Wilton author itching to prove himself again with latest novel

WILTON — At the moment, longtime Wilton resident Mark Rubinstein is full.

Full of excitement, brimming with eager anticipation, but most of all, he is fulfilled creatively.

His latest novel, “Assassin’s Lullaby,” is set to release June 21. But for the former career psychologist, that fulfillment is temporary.

Rubinstein said he is without a doubt excited to see his newest novel on the shelves. Its his tenth offering in the fiction realm, having penned a number of nonfiction works before that, but it’s what comes after that moment of realization — the inner self-conflict and nagging doubt — that drives Rubinstein to his next work.

“There’s a kind of simmering turmoil down below, somewhere in my psyche that says, ‘Aha! You’re going to have to come up with another story now.’ It’s almost like a compulsion,” Rubinstein said . “You see the book sitting there on the shelf, and then comes that vacuum — that space — that you have to fill again.”

It’s that void that Rubinstein said drives him each time, and it is what drove him after his last release to finish “Assassin’s Lullaby.”

The story revolves around a New York City-based assassin who has worked for Israeli intelligence agencies and has a checkered past who is asked to do one more job off the books for a mafioso.

While some of Rubinstein’s work in the past have small parts of his life injected into them, he said he never truly can grasp where his ideas stemmed from. “If I knew that place, I’d go all the time,” he joked.

Some of the more militaristic elements of his stories could be traced to his time serving as a field medic in the United States Army, where he spent time tending to members of the 82nd Airborne Division. But the impetus for his career as an author he can pinpoint to his days as a psychiatrist.

“During my residency, we had to write up case histories and, oftentimes, present them at conferences,” Rubinstein said. “And I found that, when I was writing the case histories up, I would even put the patient’s dialogue in there, so it would become somewhat novelistic.”

Soon, Rubinstein began impressing colleagues with his framing of case histories in more of a storytelling manner.

His first foray into authoring works came as a co-author of a medical self-help book. Rubinstein, who at this point was enjoying a long career in psychiatry, went on to co-author five of these nonfiction titles before opting to dive into something a bit more foreign: original fiction stories.

“Initially, when I began to write nonfiction books — one on cosmetic surgery with a plastic surgeon, another on breast cancer with a breast surgeon and then a cardiology book — you know, the psychiatry fit in beautifully to those topics because each of them is loaded psychologically for the patient so I found I had no trepidation writing them,” he said. “Where the trepidation entered into it was when I sat down and started to write fiction.”

That was roughly a decade ago. His first published novel was in 2012, the same year he stopped practicing psychiatry full-time. While a very “active therapist,” noting that he liked to give a lot of feedback to his patients, he said he was intrigued by the wide array of personal stories he’d heard throughout his career. From listening and transcribing his case histories to presenting them to other professionals, he acquired an insatiable itch to tell others his story.

Since then, Rubinstein has been busy scratching that itch.

His 2016 novel “The Lovers’ Tango” was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Popular Fiction Award for that year and his work on the “Mad Dog” trilogy has been acclaimed by multiple bestselling authors.

“In Mad Dog Vengeance, Mark Rubinstein proves his versatility at bringing to life a conflicted character at the cusp of an impossible choice,” wrote New York Times bestselling author James Rollins. “Simply a masterpiece of storytelling.”

But that itch didn’t stop with any acclaim or an award. The urge to scratch it comes about after each release, Rubenstein said, noting that this innate desire to prove himself once again is always on the line.

So when Rubinstein’s name is flashed across bookstore shelves and online libraries on June 21 with the release of his latest novel, one can be certain where the author will find himself once again in short order. Parked in front of a keyboard in his home in Wilton, where he has lived since the 1990s, rearing to prove it to himself all over.