Jonathan Tropper's last novel, This Is Where I Leave You (2009), become a New York Times bestseller.
Tonight he's signing his new book One Last Thing Before I Go — about a drummer in a one-hit wonder rock band who now plays weddings — at The Grove's Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m.
Here's our “Ask the Author” Q&A with Tropper about his new book, literary likes and dislikes, and his writing process.
Where do you live?
New Rochelle, NY, a suburb about a half hour from Manhattan.
Favorite book of all time:
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
Least favorite book of all time:
Book, Kindle, Nook, audiobook or other, and why?
Books, for pleasure, Kindle for business. I still enjoy the tactile sensation of holding a book. But when I need to read fast for work, I use the Kindle App on my iPad.
Describe the moment when you first got the idea for your new book:
I was watching a man eating alone in a pizza store. He seemed eccentric and very solitary, and I imagined he led a very quiet and lonely life, and wondered about the turns he had taken to get there.
Most helpful epiphany while writing the book:
Ultimately, you have to write what's coming at any given point in time. Fighting your instincts for practical reasons is a losing battle.
Dream casting for your protagonist in the movie version, and why:
Robert Downey, Jr. Because my protagonist is given to hyper-articulate fits of honesty, and really, who does hyper-articulate better than Robert Downey, Jr.?
Typical writing schedule:
I try to treat it like a real job. I'm at my desk before nine, and I go all day. I'm not necessarily productive all day, but really, who is?
Office, home, Starbucks, or elsewhere?
How you got your first agent or book contract:
I sent out about fifty query letters. Got forty-eight rejections and two offers. I went with the agent who seemed as young and hungry as I was. He's still my agent.
Most embarrassing story or other piece of writing you wrote as a kid, and what it was about:
When I was sixteen I wrote the first hundred or so pages of a novel about a piano that was haunted by the ghost of an evil blues musician. It was basically an extremely misguided and blatant knock-off of Christine, which is one of my favorite Stephen King novels.
Your favorite character you've ever thought up, and why:
I'm really enjoying Silver, the protagonist from One Last Thing Before I Go. He's had a mini-stroke that causes him to speak his inner-monologues out loud without realizing it, and I love the way that throws everyone around him.
What book or other piece of media you've been consuming lately:
I'm reading Motherland, by Amy Sohn, which is great, and really loving Louie, on FX.
What book or other piece of media you've been feeling guilty for not consuming lately:
I've been feeling terrible about how few novels I've gotten to read in the last year. Between finishing my own, and writing for my television show, as well as doing some feature work, I've lost any time to simply read, and I'm missing out on some great novels.