The marvelous Thames Street Oyster House was loud. The occasion – the dinner preceding the wedding of dear friends – festive. And considering the bride and groom, the conversation swung from politics and food to arts and writing. No surprise, then, that I found myself seated next to another author, Richard Rosen. The big surprise was that we shared a background at the Boston Phoenix, and that he had a book – Tough Luck – about to come out. Tough Luck sounds fascinating – a true story about a Jewish quarterback who changed the NFL and his family’s Murder Inc. ties. (Crime fiction fans might know Richard from his Harvey Blissberg mysteries.) But, like I said, the restaurant was loud, so I know there’s more. More reason to read it!
How does a book start for you?
Every book starts with a stumble—over a person, a detail, a question related to a subject of intense personal interest. I only know it when I’ve already tripped over it.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
In TOUGH LUCK, clearly the surprise was why the father of the great NFL quarterback Sid Luckman would go so far as to brutally murder his wife’s little brother over embezzling from his company. Family can drive you nuts, of course, but really…..
When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
It’s nonfiction, so I had no choice but to set it in Brooklyn and Chicago. Could be worse.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on another nonfiction book, a kind of personal tribute to John Singer Sargent’s watercolors, and another genius painter from the late 19th century who’s been utterly forgotten. It’s called SARGENT’S SHADOW.
Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?
You might’ve asked me if the Internet has made researching and writing nonfiction easier. The answer is: You have no idea!
R. D. Rosen‘s many books include recent nonfiction that connects America’s past and present, including A Buffalo in the House: The True Story of a Man, an Animal, and the American West and Such Good Girls: The Journey of the Holocaust’s Hidden Child Survivors. He won an Edgar Allan Poe Award for his first of five mystery novels featuring retired Jewish major league baseball player-turned-detective Harvey Blissberg, and has written about sports for many national publications. He has served as a senior editor for both ESPN Books and Workman Publishing, and once upon a time wrote or performed comedy for PBS, HBO, and “Saturday Night Live.” He grew up across the street from Sid Luckman in Highland Park, Illinois, and lives in New York, where he still roots for the Chicago Bears.