Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Author Interview: John Hartnett

Today I would like to welcome John Hartnett to the blog. He is the author of a humor collection called
“The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap Seats.” Here is a bit about the book:
The Barber's Conundrum and Other Stories is more than just a collection of thirty-seven short literary humor pieces that will make you laugh. It provides a treasure trove of tips and invaluable advice to help you navigate safely through marriage and relationships, raising kids and to finally understand the more peculiar aspects of day to day living that up until now, had been tossed into a big heap as just another one of God's mysteries. For example, did you ever wonder why weather reporters continue to stand in the middle of raging hurricanes to tell us what hurricanes are like when everybody else already knows what hurricanes are like? Did you ever wonder why people stop their cars in the middle of the street to let geese walk past even though geese have been flying long before Cro- Magnon Man was in knee pants? Did you ever think that if aliens do exist on our planet, most of them work in customer service? They do! All of that, and more is in the book, so what do you say? At $8.99, you're guaranteed to receive at least $10.50 worth of terrific advice and life extending laughter, which as we know is the best medicine, and there's never a co-pay with laughter so you're up well over $20 already and this is only the back cover. Think of the possibilities to save when you read the whole thing.
Q&A with John Hartnett:
Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?
I'd love to be writing in a cabin with a big picture window that faces a lake, a stream, a majestic snow capped mountain or a Dairy Queen.  I'm a sucker for those soft serve vanilla cones they dip in liquid chocolate.  

In reality, I face a slanted, windowless wall in an office in my home in NJ and sometimes when I forget and lean in to adjust the swivel lamp, I hit the top of my head on the wall.  Nothing good ever comes from that and in anticipation of your next question, no, I've never had an inspiring idea, joke, passage, revelation or secret of life suddenly reveal itself as a result.  Just one recurring lump in the exact same spot.  I think of it as a hobby now.

What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about?
The earliest one that comes to mind is a humorous piece about a down on his luck psychic who is hired by a collection agency to contact the deceased and convince them to reveal the whereabouts of their living relatives who owe money to the agency.  If I remember correctly, while contacting the spirit world, the psychic gained access to God's diary and gets the inside scoop on how the earth was created along with some of the hit and misses --including those associated with creating animals.  There was something about accidentally creating the worm and God was so embarrassed with the result, he buried it with the hopes no one would ever find it again.

Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable?
I remember "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell being a book that I really enjoyed when I was in grammar school and I think it must have been one of the first times I realized how the power of a great story with sympathetic, multi-dimensional characters could completely transport me to another place and time until something or someone, generally my mother, yanked me back into the present because I was supposed to have been asleep two hours ago.

If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?
I've always been a huge fan of Ken Kesey who wrote one of my favorite books, "Sometimes A Great Notion". He was allegedly taking a lot of hallucinogenic drugs during the time he was writing that book.  I met him once at a BEA event but didn't have the nerve or the audacity to ask him what the writing experience was like working on "Sometimes A Great Notion" in a drug induced state and how it compared to or was even reconciled with work created for the book when he wasn't.

If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?
Most of my work is on the humorous side and the character I draw upon the most in my Barber's Conundrum book is myself since many of the pieces are semi or quasi autobiographical.  I am working on my first novel now and I may have to answer this question a few months down the road.  In fact, I may just create a secondary character, maybe an aunt or uncle who lives on the beach in Costa Rica and has been receiving weekly Fed-Ex packages stuffed with $100 bills from an unknown benefactor since 1973.  I'd like to spend a day with someone like that particularly if they are running out of space to store all those Fed-Ex packages.

What is one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing?
Spend time with my family.  I've got three kids, one in college, one about to graduate high school and head to college (God willing!) in the fall and one in the sixth grade.  I don't have to tell anyone this, so I'm probably just saying it here to remind myself: Time passes very quickly!

What are you currently working on?
I've been spending a great deal of time marketing the Barber's Conundrum book and writing for my comedy site, The Monkey Bellhop.  I have a couple of "columns" that appear on Mondays ("It's I'll Answer Your Questions Monday") and Fridays, ("One Size Fits All Weekend Horoscope) and a few things in between and I'm doing my best to maintain some level of consistency and quality.

I'm also working on a novel and hope to have it completed before last rights are administered.

Thanks very much for providing the opportunity to share a little bit about my background, work and writing sensibilities.  It's greatly appreciated!

About the Author:
John Hartnett was born in Jersey City, NJ, grew up in Cranford,NJ, and moved to Los Angeles in 1984 after graduating from Emerson College. He has worked in the restaurant, construction, entertainment and publishing industries as well as several others which thankfully have been suppressed from memory. He moved back to his hometown of Cranford in 1997, where his parents still reside, and is married with three children. His first love has always been comedy and his second love is his wife, but sometimes the order is reversed depending on who's in the room with him. He also writes the humor blog: The Monkey Bellhop.

Get the book:

1 comment:

  1. I love your post by the way! I just put it on hold at my library!


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