Lawrence Kelter on the Elusive Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

Lawrence Kelter

Did you ever want something so badly you could taste it? Of course you have. Who hasn’t? I was afraid of heights, so I never dreamed of being an astronaut. But like any other kid, I dreamed of playing major league ball, shredding lead guitar in a rock band, racing at Le Mans, and any number of other pursuits I was not meant to succeed at—a bitter pill for any young man to swallow.

Then along came the personal computer, and BAM, I was back in the game.

Now, my story is probably not much different than any of yours. I wanted to write the Great American Novel.

And I did.

Repeatedly, in fact.

At least I thought I had. But few agreed with me. All right, it wasn’t all that bleak. Along with a shoebox full of rejection letters, there were acceptances from agents and a smattering of publishing deals.

But not enough to make a career of it.

My accountant called it a hobby, a remark he paid for with a swift beheading.

In 2012 I reacquired my rights from the publishers I had worked with and threw my hat into the indie publishing arena. I mean, what did I have to lose? I sold a quarter of a million books that year. When I walked into my CPA’s office the following March, he said, “Holy crap. We can’t call this a hobby anymore.”

Thank you!

Through it all, there was one specific project I wanted to be involved in, but like the rock star dream and the Super Bowl victory, I thought it was not to be. You might think this silly or lame. And maybe it is. There was a film I enjoyed so much that every time it popped up on TV, it made me late for an appointment because I just couldn’t pull myself away. I knew the script verbatim and often incorporated the better-known lines into my everyday conversation. That movie is My Cousin Vinny.

It popped up on the tube about two years ago, and I decided to email the screenwriter/producer to tell him how much I loved his film, thinking, Hollywood screenwriter—I’m dirt beneath his boot—He’ll never reply.

But he did.

And somehow we forged a connection. Emails led to conversations. He discussed his upcoming projects with me, and I with him. One day he called up and said, “Hey, I read one of your books and you’re pretty f_ _king funny.”

“So how about you let me turn My Cousin Vinny into a book series?”

“Make me an offer.”

Four attorneys and fourteen months later, BACK TO BROOKLYN was delivered to Eric Campbell, publisher of Down & Out Books.

Writing BACK TO BROOKLYN was the most fun I’ve ever had sitting in front of a keyboard. I have high hopes for this book. After all, I love the characters and the backstory—not to mention the two years I have invested in the project. But where it goes from here…

The only thing I can tell you for certain is that it may have taken Vincent Gambini and Mona Lisa Vito twenty-five long years to navigate from that dirt-swept stretch of Alabama roadway back to New York, but they never would’ve made it back without me.