Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Author Interview: Jeffrey Hollman: UNSETTLE THE SCORE and BIRD WATCHING

Following thirty five years in education (English teacher, high school principal, assistant superintendent),  JEFF HOLLMAN began writing full time, for the most part plays.  His first play, a full length one-act, REAL DANGER, ran for a one month in run as an Equity Showcase in NYC.  BIRD WATCHING was runner up out of 38 entries in the Strawberry One-Act Festival and was subsequently published in THE BEST PLAYS FROM THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL, Volume Seven.   OWA-TODO-PIAM was produced in the 2011Philadelphia Fringe Festival.  His novel, UNSETTLE THE SCORE, has been called “an ambitious thriller, successful in nearly every respect”  by Kirkus Reviews. 

A sculptor, Jeff has exhibited works in numerous galleries and shows on Long Island and in Summer 2014 will be mounting fifteen wind sculptures at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, NY. 

Welcome Jeff!

Your real name and pen name?

Jeffrey L. Hollman  (No Pen Name)

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

Growing up in Sea Cliff, NY, a small town on the north shore of Long Island, a place full of trees and  beaches.  I spent a good deal of time in the woods, at that time pretending to be an American Indian but in reality learning about the natural world. 
Zander and Jeff installing wind sculptures

About your education

The teachers.  I was lucky to go to schools in a system that hired great people, many more than one.  It was this reason that led me into a career of education.

What languages you can speak and write?

English, French.  I took Latin and learned some Hebrew, but I don’t remember these well at all.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life

My imagination

What hurts you most in this world

The level of unfair advantages for some groups of people

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

Becoming the principal of a high school where every one of my predecessors left within two years, on average.  I was the third principal that my senior class had when I arrived.  At first, everyone expected me to “step through”, in other words use the position as a way to rise higher in some school system.  They did not believe me when I said I wanted to stay in that post, which I did for six years.   I loved being a high school principal.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

Christopher Marlowe

What is your favorite genre and why?

Play writing.  Having been an English teacher, I always wanted to write and did to some extent while working as a teacher and school administrator.  The “strength” wasn’t always there, so I decided to begin seriously after retirement.  For the past ten years, I have been working several hours a day five to six days a week.  At first, I wrote prose but did not like “playing god”, you know taking readers inside a character’s head.  Of course, this is done and done well, but I just felt uncomfortable with it.  I turned to play writing which relies on word and action, not journeys into the head, unless you write soliloquies.  It took years of playwriting to finally feel comfortable playing god in prose.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

All my life, but seriously since 2004.

Which of your work has been published so far? 

UNSETTLE THE SCORE, a crime thriller and BIRD WATCHING, a play in a collection of one-act plays. 

Would you like to share a synopsis of your work? 

UNSETTLE THE SCORE tracks what happens to Maureen Jasper after her Man of the Year husband hits and kills a beautiful naked girl running drunk on their street at night.  An educator herself, the incident marks the start of Maureen’s own re-education, a new set of lessons where she will learn that her husband is a criminal, that the police and FBI are not only useless but dangerous, and that to save her own daughter, she has to take criminal action herself against the dead girl’s father, a little old man she has seen walking dogs around the neighborhood.  Problem is, he’s a major crime lord, and he recruits a brilliant serial killer, a North Korean agent, and a corrupt cop to bring about a string of final violent acts to settle scores against his enemies—Maureen included--prior to his retirement from a life in crime.   

That retirement is forestalled, however, because he never reckoned that a quiet second grade teacher could be as violent, as determined, and as harsh in action as himself.  After her daughter is made a sex slave, Maureen takes action to “unsettle the score” and  revenge herself on the man who has wreaked such damage on her family.

What are your forthcoming writings?

I will continue writing plays, but the reaction to UNSETTLE THE SCORE has been a positive experience,  and I may write either a sequel or an entirely new novel.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

1-2-3-4—Being as truthful as I can be.  I have tried to force characters into plot lines, and it ends up ringing false.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?

A ton.  I do a lot of research on things that figure in my plays and books.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?


Your dream destination on Earth?

I’m there

Your origin of birth (USA) and other countries you have visited/ stayed.UK, France, Italy, Belgium, Mexico, Canada.

Your favorite time of the day?


Your zodiac/ sunsign?

You mean ARIES?

Your favorite color and why?

All, separately and together

What is the last book you finished reading?

THE HUMBLING by Philip Roth

What is the current book you are reading?

THE END OF THE AFFAIR by Graham Greene

Your favorite book and why?

Probably all of the Sherlock Holmes stories because the stories are so engaging and the characters are all so real.  Most of Shakespears, especially HENRY IV, PART ONE, MACBETH, MIDSUMMER’S ETC.

Your favorite movie and why?

KING KONG (the original) a great story about the evils of westernized civilization that destroys a truly tragic character.  (Plus, I watched it about fifty times as a kid with my sister)  2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

Your favorite celebrity and why?

None I can zero in on

Your favorite food?

Some quickies: Sun or Moon, Laughter or Smile, Morning or Evening, Both Coffee and Tea, Mountain or Sea, Long Drive or Short Drive, Silence or Conversation, Water or Fire, Air or Earth, Mars or Jupiter, Tulip or Rose, Red or Blue, Left or Right, Glance or Stare

What three words come to your mind for each –
Technology: hope, speed, next
Life:  frog, pond, inevitable
God: nonexistent, fable, the underpinning
Humanity: great, huge, responsible
Terrorism: cowards, over-used, frightening
Racism: genetic, stupid, waning
Childhood Abuse: cowardly, stupid, criminal
Love: inexplicable, constant, forms
Parenting: evolving, crucial, essential
Old age: who-me?  qui-moi?  observe

The last line of your autobiography would be

And in a hundred years, no one will remember.…

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