Author: Alan A. Winter
Island Bluffs is a story of love, forgiveness, and understanding the dark side of the human spirit. It explores the age-old question: are children accountable for the sins of their parents and grandparents? Carly Mason is a successful New York City forensic dentist. She and her widower husband, Gabe Berk, are trying to start a family. Thinking they had exhausted the options by consulting with all of Manhattan’s fertility experts, Carly and Gabe learn of an eccentric scientist who runs an exclusive clinic. The doctor commits to helping the couple conceive the baby they so desperately want, but only if they agree to what seems like an outrageous stipulation; Carly must carry twins, one biological and one that she is a surrogate for. Once the twins are born Carly has to surrender the non-biological twin to the doctor at birth, no questions asked. Further, should the old doctor die before Carly gives birth, she has to agree to give the baby the name chosen by the doctor. As required for treatment, Carly and Gabe move into a new house, which is within thirty minutes of the clinic. They soon discover that their new home and town, Island Bluffs, are far from ordinary. Carly and Gabe feel eyes spying on them at every turn. Gabe’s father, Yehuda, hears strange noises that only he can hear. Megan, Gabe’s rebellious sixteen-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, is attracted to the son of a Neo-Nazi. The mysteries continue to deepen as a scavenger ship appears on nearby waters searching for sunken treasure along with glimpses of a lone swimmer lumbering through the waves of Barnegat Bay. Island Bluffs is a present-day town bound to the past by horrible secrets and pacts made long ago. Keeping secrets buried as some had hoped was no longer an option for the Berks. Their new and some thought long-forgotten home made that impossible by putting them squarely in the middle of it all. When the truths are revealed, the shocking twists and turns will challenge the very notions of what is right and wrong.
ORDER INFORMATION Island Bluffs is available for purchase at
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Alan A. Winter. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
A: I am not your typical writer in that many refer to me as a polymath. I have two distinct careers: I am novelist who has been writing for thirty years and I am also a board-certified periodontist with an everyday practice. With respect to my writing career, Island Bluffs is my fourth novel
Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
A: Island Bluffs is about a couple that has tried to conceive a baby for six years. They are about to give up when they hear about the doctor-of-last-resort, a quirky, idiosyncratic doctor who makes a Faustian deal with them: he will help them have a biological baby but in return, the mother must agree to serve as a surrogate for a twin embryo (that is not biologically related to them) that she must give up at birth. The genesis of this book, however, is based on a true story that a patient shared with me, that has all the elements of an edge-of-your-seat thriller. There’s a rogue German submarine that defied orders from Berlin to remain off Gibraltar and instead, headed for the Jersey coastline. There’s the house once owned by a German spy opposite Long Beach Island. And there’s a not-so-angelic ghost that the gentleman and his wife swear they saw on many occasions.
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
A: The single biggest challenge was how to turn true events that were laden with history and complicated by the surreal into a compelling, contemporary story. To that end, the novelist in me kicked in to create both a scenario and characters that readers could relate to and want to know more about. And in so doing, I could still tell this fabulous story.
Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?
A: My publisher created a press release, bio, Q&A, previous reviews for Savior's Day, and a pitch letter. It is not available on-line but we would be happy to email it to you.
Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
A: I had a radio interview June 8 with Stu Taylor which is nationally syndicated in 30 cities. On June 10, I spoke at the Bernardsville Library in Bernardsville, NJ about writing, publishing, and the story behind Island Bluffs. On June 13, I had a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Brick Township, NJ, where my story took place. On August 14, I will be speaking at the JCC in Long Beach Island, which is also part of the locale of the novel.
Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?
A: My last agent was Olga Vezeris, who worked hard to get Savior’s Day published. She couldn’t find an interested publisher but the irony is that Kirkus Reviews selected Savior’s Day as a Best Book of 2013. Island Bluffs was published without an agent but I wish had one. I feel agents are extremely important in guiding the author’s work to reach the widest audience possible. Agents have spent years fostering long-term relationships with publishers and when they bring a new author to them, there is a better chance for widespread success.
Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?
