Monday, February 17, 2014
Brian Scott Mednick, author of Unnecessary Headaches: A Novel
Brian Scott Mednick is an author, filmmaker, and stand-up comedian who graduated New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and Television in 1995. Brian spent fifteen years writing and researching a biography of Gene Wilder entitled Gene Wilder: Funny and Sad, published in December 2010 by BearManor Media. Brian is widely considered the foremost authority on Mr. Wilder and his work, and his book has been cited in publications in the United States, Europe, and India.
From 1990 – 93, Brian served as producer of the syndicated radio program Soap Opera Radio, which featured interviews with the stars of daytime television. Brian has been active in the New York independent film scene and has worked in various capacities for Geraldo Rivera’s Investigative News Group, Gramercy Pictures, Shooting Gallery, and New Line Cinema.
Brian Scott Mednick wrote, produced, and directed the 1992 short film Confessions of a Male Prostitute, which received a rave from Rex Reed, who wrote, "I am a bit speechless. This is exemplary work...revealing much sensitivity and intelligence. I actually could have hung in there with [these] characters for another hour or so." Mr. Reed further said that Brian has "obvious talent" and concluded, "This short film is so good I would be very keen to see what [Brian Scott Mednick comes] up with in the next few years."
Brian has reviewed film and theater for such publications as Show Business Weekly and Good Times. His political writing has appeared in Metro and on parcbench.com. He was a regular contributor to The Jewish Voice for nearly two years.
Over the years, he has interviewed such celebrities as talk show hosts Alan Colmes and Joy Behar, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, comedian-director David Steinberg, directors Arthur Hiller (Love Story, Silver Streak), Bud Yorkin (Start the Revolution Without Me, Twice in a Lifetime), and Mel Stuart (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), producer Mace Neufeld (The Frisco Kid, The Hunt for Red October), actress Kelly LeBrock (The Woman in Red, Weird Science), Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau (Crimes and Misdemeanors, Ed Wood), 2013 GOP New York mayoral contender John Catsimatidis, and comedienne Marilyn Michaels. He twice interviewed the late former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, including doing one of the very last interviews he gave.
He has performed stand-up comedy at many New York City clubs including The Duplex and Don't Tell Mama. Brian's second book, an anthology called Drinking Games...and Other Stories, was published on November 1, 2011 and is available for purchase from Amazon.com and CreateSpace. His latest book, the novel Unnecessary Headaches, is now available from Amazon.com and CreateSpace.
You can contact him at BrianScottNYC@gmail.com.
Title: Unnecessary Headaches
Author: Brian Scott Mednick
Page count: 150 pages
Genre: Fiction/Family Life
Tell us about your book:
Harvey and Betty Sugarman seemed to have a good life. They were both successful in their careers – he a lawyer, she a journalist – and lived comfortably in Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town. Most importantly, they took pride in having a bright son in college named Daniel. But just as some underlying secrets are about to be revealed, the Sugarmans’ world changes when Betty is diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
The Sugarman men try their best to be strong as Daniel struggles to hide his homosexuality from his parents and Harvey tries to put his dream of a second career as a writer of Broadway musicals on hold.
Set against the backdrop of modern day New York City, Unnecessary Headaches is a poignant story of a family trying to live their lives despite the brutal realities that stand in their way.
“A moving, memorable, and deeply human story of a family dealing with life’s heartaches,” says Joe Franklin of Bloomberg Radio. “I couldn’t put it down. A very impressive first novel.”
How long did it take to write the book?
On and off, about two years.
What inspired you to write the book?
The story just came to me. I wanted to write a contemporary story about regular people whose lives suddenly change and how they deal with a crisis.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I did not have any formal writing process. I wrote the bulk of the book and then abandoned it for more than six months, then finally looked at it again and thought it was too good not to finish. But I had terrible writer’s block.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
Well, the feedback I have gotten from people who have read it is that they were very moved by the story and actually cried. That is a very big compliment. I hope readers find the story compelling, care for the characters, and above all are entertained.
Excerpt from book:
Betty came home after spending eight days in the hospital. Her infection was gone but the whole experience wiped her out. Once home, it was like she had just undergone more chemo, for she was tired, in bed most of the time, and hardly eating. Her frustration was apparent. It was difficult to get her to engage in conversation. When she was awake, she often just sat in the living room staring into space. She would try to read but just could not concentrate. And she had several more chemotherapy sessions to look forward to.
She finished her last chemotherapy session mid-February and was given the news that she was in remission. Harvey and Betty were thrilled. But they were also realistic – she would need to remain cancer-free for a year and a half in order to be completely out of the woods.
