Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Jon Cohen Interview - Harry's Trees

Photo Content from Jon Cohen

A former critical care nurse, Jon Cohen is the author of the novels Harry's Trees, The Man in the Window and Max Lakeman and the Beautiful Stranger. He is the recipient of a creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is the co-writer of the film "Minority Report," directed by Steven Spielberg.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
Born in the south, raised in the north. Gives me a pretty wide-ranging point of view. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
If you looked at my life for advice and clues, you’d scratch your head. I never took a creative writing course in college, but I was an English major. English major = reader. Read a lot, and you get tempted to try a story on your own. Be very careful, it becomes an addiction – you write that first story and you’re going to want more, more, more. One day, years later, you’ll blink awake, and there on the book shelf across the bedroom is a novel. With your name on it. And you’ll remember nothing of your actual life, only the lives of the characters in that novel. My “wife” tells me we have two grown “children.” Really?

What was your unforgettable moment while writing HARRY'S TREES?
Writing the last sentence of the epilogue. Seriously. I didn’t see it coming, it just came. I didn’t realize I had set up this fun pay-off until suddenly, wham, there it was on the page. Still makes me sigh with satisfaction. And laugh, too.

What part of Harry did you enjoy writing the most?
The scenes with the bad guys, Stu and Wolf. Everybody else loves the Olive the librarian, or Harry or Ronnie, etc. The “good” characters. But I enjoy the comic nonsense of the two foolish villains.

Your new book; HARRY'S TREES, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
For me, the cool thing about Harry’s Trees, is that it’s magical yet utterly grounded. It’s not magical realism like Alice Hoffman or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And it’s not a fantasy/fairy tale like Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale. Yet somehow, bags of gold are handed out, the trees in the forest are filled with candy, a bureaucrat lives in a tree house adorned with multi-colored windows, a Rottweiler and a Wolf drive off into the sunset. I guess I’d call the novel a literary sleight-of-hand – it glows with wonder, but is not sprinkled with fairy dust. 


  • “What else is a library, but a temple of truth? What other function do books have, the great ones, but to change the reader? Books to comfort. But most of all, books to disturb you forward.” 
  • “You keep the lights on in a library the same way you keep the lights on in the emergency room of a hospital.” 
  • “Pine sap is antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.” 
  • “That’s a lot of plot in one sentence, dear.” 
  • “Reading solves most things. Or at least assuages the heart.” 
  • “To every story we bring the story of ourselves.” 
  • “Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!” 
What book would you recommend for others to read?
A Short History of a Small Place by T.R. Pearson.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would get Harry Crane (Harry’s Trees) together with my characters from two earlier novels, Louis Malone (The Man in the Window) and Max Lakeman (Max Lakeman and the Beautiful Stranger), and I would say to them: “Will the real Jon Cohen please step forward?” Please don’t let it be Louis Malone.

If animals could talk, which would be the rudest?
Uh, animals do talk, and they are rarely rude. 

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My pants, shirt, at least one of my shoes, and a second pair of pants in case I lose the first.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
The night I saved a guy’s life . . . accidentally. 

When you climb a tree, the first thing you do is to hold on tight…

Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy—Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

Now it’s time for Harry to let go…

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements—a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive—come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures.

Praise for HARRY'S TREES

"Harry's Trees is the best kind of feel-good novel - one that gives readers glimpses into magic and hope and happy endings but doesn't lose sight of the fact that its characters should feel like real people leading real lives colored by loss and confusion and mortgage payments. Cohen's novel is in many ways about generosity, but it's also generous in its telling, as it allows each character's story to take root and spring to life, building a narrative as rich and interwoven as the forests Harry loves. " BookBrowse (5 stars)

"In Cohen's capable hands, the unlikely teamwork between an optimistic child and a wary adult makes for a tender tale of first loves and second chances." 
Booklist (starred review)

"Part fairy tale and, at the same time, heartbreakingly realistic, Cohen's third novel . . . will entrance readers from page one, and by the end, even skeptics will agree that magic can still be found in the most unlikely places and in the most surprising people if only we're willing to look." 
Library Journal (starred review)

"Set in rural Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains, this redemptive tale will speak to the hearts of those who've lost a loved one… This is a story about grief and the many ways to heal; about redemption; about forgiveness; about letting go; but most of all, about the power of the human spirit to soar above tragedy and reunite with joy." 
Kirkus Reviews

“Life, death, love, loneliness, and grief are the building blocks of Jon Cohen's wondrous new novel, along with nonstop action, humor and a broad cast of characters whose actions converge like a perfectly crafted jigsaw puzzle." 
You can purchase Harry's Trees at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JON COHEN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen.


  1. Soak up the Sun by Sheryl Crow! Thank you

  2. The song, I Feel Happy, from West Side story makes me smile. If I'm feeling good, I sing or hum.

  3. The more I thought about the song, it's I Feel Pretty.