Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bob Rich discusses his new book, “Hit and Run”

Bob Rich is not actually human, but a visitor to this planet. His human body is a space suit for surviving here, but then his friend Petrea King says the same is true for all of us.
He has been sent here to either witness the end of humanity or to be part of the team saving us. That's described in one of his novels: "Ascending Spiral."
His current job is as a Professional Grandfather. Young people from anywhere in the world contact him with emails of desperation. His answers often make a difference, and this can result in a long-term friendship.
The rest of his life is none of your business, but you can do some detective work clicking this link Bob's writingMost of his internet activity is on his blog. Click Bobbing Around to read about his blog. He has had 17 books published. Sixteen are still in print.

D.O: Thanks for joining us today on Authors' Curtilage Book Dialogue, and welcome.

Damilola, thank you for having me here. I feel honored. Before answering your questions, I looked around your blog and saw you've reviewed Bob Selden's excellent book, DON'T. I reviewed it last year, and as a result, Bob and I became friends. I hope you and I will become friends too, and the same for the people you are introducing me to.

D.O: πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Oh goodness, you got me there! Bob Selden waited a whole year for his book to be reviewed. I hope you can wait this long. πŸ˜‰ The audience would like to know which part of the world you’re joining us from.

Like the convicts of old, I was transported to Australia for the term of my natural life. I arrived in this wonderful land before I turned 14. This was to prevent a murder: my stepfather knew that either he was going to murder me, or I was going to murder him. So, he used the opportunity the Hungarian revolution of 1956 offered. He deported me, and then prevented the rest of the family from following.
Now I'll give you three guesses: what country was I born in?

D.O: Hungary 😊. When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I don't think I ever wanted to be a writer. As a youngster, I was a storyteller but never shared my internal monologues with anyone else. Surely, no one would be interested in MY ravings! I was terribly shy, so observed rather than joining in, and my only real friend lived inside my head -- and he didn't like me either!

When I was a scientist, all my creativity went into research. After I retired at 35 years of age, I wrote many "how to" articles, and without meaning to, built up a wide following in Australia. My first book has gone out of print only this year, after 32 years and 4 editions.
Writing fiction grew out of nonfiction. My second book, "Woodworking for Idiots Like Me" is actually a chain of short stories, each with a woodcraft lesson.

D.O: Wow! That’s great. What is the various craft you've studied before you came into the entertainment industry or do you just possess some natural tendencies to write stories?

Damilola, thank you for giving me a new insight. Until I read your question, I didn't realize I was in the entertainment industry, but you're perfectly correct. Only, for me, it's not an industry, not work. One of my clichΓ©s is: writing is the chocolate icing on the cake of life.

D.O: πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Amazing!

My two antidepressants as a boy were running, and reading/studying. Because of this, I now have two artificial hips and know a great deal about many subjects. And if I lack knowledge about something, I know how to research. That's the yeast that makes the cake rise.

When I came to Australia, I couldn't even read the street signs. So, I learned English better than the locals. Language is the major tool for a writer. It doesn't matter if you can't name the proper grammatical tools, but it certainly matters if you can't use them correctly. I think being a competent editor is an essential prerequisite for writing. I've been doing professional editing since 1999.

My most useful skill set for writing fiction is training in psychology. For 22 years, I ran a counseling psychological service. The two occupations require the same abilities: empathy; listening and observing; knowledge of people's motivations, similarities, and differences.

D.O: You’ve said right, being a competent editor is an essential prerequisite for writing. And with what you’ve done on my book in this little while, I would say, your editing contribution is premium. . . What are the steps do you take to develop your book from a rough draft into a published novel?

I don't even dispatch an email without reading it over a few times. I'll have revised my answers to you perhaps 30 times before sending them off. The same is true for anything I intend for publication.

At the same time, I don't actually have a rough draft. When my fingers dance on the keyboard, what comes out is pretty close to the final version. This is because typing is RECORDING, not COMPOSING. I write unconsciously while carrying on the many tasks of everyday life. You can read how to do this at Is my writing right for you?

