|What was your inspiration for Until the Next Time?
Inspiration for this novel is a difficult concept to pin down, as pieces of it were inspired by different moments, people, and true stories. Through my Irish-born grandfather, I began to pay attention to the inconsistencies between what people said and what they did, especially when it came to the Catholic religion. Because of him, I began reading between the lines, trying to understand how culture and mythology affected people and their beliefs. This served me well as a writer but never became a part of my fiction until I went to Ireland. There I met people who sounded just like my grandfather, in particular a man named Derek who, like him, loved to tell stories. When I heard Derek using the phrases my grandfather had - "in another lifetime" and "old soul" - all the stories he had told seemed to come into focus, and I knew then I would write about the country my grandfather loved, and about the stories he never told but had left between the lines.
Many members of your family are NYC policemen. Were they—and their stories—the inspiration for Michael's profession?
If you want to meet a great liar, talk to a policeman - especially one who has worked undercover. Darwinian laws are strictly enforced when your life may depend upon your lies, and your storytelling ability does more to protect your life than any gun. Since I come from a long line of police officers and Irishmen, I think evolution may have had some role in my family developing what my wife affectionately terms the Fox Factor—an inherent ability to embellish the facts. Whether its nature or nuture I can’t say, but I remember dinners at my grandmother's house on Staten Island as my father and my uncles competed for attention with their stories, each using specific techniques to get reactions: horrific details, suspense, mystery, and most especially, humor.
Some of the stories involved complex characters, good men compromised by circumstance and history—criminals with good intent, if you will. The stories of the older generation that still had ties to Ireland involved similar characters dealing with the Troubles and the English occupation. In those stories the so-called criminals were the heroes, and I found the contrast between the Irish rebels and the American police interesting. The character of Michael was born from this tradition, as he is a man caught between his roles as a police officer and as a criminal, living in both of those worlds. He is forced to look at both civil rights movements, in the U.S. and Ireland, from opposite perspectives, coming to a fuller understanding through his divided role as criminal and cop. <next page>