Q: Did you feel like a turncoat writing Ocean Raton?
Deep Thoughts ... Really Bad Pose
No. This is an honest, entertaining satire, and I point out all that I find ridiculous including yours truly. I certainly do not hold myself or the role of advertising and marketing immune in all this, and my characterizations are both frank and fair. The opening of Chapter 5 or the Sedgwick "live interview" scene are two examples that come to mind.
As for the real estate industry overall, my depiction reflects the opinion I have consistently voiced regarding the manner in which a number of developers conducted their business both prior and during the market correction. It has been comical to see arrogance quickly dissolve into desperation, and I believe the "No Matter The Cost" materialistic sense of entitlement that pervades our culture fuels this absurdity.
Q: What inspired the title?
It says it all. Ocean Raton ... who cares what it means as long as it sounds fabulous. In this world it's what's on the surface that counts.
Case in point, the pompous swagger some Boca Raton residents affect simply because of their address. For those that base so much on name, title, and designer labels, are they completely oblivious? I mean get over yourselves, people, to 25% of the world you live in Rat Mouth, Florida.
Q: You are not shy about claiming the bubble burst goes beyond the real estate industry and is a reflection on many corners of society. How do you respond to those who might say you are pointing fingers in an attempt to divert responsibility from yourself and the industry?
Ocean Raton is a mirror held up to world I know and reflects my experiences and perceptions. Ultimately, this is a story about the culture we find ourselves in, the values it celebrates, and how far we are willing to go in order to achieve what many deem to be success. It's a reflection and introspection on a lot more than real estate, though that was the obvious choice for me to use as the context since it is a landscape I know very well, and a world in synch with the elements of society I wanted to explore and challenge.
John n Jimi
Q: Are any of the characters taken directly from your experiences?
Save for one (and I'll let folks find him on their own), all the characters are composites of people, attitudes, and attributes I have encountered. I'm sure there will be speculation as to "Who's Who," and my evil side will have fun with that, though the thing about satire is everyone's imagination and experiences relate differently. If I did my job right, "Who" the readers identify in these characterizations will come from their own perspective on the world and themselves.
Q: Which character do you most identify with?
I would like to say Renee based on her independence and self-confidence, but honestly it's Terri. In many ways her journey is my own. The insecurities that plague her and the questions she must answer on the road to self-actualization are what challenged me to write this book.
Q: Who was your favorite character to write?
When Gabi Riser ... I'm sorry, Mrs. Dr. Trent Riser popped into my head, I could not wait to introduce her. The fun I could have through the words and actions of a cutthroat, aspiring socialite had me giddy with devilish glee.
And while I really enjoyed Gabi, I'd have to say Phyl Levine ultimately became my favorite in how she revealed and established herself in the course of the action. She's a complex little lady who is both a contradiction and confirmation to the world of Ocean Raton.
Q: Did you know how Ocean Raton would end when you started the book?
Author-Son Philosophical Discourse
Not at all. When I started writing in May 2006 I knew the story would involve a high-rise under construction, struggling sales, and a mercenary team of strippers. From there I had an idea that one of the buyers would get in over his head and that would provide the premise for my conflict. Beyond that ...
Initially I was going to have Gloria Estefan somehow blow-up the building or a Cat 5 hurricane deliver the resolution. Then one morning I was out jogging and it hit me. Once in my mind, it was all I could see.