D.O: Hmm. Thanks for that tips. What did you do differently in your book to make readers feel fear, concern, sadness, love, and laughter?

Laughter? As you'll have seen in my answers so far, I don't have any sense of humor whatever.

D.O: Who says you don’t have a sense of humor? I’ve been amused all through this interview with your replies.

However, your question is very wise.

D.O: Thank you.

Emotion is the heart of fiction. A story is not about facts, or information, or events, but about people feeling emotion. The aim is to induce the reader to experience emotion.

The tool for this is "point of view," (POV).
Read this little essay about it: Emotion in writing.
And if you have difficulty in writing from POV, here is a magic trick to help: A magic trick for writing.

D.O: Thanks for the useful information. What sensitive materials does your book deal with? What is the moral of the story?

Again, your question impresses me. If a novel doesn't deal in sensitive materials, then it's bland and forgettable.

"Hit and Run" evolved. I didn't design it up front. I needed a terrible crime, and a witness to tell me about it. So, 14-year-old Chuck and 84-year-old Sylvia were born. Chuck committed horrendous mass murder, killing 6 little kids and the crossing guard, barely missing Sylvia. I expected the story to be just retribution, but Sylvia was the witness, not me, so she twisted it into one of compassion and decency. For example, when she found out that the boy's name was because his mother had vomited lots during pregnancy, she refused to call him "Chuck," renaming him as Charlie.

Being inside my head and computer, Sylvia somehow drew on my knowledge of the research on the rehabilitation of criminals. Without me ever consciously considering this information, it came to life during the story.

So, this is a tale of love conquering hate.
Sylvia was a simple, practical person, not given to philosophizing. She just acted in the way it was natural for her. This was to treat everyone with respect, to use her intelligence, wisdom, and experience to benefit others, to conquer her own shortcomings because she needed to.
So, the moral of the story: Act like her, and then you'll find opportunities to lead others to become better people.

D.O: Hmm. That’s touching and inspiring. What town or city does your story portray and what is the feeling we have in this dwelling place?

It takes place in a city with a warm-temperate climate, on the eastern seaboard of Australia. There are two cities that could qualify, being Sydney and Melbourne, but she hasn't bothered to tell me which one.

D.O: πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

But then, the essentials of the story -- the emotions, human interactions, tragedy, and joy -- could have been anywhere. You may find stories like that in Nigeria, North America, India, Japan... I found it in Australia because that's where I live.

D.O: Having a unique point of view in telling a story provides your story with intention. From how many characters' viewpoint is your entire book seen from?

Most of my other novels have multiple points of view. When starting a new scene, I immediately introduce a witness, who then lives the experience. I become that witness and write accordingly. So, hopefully, when reading you become that witness for the time being.

"Hit and Run" is different, because the entire book is Sylvia's account of nine months. Her thinking and writing are quite different from mine. As I've said, I merely typed her words into my computer.

D.O: What does the lead character of your book want most in the world?

That's Chuck/Charlie. At the start, all he wants to do is to die. Only, he hates everyone and wants to kill as many people as he can in the process. In all the world, he cares for only one person: his six-year-old brother, Tommy.
After Sylvia has taken him in hand, he is determined to study while in jail, in order to attain a profession in which he can help other violent, drug-and-alcohol-abusing young people. He wants to serve his sentence and live a good life. He even has a girl picked out for living it with.

D.O: What does he do to achieve this goal?

Well, I don't want to give away too much of the plot. During the nine months of the story, he suffers many challenges, including having to fight for his life a number of times. His journey starts when Sylvia coaches him on how to avoid detention at school, so he can look after Tommy. That only involves avoiding obscenities while speaking to the Principal. Things grow from there.

D.O: This is a very enthralling story. What are the core truths for your lead character?

