Jacob M. Appel, author of “Amazing Things Are Happening Here”

#YourNextBeachRead is a way to introduce you to a new author and their works in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.

Today’s featured author is Jacob M. Appel, author of Amazing Things Are Happening Here. Jacob is appearing for the second time this summer.

What’s your name and where are you from?

Jacob M. Appel. But I also publish under Philip Roth, Toni Morrison and William Shakespeare. Those titles tend to sell better….

How long have you been writing? How did you start?

7-8 - Jacob Appel author photo 2After my treason conviction, I was imprisoned in a former Staples warehouse. Nothing like lots of time and an endless supply of ballpoint pens to get the creative juices flowing. That was also Proust’s secret.

Who are some of your influences?

The tax man and the grim reaper. I am often mistaken for both, but I’m just a short Jewish guy in a cheap suit who carries around a scythe.

What is your book about?

It’s a collection of short stories. They features a missing psychiatric patient, a disgruntled alligator wrestler, a whale watch gone wrong and a love triangle set against the backdrop of John B. Anderson’s failed presidential campaign. The late Congressman John B. Anderson (who really did run for president against Cater and Reagan in 1980) actually read the story several years ago and sent me a kind note about it. He was from an era when our political leaders read fiction, rather than creating it.

Where did you get the idea?

I didn’t. The Party dictates everything I write. You will find out the details after the Revolution.

How long did it take you to finish it?

About seven hours. That’s all I could afford on the pay typewriter at the library. In my defense, it’s also why the collection ends with a preposition. 

Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?

This is my ninth book of short stories. That’s four more books that the Old Testament, although mine contain much less sex and many more jokes about Florida. Both contain precisely the name number of arks, firmaments and lepers.

We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?

7-8 - Jacob Appel book coverThe sea mammals in my stories are all based on minor characters from the Finnish Kalevala.  The alligators are all modeled after my third grade classmates. I share this information in the hope that it will keep literary scholars engaged for many years to come.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

I make a point of not causing scenes. That’s what romantic partners are for. 

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?

Be born into money. It saves a lot of hassle and stress down the line.

What’s the worst?

Write in English. Had I chosen Frisian or Manx, there would be much less competition.

Where can we buy your book?

Or email me at jacobmappel [at] gmail [dot] com and I will send over a free PDF.
Jacob M. Appel is a physician, attorney and bioethicist based in New York City. He is the author of nine collections of short fiction, six novels and a volume of essays and a poetry collection. His short stories have been published in more than two hundred journals and have been short-listed for the O. Henry Award, Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize anthology.

His commentary on law, medicine and ethics has appeared in the New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press and many other major newspapers.

He taught for many years at Brown University and currently teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His compendium of ethical conundrums, Who Says You’re Dead, is due out with Algonquin in October 2019.