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Literary Ventures: An Interview with Michael Shapiro, author of Roebuck’s Prize

Michael Shapiro

This is my first novel. I’ve done a lot of writing in my career in law and then as an executive for a financial services company, and then over 250 articles in a business blog over a period of several years.

You can buy Roebuck’s Prize here.

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


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

The Prize was an important part of the concept and storyline. The name Roebuck just came to me out of thin air.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

Ecstatic both times. No feeling like it in my experience. Everyone loves my cover. It’s exactly right for the book. I never get tired of looking at it. I have the image as the wallpaper on my phone and iPad.

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

I’ve been writing for years. I got the idea for this book many years ago. I wanted it to be about the future when certain trends and values in the current zeitgeist become amplified to the point of causing distress and dislocation in people’s lives. I wanted to imagine how a person would deal with that kind of adversity. Writers who influenced me: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John D. MacDonald, Robert Crais, Walter Mosley, Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Ford, Margaret Atwood, Raymond Carver. Movies: Fight Club, The Truman Show, the mini reality-plays told starkly and succinctly in the lyrics of country music.

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

I was a lawyer in private practice and a business executive. I was in the National Guard for six years. I play guitar in a bluegrass band and am in a Spanish conversation group.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

Seeing a manuscript come to life as a published book, enabling me to at least “knock at the door” of a time-honored profession of writers whose works I have admired for years.

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

“I’m Leaving It All Up to You” by Dale and Grace. “New World in The Morning” by Roger Whitaker, “Ass Back Home” by Gym Class Heroes feat. Neon Hitch, “On the Floor” by J-Lo and Pitbull, “Give Me Everything” by Pitbull and Ne-Yo, “Tonight I’m Loving You” by Ludacris and Enrique Iglesias, and “Angel” by Shaggy feat. Rayvon.

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

While there may be shortages of material goods that threaten our notions of a civil society, every person has unlimited personal internal resources to meet every challenge.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

A sequel to this book and another futuristic book called Senior Warrior.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Atmosphere successfully walks a fine line by creating a sense of “business intimacy” without inquiries or incursions into personal space. I never met anyone at Atmosphere face to face. Nobody ever asked anything about my age, marital status, children, work experience, plans for the weekend, etc. All interactions were exclusively and intensively about the words on the page, as they should be. The process of writing is a lonely business. Nobody puts words on the page but the author. But turning a manuscript into a book is another matter and you need others. There are a host of choices out there with varying degrees of autonomy v. loss of ownership and control. I have no other publishing experience to make comparisons, and I do not intend to disparage other choices. But I can say that with Atmosphere, you are in business FOR yourself but not BY yourself. That turned out to be the right choice for me at this time for this book.


You can buy Roebuck’s Prize here.

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

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