Was it difficult writing such a personal piece?
Not really. I’m a storyteller by nature – I get that from my father – so just about all the stories in the book are ones I’ve told repeatedly over the years. The most difficult part of the writing was revealing how selfish and unappreciative I’d been as a teenager. That embarrassed me, as I had conveniently forgotten a lot of it. This has a lot of sentimentality throughout the book. Did it surprise your family and friends? Yes, many people – Rich Reidy, included! – commented on their surprise at how often the book turns heartfelt and touching. Did it surprise you? I hadn’t thought about that. I guess it did surprise me!
You are a Notre Dame alum and then did some time in the military. Did you always want to be a writer or was it a profession that “found” you along the way?
I always wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, it took me approximately nine years to get my head out of my ass and actually sit down and write. I did a lot of talking about being a writer, but hadn’t done the actual writing. It’s too bad I wasted so much time; I should be on my fifth or sixth book by now. My mom had a great point years ago. She said, “Ya know what? I think writers, I think they write…like everyday.” It cut right through me. I realized that if you aren’t writing everyday then you probably aren’t serious. Finally, in 2002 I got serious.
Your first book, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman was made into the film Love and other Drugs. What was that experience like?
It was fabulous! Everybody was so good to me. Jake and I got to hang out three times before shooting, because he had a lot of questions about the pharma world. Such a smart, funny guy. He impressed me with his focus. The producers flew me to the set, where I served as a consultant on the drug rep scenes. I even suggested a few tweaks to make things more realistic, and the director, Ed Zwick, listened and made them! That made me feel like a real part of the process. Now, obviously the movie is considerably different from the book, but I knew that it would be when I signed the contract. No regrets or sour grapes, here!
That is a dream for so many writers. How did the film process occur?
Basically, I stalked Malcolm Gladwell. I met him at an Eli Lilly event just before Hard Sellcame out and got his e-mail. I sent him a message that I was coming out with a book—I was trying to get him to review it for the New Yorker. My publisher sent him galleys, but the review never happened. I just kept e-mailing him about it and he eventually got me in touch with one of his good friends, a very successful screenwriter. He hammered out the concept, next thing you know I got a movie deal. It’s really something else. People in Hollywood look at me and are like, “I hope you realize this isn’t how it happens. Then the producers landed the director Ed Zwick and he wanted Jake Gyllenhaal to play “Jamie.” Both those guys put their sales shoes on and landed Anne Hathaway.
Your life took and continues to take such interesting turns. If you had to pick a philosophy for your life, what would it be?
Oh, wow, I dunno that I have a philosophy. Basically, I like to have a good time. I like people around me to be laughing; with me or at me doesn’t matter. I’m not hung up on the prepositions. I just want the laughter.
Any new books in mind or other projects that you can discuss?
I’ve always got a bunch of movie and TV projects I’m writing. Now, I just have to get better at selling them. I recently finished a sitcom pilot about a white guy who goes to work at a Starbucks in Compton… it’s called VANILLA LATTE.
Hopes and goals for A Walk’s As Good As A Hit?
On a human level, I hope that the book makes guys want to call their fathers. On a personal level, I hope a producer calls me with another movie offer!
HumorOutcasts Press is sponsoring a contest with Jamie’s book. Send us your favorite Dad-child sports story and you might win a gift certificate to Amazon and a copy of A Walk’s As Good As A Hit. We will publish the story on HumorOutcasts.com Send your story to Betsy@HumorOutcasts.com or Donna@HumorOutcasts.com