A: My publisher, Karen Strauss at KB Publishing, created a marketing plan that outlined a series of events which included promoting Island Bluffs on NetGalley, and working with the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and the ABA(American Booksellers Association) to advertise the book in their Digital Whitebox which goes out to 10,000 member independent stores, Goodreads giveaway contest, sending out galleys with a pitch letter and press release to solicit reviews and interviews, getting reviews in Kirkus and other trade publications. In addition she lined up a virtual book tour with over 20 bloggers, ran a Kindle promotion on Publication Date, and ran digital ads that appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post and BN.com as well as locally in the Jersey Shore.
Q: Do you plan subsequent books?
A: I have already written the draft for my next book, The Legacy of Izaak Wolf. It is based on a true story of how one man used his craft and ingenuity to survive the Nazi incursion into Poland by fleeing to Uzbekistan just as WWII started. It is a story of survival seen through the eyes of his descendants and how they meet challenges that confront them in the present day.
Q: Thank you for your interview, Alan A. Winter. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?
A: Island Bluffs can be found on Amazon.com and BarnesnNoble.com. It is available on Kindle, Nook, and eBook.com.
It started in 1982 when Alan made small talk with a patient about a sci-fi idea he had. She thought the idea was so terrific, she urged him to write a movie treatment about it. Alan dismissed her offhand. What did he know about writing movies?
The patient persisted. Each time she would visit his office, she would demand to see the finished movie treatment. Seeing she was serious and relentless, Alan agreed to hand her a treatment. But how? He had no clue where to start. Asking other patients for guidance, Alan was introduced to a young screenwriter who agreed - for a fee - to write the treatment. They worked together, produced a treatment, and shopped it around to a number of studios. One studio took the idea (without permission or payment) and turned Alan's treatment into a movie.
Alan experienced two revelations at the time:
1. Rather than waste energy being litigious, be flattered that a studio felt Alan's idea was worthy of turning it into a movie. Knowing a stranger valued his creativity supported all of his future projects. 2. Collaborating with the screenwriter gave Alan the validation he needed that if and when he chose to write a book, it wouldn't be foolhardy...not that it really mattered what others thought!
Still, Alan had no desire to write fiction. That changed in 1985. That was the year that Alan began writing his first novel, "Someone Else's Son," which was eventually published by MasterMedia, Ltd.
What prompted Alan to write "Someone Else's Son" is a story in itself. When Alan completed his periodontal training at Columbia, he joined a prestigious Fifth Avenue periodontal practice. Day after day, the well-to-do, prominent patients asked Alan if he was old enough to be a dentist. (He looked that much younger than the two senior partners). Trying to convince the patients that he was old enough to be a dentist and, therefore, experienced enough to treat them, Alan put his two sons' pictures on the treatment room wall. When his third son was born, he added that one, too. Every few months, he updated the photos.
But a curious thing happened on a daily basis. The patients kept asking why Alan had pictures of children on the wall. When he replied, "They're not just any children; those are my sons," no one believed him. They claimed the boys looked too dissimilar to be brothers. They joked that he must have taken the wrong one home from the hospital. Though this was not the case (at least he didn't think so), Alan wondered what he would've done had he discovered, years later, that he and his wife had brought the wrong child home from the hospital. The result was "Someone Else's Son."
While maintaining his periodontal practice, Alan has continued to write since he first took up pen to paper, although now he is very appreciative that his mother forced him to take typing in summer school after his sophomore year of high school. Boys just didn't do that back in the '60s, but it has been an invaluable skill over the years.
In 1999, "Snowflakes in the Sahara" was published by iUniverse. "Savior's Day," also published by iUniverse, was published in 2013 to critical acclaim. It was selected by Kirkus Reviews as a Best Book of 2013.
"Island Bluffs," Alan's newest novel, is published by KB Publishing to excellent reviews. He is at work on his next novel, "The Legacy of Izaak Wolf," about an adolescent with Asperger's Syndrome achieves the near impossible to save his family from a surefire calamity. Alan and Lori live in his native New Jersey. They have five children and five grandchildren.