Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Elusive Muse and Bipolar Disorder

There is no question that when I write, I do so with great passion and brutal honesty. Although I tend to write mostly about my life, I have written books that have nothing to do with me at all, but what I have experienced firsthand, such as my trip to Colombia with my ex-wife several years ago, when I visited her father’s finca in the mountains above the town of El Aguila, hence the title of my second novel, a heart-wrenching story about the cafeteros who get forced into growing coca when the bottom drops out of the coffee market. It is told from the eyes of a seventeen-year-old girl who watches her parents get murdered by the guerillas and the military when all hell breaks loose over control for the town. It is a story told with immense passion and my firsthand experience with Colombia and the coffee fincas in the Andes.

But mostly my writing comes from somewhere deep inside me, and when I do my most serious writing I am usually in mania. Being bipolar is both a gift and a curse. When I go into mania I reach creative heights most people will never experience, but on the downside, I need to avoid going into mania if I want to maintain any normalcy in my life. I take enough medication to bring down a horse, and a normal person could possibly be killed by the enormous amounts of medication I need to control my manic episodes, but without them, I would be completely over the top, and I certainly would never be able to hold the kind of job I have with the State of New York.

Regardless, every so often I do have a major manic episode, and that’s when I tap into my innermost psyche and write what’s at the bottom of my heart. And I do it with shameless honesty, baring my deepest secrets, demons, degenerate impulses and desires and could care less about what others think. This is what I call true artistic integrity, and I push the envelope of what is acceptable.

Esmeralda, my third novel, was written in just over three weeks while in the midst of one of the most violent manic episodes of my life. My agent has been shopping it around for awhile, and some of the responses I get from editors who care only about Chick Lit have made me laugh uproariously. Some are simply horrified at the brutal honesty and rawness of the story; others have actually taken the manuscript seriously, and it has gone up for Editorial Review twice.

My publisher told me he would take the manuscript if I wrote out the incredibly raw, graphic sex. However, he was unwilling to offer me a contract, which I took as a show of incredible bad faith, and besides, I am adamant the sex should stay exactly as it is, and I told him he is the wrong publisher for this book. Not one editor besides my publisher complained about the graphic sex; they had other objections about the story and the main character, but other than that it is too literary to be considered erotica, and too raunchy to be considered mainstream.

I will keep shopping it around until I find a home for it. Believe me, the damn book wrote itself. How else could anybody write 100,000 words in just over three weeks? I was aware of my characters as they played out in my head, but I was so jacked up I didn’t sleep for three, full weeks, and the book came gushing out of me as if I were not fully conscious of what I was writing at all. I can pretty much guarantee it will turn a few heads once it is published. Until then, I will bide my time, and laugh at the rejections of the horrified editors who just don’t understand the implications of what I accomplished. But, sooner or later, someone will pick it up and take it to press, and I am confident people will appreciate the raw truth in the story.

You can read samples of my work on

All my love,

James M. Weil.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Premise

Love is never angry
Even if it hurts
Like an angry mob
In the heat of mindless sorrow
That twists you up
Like a car wreck in the night
Leaving you scarred and bleeding
Love is never angry
Even when it hurts . . .
Sorrow turns to tenderness
Regrets turn to memories
Love is never angry
When tears force their way
Through the pain
Letting go of love so deep
Rips you apart
In violent shuddering moments of
Magnanimous gestures
That finally fade to serenity

On Writing Swiss Chocolate

A View of the Mediterranean from the Bluffs of Ibiza
I wrote Swiss Chocolate out of utter despair off the top of my head for nine months solid. At the end of it I was left with 600 pages of pain and anguish. I was undiagnosed bipolar at the time, and was in the midst of some of the wildest mood swings I had ever experienced, so the amount of passion that went into my writing was phenomenal. If it weren’t for that book I may have done something serious to hurt myself, or at the very least landed in the hospital.

The inspiration for the story came from a young Italian girl I had a crush on when I was a teenager in a Swiss boarding school. As the years went by, every so often I would thumb through my yearbook, stop at her picture and sigh. Although we were never really friends, my last year at school I signed her yearbook for her. I wrote: “It’s a shame we never got to know each other better, but I wish you the best of luck in life.”

Thirty years later the impossible happened. She contacted me through We exchanged emails on a regular basis, and then it became occasional phone calls. After several months of correspondence I decided to fly to Ibiza to meet her where she lived with her four children and three au-pairs. As it turned out she was a very wealthy woman who had built her fortune on her own.

Although we both had aged quite a bit, she was still stunning and she took my breath away when she greeted me at the airport. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with her, and after telling me her life story, I realized we had a lot in common. I thought I truly had found my soul-mate, but as it turned out she was in love with another man who wanted nothing to do with her. Still, no matter how much I pleased her, and all the wonderful times we had together, she could not purge him from her heart, and she ended up breaking mine.

I gave up everything for this woman: my job, my house, my family and career, and went back to the U.S. a broken man. Out of the ashes of such a tragic ending I weaved her life story with mine into a love story that spans nearly thirty years, and takes place in several different countries, all of which I have lived in for extended periods of time.

What makes this story so unique is that it is about two young people who come from great wealth, and what happens to them when all they expect out of life is swept out from under them, leaving them with an undying longing for all that was lost, and what they will do to regain what they once had and expected out of life.

Her story is true, and so is mine, but this is a fictionalized memoir. The merging of our tragic fates is what makes this story so heart-wrenching and powerful. I hope you enjoy the book.

You can buy the book directly from

All my love,

James M. Weil