I’m really excited about interviewing Ray because I enjoyed reading his story, Sifkin, which is featured in Reading Glasses. When Ray Rebmann isn’t training guide dogs for the sight impaired, he’s writing. His first book of nonfiction, How Can You Give Up That Adorable Puppy (Unlimited Publishing) describes a family’s years of service as dog trainers. His fiction work includes Chalk Town and the World’s Bottle Cap Championship of the Universe, an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing, and Jersey Devil, The Cursed Unfortunate published by MuseItUp Publishing. He is also the curator of the Dennis Township Historical Museum. Rebmann lives in the wilds of New Jersey, with his wife of 27 years.
Marie Gilbert: I’m so happy to interview you. Why don’t you tell the readers of this post a bit about yourself and why you wanted to become a writer.
Ray Rebmann: Because my father said I couldn't. Just kidding. I've always wanted to write and after many detours along the way, I'm finally getting to do it. I'm 60 years old, retired after 30+ years in a government management position. Since retiring, I've published three books and have three more in the pipeline. I think what first sparked my interest in writing was reading the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Marie Gilbert: What was the inspiration for Sifkin? Is it based on your own personal relationship to your father?
Ray Rebmann: It's not based on my relationship with my father. He died at a young age (49). We did have our tumultuous times together...me growing up in "the 60's" and all. But he tried to be supportive. That said, his influence nudged me into a more "traditional" career. His idea was always for me to work at the regular job to make a living and then once that part was covered, write for the enjoyment of it. That's what I'm doing.
Marie Gilbert: What genre do you prefer to write?
Ray Rebmann: Fiction. I lean toward the fantasy but I like to make it "realistic".
Marie Gilbert: I’ve read your bio and see that you’ve been published before and one of the stories is about the Jersey Devil (which I can’t wait to read, especially after reading Sifkin). Is George from Sifkin based somewhat on what we know of the Jersey Devil? Your take of the myth?
Ray Rebmann: I wasn't thinking about JD when I wrote it. I guess there's a connection with southern New Jersey history and all. I live in the Pine Barrens. There are nights out there when it is very easy to believe in the Jersey Devil.
I think the JD story is vastly underappreciated. I'm also fascinated by the Blue Hole story (up around Ancora I believe) and how it connects with the JD. I used it in my story about the devil.
Marie Gilbert: What are you working on now?
Ray Rebmann: A book based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Annabel Lee". I'm the curator of a museum in Dennisville NJ and there's an old house in the area that Poe was said to have visited. The house was owned by the Townsend family and one of the daughters was named Annabelle. She later married a man named Lee, hence the connection. Saying the poem is based on her due to the similarity of names is a stretch since she didn't become Mrs. Lee until after Poe died. But in fiction, all is possible isn't it? For instance, there are scenes in the book that are set in the future. The narrative actually works along three separate plot lines. I'm having fun with it.
I'm also working on a sequel to my nonfiction book "How Can You Give up That Adorable Puppy?" The first book was about a family's adventures raising nine puppies to become guide dogs for the sight impaired. (Our family volunteers for the Seeing Eye in Morristown). The sequel centers on Leah, one of the nine, who returns to live with her family after "retiring" from SE.
Marie Gilbert: What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking of becoming a writer?
Ray Rebmann: Real simple. Read widely and write about whatever interests you. As an exercise in self-discipline, read and write about stuff that doesn't interest you too. For years, I did newspaper work covering tourist events in Wildwood...I hated it. But it paid well and I got to practice my craft, art exorcise my demons...whatever.
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You can find my book, Roof Oasis on Amazon.com and Kindle. Roof Oasis is the first in a series and the apocalypse is not what you expected.