An Interview with Jacob Joyce Oroz

How much "good" can one 
lawyer-doctor-author accomplish and still look young? I hope my questions and Jacob's answers will give us a clue. Here is my interview with this amazing author.

Jacob, was there someone, something or an event in your life that set you on the road to being an author?
I remember being a young child in a commuter suburb and watching the men and women – but mostly men – disembarking from the evening train after long days at their offices in New York City. They looked so miserable, so Cheeveresque in their suffering. I determined at that moment that I would never live in a bedroom community and spend my days pushing papers in circles. The only occupations I knew of as a child that didn’t involve the rat race were medicine and writing. I am relieved to say that I am both a physician and a novelist—and I haven’t traveled by commuter train in over fifteen years.

What do you like about writing and what bugs you about it?
Writing is the best job in the world. What other occupation or calling allows you to earn your keep in your bathrobe while nibbling on macaroons? I was told there would also be pretty girls and wine—but I suppose that will have to wait for a Pulitzer.

How long have you been writing books and what other writing do you do?
I do a considerable amount of writing in the fields of bioethics and on issues at the nexus of law and medicine. Some of these subjects are rather unusual: genetic theft, three-parent babies, reproductive cloning. I also write in the field of medical history. My favorite paper is an article I wrote on the history of the “medicinal beer movement” – mainstream American physicians who promoted beer as a cure-all during the 1920s. Their testimony before Congress is, in hindsight, hilarious—but at the time, they were taken very seriously.
I started writing novels in high school and produced a large quantity of truly deplorable work. Then I made another venture into long-form prose during my first year of law school. I wrote three novels between 1997 and 2004—all three of which are finally being published this year. It has been a long time coming….. The lesson I learned is not to give up. If you’re reading this, and you’re thinking of quitting, all I can tell you is DON’T! Your moment will arrive.

Please tell us about your protagonist in Wedding Wipeout. Is he a lot like you? What are his assets and weaknesses?
The protagonist of Wedding Wipeout is a contrarian rabbi who cannot abide illogical thinking. Although I am not religious, my own frustration with muddled reasoning unquestionably provides the basis for Rabbi Kappelmacher. Other parts of his persona are derived from my former mentor at Brown University, the late Professor Edward Beiser, who was an Orthodox Jew with a priceless sense of humor and passion for clarity of thought. Kappelmacher is a good guy, I think – the sort of man I’d want to have over for dinner. He may be a tad hard on his sidekick, Rabbi Steinmetz—but no worse than Poirot is to Hastings or Holmes is to Watson.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I do my best writing when I’m not writing. I believe it was Grace Paley who once said that she did her best writing in the bathtub—and when I share this wisdom with my fiction students, I have to emphasize that Ms. Paley did not carry her typewriter into the bath. Rather, her most productive writing hours were those spent thinking about what she would ultimately compose—as are mine. So whether I’m jogging or seeing patients, the plot of my next story is never far from my mind. That being said, nothing beats a night at the theater for a needed escape from the sorrows of the world.

At this point, I am going to treat you to a typical review of Jacob's cozy mystery, Wedding Wipeout. 

"Clearly, this novel was a labor of love for author Jacob M. Appel, who is the subject of great critical acclaim on the basis of some of his other recent works -- namely, *The Biology of Luck* and *The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up*. It is possible I am missing some substantive literary depth, some prescient social commentary inscribed in this work, but I doubt it. To my eyes, it's a simple but charming whodunit. I wonder what exactly possessed Appel, also well-known as a bioethicist and a holder of pretty much every advanced degree one can imagine (i.e. JD, MD, MFA, WTF, etc.), to write this. My money's on whimsy."

"In any case, I enjoyed it. It should be an interesting read for any fan of Mr. Appel's more literary fiction as well as readers looking for a mystery story that will leave them smiling."

Where can we find your books---and anything else you would like to say--such as a website or blog.

My website is Readers are also welcome to contact me directly at I am always grateful for kind words and I make every effort to respond.
I have one novel out at present, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, available here: through Amazon.
And finally, I have a short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, due out in November:

Thank you, Jacob, for sharing your views with us. I can't wait to read your books!


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