1. What's the backstory behind ME AGAIN?
The characters in ME AGAIN are both stroke victims: a young man named Jonathan who awakens from a six-year coma having lost his memory, and a young woman named Rebecca whose personality has been changed, making her a stranger to her husband.
Jonathan and the challenges he faces were simply created from a "what if?" scenario I started developing several years ago, for a short story that I never ended up finishing. Years later, I rediscovered the story fragment and fell in love with the voice. Rebecca's situation was inspired by something that happened many years ago to a friend of mine's sister. Her predicament just haunted me, so I developed that concept in Rebecca's storyline, and it ultimately leads to the book's climactic conflict.
Although the premise may sound gloomy, there's a lot of humor in the book. I've tried to adopt the Nick Hornby model of "serious things happening to witty people," so the book focuses a lot on the irony and humor that can accompany personal tragedy - as well as the opportunity for growth.
2. Will you tell us a little about your road to publication?
Like my close personal friend Paul McCartney says, it's been a long and winding road. (Okay, so Paul and I aren't really that close, but I do know how to play some of his songs on my ukulele.) I started writing seriously in the late 90s, but it took ten years and two novels before I finally made a sale. ME AGAIN took me about two and a half years to complete, since I was splitting my time between day job, touring with Clarence Clemons, and finishing up my MBA (yeah, I drink a LOT of coffee). I give the Backspace online writers community a huge amount of credit for my development as a writer over the years. In fact, a referral from a fellow Backspacer is what ultimately got me my book deal.
3. You're also a talented musician. What made you take a foray into writing?
Both my parents were journalists, so writing was pretty much hard-coded into my genes. But for years I never did much more with it than compose some really funny (and highly obscene) holiday cards. In the late 90s a friend of mine got laid off, and decided to use his severance package to support himself while he drafted the novel he'd always wanted to write. (Incidentally, that's also how Sara Gruen got her start - food for thought...) So I decided to try my own hand at this writing stuff. I guess it just wasn't enough to pursue one career path where my chances of success were next to nil; I had to pursue two!
4. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jeez, the list keeps growing! Nick Hornby, Jennifer Crusie, James Ellroy, Jane Austen, Carl Hiaasen, Sara Gruen, Ed McBain, Annie Proulx, Jon Clinch, A.S. King, Elmore Leonard, Lani Diane Rich, Donald Westlake, Helen Fielding, Robert B. Parker, Kelly Simmons, John McPhee, Elizabeth Letts, Tracy Kidder, Anne Tyler, Jay McInerny, Barbara Kingsolver, P.G. Wodehouse, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Andrew Vachss, Barbara O'Neal, Robertson Davies, Peter Devries, Tom Wolfe, John Irving, and countless others I'm forgetting, along with some of the 20th-century "classic" writers like Hemingway, Harper Lee, Fitzgerald and Steinbeck (when he lightens up, at least). Some debut authors I'm really excited about include Susan Henderson, Jael McHenry, Therese Walsh, and Ernessa T. Carter.
5. What book are you an evangelist for?
I'll give you two. First, FALLING UNDER by Danielle Younge-Ullman. Danielle is a truly fearless author, and I'm blown away by how much emotion she exposes in this debut novel, which is just so raw and urgent and honest. And she writes the most vivid, revealing and pertinent sex scenes I've seen in years. I know she's about to release an ebook version of FALLING UNDER, so if you don't already own a copy of the original paperback, keep your eye out for this one.
Second, THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. I know, you wouldn't think such a colossal bestseller would need any further evangelizing, but it's a common trait among writers to take cynical potshots at such successful books. From The Da Vinci Code to The Nanny Diaries to Harry Potter, far too many writers fall into attacking runaway bestsellers, rather than trying to learn from them. I just recently read THE HELP, and I put on my analytic hat and started paying attention to how Stockett was managing to keep me up so late reading her book. She continuously raises the stakes, while also increasing the pace, and the result just keeps pulling you along. I did an analysis in one of my posts at Writer Unboxed that explores how even within the first three paragraphs of the book, she takes the reader on an emotional journey. To me, this is a book that deserves the acclaim it's been getting, and I urge other writers to read it before they knock it.
Author of the novel ME AGAIN, published in September 2011 by Five Star/Gale, Keith Cronin is a corporate speechwriter and professional rock drummer who has performed and recorded with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Pat Travers. Keith's fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, Amarillo Bay, The Scruffy Dog Review, Zinos, and a University of Phoenix management course, and he is a regular contributor at the literary blog Writer Unboxed. A native of South Florida, Keith spends his free time serenading local ducks and squirrels with his ukulele. Visit him online at www.keithcronin.com or www.facebook.com/keithcronin.