Blog Posts Joel's Posts

Blue Fire, Part 5: 10 Gracie Square

(Another in a series of posts about the inspiration and the history behind BLUE FIRE, my new mystery novel, which is NOW available on Amazon at a special New Release Price – 99 cents through April 15th)


And now, for my final post about my new book, I’d like to reveal the real inspiration for it – a building.

As I was finishing Dark Sky, the first book in my Max Bowman series, I became obsessed with a structure I would see across the East River from Roosevelt Island, where I live. It’s an old apartment building, fifteen stories tall, and built in the late 1920’s, right as the epic Wall Street crash that triggered the Great Depression was happening.

10 Gracie square

What I was most fascinated by was the rooftop, which had a series of posts and pillars that resembled some sort of ancient temple structure. Okay, what it really looked like was the rooftop from the climax of the original Ghostbusters. Which made sense, since that building, located at 55 Central Park West, was built the same year and with the same Art Deco sensibility.


Anyway, when I did more research on the building, I found out I wasn’t the only one who admired it. Tom Wolfe, famed white-suited New Yorker and author of Bonfire of the Vanities, named it one of only 42 “good buildings” in the Manhattan area. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, former First Lady of China, lived there until her death in 2003 at the age of 105. Gloria Vanderbilt also lived there with her son Anderson Cooper – and, sadly, in 1988, her other son, Carter Cooper, committed suicide by falling to his death from the terrace of her apartment (which they movingly discuss in their new book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes).

Another fun fact about the place? It was originally built right on the waterfront, where there was a private club of sorts at the foot of the building. Unfortunately, a few years later, the FDR expressway was constructed right outside its front door – so the club was demolished and waterfront access blocked off; the bottom two floors ended up being walled off from the highway (and the East River) and are now only accessible from the sidewalk by two flights of stairs leading down to the first floor, where the windows have bars on them and the only things on the narrow walkway in front of them are trash cans. Those creepy below-street-level floors inspired even more creepiness in my novel.

A lot of bad things happen in this building in my book – both at the top and the bottom of it. Actually, some weird stuff happens in the middle floors as well. All in all, in Blue Fire…you want to avoid the place at all costs.

Oh, and stay out of the park across the street from it at 3 a.m. as well…

Oh yeah, the book…as it says on the top of this post, the “official” release starts today, Friday, April 8th – and the eBook will be on sale for $.99 for the next week.  I hope you’ll check it out.


Blog Posts Joel's Posts

Blue Fire, Part 4: There Is No “Off” Switch

(Another in a series of posts about the inspiration and the history behind BLUE FIRE, my new mystery novel, which will be available on Amazon at a special New Release Price – 99 cents starting tomorrow and continuing through April 15th)


I have two gay sons. I’m neither bragging nor complaining about that fact – I’m just communicating it as a fact.

Now, some would still to this day, despite an overwhelming amount of scientific study to the contrary, insist that homosexuality is not a “fact.” No, they believe it’s an individual’s choice. In other words, gay people decide their sexuality much as they might choose what to have for breakfast.

And that ridiculous notion is how gay conversion therapy came into being.

The thinking behind this kind of treatment is, if you can choose to be gay…well, then you can choose not to be gay. You just have to “get your mind right,” as the warden said in Cool Hand Luke. And gay conversion therapy is designed to do just that, “cure” patients of their “disease.”

It would be nice to be able to say, here in the 21st Century, that gay conversion therapy is no longer regarded as a desirable or credible practice, but I can’t. Yes, the American Psychiatric Association condemns the practice, but, from a legal standpoint, I live in the only state in the U.S.A. (New York) that currently intends to ban it through regulatory law.

The history of gay conversion therapy is more than a little horrific. Here are some of the kinds of methods licensed physicians have used over the years to try and “cure” patients of their homosexuality:

  • Ice-pick lobotomies
  • Chemical castration with hormonal treatment
  • The application of electric shock to the hands and/or genitals
  • Nausea-inducing drugs administered simultaneously with the presentation of homoerotic stimuli

Fortunately, the above barbaric practices aren’t commonplace anymore, at least here in America, but there are still hundreds of gay conversion therapy organizations in existence in this country. It’s still a thing.

And it’s hard to imagine all the psychic damage it’s doing to those who are forced to undergo it.

So what does this have to do with my new mystery novel, Blue Fire? Well, it goes back to that psychic damage that I just mentioned. When so-called professionals attempt to rewire someone’s fundamental biological programming, it has to cause some level of trauma to those involved. And if the trauma were deep enough, it would create more than a few tragedies in these victims’ lives.

In Blue Fire, those tragedies have already happened. And now everyone involved with those personal calamities has to deal with the resulting fallout.

Hopefully, we live in more enlightened times now. Hopefully, gay conversion therapy will someday be an extinct practice that no sane doctor would advocate. But we’re not there yet. And we have to keep fighting against less enlightened thinking that wants to forcibly remove gay people from the planet.

Blog Posts Joel's Posts

The Secret History of Blue Fire, Part 1

(The first in a series of posts about the inspiration and the history behind BLUE FIRE, my new mystery novel, which will be available on Amazon at a special New Release Price – 99 cents – from April 8th through April 15th)

As I write these words, it hasn’t even been a year since I decided to write my first novel. That happened on Memorial Day weekend, 2015 (for more details on that epiphany, read this post from last year).

Now, I’m releasing my second one. I hadn’t anticipated completing another one so soon – especially one that’s about a hundred pages longer than the first. But when you’re inspired…

And boy, was I inspired.

In the next few days, I’m going to be writing more about that inspiration. About the ideas and the history that made me have to write this damn book…in spite of my regular ghostwriting work and my lovely wife telling me I was crazy to try and do a second novel so soon after the first one. The problem was, as with the first book, Dark Sky, I couldn’t help it. I was flooded with characters, plot complications and the overwhelming desire to do a bigger, deeper and richer book than the first – and I had to get it all out on paper. Well, on the computer anyway.

This isn’t to say that I was unhappy with Dark Sky.  Far from it. The feedback from friends and family was fantastic and so were most of the reviews posted on Amazon. But still, it was the first novel I had attempted in thirty years or so and the first time I had really attempted the mystery-thriller genre. I knew I could do even better with the second one.

Of course, whether I did or not is up to the ultimate judgment of readers. And there’s some controversial stuff in this one. And there’s a different tone, particularly in the closing chapters. This time around, I took more chances – and I hope they paid off.

In any event, I hope you’ll come back to this here blog space over the next four days to find out just what went into Blue Fire – and why I’m a little bit nervous about how people will react to it.