It is always a pleasure to discover new authors willing to share on Literary Wealth. So it is a treat to have Mark Rubinstein, author of Mad Dog House, an engrossing psychological thriller back to tell us about starting a new novel. Readers are fascinated with knowing where authors come up with their ideas for books. For today’s guest post, Mark is going to tell us about his inspiration for Mad Dog House.
Starting a New Novel
It’s always daunting to begin writing a new novel. I’m filled with questions: will I find the right voice? Will it come to me the way the others have? Will I run out of ideas? And a million other questions and doubts materialize. I must admit, a sense of dread pervades me, and I wonder if I’m half the writer I’ve been told I am. If I ponder these questions too long, paralytic inertia can take over.
Is it a crisis in confidence?
I don’t think so, at least not for me. It’s the usual apprehension—a sense of dread—before I begin the creative trek through the minefield of the writing process. For me, it seems the natural prelude to the hard work (and the pleasure) of writing, of creating. Yes, I have a skeletal outline of the novel’s basic trajectory (or part of it) but that can never ensure full-blooded characters and a rich plot with a compelling narrative drive. And it will never make for the backstory of an interesting character who needs fleshing out so the reader develops an idea why the character is the person he or she has become.
Once I barge past that feeling of immobilization, the writing assumes its own energy. Thoughts that were never there seem to emerge; ideas pour onto the page. Pictures, sounds, and smells–all coming from some deep mental recess–abound, as if by some strange magic of which I was unaware. But it’s not magic. It’s the writer’s marathon, the never-ending quest to capture in words the innermost thoughts and feelings of characters and their situations, replete with descriptions of the world in which the characters live.
Will there come a time when this dreadful apprehension ever leaves me as I begin a new novel?
I don’t think so. Is this what every writer experiences at the beginning of a new creation? I don’t know. I can only speak for myself.
I don’t believe there’s such a thing as “writer’s block.”
I think some people just can’t get past the fear and unwillingness to begin doing the hard work a novel demands–the brutal slog of writing.
About the Author
Mark Rubinstein was born in Brooklyn, New York, where he dreamed of playing baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His love of sports led him to read sports fiction, and soon he became a voracious reader, developing an enduring love for all kinds of novels.
He graduated from New York University with a degree in business administration. He then served in the army and ended up as a field medic tending to paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. After his discharge, he re-entered NYU as a premed student.
As a medical student at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center, he developed an interest in psychiatry, discovering in that specialty the same thing he realized in reading fiction: every patient has a compelling story to tell. He became a board-certified psychiatrist practicing in New York City.
In addition to running his private practice he developed an interest in forensic psychiatry because the drama and conflict of the cases and courtrooms tapped into his personality style. He also taught psychiatric residents, interns, psychologists, and social workers at New York Presbyterian Hospital and became a clinical assistant professor at Cornell University’s medical school.
Before turning to fiction, Rubinstein coauthored five medical self-help books: The First Encounter: The Beginnings in Psychotherapy (Jason Aronson); The Complete Book of Cosmetic Facial Surgery (Simon and Schuster); New Choices: the Latest Options in Treating Breast Cancer (Dodd Mead); Heartplan: A Complete Program for Total Fitness of Heart & Mind (McGraw-Hill), and The Growing Years: A Guide to Your Child’s Emotional Development from Birth to Adolescence (Atheneum).
Rubinstein lives in Connecticut with his wife and as many dogs as she will allow in the house. He still practices psychiatry and is busily writing more novels.