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An Interview with Frank Arnold


Frank was born in Newark, New Jersey during the post-World War II era. He has completed two novels based on his personal experiences of growing up during the 1950s and 1960s, which he considers to be unique and interesting times. He has completed an outline for a third novel to be set at the very end of the 1960s and early 1970s, which were very turbulent days in America. He believes that writing from personal experience gives an author greater credibility. On one hand, he considers himself to be an expert of his life but, on the other, he still doesn’t understand it. Writing, he thinks, helps him solve the puzzle. He earned a BA in English and an MBA from Rutgers University. An amateur actor, he has appeared in several theater productions in northeast Florida, which is his current home. Now retired, he is able to devote himself to the pursuit of writing and finds it both challenging and rewarding. He strives to be the best writer that he can be.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

As an English major, I was introduced to some of the finest writers in the English language. Many of them have served as an inspiration to me, especially the British novelists of the early twentieth century. I credit my early development as a writer to my creative writing teacher at Union High School in New Jersey, Pat McCutcheon, and to several English professors at Rutgers and at the University of Wisconsin.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

The year of 1955 was a very unique and interesting time in America. Without being excessively nostalgic, I tried to capture the era in an objective light, as difficult as that might be. The characters and events are based on my life experiences.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The name Utopia is based on the town where I was raised: Union, New Jersey. I needed to change the name of the town in order to maintain the necessary emotional distance from it. I added ’55 in honor of the ’55 Chevrolet that was manufactured in that year. Although the book is not focused on cars, several cars do play a part in the action.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

“Only You (And You Alone)” by the Platters

“Unchained Melody” by Les Baxter and his Orchestra

“Love and Marriage” by Frank Sinatra

“Maybeline” by Chuck Berry

“Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino

“Dance with me Henry” by Georgia Gibb

“Love is a Many Splendored Thing”

Describe your dream book cover.

A drawing of the house in which resides the family at the center of the book.

Alternatively, a drawing of the bar owned by the father of the family.

A third possibility is a drawing of the view from the roof of the apartment building at the opening of the novel with a view towards Utopia, of course.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I was a CPA for 20 years and a professional fundraiser for 5 years.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

Abba Eban: An Autobiography

Many short stories by different authors.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

For those who lived through the times, perhaps a sense of sharing, a common bond, and even a feeling of kinship. For those who did not, perhaps an understanding of why their “boomer” parents and grandparents are the way they are, as well as an enhanced understanding of contemporary history.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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