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By Gary Morgenstein, author of Jesse’s Girl.

I want to thank Vera for graciously inviting me into her online home to talk to all of you.

Like parents, writers say they love all their children equally. Of course, that isn’t true. Each novel has a special appeal occupying a particular moment in your life. For example, the break-up of my marriage begat the romantic triangle Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, the poignant story of a divorced man looking for love again.

But Jesse’s Girl holds tightest on my heart because it’s about fatherhood. Yes, parenting, that wonderful, death defying trip, a roller-coaster ride without a seat belt. Or much sense of gravity. In Jesse’s Girl, the main character is Teddy Mentor, a guilt-ridden widower who risks everything to save his adopted teenage son, Jesse, who’s run away from a drug treatment program to find his biological sister. They have a poor relationship for which both – and neither — are to blame.

Teddy loves and hates Jesse. He wants to rescue Jesse from the dread disease of addiction yet is furious for what his substance abuse is doing to them. Teddy wishes he’d be a “normal” (talk about an oxymoron) teen and wishes he’d disappear. Just a few of the contradictory emotions parents endure. Your kid could have addiction issues or learning issues or attachment issues or just be a big pain in the you-know-what. All parents, at one time, share this mosaic of internal conflict. Go away and leave me alone. For which you blame yourself. Over and over.

Try writing about it. Not as a memoirist, but as a novelist. Taking the raw burning emotions of fatherhood and, like some mad scientist, distilling them in the laboratory of your imagination. Creating new people, new places, but keeping the heart and soul, no matter how much it hurts. Keeping it true.

That, as Ernest Hemingway said, is the moral centrality of a writer. Be true to yourself by writing what you know. I hope those of you who honor me by reading my novel will tell me if the story of the father and son in Jesse’s Girl rings true.

Gary Morgenstein Bio

Novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein is the author of four novels. In addition to Jesse’s Girl, a thriller about a widowed father’s search for his adopted teenage son, his books include the romantic triangle Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, the political thriller Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man performed to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival. His other full-length work, You Can’t Grow Tomatoes in the Bronx, is in development. He can be reached on his Facebook Page.