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In Conversation With DAVID UNGER, PhD, Author of the Mystery Series A Lesson in…
From:
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Wednesday, January 18, 2023

 

Bookpleasures.com welcomesas our guest DAVID UNGER, PhD, 

David  is a writer,therapist, educator, and author of the mystery series ALesson in…, which currently has nine books, with two morecoming soon.

He is also known forhis series of relationship training manuals, which includes aguide to parenting teens.  A graduate of UCLA, helives in California. He’s been a licensed therapist and Chairof a graduate psychology program most of his career.


His recent novel, ALesson in Woo-Woo and Murder has recently been published.

Norm: Good day Davidand thanks for taking part in our interview.

How does it happen thatsomeone with a doctorate in psychology comes to write fiction? 

David: Hi Norm. I’mhappy to be doing this interview with you. I’ve written a fewnon-fiction self-help books about relationships, but I’ve alwaysbeen a reader of mysteries and wanted to try my hand at writing one. 

A Lesson in Woo-Woo andMurder is my ninth, so I’ve actually taken to it quitewell. Plus solving any mystery does require a fair amount ofpsychological sleuthing.

Norm: Why do you write?Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books?


David: You bet. The easyanswer is I write because I love it. I suppose it all started when Iwas a teenager and wrote love letters to my girlfriends.

I just so enjoyed beingable to take my thoughts and see them come to life on the page. Well,that and hoping they would help win the day.

Professionally I’vealways been a therapist and an educator. My books, be theynon-fiction or fiction, are a way for me to blend those interests.

My protagonist is atherapist and a teacher so when they get caught up in the mysteriesit’s those skills that lead the way to discovering whodunit.

Unraveling a mystery isnot all that different from helping a client unravel why their lifeis not going as well as they would like.

The goal in therapy is tofigure out the why and then figure out how to overcome it. With themysteries it’s a similar challenge.

Norm: What do you thinkmost characterizes your writing? 

David: I endeavor to havea sense of humor and relatable perspective about life. Not sure youare getting any of the humor right now, but hopefully in the books itcomes through.

My goal is for readers orlisteners to learn some therapeutic tricks of the trade withoutreally grasping that these are self-help books masquerading asmysteries.

All the books have thetitle A Lesson in… because I feel there are lessons we allcan learn, and it’s a lot easier to learn them when they foldseamlessly into a story.

Norm: Who comprisesyour readership? 

David: Hopefully you.Mostly people who like mysteries without violence, with humor andpsychological insight. They call what I write soft-boiled or cozy.

Most cozy mysteries, andby that think of Agatha Christie, have no violence, no sex, no drugs,no four-letter words.

Mine have no violence andthe kind of sex you see in movies where the couple starts to kiss andyou know where things are headed and then the screen fades out.

There is a little drug useand the kinds of four-letter words you overhear in manyconversations. 

Most of my readers findthat they breeze through the books, enjoy them and have troublefiguring out whodunit. And then, a week later, they find themselvessaying or doing something they read about in the book.

Norm: With yourexperience as an author, is it difficult for you to read a novel justfor the pleasure of being the reader?

David: Not at all. I enjoygetting lost in the stories and the different ways authors tell them.Therapists tend to be voyeuristic.

We listen to people asthey take us into the intricacies of their lives. When you read abook, you get to accompany people on their journey without having toworry about getting to the airport on time.

Norm: What did you findmost useful in learning to write? What was least useful or mostdestructive? 

David: The most usefulpart of writing for me I first discovered when I wrote those loveletters back in high school. The thoughts that were in the recessesof my head came out on the page and I could see them in a new way.

That continues to beuseful to me. If I am uncertain about something in my life I can sitdown and write about it and usually in the process clarify what Ifeel, think and want to do.

It certainly stings whenothers don’t like what I’ve written, but when I can get past thehurt, I usually can find the truth in what they say and find a way tolearn from it.

I try to leave theevaluation of my work to others and just enjoy the act of creation,although there are times my inner critic feels a need to speak up. Hetoo often has something valuable to say, I just wish sometimes he'dbe kinder.

The most destructive thingwould be if I let any criticism stop me from doing what I love.

Norm: Do you write moreby logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Pleasesummarize your writing process. 

David: An editor told meI’m a pantster. I didn’t know what that meant. She told me Iwrite by the seat of my pants. I’m in good company. Stephen King,Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Raymond Chandler wrote some oftheir books by the seats of their pants.

