In 1995, Dustin Hoffman had the film rights to a novel about a divorce lawyer. No screenwriter leapt to write it, and eventually the offer came to me. The novel was beyond stupid, but the character of the divorce lawyer interested me. I thought: What does a divorce lawyer want least? To be divorced. And why do couples get divorced? They cite all manner of reasons, but in the end, I believe it comes down to sex; interest withers, or someone cheats. How might a couple prevent a divorce? I thought: What if they made an agreement — if you’re tempted to cheat, bring that person home. I pitched that story to Dustin. “It sounds like it should have subtitles,” he said. And passed. I thought: This is a good idea. (Definition of a good idea: No one else has written it.) So I went home and started to write it — as a novel. What l learned along the way: It’s got some hot sex scenes, but it’s not about sex. It’s about love and intimacy and communication in a close relationship — and sex as a way of taking the temperature of the relationship. Readers who come for the sex will be surprised.
When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself a writer?
The phrase “born writer” applies to me. I wanted to do it, I was good at it from a young age, and I didn’t think there was anything I could do better.
What’s the earliest memory you have of writing a story?
Age 8. A book review for the local paper: “Barney of the Babe Ruth League.” With my name on it.
What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
It changes. Usually it’s whatever part of the process I’m doing at that moment. Because, really, I’d rather be… reading.
How do you work with an editor without the pride thing getting in the way?
Editors are sent by the gods to help me — and I tell them that. Which makes it an easy relationship.
What technology do you use for writing?
I type with one finger. On a Mac.
How do you keep from resenting your duties and every human’s sleeping
requirement when you have to stop writing to take care of them?
You’re kidding, right? I live for interruptions.
Describe your writing style in ten words or less.
What George Orwell described as “prose like a windowpane.” What some call “style” is my enemy. My job is to put you in the room and tell you a story, not to have notice my craft.
When you hear from your readers, what do they say?
Everything. And it’s fine. I’m thrilled to hear from anyone. I answer every email.
How do you use social media to promote your writing?
Twitter and Facebook. And I hired a plane to pull a banner over Long Island beaches on Labor Day weekend.
How is this world a better place because of your books?
Isn’t the writer the last to know?
Jesse Kornbluth is the founder of HeadButler.com, a cultural concierge site. He has served as editorial director of AOL, cofounded Bookreporter.com, and has been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and New York. The author of four nonfiction books, including Highly Confident: The Crime and Punishment of Michael Milken, he has written screenplays for Paul Newman, Robert De Niro, ABC, PBS, and Warner Bros.
Married Sex is Kornbluth’s first novel. He lives in Manhattan with his family.