The Self Interview

Fred Bubbers, author

How long have you been writing?

Well, I started when I was a teenager, so I’d like to say over thirty years, but I haven’t been actively working at it all that time. I started when I was in high school, where I was editor of the school newspaper, and I had a wonderful teacher who encouraged me. In college, I majored in English and had some stories published in the student literary magazine.

English Major? Very practical.

I’ll say. I graduated from SUNY Albany in 1982, which had had an unemployment rate much like it is today, and there weren’t very many entry-level jobs for liberal arts majors and I needed to make a living. I took a course in computer programing at NYU and got started in that. Getting into the software business back then was like stepping on a high-speed train just as it was about to leave the station. Computers and software just took in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and it hasn’t stopped. If anything, it’s just accelerated. Long hours, constantly trying to keep up with technology. It was very exciting. At the same time, I started a family, bought a house, and pursued the American Dream. I tried to continue writingState Street, Albany on the side, and I managed to keep it up about three or four years, but it was hard to stay focused. First of all, there was no web to speak of so the market for literary fiction was very small. I got a “No thanks, but try us again sometime” form letter from The Paris Review, but otherwise it was very discouraging to send out stories one at a time — nobody accepted simultaneous submissions back then —  and then wait for a year to hear from magazines with circulations of no more than 500 or 1000 copies.

Second, I was working in a business that was creative and took enormous amount of mental energy and focus to do well. In John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction,  he talks about the sort of day jobs that writers should have: menial jobs that let you use your mental energy for your art. Software development isn’t such an occupation. In fact, it’s probably the worst day job a writer could have. I was working in an industry that made everything I knew obsolete every two years and when not working at my job, I had to spend time studying and learning just to stay employable. Not to complain too much about it, it’s been a wild, exciting ride and I still enjoy it.


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4 Mini Reviews

The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison ****

The Kiss by Kathryn HarrisonA very disturbing memoir about an incestuous relationship between a father and a daughter. In spite of this disturbing premise, this book is beautiful written an neither sensationalizes nor descends into a superficial rant on victimization. The author accepts full responsibility for her actions and gives us a view into the causes psychological pathologies that she eventually overcome.

That being said, the father in this story gradually reveals himself to be the worst kind of sociopath, manipulating and controlling his daughter to a point beyond which forgiveness and reconciliation are impossible.


Almost by Elizabeth Benedict ****

Almost by Elizabeth BenedictSophy Chase, recovering alcoholic, returns to Swansea Island after the mysterious death of her estranged husband, Will. No one is quite sure how to deal with her, not Will’s family, the islanders, or even Sophy herself.

This novel is very-well plotted and once started, it’s hard to put it down until you’ve finished. Sophy struggles to discover the cause of Will’s death, the fate of the dog they shared, and ultimately a way to handle the grief of a sudden unexpected loss. We see her struggling and reaching the end of her tether.

This book is beautifully and sensitively written and it’s emotional impact sneaks up on you, but when it does it resonates very deeply.

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Smashwords Winter/Summer Sale 2013

Once again, it’s July and Smashwords is conducting a site-wide promotion celebrating summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.  From now until July 31, all of my Smashwords editions are on sale or free.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Only Love Can Break Your HeartThree stories about two neighbors who meet as young children and grow up together on Long Island during the late 60′s and early 70′s. The comforting and loving world they live in changes around them as their families fracture, society descends into chaos, and a war rages on. In the aftermath, they are left on a wrecked, smoking landscape, searching for a new way to live when all of the sign have been burned down.


“These three separate stories about neighbors Johnny and Miriam growing up in the 1960s and 70s make for a moving and elegant novella. I very much enjoyed the directness and strength of the prose which has its own bleak beauty, and the push and pull of relationships and family was very well portrayed indeed. The ending is perfect too. Highly recommended.” *****

Anne Brooke (Amazon)

“This collection has two lovely tales of growing up in Port Jefferson, New York, plus a remarkable story of complicated love — sexual and familial — amid scenes of poverty and emotional desolation. Bubbers has a fine, almost photographic sense of place and time, and a great talent at capturing the texture of life. The final story which gives its name to this collection, “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” ranks with some of the best short fiction written today.” *****

Eugene Mirabelli (Smashwords)

“These three stories quickly transported me back to the careless days of the 60′s and 70′s and reminded me of the simple, unattached pleasures I enjoyed then. The stories are crafted deftly, and described with painterly detail to scene and situation. I am left wondering what is in store for Miriam, Ben and John and how they survived Disco and Reaganomics. Hopefully there will be more exploits about this trio to follow.”

Ward Ricke (Smashwords)

“I really enjoy this writer’s style of stories; not only does he paint a vivid picture he also comes from a generation where things were changing very quickly throughout the world and his stories reflect that. I am not sure if the author gets his stories from his own life experiences, or if they are part of a bigger picture; but I personally think he should expand on this piece and turn it into a full sized memoir, autobiography or fiction book. Thank you ~ I have immensely enjoyed each piece I have read by this writer.”

Marianne Curtis

Read an excerpt.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Smashwords Edition.

Natural Selection

Natural Selection CoverA corporate manager is on the verge losing it all. Office politics, a growing drinking problem, estrangement from his family, and a looming layoff are pushing him to the edge of a personal abyss.

I wrote about how this story came to be in “Into The Abyss.”


“I have never been in the position to have to hire or fire anything so I really appreciated the author’s attempt to put the reader in the position to understand that it was not an easy thing to do, even though it is one’s job. Bubbers is very good at painting a picture with his words that leads you to become emotionally invested in his story. While I am sure he was doing his job, it is sad that the hero’s family did not understand his commitment to his job and abandoned him in the end. It’s hard to be a working person, taking care of one’s family and still be 100% father or mother; it also takes a special person to understand that and chose to stay.” *****

Marianne Curtis

Read an excerpt.

Natural Selection, Smashwords Edition.

A Couple

A Couple Cover 2Rob and Debbie are spending their last spring break in Florida. Graduation is looming and they face an uncertain future. Family expectations, peer pressure, and their own hearts are driving them apart. I wrote about this genre of story in my post Doomed Couples.


“Bittersweet story about a couple facing the end of their college days and the critical choices about what their lives will be. Much like other stories in this genre, like “Goodbye, Columbus,” but well done with believable characters and sensuous writing.”

-Bob Baldwin

Read an excerpt.

A Couple, Smashwords Edition.



Bonnifer Cover 2A short story about a married office worker struggling with temptation and desire while flirting with an older woman on a sultry summer evening in Greenwich Village.



Bonnifer, Smashwords Edition.


After the Fire: A Personal Essay

After The Fire Cover 2My memoir about a writing workshop and the teacher whose lessons on the art of fiction and the art of living continue to teach and inspire me, thirty years later. There’s some back-story about how this essay came to be written in my post eBook Week, Meta-Memoir.


“Affectionate and poignant tribute to a teacher. This memoir is well-written and wistfully captures the youthfulness and uncertain of the author as a young man. Also provides a unique insight into the nature of writing and literature.”

Bob Baldwin (Smashwords)

“I enjoyed this story because it put me in a place where I could imagine what it would be like for a person such as myself to walk into a university and try to sign up for a writing class. I have wanted to do so, but even after published several thousand articles in a monthly paper, I STILL question my actual skill enough to be too cowardly to submit my work for other people’s criticism (yet I have since published four books) It seems like no matter how long or much we write, we are still our worst critics and hearing what other people think about our work both validates our pieces and our talent. I am glad the author continues to write and I am eager to check out his other work.”

Marianne Curtis

Read an excerpt.

After the Fire: A Personal Essay, Smashwords Edition.

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