Forman is a Boston native (the accent outed him) who founded Jana Brands in 1970. He created “imitation crab meat” and began selling it to all of Subway’s 12 stores in 1979. Jana now enjoys this business at all its 37,000 stores around the world, as well as that for all their tuna in 100 countries.
He began wintering in Boca Raton in 1992 – and shortly thereafter started doing what more of us should do as we age, he took up a new and brain stimulating activity – writing. He told the group “since I was a kid I knew I could write.” And having sold all four of his novels to “major publishers,” his second career also has to be considered a success.
He published his first book when he was 67, and his fourth at 70, and has at least one more in the works. He commented that he did what all writers are supposed to do, “write from your experience,” then quipped that “there’s very little sex in my books – it’s hard to write from memory.”
He added “if I had written Fifty Shades of Gray it would have been about hair color in Boca.”
Forman introduced Boca Knights, his first book, and the first of a trilogy. Amazon calls it “a debut novel sure to both excite passions and elicit laughter.” The story follows Eddy Perlmutter, a much decorated Boston cop retired to Boca. Eddy is a widower – “the most dangerous thing to be in Boca.”
Perlmutter encounters a cast of offbeat characters, from Russian mafia counterfeiters and ecstasy dealers to Neo-Nazis, finds himself involved in their crimes and comes to the aid of their victims.
He becomes the Boca Knight as he reinvents himself as a private eye. Forman’s message is that seniors who get involved “are transformed,” and added “it’s never too late to be a hero.”
In Forman’s second book, Boca Mournings, he continues the reawakening theme. Here the message is that we all have to come to grips with our age. Perlmutter is a small, compact man, a former middleweight boxer who’s lost his knockout punch to age. Again he confronts a cast of odd characters. Again he adapts as he helps.
Forman called this a book about “used to be’s” becoming something again. He asked “who is your best friend?” and answered “it was you when you were at your best.” He said “if you think of yourself as a used-to-be, you must have done something remarkable you use as a reference.”
“We have to accept that we’re not knockout punchers anymore,” and, he said, we have to change our game.
The third book of the trilogy, Boca Daze, offers up more odd but intimidating characters, more Eddy the hero and more of Forman’s “it’s never too late…”
In response to a question following his talk, about how he likes being an author, Forman quipped “in fifty years no one asked me to autograph a fish.”
Steve Forman is everyman the writer, not a schooled novelist. He was an entertaining speaker, using some well rehearsed ad libs while leaving two messages. First, that senior citizens need not see themselves as “used to be’s,” but by getting involved, by adapting, we can re-energize our lives.
The second is that retirement offers the opportunity to do something we always thought we could, but had never really tried.
Forman would be right at home in Y’s Men.