Jack Getze has written a great debut novel. But getting it published hasn’t been easy going for him. He entered journalism because he loved to write. After working for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times covering financial issues he made a career change – and switched coasts to work for a regional securities firm on the New Jersey shore selling stocks and bonds. He retired in 1999 to work full-time on his novels.
His story is one of perseverance. But I’ll just jump right into the interview and let him explain that story:
Hi, Mr. Getze. Why don’t we start by talking about the book and then we can go into some biographical stuff from there?Tell me where the idea for this book came from. I read that the basis came from a lunch 20 years ago. Can you tell the short version of that story?
I was a stockbroker at the time, earning a living to feed my family the best way I could. But I hated the job. I was drinking at lunch with a fellow disgruntled broker who told me about a colleague who'd just found a way out: When this stockbroker's richest client died of cancer, the broker began dating and eventually married the new widow. I thought, wow, that symbolizes everything about this business I dislike, namely the greed that working on 100% commission instills.
Now why did it take 20 years for that tale to become this book? How many rejection letters did you get? Would you consider this a good morality tale about perseverance?
I found an agent with that old version of Big Numbers, but he couldn't sell it in two years of trying. I don't how many rejections he got, but I had a drawer full by the time I found him. I'd already written three other unpublished novels. After the agent gave up on Big Numbers, I put it aside and wrote another six novels that no one wanted. Since I never gave up until I'd queried every agent I could find, I'd have to guess the total number of rejections for my fiction must have reached 1,000. I'm not sure where morality comes in, but I do think some of my friends are right when they call me "Mr. Persistence."
Understand, I don't pat myself on the back for it. Being an author is all I ever wanted to do. It's why I went to work for newspapers at the age of 19. To give up on my dream would have meant the end of me.