Money Matters (Author Interview) 

Money Matters looks like an intriguing mystery novel. Any plans to turn it into a series?  

Initially Money Matters was written as a novel that stood on its own. Since publishing it one or two friends have suggested ways it might be followed up, especially by complicating the lives of Jenny, the young protagonist and her new boyfriend, the director of an immigrant rights organization. Money Matters ends with them reaching an agreement to share their working and personal lives together, something that is fraught with dangers. There is an obvious opening for another novel that describes their fight to defend an immigrant threatened by the system while saving their relationship. But I remain open-minded and will write next whatever most catches my imagination.

When did you decide to become a writer?

In my early twenties I tried writing a couple of novels that adopted a pose of gloom and despair. As I was essentially an optimist the novels sounded posed and were miserable failures. I put them in an attic and they are still buried in my current attic. After I was employed by London University in my early thirties I started writing book reviews which led me to write my first book about the later work of Samuel Beckett, a writer whom I still admire enormously. After that I chose to write a biography of Christopher Isherwood (his Berlin stories were turned into Cabaret). Research for that book brought me to Southern California where I now live and won me the James Tait Black Memorial Award. After that there was no stopping me from writing nonfiction.

How did you come up with the story in Money Matters?  
This is really hard to say. I began with an outline, but the content of that outline seemed to rise up from my unconscious. Looking back on it I now realize that one of its major themes has to do with immigration in modern America. Well, I was myself an immigrant in modern America and spent a long time freelancing among various Southern California universities before obtaining a tenured position at California State University Long Beach where I am now a Professor Emeritus. So I felt a natural empathy for immigrants, although those in the book face more serious issues of not just employment but deportation, unlike me.

What will readers get out of your book?

I hope readers will be intrigued by the book’s multiple genres that leave them guessing till the end how matters will unfold. The book is part amateur sleuth, part late coming-of-age, part social issues, especially those of immigration and wealth inequality, and towards the end part romance. So the book is simultaneously a page-turner while raising serious social issues. Incidentally it is a Finalist I. the 2019 American Fiction Awards.

What inspired you when writing Money Matters?   

Jenny, the narrator and protagonist of Money Matters, is a millennial and still uncertain of herself and what she wants to do with her life. As an older man I found entering the perspective of a character so different a challenge. However, once I found her voice, writing the novel seemed to come almost instinctually. Looking back I believe that for Jenny I drew on what Jung called the anima, the feminine side of a man’s self. Releasing that buried self is probably what helped make speaking through her voice so relatively easy, even inspirational.

 When writing Money Matters did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  

I pit Jenny, liberal, egalitarian, socially conscious, against Tricia, her sister, who is a successful realtor with a large income, a staunch Republican, and anti-immigrant to the point of racism. I had some difficulty giving Tricia the same credibility as Jenny whose outlook and political stance I roughly shared. But all good fiction needs genuine conflict. Eventually I gave Tricia the conviction in her opinions that she needed to win many of her arguments with Jenny.

What do you like to do when not writing?

I read a lot, naturally. I travel abroad, mostly in Europe where I originated. For instance I am spending a month later in the fall of 2019 staying in apartments in Venice and Paris and driving round Sicily. I also have a cat and a dog that demand a lot of attention, not to mention a small garden that consumes a disproportionate amount of my time but is good for me.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

Money Matters is currently available on Amazon as a paperback, e-book and audiobook. It can be found here:

I also have a website: