Mark Rubinstein will present his new novel, The Lovers’ Tango, and discuss “Psychology in Fiction” at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison this Thursday evening, July 23rd, at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public; registration is preferred and can be completed online or by calling the store at 203-245-3959. Location: 768 Boston Post Rd.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Mark Rubinstein.
Rubinstein is the author of The Lovers’ Tango (Thunder Lake Press, $12.99), which was published last month. His first novel, Mad Dog House, was named a finalist for ForeWord’s 2012 Book of the Year Award; he has since authored Love Gone Mad, Mad Dog Justice and the novella The Foot Soldier, which won the Silver prize at the Benjamin Franklin Awards in the category of popular fiction. Return to Sandara is the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards’ gold medalist in the Thriller/Suspense category and Mad Dog Justice was selected as a Thriller & Suspense finalist in Foreword Reviews’ prestigious 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award. Rubinstein earned a degree in business administration from NYU, served in the U.S. Army as a field medic, and has been both a physician and forensic psychiatrist. He coauthored five self-help books on psychological and medical topics before turning to fiction and currently blogs for Psychology today and writes “The Authors’ Interviewer” column for The Huffington Post. Dr. Rubinstein and his wife make their home in Connecticut.
Praise for The Lovers’ Tango:
“The tension in these pages never lets you go. Rubinstein is a born storyteller. A gripping legal drama powers this novel at a torrid pace. Mark Rubinstein knows that what goes on outside the courtroom is just as important as what happens inside.”–Michael Connelly, bestselling author of the Harry Bosch series
“Legal thriller, medical mystery, and hauntingly suspenseful tale of a couple trapped in their final dance, Mark Rubinstein’s THE LOVERS’ TANGO is a masterful story. The novel is powerful and poignant, and kept me riveted through the last daring reveal.”–Linda Fairstein, New York Times bestselling author of the Alex Cooper series
“In THE LOVER’S TANGO, Mark Rubinstein proves that Nicolas Sparks is not the only author who can masterfully blend suspense, tragedy, and romance into a timeless story of love, loss, and the beguiling mystery of memory. Here is a story within a story, all entwined around a pair of lovers locked in a tragic dance. Once it starts, you’ll be unable to tear yourself away as you’re carried relentlessly forward to the novel’s surprising and poignant ending.”–James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Sixth Extinction
From the publisher:
Everything in Bill Shaw’s life changed the moment he met the beautiful actress Nora Reyes. But as a writer, he feared their love story would have a tragic ending.
Fifteen years after that fateful encounter, Bill is in the DA s crosshairs: his research for a novel has eerie parallels to the circumstances surrounding Nora s death. In a harrowing progression of events, a murder trial ensues. What exactly did happen between Bill and Nora the day she died? And what constitutes truth? Fiction and fact coalesce, as the lines between fantasy and reality, guilt and innocence are blurred. The Lovers Tango, a story of deeply abiding love, culminates in a shattering conclusion addressing devotion, commitment, and the meanings of truth and justice.
Now, Mark Rubinstein makes his case in support of The Lovers’ Tango …
1) What inspired you to write THE LOVERS’ TANGO—and how have your experiences with interviewing authors informed your approach to writing about an author?
I can’t pinpoint any single particular event or situation that inspired me to write the novel. I’ve seen so many things in my life and they meld, just seem to come together and form a novelistic matrix in my head. Yes, an idea came to me that I’d like to write a courtroom thriller with medical and romantic components, based partly on my experience as a physician and forensic psychiatrist. But it’s difficult to denote any moment of inspiration. Speaking of inspiration: I firmly believe the notion of “inspiration” is, for the most part, a myth. If you’re a storyteller, a plotline comes to you in layers, and it deepens and widens, almost as though it’s organic—a living thing that morphs in different directions as you write. That’s the way it seems to be for me.
It struck me that THE LOVERS’ TANGO would be a compelling story if it involved a bestselling crime novelist who is accused of murdering his wife. The irony of it was Will the writer of crime do time? It seemed especially ironic if the police found in his computer, a novel on which he was working, and that novel had eerie parallels to the way his wife died. So he’s put on trial for Second Degree Murder.
