The Discerning Reader extends a warm welcome to Harry Patz Jr. Thank you for joining The Discerning Reader Harry.
To begin, can you tell us about yourself and your novel, The Naive Guys
Thanks so much for reaching out, Melinda!
I’ve been in the tech industry for over twenty-years with time at Microsoft and a mobile marketing firm, Velti. A part of me has always been a writer, going back to an editorial role on the literary magazine in high school and the thousands of emails, presentations and briefs I’ve written in corporate America.
I finally brought to life all these thoughts and observations that have been in my head for years and completed my novel, The Naive Guys. It’s part coming-of-age, part historical fiction seen through the eyes of Mark Amici, a recent college graduate. It’s set in New York in the early 1990s, as he meanders his way through life, love and work.
What is Mark Amici up to presently?
Well, in the alternative universe where he lives (likely a third sequel!), he’s probably middle-aged and celebrating the New York Mets playoff success by taking his wife and five children to Mass to thank God, or celebrating in a different manner on a three-day bender in Las Vegas with Pete and Sally (Kostas having disappeared again). Possibly he’s doing both!
If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
This is a good, but tough question:) I essentially wrote the first four or so chapters, then put it down for eighteen months, then picked it up again and created a new “first” chapter, due to some other career commitments. While there was growth for me as a writer during this period, I would have probably started the whole project sooner and then tried to do it without that long break.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
On the criticism side, some may not care for the occasional ribald actions of Mark and company. On the positive side, from both reviews and direct feedback, there is a huge outpouring of affection for Mark from female readers, who really identify with him, his family and friends, his challenges and his story. Honestly, I would not have predicted those reactions.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
It’s for everybody! Actually it’s not. I believe though that anyone who has gone through that transitional period of graduating college and then trying to find their way in the world will appreciate it and identify with it…the awkwardness, the frustration, the highs and lows of love and work, family and friends. Those who “came-of-age” in that period will be reminded of the signposts of that era, and the next generation or two after that will like to read it to see what Mom and Dad (maybe) were up to. If you’re a student or participant of corporate bureaucracy, or possibly spent some time in sales and the tech industry, you’ll be rewarded with some smiles. And anyone who likes to laugh, you’ll love this story!
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
I am actually a modest person by nature, so the racy scenes are challenging for me. But as the writer/creator, you have to make sure you are being true to the story and the characters, and relate it as you believe it would happen. I noted how Stephen King essentially said, “you have to write for yourself.” So even if I felt squeamish, if it was germane to the story, I worked my way through it.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
At least this writer, like I would imagine others, write (some of) what they know. But I could not write in any depth about my wife and daughters. It’s too personal.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I absolutely read them, and always try to thank anyone who takes the time to provide written feedback, good or bad. I aspire, but do not always succeed, in trying not to get to high or low when consuming them. But writing can be a very personal craft, so it’s hard not to take it personally. My advice, which I am giving to myself, says the more one writes, the better one will be able to handle the criticism. It’s simply part of the deal.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Part of the challenge of this question is that the actors I would recommend keep getting too old to play these parts! Nevertheless, for the core “Naive Guys,” I have a , darker-haired and less built Matt Damon play Mark Amici; I always see him as a thinking man’s actor. For Sally, perhaps Robert Pattinson from “Twilight” and for Pete perhaps Emile Hirsch or Channing Tatum. Kostas is a tough one for me; perhaps a younger John Stamos (with long hair!)?
What literary character is most like you?
I don’t know if he is that much like me, but I strongly identify with Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe from his four novels, including The Sportswriter. He’s a gebtleman who is always observing everything around him, and often lost in hos own thoughts.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
I get asked often about the title, how much is inspired from my own life, and why I named the company “Fishsoft,” but no one has asked about my favorite character, and why.
I love them all, but Uncle Frankie is absolutely my favorite. And the reason is: the arc of his storyline went in ways I could have never imagined when I first started writing the novel. From the writer’s perspective, he “grew” so much more than I ever thought possible.
What can we expect from you in the future?
These characters lived in my head for such a long-time; I am taking a needed break from them. Yet, they still communicate to me at different times and unexpected ways! At some point there will be at least one sequel, taking place some years after the story ends in 1994.
I continue to participate with my Writer’s Group in Nantucket monthly, and for those interested our anthology collection, The Moving Pen: A Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group Anthology is on Amazon.
Thanks again for hosting me, Melinda. I enjoyed the conversation!
About Harry Patz Jr.
Harry has been a participant of the Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group since October, 2013. He contributed a short story, “Offseason” for the group’s published anthology collection, The Moving Pen: A Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group Anthology, published in June, 2014.
Harry is president of Gondolin Advisors LLC, providing strategic advisory services to Communications, Media and Technology firms. He is a 20-year veteran of the tech and media industries, with executive positions at Microsoft Corporation and Velti. Harry holds an MBA from The Johnson School at Cornell University and a BS in Management from Boston College. He resides in Westchester, NY.
Connect with Harry: Website | Facebook | Twitter