Name: Richard Uhl
Book: "Under the Influence"
Publisher: iUniverse self-publisher
Where to buy: online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and UhlBooks.com
Plot summary in 50 words or fewer: Roger Franklin survives the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, but decides to reinvent himself under a new identity. Rex Franklyn finds success in San Diego, but nearly 20 years after he left his old life behind, his past catches up with him.
First sentence: "Roger Franklin's question hung in the air unanswered."
Previous experience: This is Uhl's second novel. He published his first, "Wrong Conclusions," in 2008.
Profession: retired food service manager in New York City
Earliest writing memory: He wrote his first short story at age 10. It was about a little boy and his fears of nuclear war. "I grew up in the Cold War. We had air raid drills in school. It was a whole different era."
What prompted the novel: "Under the Influence" has been close to 15 years in the making. Uhl began writing on his commute into the city on the train in 1994. "The bad part was the 45-minute commute. The good part was the time to write."
Writer's quirk: Started in an era before laptops, Uhl's drafts are handwritten. The first drafts of "Under the Influence" now take up three binders in his home. "Of course, no one can read it because the handwriting is so bad. I would not survive today without a keyboard."
The writing process: He started with a beginning and an ending. Then he developed an outline. But the story didn't follow his initial ideas. "My characters wanted to go in different directions."
Early influences: The epic historical novels of James Michener, Ernest Hemingway for his complex and fascinating characters, and John Steinbeck for his ability to tackle social issues.
Life beyond writing: He volunteers with the Red Cross. He recently spent 17 days in New Jersey helping in the aftermath of Sandy. "I'm sure there's a good story in there somewhere for me. I just don't know what it is yet."