Charlie tells other characters this in a number of places within the story.
People do bad things because they don’t realize they have choices. Here is a quote in which he returns to his family's language in order to teach his mother:
"Mum, yer life got stuffed up 'cause of yer Mum and Dad, like, and theirs because of their parents, goin' back f--ed if I know how many generations. Tommy now has a chance to live better. I don't hurt nobody no more, but I'll kill anyone that tries to take that away from him."

D.O: Hmm. Whoa! That’s a deep quote there. What are the two conflicting values you created for him? Do these values make sense from his backstory?

Imagine being born to a mother with 4 kids, and no one knows the father of any of them.

D.O: Goodness! I can imagine that.

Your sisters have left home and are doing fine because they're working as prostitutes. You've had your first alcohol, marijuana, tobacco at maybe 4 years of age. There is an endless succession of temporary "stepfathers," some of whom sexually abuse you, and all of them act with violence. Everyone in the wider community treats you with disdain. Does this explain where he is coming from, why he hates everyone?

D.O: Very well, it does explain where he is coming from and the reason for his hatred. It’s so painful what he has been through.

During the story, he encounters Sylvia, then a long succession of other people he comes to admire, and wants to copy. This includes the grieving parents of the kids he'd murdered. While every time he is under extreme stress, he slips back, his support team helps him through.

D.O: What is the personal trait you gave your lead character to survive your story?

He was a dog in one of his previous incarnations. Dogs are great people.

D.O: At the end of your book did the story goal satisfy your lead character's ambition or did he devise another method to achieve his goal or failed at achieving it?

People tell me that the end of the story is a tear-jerker.

D.O: How do you think your book will influence the reader’s growth positively?

I don't have to think. Reviewers, and people giving me personal feedback have told me. It's not a book to read and forget. Don't even start unless you want to change your life for the better. Sylvia is one of my teachers, and she'll be yours too.
Here are a few random quotes:

"I spent the entire night reading this story. The characters are written in such a way that you really believe they can be people you know. Sylvia reminded me of my own grandmother."
"In a world that needs love like never before comes a novel that really can't be put down once you start reading. The main protagonists not only find an uncanny connection but grow to love and respect one another quite deeply. Our 'older' generation has a lot to teach the world in general and this comes through in Bob Rich's writing. This novel is one that should be on recommended reading lists everywhere."

"It is a book that shows rather than tells: it grips you in the story and explores its themes using the story rather than by taking breaks to preach at you (think War and Peace as the contrast). It is through seeing absolutely radical human kindness and strength -- that we know is within our reach if we cultivate the wisdom and compassion inside ourselves -- that we are led to question what we know about good and evil, about justice and retribution, and about the capacity to heal."

D.O: Amazing feedback. Congratulations. Any hint about your next book?

My next book has already been dispatched to its publisher, Loving Healing Press lovinghealing.
It is nonfiction: "From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide." Although it is very short, it has already changed some lives. You see, I send any new book to beta readers. This one went to several psychologists for technical feedback, and to people I know to be suffering from depression, for a test drive. This includes several of my grandchildren: young people I've never met in various parts of the world.
The response has been enthusiastic. They reckon it's even better than my previous psychology books.

D.O: Thank you once again for joining us on Authors Curtilage Book Dialogue. We wish you the publishing best and hope that all good things come your way with your book.

Thank you. I also have a wish for you:
May you live in contentment;
May you be healthy;
May you rise to your challenges;
And above all, may you grow spiritually.

D.O: 😊 oh, you're so loving Bob. Thank you. πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

Looking forward to reading this fabulous author's book? Visit Amazon to order your copy of his book. Happy reading! πŸ’‹


  1. Thank you for having me visit you, all the way from Australia to Nigeria. It was an effort, but I swam right over.
    Now that I'm here, I'd like to chat with your other visitors.
    In case any of them are writers, just to let them know that my free book edit contest is still open until October 15. Details are at
    Have a good life,

  2. You are welcome Bob. I'm glad you are able to expand your audience through Authors' Curtilage. It's been such a pleasure meeting a thorough and awesome editor like you. My book will never be the same again, thanks to your expertise. I will just go right ahead and re-mention the free editing contest. All the best!

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