When I start a book, Iknow the title, maybe a location and a sentence or two about whatwill happen. I don’t know who will get murdered or whodunit.

Writing the books for meis much like reading them. They are a mystery and unfold moment tomoment. I write a scene and then think what would happen next andthen write that.

Norm: How did youbecome involved with the subject or theme of A Lesson inWoo-Woo and Murder come about?

David: Some years ago Istarted to use the term Woo-Woo to describe those mystical mysteriousthings that happen that I didn’t understand. My books primarilytake place in the 80’s and there were Whole Earth Expos wherevarious branches of the healing arts would gather – think psychics,tarot card readers, chakra balancers.

I thought it would be funto go to such an event and see how the people with those talents andskills could aid me in solving the mystery.

Norm: What were yourgoals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel youachieved them?

David: My intentions forthis book were mostly the same as they are for all my books, with oneexception. I would imagine all authors want their books to entertainand engage the reader and, in my case, I would add to provide helpfultools that people can use with themselves and others to improve whatneeds to be improved.

While the term woo-woo mayfeel disrespectful to the practitioners of these less conventionalmethodologies, I hoped that the reader ends the book feeling betterabout the field.

How well have I achievedmy goals? I think I’ve done a good job, but that really is up toeach reader or listener to determine for themselves.

Norm: Is there much ofyou in the novel?

David: Guilty as charged.The protagonist actually shares my name and many, but not all, of mycharacteristics. I wanted the stories to feel real and that I wassharing something that happened to me.

I have a lot of personalanecdotes sprinkled in and my hope is that the reader will identifywith the humanness of my character and get a chuckle out of goingthrough the various adventures that come my way.

Norm: Did thecharacters come first or the story? 

David: They evolvedtogether. Aside from the main character I have some recurringcharacters that help out, but otherwise the various characters appearas the story unfolds.

Norm: What have yourother novels taught you that you have been able to apply to ALesson in Woo-Woo and Murder?

David: Good question. Onedoes want to believe that learning is an ongoing process. I make agood portion of my living sitting in a room talking with people sothe books have a lot of dialogue.

I’ve learned that whilethe conversations can provide insights and clues, the characters needto be involved in various activities that also render information andprovide a greater degree of excitement and tension.

All my books start and endthe same. That’s been very helpful to me when I face that initialblank page. I know my character is going to be eavesdropping onpeople having a conversation that has some version of this sentence –What’s the best ___?

In the sex book it waswhat was the best sex someone had, in the music book it was the bestconcert they went to and in this book it was, “What’s the bestotherworldly, self-enhancing, spiritually awakening moment you’veever known?”

I’ve learned having thatquestion start the book makes it easy for me to get going. Same thingwith the ending. I know all the suspects will be gathered togetherand there will be a reveal. How that will unfold I don’t know, butI have a general framework.

Norm: What do yourplans for future projects include? 

David: I’ve actually gota few in the pipeline. Next is a Lesson in Dogs and Murder whereI go to the Beverly Hills Kennel Club Dog Show and not everyonemakes it out alive.

After that is A Lessonin Learning and Murder where bad things happen in the classroomand then comes A Lesson in Movies and Murder where the moviemagic isn’t so magical.

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and your work?

David: I do have a WEBSITE and people can sign up for themailing list. I also have a couple of other sites for the verycurious, but you’d have to do some sleuthing to find them.

Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, if you could invite three authors to your dinnertable (alive or dead), who would they be and why?

David: We couldn’t havethe buffet table? I suppose first I’d invite A.A. Milne as Winniethe Pooh taught me so much about kindness and friendship.

Then it would have to beJ.D. Salinger. When I was a young boy in school we had to go to thelibrary once a month and pick a book to read.

I mostly read sports booksand had gone through most of them when I found a book that no one hadchecked out. I opened it up and to my amazement it had dirty words init. Plus the narrator sounded like me and my friends.

I quickly checked it outand entered into a world of books I hadn’t known existed. I need tothank that librarian who never opened the book and just thought TheCatcher in the Rye was a baseball book.

The last seat is tough.I’d invite Agatha Christie. I’m not sure A.A. Milne or J.D.Salinger would be the most lively dinner companions and I’d need tokeep my eye on her, but I’d hope she’d teach me a thing or two.

Norm: Thanks again andgood luck with all of your future endeavors.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of ALesson in Woo-Woo and Murder

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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