Harry Groome on his IRDA Winning “The Best of Families”

The Best of Families was the winner in the Popular Fiction category of the 2017 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author Harry Groome.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The Best of Families. Published 2016.

What’s the book’s first line?

Mark Twain once wrote, “In Boston they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

The Best of Families is the revelatory midlife memoir of Philadelphia socialite Fran Delafield. Uncomfortable with the mores of one of the city’s oldest families, Fran begins his story the summer after he graduates from prep school when he dutifully marries his pregnant French Canadian girlfriend only to have her disappear within months of their marriage. Disillusioned and angry at the whole world, Fran quits college and enlists in the army. He is badly wounded in a war no one seems to know or care about, and upon returning home from Vietnam, he is confronted with navigating the roiled waters of a second marriage while both his parents and his wives hold secrets that alter his life forever.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

Growing up in a culture that reflected all the biases and attitudes that confronted Fran was the spark that lit the fire.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

The most distinctive thing about Fran is his dogged, naïve sense of loyalty and obligation.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

The main reason that someone should read this book is—very simply—it’s a great story, tragic and ultimately redemptive with many unexpected twists and turns.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

If the mysterious “they” made The Best of Families into a movie, I’d like to see the following actors/actresses play the lead characters (I got the names from my darling, film-producer daughter Leelee):

Fran Delafield: Daniel Radcliffe

Lisette Jaud (Fran’s first wife): Anna Kenrick

Maisie Bingham (Fran’s second wife): Rooney Mara

Potter Morris (Fran’s best friend): Zac Efron

Theo Delafield (Fran’s father): Robert Downey Jr.

Gay Delafield (Fran’s mother): Catherine Keener

When did you first decide to become an author?

I decided to pursue writing fiction after 33 years as a businessman. I wrote two other novels, Wing Walking and Thirty Below (and the Stieg Larsson parody The Girl Who Fished with a Worm) before writing The Best of Families. In addition, my short stories, poems, and articles have appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The best part of being an indie is having complete control over all aspects of one’s books. The worst part is not achieving the level of readership I dream about.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

I would go “traditional” if a publisher came calling because I’ve always viewed having a publisher as validation of the quality of my work. (But I stopped pursuing this goal a number of years ago because at my age—I turn 80 in June—the agent and publisher search and subsequent time to actually see a book in print is just too damn long!)

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Which writer do I admire the most and which book do I wish I’d written is impossible for me to answer because I’m thrilled by so many writers (living and dead) and by many of their works. This admiration of other writers and other books is one of the joys of trying to be a small part of their community.

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