just the flu, bird flu mixed with swine flu. The type of flu that gives you superpowers. My superpower was the ability to sleep for days without eating.

On Saturday I finally awoke from my flu induced coma and realized the day was already over. Not only had the day passed but there was about 8 inches of snow outside my apartment in the up and coming town of Weehawken, NJ.

It was too late to order out, kitchens would be closed. And there was no way I could drive to a diner since my car was buried under 80 feet of snow and I was in no condition to go outside. So I went to the kitchen and figured I could cook something up and survive until morning.

That’s when I realized that supermarkets don’t randomly deliver food when you’re sick for an entire week and living alone. I had no food. I didn’t even have like that sad 1970s cartoon mouse looking to battle me for that last crumb on the floor.

And that’s when I realized that I hit the floor below rock bottom. That’s when I also realized that this would be a hell of a way to start a book. I dragged my flu ridden skeletal corpse to my computer and that’s when I met Lucas James, the main character of my book. He started talking and I started typing and he was pretty much the only reason why I woke up for the next three months.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I decided in the early hours of the New Year to do something stupid. Every day on Twitter I write a quick 15-20 tweet story. I call them TwitterTales, and now I’m posting the old ones on my Facebook author page as FacebookFables. They’re funny, random, bizarre, weird, sentimental, not so sentimental and well worth the free price of clicking “follow” on my Twitter.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My first book was in the fifth grade when I wrote “Mike Tyson Versus Shaka Zulu.” It was a major hit amongst my classmates.

I guess the real answer is the first time I held my first book, Two Ways to Sunday. Holding a book with my name on its cover is one of the highlights of my life.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I could write full time. The ability to never hear another alarm clock go off, or have to wear pants is a dream I’m striving to reach for every day. In the meantime, I have a full time job that I try to do to the best of my abilities while stealing company time to write a random story or do an interview for a prestigious blog!

The good thing about working is being exposed to all sorts of people who say and do all sorts of interesting things. Then I can come along and filter it through my own Tom Starita lens and bingo bango I start typing.

Like I said earlier, I’m writing my TwitterTales everyday. Most of the time while I’m lying in bed about to fall asleep. Sometimes though I’ll tell my fiancée Shannon “I’ll be right back” and disappear into my office for 20-30 minutes. That’s when I’ll open up a new WORD doc and type a premise or a general idea or a couple of paragraphs. It’s kind of like I’m a squirrel burying nuts for the winter.

I also want to personally thank Steve Jobs for yelling and his employees, causing them to develop Notes on the iPhone – probably while in a state of panic. That’s the one thing I can’t lose because there is nothing better than waking up at 2:42 in the AM and typing whatever fever dream I just had into Notes thinking it will be useful two years from now.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes if the writing is really good I’ll sit with both feet on the chair, in a kind of hunched over primate position. I also like to say dialogue out loud. Now if I’m in my house that’s not a problem, the folks here are used to my shenanigans. But if I’m out in public, at a coffee shop or another place with free Wi-Fi then I try to whisper, which only makes me look crazier.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an announcer for the NY Mets. Or a bad guy wrestler. As I grew older I narrowed that focus to doing a job where I could provoke a reaction from people, hence me teaching for seven years.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Listen no pressure or anything but I have a fiancée, a puppy named Lola and six kids, Gordon, Julia, Gloria, Cecilia, Amelia, and Ben. We live in a one-bedroom apartment where the electricity is only on for an hour a day and the running water comes from the leak in the ceiling from the apartment above us. All we can afford to eat are apple cores and the cookie part of an Oreo that bourgeois people throw away. If you could find it in your heart to buy my book, either print or Kindle version I would thank you. In fact, I would personally thank you by writing you a heartfelt note but unfortunately I can’t afford ink and no one wants a note on a paper towel written in blood.

So please buy my book. I think Ben has scurvy and I really need to buy him oranges.

Thank you.


Thanks for being here today, Tom!


Tom Starita said...

Thanks for the great interview Lisa!

Ram Niwas said...

Great collection and thanks for sharing this info with us.
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