About Joe

My Desk

I'm often asked what my office and my desk look like. Well, here it is -- in an interactive format! Just scroll/cursor/mouse over the strange collection of stuff on my desk, and a box pops up with an explanation or a backstory. Yes, I really do keep all this junk on my desk. It’s not representative, I’m sure, of any or all writers. Just one writer's idiosyncratic writing space . . . 

Joe Finder's Desk Wooden Book Stand Blackwing 602 Pencil Red Telephone Glass Paperweight Astar Cargo Jet Brass Owl Paperweight Uniball Pen Antique Oak Calendar First Ever Pepsi-Cola produced in the Soviet Union International Thriller Writers Association Award Nineteenth Century Library Table Victorian Brass Hourglass Antique Brass Paper Clamp Magic Rub Bobblehead of Joe Finder Bobblehead of Edgar Allen Poe Sphinx Saxon Manila 33B Espresso Computer Keyboard
 
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This Victorian brass hourglass, a gift from my wife, was used in a bunch of movies including "Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Jacob's Ladder," "Perfect Stranger," and several episodes of "Law & Order." I use it as a productivity tool: I'm not allowed to check my e-mail until the sand has run out, marking exactly 60 minutes.

Antique bookstand I use to hold manuscript pages while I enter changes into the computer. I saw one just like it in an episode of "West Wing," used by Martin Sheen's President in the Oval Office, and I asked the set decorator where I could find one too.

When I was a kid I loved the "Batman" TV series, and I always wanted my own bat phone. So my brother, Dr. Jonathan Finder, a renowned pediatric pulmonologist who restores and sells old telephones on the side (including to Hollywood prop masters), custom-made me one by converting an old 500 model rotary dial phone. Then an electronics genius friend of his, Steve Hilsz — who also happens to be a fan of mine! — wired it with LEDs so it flashes instead of ringing. I'm still waiting for my own bat cave with pole.

Part of my stash of Blackwing 602 pencils, the best pencil ever made, beloved by writers from John Steinbeck to Stephen Sondheim. Fortunately, a company named California Cedar Products has recently started making them again.

Blue Bell cobalt glass paperweight, a gift from my brother Jon. A century ago, the Bell Telephone companies used to give them to employees and good customers to keep their papers from flying off their desks in those primitive pre-AC days when the electric fans were blowing.

A scale model of a cargo jet, a gift from Astar Cargo, which allowed me to climb around inside one of their planes while I was researching the opening scene in "Vanished."

Vintage brass owl paperweight. Found it on eBay after seeing one of them used as a crucial prop on a terrific, short-lived AMC TV series, "Rubicon" and asking the creator, Henry Bromell, where they got it. Answer: eBay.

My favorite everyday pen: Uniball Gel Impact (1.0mm point). I buy them by the case. Either I go through them really fast or people keep "borrowing" them.

Antique oak perpetual calendar (from around 1900). Actually quite a pain — you have to remember to turn the knobs everyday to change the day and date. I usually forget.

One of the first bottles of Pepsi-Cola ever produced in the Soviet Union — a gift from Pepsi's former CEO, Donald Kendall, whom I interviewed for my first book. Kendall was the guy who brought Pepsi to Russia and made Russians' teeth even worse.

The International Thriller Writers Association "Thriller" award for the best novel of the year was given for Killer Instinct a few years ago. I'm proud to be only the second recipient of this award.

The desk itself is a nineteenth-century library table made of quarter-sawn oak. Eight feet long and it's still cluttered with tchochkes.

Antique brass paper clamp in the shape of a lady's hand. These were popular in Victorian England. I don't know why. It's very "Addams Family."

Magic Rub — if you still use pencils, as I do, these are by far the best erasers. It's what they use in The New Yorker's art department. So do most cartoonists and comic-book artists.

A bobblehead of moi, which bears an unnerving resemblance to myself. A gift from a friend. Kind of weirds me out — like out of a "Twilight Zone" episode.

An Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead. No, it's not an Edgar award (I wish). They're given out by the Mystery Writers of America at the annual Edgars banquet.

Sure, this may look like cheap yellow scrap paper to you, but they don't make it anymore.  It's Sphinx Saxon Manila 33B, and fortunately I stocked up on the stuff before they discontinued it.  I recently read an interview in Paris Review with the great writer Norman Rush, author of Mating, who mentioned that he types drafts on his "ancient, beloved Sphinx Saxon Manila 33B. (I can't get it anymore—if anyone has a stock, I'd be grateful.)" Now I feel that nothing I scrawl on these flimsy yellow sheets can possibly be… Saxonworthy.

The perfect espresso—made by my Nespressso C100 Essenza automatic espresso machine. I'm addicted. I don't smoke and rarely drink, so this is my only . . . well, one of my few vices. Espresso cup from Italy of course.

Where's the computer, you say? Well, here's a corner of the keyboard. The 30" Apple Cinema Display is just off screen.