Ignoring our wide-angle view of Banderas Bay with its blue sea and distant white sand beaches, my interviewer stared with wide eyes as I worked like a lumberjack on my perfectly grilled carnitas. The lunch special at Puerto Vallarta’s hillside restaurant included beans, rice and tortillas in addition to the pulled, crispy pork, and bottles of dark Dos Equis and a seven-man mariachi band accompanied the interview. Watching me consume the sounds, sights and a delicious lunch, I worried Around the Globe would be too shocked to ask me questions. I shouldn’t have been concerned.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I am a southern Californian transplanted unwillingly to New Jersey thirty years ago and everybody in town knows I want to go home. They call me the Frito Bandito and throw taco wrappers on my lawn.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve been married to my wife Barbara for thirty-six years, but she’s my third. I married my high school sweetheart at twenty years old, which turned into a big mistake, and then I married again on the rebound. Yikes! It’s been tough, with many financial responsibilities, but I learned a lot about relationships. Practice makes perfect? Or maybe the third time is the charm.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a Broadway actor?
Reading books was big in my house, even at the dinner table, plus I always loved stories — listening, reading, watching, making them up. After one Getze-spun tale concerning aliens, elephants and my homework, a fourth-grade teacher said I should be in the movie or novel-writing business.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I have been a big fan of Elmore Leonard for twenty-five years. I’ve read everything he’s ever written and am in the process or re-doing his whole list of several dozen novels. He’s a marvelous storyteller, and a writer who knows what his readers want. But since he’s dead, I guess I’d like to have dinner with his son Peter. He’s a writer, to, and he could at least tell me stories about his dad.
Great question, and I do think my book would be a good fit in those circumstances. When you’re all alone and suffering, you need to LAUGH. You need a crazy character doing weird things to keep your mind off the disasters around you. Of course not everyone thinks my books are funny, but when the connection is made, what’s better than laughter to sooth the soul?
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
Well, let’s take this one step at a time. I can’t start my first draft until I really know the character doing most of the talking. I practice, get to know him or her, then let the story rip. Character is everything. I have a small outline in front of me – a couple of chapters into the future, but usually not the whole story. I keep my browser open so I can Google when questions pop up. And I keep my dictionary open, too, for new words when old ones seem to be taking over. I write best early in the morning and do at least three rewrites. I typically don’t even know what the story is until I finish the first draft, so two and three are guaranteed.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Pretend you’re talking to your best friend at the kitchen table and tell the story (you could tape yourself if you’re afraid to write) in a way to keep them interested. You know who they are — you know what interests them. Tell your friend, not a stranger. You’ll think strangers need to know too much background, while your friend already knows you. There is nothing to work with or on until you have a manuscript, so write one — get something on paper to work with. Yes that first version will be crap. Yes, it will need several rewrites. So what. It’s a start, a manuscript that can be revised and made wonderful.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Don’t worry. Be happy. It’s all over in a blink. That’s what I try to do, anyway, but so many difficulties show up in life it’s hard to keep a good outlook. You have to battle, I think. Especially as you get older. Don’t let them see you cry.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
No way can I stop. It’s what I am, an observer. An artist painting pictures on the cave wall. I wanted to be a great general and lead the world to peace forever, but — to quote a very famous movie — a man has to know his limitations. I’m working on two projects right now, a fifth Austin Carr mystery and a true story about an angel. The angel story is too strange, unlike anything I’ve ever written, but it keeps flapping wings at me.
My blog is a great place to learn about Jack Getze and his character, Austin Carr:
And so is my Amazon author page:
And you can friend me on Facebook: