To view the official review, click here.
You didn't come to this article to see me blabbing, so let's get to the review!
1. Tell us more about who Van Fleisher is as a person.
My life has been guided by a few very strong principles:
- 1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Influences: Mother & Father)
2. Do it well (and finish it) or don't do it at all. (Influence: Father)
3. Judge everyone solely by their deeds. (Influences: Mother & Father)
4. Don't worry about anything you can't do anything about. (Influence: Me)
I went to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Started in electrical engineering (too mechanical), switched to psychology (until I found out I'd need at least a Master's to use it) and then business, which I loved. Then I got a part time job with TWA, got married and got promoted to a management job in San Francisco... in the 60s!! I won't say much about that because some of it might be incriminating.
When TWA was bought and dismantled by a corporate raider, I retired and moved to Scotland where I entered the incredible business world of management consulting, where I spent 32 years. Most of that time I lived in France and worked and traveled to 30 countries, even spending a year in India. I retired, although still do some training for my last consulting company, and then I started to write.
I'm a (real) news junkie, walk a lot, qualify as a foodie and love to cook, mostly vegan these days, as I have become a follower of my NY Times' best selling daughter-in-law, Julie Morris. My partner, Jackie, our dog, Yogi, and I live in California for six months and France for the other six.
2. Let's jump right into the heart of the matter. Final Notice is about receiving a notice 5 days before you die that you are about to expire. The ways that would change lives. Where di the book come from?
The original genesis was the confluence of my father and my fascination with technology. After my father retired, my mother died and he was on his own. He felt pushed aside, irrelevant, as though people were saying, "get out of the way, old man." As I traveled and worked around the world, I noticed that older people were treated with more respect and reverence than in the USA. The USA leads the world in senior homes.
The other half of the coin was sport watches. I was a marathon runner for years and I always had the latest and greatest watch to tell me how long I ran, or how far, and then my pulse rate. So, in my imagination I invented a watch that would tell you when you would die. And, since older people would die more often than younger ones, they might decide to take revenge with impunity, and over time, respect for older people would grow. The proliferation of guns and my concern about the lack of adequate gun control became the perfect partners to round out the concept.
3. There is quite a bit of content in the book that could be controversial. Views on gun control and immigration to name a few. Were you worried about including such controversial content?
I am a gun owner and have been for over 50 years. I learned a little about gun safety from a Secret Service friend of mine but I have never had formal training, nor have 43% of people who routinely carry guns. I’ve hunted and in virtually every state in the U.S. there are hunting laws that limit the number of rounds that your gun can hold. So why do we need extended magazines? Why do we need weapons that are capable of inflicting hideous injuries? An AR15 is a great weapon in the hands of the military or police and if it’s important to people to shoot these, let’s get our military bases to offer safe on-base facilities. These weapons aren’t like ordinary guns. The wounds are horrific and difficult to survive.
I am not, nor has any President we’ve ever had, advocating taking guns away. That’s only true in the fear-mongering rants of the NRA and their members who believe it. And not all NRA members buy into that rhetoric. The majority want better background checks and many want some curtailment of assault weapons.
As for immigration, I’ve learned over the years that for the most part, it’s the smartest, bravest immigrants who leave their countries to find a better life in the U.S. Who amongst us, are not from immigrant stock? That doesn’t mean that they will all be perfect, just like it doesn’t mean that everyone whose family has been here for many generations will be. I live in California where we have a large Latino population. Many came here with nothing and now their children are going to college and on to becoming major assets in our community.
So, to answer the last part of this question, “NO”, I was not worried about the content. I wanted to include it to open the conversations.
[Interviewer note: I have to say, I completely agree about the AR15 and extended magazines.]
4. It comes across in the book as quite personal. Were there incidents in your life that prompted this? Why is this so important to you?
I think my answers to Q3 answer this, but yes, it’s personal to me. I have lived half my life outside my country looking at it from afar. I love my country but it’s not perfect. It can be better and I want my children and grandchildren to live in a better than we have.
5. Have you gotten any blow back from the NRA or anyone else as far as the views expressed in the book?
Nothing from the NRA yet, but the publicity would be welcomed! I did get a moronic “review” on Amazon from someone who stated that he hadn’t read the book but from the description he wouldn’t, nor should anyone else. Oh well, we are living in very polarized times.
6. Do you identify personally with any of your characters?
Yes, a bit. Our friends tease us by calling my partner and I, Trudi and Vince, the main protagonists in Final Notice. My partner is a singer songwriter, who wrote and recorded a companion piece song, “Crazy Eddie Got A Gun”, which was the song that Trudi was working on. The song is available as a free download on my website: www.finalnoticebook.com.
Vince was a Management Consultant and switched to an Apple computer, as I did. The part about him switching to Apple was (unfortunately) not a paid endorsement, but I wrote it to underscore the point that we are never too old to learn new things.
7. How hard was it to publish this book with the views expressed especially in light of some of the recent shootings?
I wrote the book before Orlando, Sutherland Church, Las Vegas and Parkland. On the other hand I wrote it after Columbine, Sandy Hook, and dozens of other mass shootings. I hate the fact that when people describe it as timely, I realize that it will always be timely unless we change our gun control laws!
8. Would you want to get a Final Notice?
No. I want to go to sleep one night in the distant future and not wake up.
9. Do you have any plans for more books in the future?
Yes. I’m working on a sequel to Final Notice. The watch gets smarter but also ensnarled in much more sophisticated murders. Vince and Trudi make a cameo appearance but Vijay and Zoe are back.
[Interviewer's note: That sounds fabulous! I definitely will have to read that one as I loved Vijay and Zoe!]
How about some fun questions now.
10. Are you a cat or dog person?
Definitely dog. Yogi, my Golden Doodle is my pal. I am leading an effort for a new dog park in my town.
11. Do you prefer the mountains or the beach?
Tough one so I live in a beach town at the foot of the mountains.
12. What's your favorite type of music? Favorite band or singer?
I love music of all types, except opera, although I have enjoyed attending a few operas. My girlfriend is a folk singer and a big part of our lives revolves around getting together for song circles and hoots. I’ve been able to help out by playing the cajon.
[Interviewer's note: A cajon? Neat! Not many people know about those. My husband wants to buy one and learn to play.]
Thanks again, Mr. Fleisher for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you all the best of luck in Final Notice and your up coming book as well!
I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book and get involved in the discussion of the month.
To view the book on Amazon (note that it is free with Kindle Unlimited), click here.
Go forth and make it a great day!