Al was born in 1934 on the outskirts of Cologne Germany and educated in the art of apparel manufacturing. He worked until 1956 in his father’s business. In November 1956, he immigrated to the USA with his parents and younger brother. Drafted thirteen months later, he served in the US Army for two years stationed in Germany where he met his wife.
After a fifty-year career in the apparel industry, he retired as corporate vice-president from the Spiegel group and turned to writing to fill his ample leisure time.
His extensive travel during his 50-year career took him around the world to all five continents. The travels gained him a deep understanding of the world’s cultures as well as their trials and tribulations. This, combined with his experience growing up in a war-torn country during World War II, and his military service, gave him enough stories and imagination to spin the yarn for his novels.
Al has seven published novels to his credit and is presently working on his memoirs.
He resides in New Jersey with his wife of fifty-eight years where they enjoy their children and three grandchildren.
About THE HUNT FOR CELL-X
A terrorist attack, the sinking of an American cruise ship, starts an eruption of multiple Isis-terror attacks impairing the peaceful life of the US. The attacks leave mass casualties in its wake. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Hajji Al Hajji, selects Special Agent Jim Vandergelden, the deputy director of the CIA, and retired Marine Corps Colonel, as the commander of the Special Homeland Security Force. Jim is a battle hardened ex seal commander and a proven international CIA operative. He picks his team members from the best the FBI and CIA has to offer. They all had served as Seals or as Special Forces combatants during their enlistment.
Colonel Vandergelden’s mission is to locate and destroy the Isis cells that have infiltrated the USA. Vandergelden uncovers the existence of a secret terrorist group named, Cell-X. Intel from reliable sources alleges that Cell-X is developing weapons of mass destruction on US soil.
An Interview with Al
If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?
Read a good book.
What kind of books do you love to read? Why?
Spy novels, Historical Fiction, or any good thriller. It relaxes me; I don’t read books to critic them. I read for enjoyment. The story has to intrigue me.
What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to?
Classical, (Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, etc.) or Erwin Berlin composition, and Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin etc.
What is your stress buster?
Any kind of TV show that prevents me from thinking.
What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you==re sad, sort of a comfort food?
Cuisines that I have enjoyed during my global travels. (Italian, all Asian cuisines, French, middle eastern, etc.
Describe yourself in one word.
If a fairy grants you one wish and one wish only, what would it be? Why?
Good health for my family.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
A picture taking safari in the national parks of Kenya.
What makes you happy/sad/disappointed/frustrated/hopeful/angry? (Pick one)
Greed and Lying.
What are your wildest dreams/fantasies/kinks/quirks?
Revisit countries that I have seen and enjoyed.
When did you write your first book? How long did it take you to write it?
My first book, THEY FOLLOWED THE CALL I started to write in 2002. Two years after I retired.
Did you encounter any obstacles in writing? What are they? How did you overcome them?
A learning process never stopped. Thinking up stories come easy to me. But rewrites are laborious.
How did you feel when you receive your first contract? What did you do? Any celebratory dinner, dance, event, etc to commemorate the occasion?
After 150 rejections, it was a dream come true. I celebrated by hurrying to finish my second book, THE OLD LADY AND THE RIVER.
Any writing peeves, things you wish you could improve on, things you do with exceptional talent?
I wish I could rewrite some of my first books. I would change some things in there.
I wish I could come up with ideas faster without help from my crit group, and not write so many drafts.
Where and when do you write? Tell us about your favorite work place and time. Any special reason?
I usually get up at 5 AM, have some breakfast, and start writing until 5 PM; except Saturday or Sunday. I have an office in our house where I write. I have a problem writing anywhere else.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? How do you go on from there? Maybe you can give us an example with one of your books.
A story comes to me first. Usually have several lined up in my head. Than I do an outline and start writing. Sometimes the characters start to talk to me during the process. If you are a writer, they forgive for being crazy. But if you are not a writer, well….
What books can you recommend to aspiring writers to improve on style, character development, plot, structure, dialogue, etc?
There are many. Starting out with Clancy’s books, Patterson’s books, and many more. However if you are looking for a perfect book, there are none. Every book I have read, had flaws that were overlooked by editors.
What is your must-have book for writing?
The Breakout Novel workbook by Donald Mass.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Don’t let rejection stop you from writing and submitting. Moreover, join a writer’s group. You need the exchange with other writers and their experience.
Among those that you’ve written, which is your favorite book and why?
Sacred Blood, because it shows philosophy of war seen by the soldiers in the foxholes on both sides of the conflict, and how alike their take on war is.
Where do you get your ideas? Do you jot them down in a notebook, in case you forgot?
Since most of my books are about human interest stories, subject matters are easy to find. No I don’t write them down. However, quite often the choice of which one to write next chances frequently.
Which book that you’ve read (not one of yours) is the closest to your heart? Why?
WIND SAND AND STARS by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
What is your favorite part of writing?
Crafting the story.
What is your least favorite part of writing?
Editing and rewriting.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of editing. How about you?
I finish the story first and then edit the book.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
I use a great deal of researching for my books. I do it as I need it.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever done in the name of research?
Getting lost in the research forgetting the reason for it.
What inspired your latest release?
The scary uncertainties governing today’s world.
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
After numerous rejections by agents, one of my writer friends pointed me to a small publisher that acccepted manuscripts without going through an agent.
How much time do you spend promoting your books?
Not enough. Neither am I good at it.
Please tell us your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of it?
I use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I love meaningful posting but I hate meaningless postings like I just woke up and had a cup of coffee. Who cares.
Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
Yes, I spent fifty years in the apparel industry.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I became interested in writing after I retired. It was purely accidently. I had put together a Family Tree for my children and grandchildren when I realized that the names didn’t mean anything without some story about the ancestors. That’s when I got hooked on writing.
Do you have or belong to a writing organization? Which one?
I belong to two. The Writer’s Coffeehouse, which has over 2000 members. And a small local group, The Jackson Writer’s group.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?
I hate many different vegetables. My most favorite meal, which I always request for my birthday, is Lentil and Spatzel with Pignucles and a plum-sheet cake.
Favorite way to relax?
With a nice glass of wine in my hand.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
3 must have items if you were stranded on a tropical island?
A boat, a seaplane, or someone that picks me up.