Gary Morgenstein was at a friend’s daughter’s bat mitzvah a few years ago when “suddenly the most beautiful woman in the world appeared at the dais. I bothered someone who was praying to ask who she was. And that got me thinking – what if a guy like me fell in love with a beautiful rabbi?”
That moment inspired Morgenstein to write his fourth novel: Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman: Sex and Romance in God’s House, which he’s published at Amazon.com. (I have to say I didn’t know the rest of the book’s title – Sex and Romance in God’s House – until I looked it up on Amazon just now. What more could one want in a novel? Sex, romance and church! As someone who spent much of her childhood going to church three times a week, this is a very interesting – and taboo – mix of topics.)
Morgenstein, who’s kept busy as director of corporate communications at Lifetime until the end of December 2008 and is now a PR consultant at NBC Universal’s Sci-Fi Channel, says that books can be written one lunch hour at a time. “I write weekends, lunches, nights. I just try to go into a zone, even if that’s just for a half hour, and write a bit at a time.”
Morgenstein has written two other books – Take Me Out to the Ballgame and The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees (um, every man in New York?) – and both were published by St. Martin’s Press in the early 80s. This time around, Morgenstein decided to go with Amazon. He had a friend that had published a book there and Morgenstein thought the business model seemed more applicable to today’s digital world. His friend, sci-fi writer Max de Lafayette, helped him through the process.
“They have a different publishing model than the traditional one, which is dying,” Morgenstein says. “Book publishers like Amazon are doing a lot more instant books now. The old model of waiting a year for a book to come out is going to go away soon.”
That ability to be up-to-the-minute allowed Morgenstein to write confidently about things that are happening right now: Obama’s presidency and the uniqueness of Jews who, like Morgenstein, are Republicans living in Brooklyn (I admit that I had to ask Morgenstein if such creatures really did exist. He assured me they do since he is one of them).
“Kleinman is really a book about being married and having relationships after your relationship ends. It’s a weird, surreal thing,” says Morgenstein, who clearly was influenced by his five years at female-focused Lifetime. “Kleinman is probably a romance – it’s about falling in love and having love taken from you from a guy’s perspective. Guys are pretty sensitive but society doesn’t let us be that way.”
Going the romance route seems pretty smart considering that NBC’s The Today Show just did a story on the fact that sales of romance novels are up.
Concurrently, Morgenstein also is publishing another novel, Jesse’s Girl, about a father’s search for his troubled teenage son. And he’s updating his two baseball books, which he may publish on Amazon as well.
While Morgenstein prefers novels, he’s also apparently a prognosticating playwright. His play, “Ponzi Men,” about a son who pulls a Ponzi scheme, was performed at the New York Fringe Festival a few years ago.
Now that Morgenstein’s at Sci-Fi, I wonder if his next book will take a turn towards Star Wars. Loving Boba Fett anyone?