A. Have never really had another occupation. I write and am a story analyst (consultant) for writers and film producers.
A. Luckily, since I self-assign most of my writing assignments, I choose subjects I enjoy.
A. Went to high school in Hastings-on-Hudson NY. I attended Oberlin College in Ohio, and transferred out to attend NYU Film School. I graduated from NYU with a degree in Film.
A. Buddy Holly and also Richard Rodgers.
A. So many! Meet Me in St. Louis, Singin' in the Rain, Laura, and It's a Wonderful Life, are just a few of them.
A. I liked the old Dick Van Dyke Show. Nowadays, I watch news shows-- MSNBC, CNN, etc.
A. I edit it, keep only the best parts.
A. “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you've collected nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering.” (Prof. Harold Hill in Meredith Willson's THE MUSIC MAN).
A. Having a cup of coffee and a hamburger at the little diner in the town where I grew up-- where the waitresses still call me "honey"-- and smiling to myself knowing that lots of teens read my books, and that perhaps some of them might be inspired to to change the world (with kindness, courage, and integrity)-- like the heroes in my books-- as a result.
A. That someday they'll close that diner!
A. In the Oval Office, shaking President Obama's hand.
A. Well, I think that there's a piece of me in every character out of history that I write about. Actually, it's the opposite, since they came first! I certainly don't claim to resemble anyone "great". The people I most admire out of history, though, for their talents and accomplishments, or virtues-- or both-- include: Abraham Lincoln, Fred Astaire, Martin Luther King, Jr., Judy Garland, Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others.
A. Without a doubt, my father, a World War II veteran who received the Bronze Star for heroism in combat and will be 90 in a few days-- and also President Obama.
A. My friends would say that whichever historical figure I'm currently writing about is one whose name they hear way too often! Sometimes, they feel compelled to remind me that these people are not still alive.
A. People often say that they most regret the things they didn't do, not the things they did, and I think that's true for me as well. And that's all you'll get out of me!:-)
A. If people who know me say I'm a kind and honest person and have integrity, that I would consider a great achievement.
A. Like most people in the arts, I talk too much and I'm way too fascinated with myself!
A. Honesty and loyalty-- I hope.
A. I'd still like to be myself, but able to travel in time to wherever I wanted to be, so I could witness things and meet famous people out of history. But I guess my books allow me do that!
A. Probably intelligence. But I don't think people deserve credit for their intelligence-- it's their character that counts.
A. Jane Eyre or Sherlock Holmes.
A. I try to avoid villains in life and in fiction. In fiction, I think villains should have a mix of good and bad qualities, like real people. So in my own books, I like Napoleon and Rasputin.
A. I'd like to meet rock 'n' roll pioneer Buddy Holly, and Abraham Lincoln. I'd tell Buddy not to get on that plane on February 3, 1959. And I'd tell Lincoln not to go to Ford's Theatre on April l4, l865.
A. E-mails that are written in such haste that I can't understand what the person is saying. And e-mails that don't begin with "Dear Staton" or "Dear Ms. Rabin", and simply dive right in. Yes, I know I'm a bit old-fashioned.
A. Watching old movies and talking with friends.
A. Singer/dancer in movies at MGM in the l940s, or working for President Obama as a speech writer (not that he needs one!), now.
A. Honesty, reliability, compassion.
A. My mother's Greek spinach rolls (though we're not Greek).
A. Everyday by Buddy Holly. That's All sung by Edie Adams. I Have Dreamed by Rodgers and Hammerstein, sung by Frank Sinatra. And almost anything written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Lerner and Lowe, or sung by Buddy Holly, Sinatra, Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Elvis, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, or Fred Astaire.
A. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Bronte, Sherwood Anderson, Charles Dickens, Willa Cather, and many historians.
A. The early Sherlock Holmes stories, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, Memoirs of a Geisha, and a lot of nonfiction history books.
A. The Sherlock Holmes stories.
A. Expect rejections-- they're part of the job.
A. "Don't kill off any of the characters that I like." And, whatever they write to me, it's usually got three exclamation points at the end of every sentence.
A. The Curse of the Romanovs began as a short story of mine many years ago. An American teenage girl-- a budding scientist-- is peering into a microscope, examining a drop of blood on a glass slide. To her astonishment, she sees a miniature boy swimming in that drop of blood, screaming for help. He claims to be Alexei Romanov, the Tsar's son and the heir to the Russian throne in l9l7, who is a hemophiliac (in other words, he has a bleeding disease). Through magic, he instantly reverts back to normal size and is standing next to her, real as can be, but naturally at first she doesn't believe he's who he says he is. That was the idea that many years later became the spark for the story I tell in my book-- though in the end my novel became quite different from the original concept. But the basic idea of a time travel story involving those two characters started with that short story. My novel Betsy and the Emperor started with a movie idea of mine, based on a real conversation I read in a history book that had taken place between Napoleon Bonaparte and a teen English girl named Betsy Balcombe. He met Betsy when he was being held prisoner by the British on St. Helena, and I thought their relationship was fascinating. She kind of bossed him around! Naturally, I spent a long time doing research and planning the story before writing the book. My book has been optioned for a movie with Al Pacino attached to star as Napoleon, and it's also published in l4 languages. Black Powder grew out of my question, "Wouldn't the world be a better place if guns had never been invented?" I've also always like fast-paced and fun time travel adventures like the movie, Back to the Future. So I wanted to write my own, original story in that genre, but with an African American teen as its hero. It would blend a serious central question and high stakes with a lot of comedy. I also wanted this young man to defy some reader's stereotypes about teens living in Los Angeles. He would be a great student, a science whiz, and it would be the white teen, not the black teen, who belonged to a street gang.