Hi there, guys and dolls! Time for another installation of Take 5 with yours truly! Today we have a delightful visit with my fellow writer friend, Jacob M. Appel, author of the Rabbi Kappelmacher Mysteries, the first in the series being WEDDING WIPEOUT. Jacob’s a prolific scribe, with a couple of additional novels and a plethora of short stories under his belt, and awards that give that icing on the cake. He is also a physician, which should make my mother proud to know I am spending some time with such an accomplished man of letters and medicine. Settle in along with us as we share a nice chat!
1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.
My main character is a suburban rabbi, Jacob Kappelmacher, who is both sincere in his religious beliefs and irreverent in all other matters. I grew up attending Hebrew school and synagogue as a child and I suppose he embodies the qualities I hoped to find in my own rabbi: humor, compassion and sound reasoning. Most of my writing is outside the mystery genre (I’ve published two mainstream novels and over 200 literary short stories), so mysteries are something of an indulgence. WEDDING WIPEOUT is the only work I’ve written that my elderly Jewish grandmother actually enjoyed – and it might make a fine gift for yours, as well. (Some people think that the rabbi is named after me, but Appel is not short for Kappelmacher; rather, it’s the maiden name of my grandfather’s mother.)
2. What is your writing process like? Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?
I’m a physician by day, so I do much of my writing in time I cobble together before or after seeing patients. I suspect that I am not alone: When you see medical personnel typing away at computers in nursing stations, you likely assume they’re working on patients’ charts. The reality, I imagine, is that many are scribbling away at fiction.
3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”
I’d love to say it was a love of literature that drove me to writing, but I’ll confess it was initially the fear of not writing. As a child in a bedroom suburb, I can still recall watching the businesspeople and professionals disembarking from the commuter train at our local station, looking beleaguered and depleted, and thinking: I don’t want to end up like that someday. The great thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, even in your pajamas. It’s a lot more rewarding than traveling to someone else’s skyscraper to push someone else’s paperwork in circles. So I started writing in the hope that I’d never have to hold a real job. Fortunately, I stumbled into a second career in medicine, which is also fun and rewarding, and–since I’m a psychiatrist–I don’t even have to wear a necktie.
4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?
I tell myself that if I win a Pulitzer Prize, Sofia Loren and Lauren Bacall will reach out to me to praise my work–and invite me over for a nightcap. In this fantasy, Sofia and Lauren are around thirty and stunning. There’s nothing like the prospect of romance, no matter how farfetched, to motivate a would-be artist. When that fails, of course, I take a glance at my credit card balance and then my typing kicks into overdrive.
5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?
I’ve always been an avid reader of the so-called classics. I’ve probably read Anna Karenina twenty time, Middlemarch at least ten times, most of Virginia Woolf’s major novels five times each. Among modern authors, I adore Kevin Brockmeier, Elizabeth Graver, Chris Adrian and my own mentors, Tina Howe and Andre Aciman. I would also be remiss if I didn’t praise the most talented of my former students and mentees: Chanan Tigay, CJ Hauser and Brigit Kelly Young. All are far more gifted than I will ever be. Ironically, I rarely read mysteries any longer. There was a time when I could read four Agatha Christie novels each week. Now, I prefer to solve medical mysteries in the hospital and read nineteenth century epics in my bedroom…..
Thank you so much for Taking 5 with me today, Jacob. It’s always nice to spend time in the company of a man with your charm, wit and bright humor. Come back and visit anytime. And fellow book lovers, be sure to give WEDDING WIPEOUT a read, visit his website: www.jacobmappel.com and Goodreads page, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6884139.Jacob_M_Appel to learn more about him and his other works.
Hi Jacob, thanks for the interview! The rabbi sounds like a cool character. And you’re a doctor? By the way, I have this soreness in my arm, can you look at it . . . ?