Daniel was relieved that Betty was in remission. Over the next several weeks, he was able to concentrate on his studies and spend lots of time with Troy.
At the end of March, Betty received a phone call from Dr. Spitz, who was concerned about her white blood cell count. Betty needed more tests, which revealed the cancer was back. Her remission did not even last two months.
Harvey and Betty were devastated. More chemotherapy was to follow, as well as radiation. They could barely muster up the energy to talk to each other, except to agree on one thing: they were not going to tell Daniel. He was so elated at the news of Betty being in remission that they feared telling him would make him neglect school and worry.
Still thinking his mother was in remission, Daniel insisted on coming up from school. With Betty in good health, Daniel felt now was the time to come out to his parents.
One afternoon in mid-April, after the three had a very nice lunch in Union Square, Daniel stood in the living room and declared, “I’m gay… I’m...I’m gay.”
Time seemed to stand still as the words flowed from Daniel’s mouth like a bowling ball shattering the glass coffee table. Harvey and Betty looked at each other. There was silence. Then Harvey cleared his throat and said, “Are you sure?”
“Yes, dad, I’m sure.”
Harvey nodded thoughtfully. Betty seemed a bit in shock.
“Mom? Are you all right?”
“I...I don’t know what to say.”
“Well, are you angry?” Daniel asked.
“No, I’m not angry. I...”
“I think we just need to sorta take this in,” Harvey offered. “You know, just let it settle and then maybe, you know, analyze it and think it through.”
“Well, there isn’t much to think through,” Daniel said. “I’m gay, I’m happy, and I love you. And I thought you should know.”
“Well, we appreciate that, we do,” Harvey said.
Daniel seemed to expect more from Betty but she just seemed dazed. Daniel needed to get out of there and was about to leave when Betty asked, “Is Troy gay too?”
“Yes, he is.”
“So are the two of you...”
“Yes, mom. Troy is my boyfriend.”
Another long silence.
“Well, why don’t I let you both talk or do whatever,” Daniel said. “I’m gonna go out.”
“Yes, yes,” Harvey said. “Good idea. You come out – I mean, ha, I mean go out. Come out? Did I say that? You go out and do...what...you do.”
Daniel left the apartment. Harvey and Betty sat still for a bit before Betty said, “I think I want a glass of wine.”
Betty went to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of Chardonnay from a bottle in the fridge that was left over from dinner a few nights ago. She took a generous sip before firmly telling Harvey, “I blame this on the Internet!”
“I’m serious. Everything is online now. Everyone is free to be whatever they want. No consequences. You want to have sex with dogs, there’s a Web site for that.”
“Betty, listen to yourself.”
“I can hear myself perfectly fine. Are you going to tell me you are happy with this news? You’re happy that our only child will never get married or give us grandchildren?”
“You don’t know that. Look, it’s a lot to take in. But let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. I mean, he’s a good kid. Always has been.”
“I had doubts about sending him to that hippie arts college in the middle of nowhere. I never liked the idea.”
“I really needed this, right? I really needed this with all that’s going on with me.”
“Hey, that kid has a life outside of us, okay? Where is your compassion? Where is that big bleeding compassionate liberal heart now that your son needs it?”
“Leave me be, will you?”
“No! I am not giving you a pass because you’re sick. Do you remember when we first met? How we used to joke about being two commie left-wing liberal Jews? A perfect match. Remember years ago when you got all worked up because you thought we were committing some crime by having no black friends? I have news for you, lady. When you got sick, we didn’t have any white friends either, okay?! I had to deal with this all by myself. And you – now, of all times – you have a problem with hearing that our son, the most important thing in our lives, having a problem with him telling us he is gay? Good God, woman. Are you crazy? He told us he is gay and you are treating it like he robbed a bank. I love Daniel. No matter what. I am proud of him. I am proud – hell, I am overjoyed – he found someone like that Troy. Think of someone else besides yourself, Betty. Daniel is our world.”
“And you want him to deal with all of the shit that goes along with being gay? The jokes and the attacks and the AIDS? I just want him to be regular.”
“Regular? He’s not a cup of coffee!”
“You know what I mean!”
“Betty, we are in twenty-first century New York City. Things are different now. Daniel is a smart kid, he knows how to take care of himself.”
Betty sat down and started to weep. Harvey sat next to her and put his arm around her.
“It’ll be okay,” Harvey assured her. “It’ll be okay.”
Where can we go to buy your book?
Any other links or info you'd like to share?