Frequently Asked Questions

When I interact with the public, often I’m asked a set of the same questions. Hoping to save anyone some trouble, I’ve listed a few of them here, along with my answers.

Q. Where do you get your ideas?

A. There’s this old guy in New Jersey to whom I send 25 bucks and he sends me back a list of ideas for my books. Seriously: I keep my eyes and ears open wherever I go, and collect ideas for books and/or characters. Sometimes I read a story in the newspaper, overhear a snatch of conversation, or sometimes a friend will approach me and share with me an idea they had come up with. Mostly, it’s walking around with what I call “The Writer’s Eye,” observing. That way I don’t miss anything that could turn into my next novel.

Q. Are you, the writer, actually the same person as Milan Jacovich?

A. Hardly. He’s Slovenian and I’m not. He’s six three and 230 pounds and I’m not. He’s younger, tougher and leaner than I am, and he smokes Winstons and drinks Stroh’s Beer, which I don’t. And he’s slowly losing his hair when, thank God, I still have all of mine. But I believe that, when it comes to values and ethics, he and I are very much alike. You can learn more about him and see how Cleveland illustrator Ted Crow depicted him here.

Q. What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A. I try to get most of my writing done early in the day, starting around seven or eight in the morning. It’s how I try to avoid the world taking little bites out of my butt whenever the phone rings or mail arrives or e-mails intrude on my work. However, I’ve been known to write all day long—and sometimes late at night. Sometimes I’ll even wake up between three and six in the morning, unable to get back to sleep and go straight to my computer. Regardless, I try to write something every single day.

Q. Is Milan Jacovich ever going to get a steady, loving girlfriend or wife?

A. I used to say that he’ll get one when I get one. However, I have the love of my life right now, and I haven’t lifted a finger to find a permanent girl friend for Milan. As I’ve written him, he’s the quintessential “lonely guy,” and, even though people ask, I think they prefer he isn’t committed because then they can feel sorry for him.

Q. If they ever make a movie from one of your books, what actor would you want to play Milan?

A. Robert Mitchum—except he’s dead. And if he were alive, he’d be approximately ninety years old. Otherwise I have no current choice—just hoping that when we make a film, the actor will be excellent and will bear some sort of physical resemblance to the Milan Jacovich I have in my head.

Q. Why on earth did you kill off Milan’s best friend?

A. I didn’t “kill anybody off.” It’s a fictional character.

Q. Do the Italians get angry with you when you write about the mob family in Cleveland?

A. As far as I know, the Italians like me a lot, because many of them are my good friends and have adopted me into their culture in Cleveland’s Little Italy. They enjoy the books, and say the way I write about the mob family is “respectful.” I’ve been fortunate to have been embraced by much of Cleveland’s ethnic community—I’m an honorary Slovenian and an honorary Irishman, too.

Q. Don’t you know that the Cleveland Orchestra never plays on Wednesdays, you dummy?

A. The Cleveland Orchestra may not play on Wednesdays, but my Cleveland Orchestra plays whenever I tell it to. You got a problem with that?

Q. A personal question, please. Boxers or briefs?

A. How badly do you want to find out?