12 Novels, 44 Plays and a 6-Inch Pianist: A Q&A with Author/Actor Ron McLarty

On a warm, breezy fall afternoon I was walking the grounds of an historic estate in the Hudson Valley where I happen to rent a weekend home. I came across a couple strolling the field next to where I live, when they stopped to ask me if I knew who lived there.

I told them the story of how I ended up renting the cottage, and then proceeded to yammer on about pretty much my entire life story up to that point (as Ron said of me later, “He didn’t have an ‘off’ button”). During the conversation, my “I know you from somewhere” sense was triggered – something about his voice and her smile, until finally, probably sensing my curiosity, they politely dropped enough information that it clicked: I was talking to Ron McLarty and his wife Kate Skinner.

I told them of my impending move to Korea, the soon-to-happen birth of my son, and how I was sad I was going to miss the first snowfall of the season because we’d be away until spring. We parted ways, I going back to the business of closing up the house, and I want to say the left holding hands like kids in love, but I may be making that up for cinematic effect.

Fast forward 6 months, and my wife and I had returned to the states, newborn in tow, when there was a knock at the door. Low and behold, it was Ron and Kate come asking about the baby and our adventures abroad. Drinks and dinner ensued, and thus came to be the story of how we met.

Ron was kind enough to sit down with NewsWhistle for a little Q&A…

Name: Ron McLarty

Age: 66

Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island

Current town: New York City & Elizaville, NY

Occupation: Author/Actor

Date of Interview: July 2013

1. What’s the funniest or saddest thing that’s happened to you this week?

Just recently, James Gandolfini died (who my wife, Kate, worked with on a film) and Gary Goldberg died (who wrote and directed a TV series I was on, CHAMPS) and their respective deaths made us very sad because they are not still in the world to share their talents and their sweetness of character.

2. What’s your favorite song? And why?

I don’t have a favorite song but my favorite singer is Adele. I love her album, 21, because the music and lyrics are perfect and her voice is magnificent.

3. What’s the biggest risk you took in life?

It’s funny really but I would have to say, looking back, it was my two years in the Army.

4. If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?

Many things have happened but I have always accepted them as just a part of this silly world. But that given, what I would change is my parents dying in a single car crash on their way back from Maine.

5. Tell us your favorite joke:

Guy walks into a bar. Reaches into his left pocket and pulls out a tiny piano and piano bench. Reaches into his right pocket and pulls out a tiny piano player who starts playing. Bartender says, ‘Hey, that’s great.’ Guy says, ‘Yeah, but I didn’t ask for a six-inch pianist.’ (had to be there)

6. What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I’ve published four novels but I wrote twelve and 44 plays.

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

From my grandmother. ‘Ronnie . . . . . NO!’

8. Who’s your favorite celebrity? And why?

It’s always a toss-up between Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino. Love them both.

9. What’s your strangest phobia or superstition?

I have two phobias–one is of poison ivy and the other is dog droppings–I’m always convinced I’m going to touch one or step in the other.

10. Last, but not least, is there anything you want to pitch, promote or discuss?

Just my four novels (THE MEMORY OF RUNNING, TRAVELER, ART IN AMERICA & THE DROPPER). My first novel got a lot of attention but I think the other three are deserving of a read or a listen (I have narrated all of them on audio). They are very different stories but ones I am proud to tell.

11. Oh, and a bonus curve question . . . To paraphrase, Stephen King said of your novel, The Memory of Running, before it was published that “it was the greatest novel you couldn’t read.” What’s the greatest story (book, movie, play, etc…) you’ve ever heard that we likely don’t know of, and where can we read/hear/watch it?

A painter for one, Simon Hantai, we saw a retrospective of his at the Pompidou in Paris recently and it was astounding. We had never heard of him and I don’t think he is well known especially in the States.

And 2 novels by the great writer, Willa Cather, THE PROFESSOR’S HOUSE and SAPPHIRA AND THE SLAVE GIRL. She is known for several other novels but these are two of her best.

A film that didn’t get it’s due this past year, THE STAND-UP GUYS with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken & Alan Arkin brilliantly directed by Fisher Stevens; two short films by Sam Handel, I’M COMIN’ OVER & THE RIVER; and a wonderful album (CD) by Luba Mason, COLLAGE.

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