Who is Francis Rosenfeld?

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Question: “Where did you grow up and how did your early experiences influence your writing?”

Answer: “I grew up in Glenorchy, Tassie. My parents lived on a little piece of land, half cherry orchard, half vineyard, a few hundred feet from the Cadbury factory, practically my entire childhood smelled like chocolate. My parents didn’t raise me in a structured environment, you know how it is, what college are you going to, what career will you pick, we just lived, if we were happy and healthy at the end of the day we called it a success. I occasionally helped out in mom and dad’s store, but most of the time I roamed free and picked up a passion for surfing early in my teenage years. From November till May I left home right after breakfast and didn’t return until I got hungry, way into the afternoon. I trekked and surfed and wandered. My dad faked a mild cardiac event every time he found out I went to Ship Stern Bluff again. I had absolutely no sense of danger as a teenager; I came close to real trouble a couple of times, broke a bone, but never quit. I wasn’t taught to plan for the future and delay gratification. In a way it made taking risks more acceptable, I didn’t agonize over decisions or question whether writing was time well spent, I just let the gift flow through. Between the surfing and the chocolate factory I didn’t realize how unusual my upbringing was until I came to New York.”

Q: “When was that?”

A: “1995. That’s the year I met the love of my life who had come all the way to Tasmania for the waves, the surf is very unique and challenging on the southern edge of the island. Caelan was from LA but had decided to move to New York to help some old friends and business associates tinker with code. This story sounded so daring and revolutionary in the early nineties that I made an instant decision to go to New York. I was nineteen at the time and knew everything about the world. I embarked on the flight July 22 on a frigid morning when the thermometer got stuck at 17deg F and arrived the next day in New York wrapped in a winter coat and three overlapping sweaters in a sweltering 89deg F, looking like Yeti. Caelan didn’t care, if I showed up dressed in bubble wrap it would have been ok. We were young, wild and free!”

Q: “When did you start writing?”

A: “You mean when did I start getting serious about my writing? After we arrived in New York we worked all sorts of odds and ends, you wouldn’t believe the list. At some point we ended up painting props and decor for a local community theater, I dressed up as Santa Claus during the holidays, you get the idea. Caelan figured that we should find something a little less precarious to do and I managed to talk my way into getting financing for the tiniest wine shop in existence, it was on John Street between a handmade candle store and a pizza kitchen and couldn’t have been larger than eighty square feet. I told the loan officer my father owned a winery and I grew up learning at his knee. I was very sure of myself in my youth, I guess I sounded convincing. I didn’t mention that we only made wine for our family and there were just two varieties: white and red. Being the luckiest youngsters in the world we had chosen a good location and sales picked up quickly. It isn’t that much to do in a wine store, especially during slow days, and I spent a lot of time looking out the windows into the street at all the people who came and went, trying to guess what their lives were like or if they had a good day. I started writing about it, I felt their stories wanted to be told.”

Q: “What is the first story you ever wrote?”

A: “It wasn’t an actual story, but it was structured like one. It was a letter to a friend in which I was describing how my grandparents managed to live a beautiful and dignified life despite the wars, the food rations, the suppression of human rights. Their life is to this day a reminder to me that we can all shape our destiny, even in unfavorable circumstances.”

Q: “What is the story behind your latest book?”

A: “It is unabashedly utopian. One day I set aside the worries and the cares and decided to play with what ifs: what if we could cure every disease, what if there were no limits to scientific discovery, what if we pushed every boundary of human audacity, what if gender wasn’t relevant to the path one pursues in life, what if we lived forever, what if we never lacked for anything. That’s how Terra Two was born.”

Q: “Describe your desk. Where do you write?”

A: “As I mentioned, in my early days my writing desk was the merchandising counter between wine orders. I got used to working this way, it frees me from the need to have a specific environment in order to focus. The stories are already written when I commit them to paper anyway, I just need a place to sit the laptop down.”

Q: “How do you spend your time when not writing?”

A: “We don’t own the wine shop anymore, (we sold it and invested the money in Caelan’s software start-up which is doing splendidly, thank you for asking), but while we were there I spent a lot of time with our neighbor, the candle store owner. She was an elderly lady with the clamor of a drill sergeant and a heart of gold. I became fascinated with the art of making things by hand while watching her work. I spend a lot of time making things, I find it very rewarding. That and learning from my beautiful children what makes life worth living.”

Q: “Describe your writing process.”

A: “I don’t think I write the stories, I think my stories find me, with their characters and settings, and the quirky little details of life.”

Q: “What do your fans mean to you?”

A: “Writing is the brushed-up version of a fairy tale and is never a monologue, always a conversation. When a raconteur tells a story there is always an audience, there are questions about the logic of events, about the missing details, about alternate plot twists. The storyteller has to be able to answer those questions and the answers have to be quick, interesting and believable. This is what my fans mean to me: they take the sparse frame of my tall tale and help me fill it up with filigree.”

Q: “What is the greatest joy of writing?”

A: “92.74% (one has to be precise) of this autobiography is bogus. Is it more interesting than the real one? Most definitely. This is the greatest joy of writing, you get to create your own world just the way you want it to be, unchallenged. Us storytellers are glorified liars, we revel in lifting up deception to the standing of art.”