Sunday, March 2, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Professor Ronald Probstein


1. You're a scientist and professor. What made you decide to write a book?

I wrote the book because I thought the story of my father and the Depression era Times Square world
he lived in was colorful and interesting.

2. Were you a big reader when you were younger? If so, of whom were you a fan then? Whose work so you enjoy now?

Yes I was an avid reader as a boy and young man. I cannot use the word fan since I don't recall so many years later.
However, I do remember reading with interest Huxley and Steinbeck. Presently, I enjoy reading Elmore Leonard and Daniel Silva.

3. Why decide to wrote about your father as opposed to your own life in academia?

Because I thought my father's life and the Depression era Times Square world he lived and hustled in was colorful and entertaining.
My own life and career in academia was in some aspects interesting but hardly colorful and entertaining.

4. Do you have plans to write a book about your career in science?

I have no plans to write about my career in science.

5. When you were deciding your career, did you choose science or did science choose you?

I think you put your question very well since it was more that science chose me.

6. Many biographies have made successful films. Would you like to see Honest Sid on the big screen some day?

I have had many comments from readers that the book would make an excellent screenplay. In fact such a screenplay was written by a writer friend who read the book. However, it didn't go anywhere.

7. Do you think that you defied the odds by becoming successful even though you had a somewhat tumultuous childhood?

I don't think I defied the odds but like many others I just came along at the right time when physical science was king
following the atomic bomb development and use. 

8. What do you have to say to kidstoday who might be going through a difficult time at home; to motivate them?

I don't know since as I have written I didn't have a difficult time at home - rather the opposite. As a family we had a difficult time for lack of money.

9. Gambling is a serious addiction that oftentimes gets overlooked. So you think that readers will identify with your father's story?

I believe that anyone who has ever been a bettor at any level on games and horses will identify.

10. Where do you see your writing career in the next few years? Where do you hope to be?

I have thought of another book but am reluctant to proceed with it. If Honest Sid becomes a good seller
I will proceed, if not I won't. At this stage my hope for the next few years is to be counted among the living.

11. Your father had the opportunity to play for the New York Giants. Do you share that love of baseball with him even though, in your own words, you're not athletically inclined?

I absolutely do share the love of baseball and my father was the one who inculcated that love in me. I am a great Boston Red Sox fan.

12. Do you think that you might have ended up living a different life as an adult had your father beena different sort of man?

I cannot say with definitiveness but I don't think I would have. I emphasize again that things came about by chance and that 
is always a gamble.

13. I must ask: what wad it like interacting with Albert Einstein when you were younger?

My interactions with Einstein as a young professor at Princeton were as I wrote quite limited since I came to his house to present my work.
What was no nice was how pleasant he was to me in my short interactions.

14. Overall, what do you want readers to take from Honest Sid?

The story of life for a segment of New Yorkers in the Depression era.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview, Professor. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

I don't really think I can. I'm not a surprising person. I think what surprises most readers who have asked me is that given my upbringing how did I become what I did. Unfortunately there is nothing I can say as to why because I believe chance and luck were the biggest factors. I am after all my father's son.

Find Ronald Probstein online via:



MIT Website

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