Interview: Harvey Simon

Welcome Harvey Simon to Working Writers.



Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

For almost 30 years I’ve made my living as a writer.  But I always wrote non-fiction, starting as a journalist in the Boston area.  For 12 years I researched and wrote long journalistic-style narratives about people who worked in government at all levels.  This was for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where my public policy case studies were part of the curriculum for everyone from graduate students to senior Pentagon officials.  My novel, The Madman Theory, is my first foray into fiction.

Tell us about your book. What do you hope readers take away from it?

My novel, The Madman Theory, is an alternate of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which occurred in 1962 when the U.S. discovered the Soviet Union building a secret nuclear missile basis 90 miles from Florida.  My story imagines that John F. Kennedy loses the 1960 election to his republican opponent, an almost equally youthful Richard M. Nixon.  Instead of Kennedy, Nixon tries to save the world from destruction.  The book, which is a political thriller, tells its story from the point of view of Nixon and his wife, Pat.  I try and weave their troubled relationship into the fabric of the political/historical narrative.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

I’m thinking of another alternate history novel — but maybe I should wait to see how folks respond to The Madman Theory.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

As a kid I used to read a series put out under Alfred Hitchcock’s name — Twilight Zone stories, of a sort.  I vividly recall one story in which a news anchor is announcing some fictitious news event.  That gave me lots of ideas about fiction, for some reason.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Eat, of course.  Even when I am writing.

Favorite authors? 

Phillip Roth (deserves the Nobel Prize), Don DeLillo, Richard Ford.

Book you’re currently reading?

John Barth’s The Tidewater Tales.  This one’s going to take a while.

What is one thing that frustrates you about being a writer?

Having to work so hard at it.  Why can’t it be easier?

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

Good prose.  That’s the bottom line.

Where can we learn more about you?

There’s a page with my bio and contact information at

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