Jeffrey Hirschberg talks about human behaviour and flawed characters.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your new release Completely Incomplete?
Several years ago, I wrote a feature screenplay entitled Completely Incomplete. The story — a “romantic rectangle” about four flawed characters at turning points in their lives — stuck with me. So, I decided to adapt it into a novel. While the story is essentially a romantic comedy, I think I have created a sense of realism re: the characters and their predicaments. Prior to writing the book, I worked with a successful therapist / marriage counselor in New York City to better understand how she approaches couple’s therapy. She provided me with great insights as to how she approaches working with couples and the challenges they face.
I also wanted to portray a realistic working relationship between Jessica (a psychologist with a Ph.D.), and Ken (a psychiatrist with an M.D.), so I consulted with professionals in those areas to better understand how they approach therapy and how their approaches differ from one another. This is the first book in a trilogy starring Jessica, Ken, Ryan, and Gina.
2. Where did you get the inspiration for the novel?
Ever since I studied developmental psychology at Cornell University and earned a Master’s degree from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, I’ve been intrigued by human behavior and personality disorders.
3. Are any parts of the book based on reality/your own life?
The Jessica and Ken characters (the two therapists) and the couple they are treating (Ryan and Gina), are loosely based on a mashup of professors I had at Cornell, executives I worked with on Wall Street in New York City, and friends of mine in the entertainment industry.
4. When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I have loved writing since I was about eleven years old, when my friends and I produced short films in Rochester, NY. I wrote in college, graduate school, and while living in New York City and Los Angeles. My experience has been with screenwriting, but I also published a non-fiction book entitled, Reflections of the Shadow: Creating Memorable Heroes and Villains for Film and TV.
I wrote feature screenplays and wrote and directed short films and a TV pilot, but embarking on a novel was always a dream. Thus, the birth of Completely Incomplete, which has been a labor of love.
5. What is one thing about you your readers would be surprised to know?
My wife and I have never been to a marriage counselor.
6. Who are your personal greatest writing influences?
My novelist influences include: Helen Fielding (The Bridget Jones books), Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada) and Jonathan Tropper (This is Where I Leave You, One Last Thing Before I Go).
My writer-director influences include: James L. Brooks (Broadcast News, As Good as It Gets), Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give) Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Working Girl), and Billy Wilder (The Apartment, Some Like It Hot).
7. What message do you want readers to take away from your novels?
These stories are about real people with real challenges — hopefully relatable to a broad audience. I also want readers to find humor in my characters’ predicaments.
8. Do you have a set daily writing routine?
As a college professor, I don’t have too much time to write during the day, so my time to write is when it’s quiet in the house — which is not often. But, my writing zone tends to be from about 10:00pm – Midnight. Kids are in bed. The phone is not ringing. Great time to write.
9. What’s next for you?
The plan is to publish the book, make the movie. Repeat for book two of the Completely Incomplete trilogy. Repeat for book three of the Completely Incomplete trilogy. That’s the goal.
Completely Incomplete is reminiscent of the Tracy–Hepburn classics of yesteryear. The story centers on an unlikely couple — Jessica (New York’s most eclectic psychologist), and Ken (New York’s most conceited psychiatrist). Both specialize in couple’s therapy… and that’s where their similarities end.
Added to the mix is the city’s “It” couple — Ryan and Gina. Jessica and Ken are forced to work together to solve the pair’s insurmountable marital problems.
Will Jessica end up with Ryan? Ken? Alone?
Follow her journey in Completely Incomplete — a fast-paced comedy about four flawed characters and their quest for love, happiness, and balance in their lives
Jeffrey Hirschberg studied Developmental Psychology at Cornell and then a Master’s degree from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, then trying out a few different paths, from marketing, writing screenplays, short films and a TV pilot, finally embark on his dream to become a writer.