The Write Space is a monthly Q&A series from Creative Collective covering a local writer and a North Shore space(s) s/he associates with writing. Questions? Contact

Give us your best writerly bio.

I started out in crime fiction but have spread out during a long life of writing—mainstream novels, literary, humor, history, stage plays, even some “poetry” and one goofy cookbook.  My books have been praised by places like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and Newsday, but I mostly treasure two blurbs:

 1. The great Boston novelist George V. Higgins, who wrote The Friends of Eddie Coyle, considered to be the greatest crime novel of all time, said about Duck Alley, “It’s a wonderful book, A Separate Peace in blue collar”;

2. A newspaper reviewer put down one of my books and wrote, “Wow, that was good.”

That’s all I’m looking for.

All the twenty-five books are at my website:

None of them are best sellers, but if I manage to say something new, maybe use a sentence or piece of dialog that hasn’t been used before, I’m satisfied.

Tell us about a North Shore Write Space. 

I get my best ideas when walking the Yellow Trail in Salem Woods, which is right out behind my condo.  Then I rush back to my writing room and punch in the words. Above my desk are letters from Norman Mailer, John leCarre, Elmore Leonard, George V. Higgins, and an envelope addressed by P. G. Wodehouse.  These guys all remind me that I have to get the words right.

When I’m in Salem, not writing, I’m …

My wife and I spend a lot of time with the grandkids, Jamie and Josie.  Josie calls us her “Merry Grampies.”

I love walking the woods with my grandson, and taking both of them to the arcades at the Willows.  I enjoy the 1930’s feel of the place, Josie goes nuts when those prize tickets start reeling out of the machine.

We’ll also fly kites at Nahant Beach, and there is always so many great exhibits for both adults and kids at the PEM.

Aa an adult, I feast off Salem’s incredible writing community, much of its supportive atmosphere trickling down from the Salem State professor, J.D. Scrimgeour.

Another adult hobby: When we lived in Vermont, I grew my own cigar tobacco and rolled my own cigars.  I’m trying to do that again here on the deck of our Salem condo.

What are you working on now?

When I finished my comedy novel about Neo-Nazis, HITLER’S NEW TENANTS, I planned to work on a serious novel that begins with the line, “In 2012, drunk, I ran over my twelve-year-old son and killed him.” Heavy stuff.

But I just couldn’t get myself depressed enough to make a run at it, so instead I am putting together a collection of my humorous short stories through the years.  The book’s working title is Hacking Around.

The first story in the group is called “The Killer Duck Demands Butter.”  It’s loosely based on the time I was showering in our old Vermont farmhouse and the kitchen drain backed up.  I looked down to see a Sloppy Joe mix oozing up from the shower drain and engulfing my feet and ankles.

And finally - share a paragraph or two of either something already published, or something new! Feel free to situate the piece first 

Here is the first paragraph of the second short story in the Hacking Around collection:

Zia Bimbagulia was a quasi-aunt of the family, an ancient Italian woman who looked like Mother Teresa, could cook like Mamma Leone, and had a disposition like Ma Barker.  Zia Bimbagulia is best remembered as the relative who kept digging up her husband's remains and re-burying them somewhere else so that her daughter Archangela could not honor her father’s gravesite with a visit.

  Learn more about Jim at