In today's Featured Friday, please welcome long-time EPIC member and Eppie Award winner, Dr. Bob Rich! Sit back and enjoy!
Vivien, thank you for welcoming me to the EPIC blog, and for your service in running it. As you can already see, I am simply unable to follow instructions, and to keep to other people’s script. This is not on your list of what I am supposed to say, right?
To explain, Vivien has an ingenious concept. She has a standard list of 50 questions, and requires the bunny, in this case me, to select 3 to 5. Well, I have done that part also.
Pick your favorite piece of work and tell us what you love about it.
Vivien, you’re asking me to play favorites among my children? That’s not done. I love them all. But if I must select, it is always the last book I’ve written. Currently that is Guardian Angel.
The concept came to me many years ago, when I was working at an (Australian) Aboriginal health service. Originally, there were over 700 nations in what is now Australia, but the white invasion destroyed a great deal. And yet, theirs is possibly the wisest culture of all. They lived in dynamic harmony with a harsh environment for somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000 years. If we are to survive on this planet, we need to adapt their way of thinking and acting to a modern world.
The story is about Maraglindi, who was born in 1850 as a result of a white man raping her mother. Rather than state the theme myself, I’ll quote from Indian author Rajat Mitra’s review: “Every land which has been colonized and suffered extinction of natives has stories of people like Maraglindi who stood as a bridge of peace between the invading and the native culture and who remind us of the violence that has taken place in the name of God.”
Maraglindi responded to the prejudice, discrimination and hate white people directed at “Abos” in a way that inspires me. She is one of my teachers. You’ll love her, too.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing/editing?
Oh, I like to do a great many things, and also do a great many things that need to be done, like it or not. For example, I’m not that keen on meetings, but whenever I cooperate with other people, I end up on the committee.
If you look up my blog, you’ll find that I’ve retired 5 times so far, from 5 different occupations. The three professions I still practice are writing, editing -- and being a Professional Grandfather.
Every person on this planet under perhaps 25 years of age qualifies as being my grandbaby. All they need to do is to apply.
Hundreds have applied through a cry for help. Either they track me down and send me an email, or they post on a public forum where therapists volunteer to answer questions of desperation. My words often make a difference, and in many cases we carry on an email friendship for years. Just this morning, I’ve answered an email from a nice Swedish young man who used to hate life, but is now instead working on his problems. He blames me for his changed attitude.
If you had the gift of magic for one day, what would you do?
That’s easy. I would change global culture from one that rewards and encourages the worst in human nature to one that rewards and encourages the best.
We live on a beautiful planet, part of an amazing web of life -- which we are destroying as fast as we can. We are in the sixth great extinction event of earth. Extinction rates are AT LEAST 100 times what they should be, and many so-far-not-endangered species are suffering catastrophic reductions in numbers.
This is the inevitable consequence of a global economy that can only stay healthy if it grows. The only thing that grows without limit in a limited system is cancer.
Humanity is the cancer of planet Earth.
If, by some magic, we could all live simply so we can simply live, if we could replace greed with sharing, hate and aggression with compassion and cooperation, if we could always consider the long term consequences of our actions, then we would have a chance.
All my writing for the past many years has been a tool for doing my best to advance this change, although of course when writing fiction my main aim is to entertain. Reviews of my books show that I succeed in that.
What’s something you’ve tried that you’ll never, ever try again?
Getting married. I promise you: I’ve done it once, and refuse to do it again.
It was a wonderful wedding, though, looking back, I was terribly young at the time.
My bride was Christian, I was determinedly not, but she wanted to marry in her church. So, the minister interviewed me. After a whole afternoon of chatting, he told me I was a Buddhist, and he’d be pleased to have me marry in his church. So, I went to the University library (no internet then!) and read up on Buddhism. He was right: this was my philosophy, better expressed than I could do at the time.
My bride and I had very little money. She had a sister in Australia, but both our families of origin were in Europe. So, we had a wedding that cost $70, and it was a magnificent occasion. About 30 of my university friends brought something to eat. The bride and her sister made the wedding dress, and baked the cake. I iced it.
My favorite photo in all the world is still her, on that day.
Mind you, there is something wrong with her: she still laughs at my jokes, after 50 years.
What’s the hardest thing you ever had to create, and why?
It’s my story of my mother’s life.
Until a little over 13 years of age, I was a monster bent on murder. The person I wanted to kill was my stepfather, and it was mutual. So, when the opportunity presented itself, he transported me to Australia for the term of my natural life, and kept everyone else in the family back.
This was the greatest tragedy in my mother’s life, although there were many traumas during the second world war. She survived, and enabled her family’s survival, through intelligence, creativity, determination and ruthlessness. Then she applied the same qualities to building up a million-dollar export business behind the iron curtain.
Hers was certainly a story worth telling.
When my stepfather died, I was sure she’d go soon after, so I set her project: to provide me with information for her biography. She diligently did so. When I visited in 2000, she was in hospital, unable to move, managing no more than a whisper, but she was still lining up contacts for me.
So, I had all this information after she died. For two years, I couldn’t bear to as much as look at it. Then it took me three months to write the book, which is fast for me.
Her story, Anikó: The stranger who loved me, is my book with the highest number of awards.
About Bob: Dr Bob Rich is the author of 16.5 published books. If you want to know how you can have half a published book, check http://bobswriting.com/hitandrun.html.
He is passionate about social justice, and won’t stand for discrimination, cruelty, wanton destruction, especially when applied to children of any age, up to 120. (People above that age can surely look after themselves?) To him, people include all sentient beings, such as all mammals, cephalopods (such as octopuses), birds, snakes, frogs, even insects.
He and his wife have lived in voluntary poverty since 1978, and found it to be a liberation. They live simply so you can simply live. He explains the rationale in “How to change the world,” an essay at his blog.
Bob is also a professional editor, working for a number of small publishers, and a long list of authors prepublication. Most of his work comes through personal recommendation.
Website/social media links:
Learn more about Ascending Spiral at Bob's website!