My Huffington Post interviews of bestselling authors haven’t had any influence on how or what I write. They have convinced me that I’m not alone in the “authorsphere.” Even the most successful authors are ridden with self-doubt, and say writing novels becomes more difficult with each successive book. Each new novel is a challenge and a hurdle. It’s good to have validation of that kind and to learn you’re not alone, that your worries about writing and creativity are virtually universal.
2) What compels you about the tango—and how does that dance serve as an undercurrent to the narrative?
The tango is a sensuous dance of promise, passion, love, and death. It’s an incredible thing to watch, and the music is gorgeous, even voluptuous, if I can use such a word to describe a dance. It’s highly stylized, and as I note in the novel’s preface, it has enormous meaning in relation to a man and woman. The tango is emblematic of life, another dance of sorts, and it describes the elaborate courtroom dance in which the prosecution and defense in a criminal trial present evidence to the jury, each side trying desperately to convince the “finders of fact” that their dance, their version of the “truth” is the right one. In the novel, the tango is a metaphor for love between a man and a woman, the dance of life and death, and the quest for truth and justice.
3) Much of the book takes place in the courtroom. What do you believe is the enduring appeal of this set-up—and how do you endeavor to balance authenticity with entertainment?
The soul of drama is conflict. Without conflict, there’s very little story for a writer to tell. In that connection, the courtroom is a perfect setting for conflict since our legal system is an adversarial one. The prosecution and defense are in conflict, telling different stories to the jury. The judge is a referee of sorts. It’s almost a modern-day equivalent of gladiatorial combat—with words and ideas instead of swords and shields. This is the enduring appeal of the courtroom, and of TV programs like Law and Order, The Good Wife, and many others.
As for entertainment, a well-told story in which people are in conflict or must deal with crises is entertaining. The reader lives vicariously through the characters and their troubles. To further the entertainment value, I streamline the intricacies of courtroom proceedings so the story is fast-paced and compelling. You would be surprised how in a real trial, events are slowed down to a snail’s pace by various mind-numbing procedural issues.
4) Tell us about your background in psychiatry. How does this influence character development—and in what ways does writing fiction allow you to illuminate everyday realities?
After medical school, I took a rotating internship followed by a residency in psychiatry. It’s a fascinating specialty because every patient, no matter what his or her symptoms, has a compelling story to tell. I love stories, whether I read them, listen to them, or tell them. I became interested in forensic psychiatry—the interface between psychiatry and the law. That made my work even more interesting because I ended up evaluating and having interfaces with people who would never be seen in an ordinary psychiatric practice: survivors of the 9/11 disaster; people who lived through fires, explosions, riots, rapes, wartime combat, and other catastrophic events far beyond the range of ordinary human experience. Having seen and dealt with such situations I could write about these things with a degree of authenticity that’s hard to match. As for character development, I don’t use my clinical psychiatric background in any conscious way when writing about my characters. I use what I know about life, conflict, and my own inner sense of what we human beings experience from one moment or day to another. If a writer’s finger is on the pulse of life, it comes through in the writing and makes the reader feel, “How does this writer know I’ve felt exactly the way this character feels?”
5) In your opinion, what is the role of the bookstore within its community and how can author events serve to enhance the writer/reader/bookseller relationship?
Bookstores (and libraries) are vital to any community. They form a cultural and intellectual backbone for a town or city. Despite the decline of independent (and even chain) bookstores, I hold out hope they will not only survive, but will flourish. I particularly love a bookstore with a café; that seems to validate my perception of the store as a meeting place of sorts, an intellectual oasis.
As for author events, I love them and think they’re vital for both readers and writers. I was once asked how a writer develops a readership and answered, “One reader at a time.” What better way is there to form a relationship with readers than to speak with them and exchange ideas about a novel, or about writing? An event like that concretizes and solidifies the reader-writer relationship.
With thanks to Mark Rubinstein for his generosity of time and thought and to Skye Wentworth, Book Publicist, for facilitating this interview.
Don’t forget: The author will appear at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison this Thursday evening, July 23rd, at 7:00 p.m.