An Interview with Alex Procho, author of Tales of the Brooklyn Hobo
(photo taken in 1989)
Where are you from?
I was born in Brooklyn New York, but I lived in Woodridge, New York from age 1 to 10. I consider Woodridge my birthplace and home.
What inspired you to write your book?
All the people I told my stories to insisted I write a book. After the reception I got from them, I realized I had to write a book – for myself and others.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
No outline. I just wrote according to how I felt at that moment – when I felt inspired. A Zen thing.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel that you would change?
I wouldn’t change anything, but certainly add many things.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I like Bookshelves of Your Mind because I add some of my philosophy at the time I was writing. And as years go by it might change a little thru experience. Also the Oregon Bound chapter because it was such a unique experience of ups and downs
How did you come up with the title?
My freight train experience and my travels reminded me of the famous hobos of the past, and of that feeling of not wanting to settle down. At 15 years old I read a book, The Social Construction of Reality. I realized I could live life on my terms. I am free in my own pursuits. That is what the hobo represents. He’s not just a bum.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Maybe add to the experiences of feelings I got from drugs and alcohol, what the feelings were like with withdrawal, detoxes and rehabs.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting into a flow of thoughts and feelings, most importantly the experiencing of the pain again and the witnessing of my past subjectively and objectively, and accepting it and continue writing.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Most importantly to not let your emotions run the show, and being aware of your beliefs and willingness to change them if necessary – minus the ego and emotions.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme you’d love to work with?
More of my eastern philosophical experiences, with the heaven and hells in my mind idea.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That spirituality and enjoying the fullness of life without alcohol and drugs is possible with an open mind. You don’t necessarily have to follow others, listen and watch and be yourself. And by all means, take risks; don’t let fear control you.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
My best writing came when I didn’t force myself but rather when thoughts and feelings were spontaneous in the moment (sometimes with the help from outside influences). When thoughts and feelings are in sync, they rise. Go with the flow. Worry about the numerical order of things later.
What books have most influenced your life most?
- Irrational Man by William Barrette
- The Way of Zen by Alan Watts
- Island by Aldous Huxley
- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
- When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
- Anything written by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Be Here Now by Ram Dass
- The Turning Point by Frijol Copra
- Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- The Only Dance There Is by Ram Dass
- A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda
What book are you reading now?
The Heart Of The Buddha’s Awakening, and No Fear, No Death by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Do you have any advice for other authors?
Read, read, read. Fixed thoughts and ideas will keep you close minded. Diversify what you read – spiritual, philosophy, psychology, and the great authors. Take literature classes. Expose yourself. The more you learn not to be stuck, you unlearn. With meditation also you can free your mind, then you become limitless. When the thoughts and feelings flow, keep going. You can edit later. Thoughts come and go, like clouds. They’re easy to lose. Let go.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I learned that a good photographer can sit down anywhere and create a good picture. That takes an open mind, and learning to be in the moment and then creating. There’s no boundaries, no fear. Risk it…that is Zen. Read about it. It will change you from staying stuck. That is what fun and happiness is. Spontaneity? Creativity is letting go.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m trying to find a theme, maybe to progress to the future, where I am today and envision my Utopian future. I will never give up on letting go of the past and create new possibilities for myself and others. I mean the reason we are here is to share, they say, whom ever they are. There’s a novel in every man. I want to share my greatest spiritual moments and visions for a greater awakening. Giving is the greatest gift. You’ve got to give what you’ve got to get what you need.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
In nature, which clears my mind. The ocean, mountains, and rivers. Otherwise it becomes the spontaneity of the moment. And that is where my night flights come in. In the deep of the night, whenever the moment is right. I don’t force it.
What are your pet peeves?
- Hunters who kill for ego and the sport of it. I say go in the forests and fight with your bare fists. Make it a fair fight.
- Ignorance and people who follow others out of insecurity. You can be yourself and find out who you are. We are all different , yet all the same.
- Opinionated people who will never let go of what they believe. That explains war, and fanatics. Zealots.
- Religion and politics can lead to insanity. I believe that a majority of us have the ability to think through things.
- Animal abusers.
- Sports fanatics and ego maniacal famous actors, and athletes.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?
Alan Watts, Pema Chödrön and Carly Simon
Where is one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday?
I am a botanist. Therefore the Amazon. The people and the plants and trees.
What is one of your favorite quotes ?
There are 3.
- If you don’t understand, things are such as they are. If you do understand , things are just as they are.
- The reason angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly.
- I love mankind; its people I can’t stand.
To me , these are one big quote.
Tell us three books you just recently read and would recommend.
Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You
Jarvis Jay Masters, Finding Freedom, Writings From Death Row
Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear.
What are 3 of your favorite movies?
- The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky
- Defending Your Life by Albert Brooks
- Harold and Maude directed by Hal Ashby
(photo taken in 2007)
Tales of the Brooklyn Hobo is a haunting and engaging tale of the adventures of a Brooklyn man who sets out to explore the country and finds heartache, wonder, and a new sense of self in the Age of Aquarius. Tales of the Brooklyn Hobo chronicles Alex’s adventures as he hops a freight train in Nebraska, is harassed by the federales in Mexico, has a gun pulled on him by a tearful Oregonian cowboy, encounters God while tripping on LSD at Woodstock, and finds love in all the wrong places. Intermixed in the narrative of the past are journal entries (called Night Flights), which address the author’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder and drug addiction. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Alex has traveled the country extensively in his quest for truth and identity. He has battled addictions – his own and the people around him – for as far back as he can recall. Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Alex reveals with candor and humor how the disorder has affected his life. He also gives his audience a glimpse into his battle to come to terms with his addiction to pain pills and alcohol.
You can purchase the print or Kindle version here.