Interview with Kelly Wittmann, author of Remember Big


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Synopsis: Thirty-three-year-old Charlie Matthias was born on the same day as Phil Mickelson, but his career in professional golf sure didn't turn out the same way. Throw in some substance abuse and divorce issues, and he's a wreck who's pretty much given up on ever having a happy life. 

A chance meeting with an old friend from high school, Erica Denner, lights a spark of hope in his heart, but he claims their very different family backgrounds and personalities are stumbling blocks. Only when he admits to the real stumbling blocks—his own pain and bitterness—will there be a chance for Charlie and Erica to find a lasting love together.

Combining serious romance with spot-on satire of a sport-obsessed family, REMEMBER BIG will appeal to fans of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.

I moved from Milwaukee to the Lincoln Square neighborhood in Chicago. It just seemed natural to write about my new surroundings, and as I learned more about the place, so did the protagonist in my novel "Remember Big," Charlie Matthias. It's fiction, of course, but a few of the characters Charlie meets in passing are/were real-- the Pigeon Man and the Tin Man, to name two. The theme of the novel is assimilation, and I was inspired to write about that subject because I was reading Philip Roth's "Goodbye, Columbus."

Q. How did writing this book affect you?

Charlie Matthias is running away from something, but I was running towards something when I wrote this book. I think it was the first time that I really let my guard down when writing fiction. I stopped worrying about what other people would think and just let loose. Maybe writing a male protagonist in the first person helped me do that, I don't know.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Trying to do it with a huge brain tumor in my head. I used to think, "How can all these other people write for five, six hours a day?" I'd always have to stop after a few hours because I'd get a headache. Finally, the benign tumor was diagnosed and removed. Everything's going to be okay now, but it was there for a long, long time. Like, probably decades. It's hard not to wonder what I could have accomplished-- and a lot of other things, too.

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?

Oh, I know I'll write again, but I have to wait a few months because I'm healing and on crazy meds. I'd love to go into one of the genres just to make money, but to be honest, I don't think I could write it because I just don't get it. Writing (good) genre fiction is not "easier."

Q. What are you currently reading?

I am reading "A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths," by Tony Fletcher. He's a wonderful writer. His book about Keith Moon is great, too.

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).

My latest news is that I co-authored another book, "High Tide: A Story of Football, Freefall, and Forgiveness," with former NFL offensive lineman Bill Searcey. 'Tis the season, so go buy it if you love football.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I've got two rather difficult men on my hands, one fictional and one real. But they are the kind of characters who grow on you. And believe me, Bill is as much of a "character" as Charlie. It was kind of weird to meet him and start collaborating after I'd written Charlie, because it was like I was foreshadowing stuff in "Remember Big." Washed-up athlete, dysfunctional relationship with Dad, drug addiction, Hilton Head Island as an important place in their lives. It's pretty freaky. Better buy them both so that you can compare and contrast!

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