Guest Author Interview – Dr. Bob Rich

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Title: Guardian Angel

Genre: Historical/Inspirational/Christian

Synopsis: In 1850, a small town in Australia: Glindi, an Aboriginal woman, gives birth to a daughter, the result of a rape by a white man. She names her Maraglindi, meaning “Glindi’s sorrow,” but the girl is a joy to all those around her. She has the gift of love. During her short life, she encounters everything intolerant, cruel Victorian society can throw at people it considers to be animals. She surmounts the savagery of the white invader by conquering hate with love. Even beyond death, she spreads compassion, then she returns a second time, with an ending that will touch your heart.

Dr. Bob Rich, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Dr. Bob Rich, an International author from Australia. When a publisher rejects his work…he writes. Welcome to my blog, Dr. Bob.

BR: Cheryl, before I start answering your questions, I’d like to thank you for the honor of having me here on your blog. I am very impressed with your achievements, and I am sure there is a fascinating story to tell there.

CH: Can you sum up your book for us?

BR: She was sent to Earth to guide us, but first needed to experience human suffering, so chose to be Maraglindi—child of the land, fruit of an evil deed, and an instrument of Love. During her short life, she repaid white people’s hate and disdain with the gift of unconditional love.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

BR: Your readers may be amused by a little essay I’ve written on ‘How I Write.’ Here’s the link:  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-Lx

When I was new to fiction writing, I meticulously plotted even a short story. I got every detail right, then wrote. This is like being an inexperienced cook, who follows a recipe, while a master chef, just cooks. If you inspect the process, you see the recipe, implicit in it, but even if there is a written guide, it’s only something to be improvised on.

So, I have a plot that’s kept secret from me. The real writing is done by ‘Little Bob’ somewhere within my mind. Then, when I have the time, all I need to do is to record what he tells me.

Always, even before I knew I was a writer, I started with people in a scene. For Guardian Angel, the scene was little, six-year-old Maraglindi rescuing another girl from a snake. The other girl is twelve, and has terrorized Maraglindi for months. On the first day of school, she’d hit and kicked her, and threatened to kill her, if she told.

Also, all writing has a message. Even your shopping list says a lot about its author. Your story tells me all about your philosophy of life, and your idea of what the world is and should be like. ‘A story is a vehicle for creating the reality of choice the author would like to see.’

The difference between me and many other writers is that I’ve thought deeply about such things, since the 1970s, and rather than have this an unconscious, intuitive process, I use my writing as a tool to help people to see a new way of looking at the world. We live in an insane global culture that encourages and rewards greed, aggression, hate, and territoriality. I want to change this to a global culture that focuses on the best in human nature—compassion, cooperation, and decency. It’s no good lecturing at people. So, I tell a story. As I said, I have people in a scene. Those people come alive, and after that THEY run the show.

CH: Since this is a historical book, did you have to do a lot of research for the story?

BR: I did. Research is fun and gathering information is an addiction for me. I’ve long had a fascination with Australian Aboriginal culture. When Europeans were still primitive cave dwellers, the people of Australia already had a sophisticated way of living in harmony with their land. If we want to survive on Planet Earth, we could do a lot worse than to create a modern, technological version of the traditional Aboriginal lifestyle.

For some years, I worked as a counselor at an Aboriginal health service, because today’s Aboriginals are almost all severely traumatized by over 200 years of genocide, discrimination, deliberate suppression of culture, and then blaming the victim for the symptoms of trauma.

Also, I’ve studied the Victorian era in other contexts. The English, and generally Europeans, were arrogant to the point of idiocy. They invaded lands with ancient, wise cultures like India and China, and considered the locals to be savages. Actually, the savagery was done by the Europeans, and to a psychologist, the ways of thinking to enable this are very interesting.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

BR: Cheryl, this is the hardest of your questions for me. I don’t know! What’s more, the same is true for everyone. There is no divide between memory and imagination. When you remember something, you actually create it. This is why six reliable witnesses to a car smash will have six different stories. I could tell you about many ingenious experiments psychologists have used to show the creativity of memory. So, everything anyone writes or says is a fruit of their past experience, with many events in many contexts blended into something new.

CH: Where did you get the idea for the book?

BR: I don’t get ideas. They get me. Winston Churchill once said, “The problem is not to find a solution, but to choose between the dozen possibilities.” That’s how my mind works too. I need to fight off ideas, so I can concentrate on my several current projects. Still, your question made me think. Where did the idea for Guardian Angel come from?

It was many years ago, when I learned about the history of Coranderrk. In 1978, I moved to a community near Healesville, a small town to the east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This was the location of a settlement the local Aborigines of the Kulin nation managed to establish. They had the wisdom to see that, with all their land stolen, they needed to change, so succeeded in getting a government grant of land. With the help of a few sympathetic white people, they built houses, grew crops, raised cattle, had a school for the children, and would have done really well…except that neighboring white landowners refused them access, buildings were burnt down, cattle killed, and similar acts of civilization were inflicted on the savages, who were aping their betters.

Reading about this made me look for a time machine, so I could go back and be of service to the victims. Perhaps, writing about the times and its attitudes can enable me to be of service to their descendants.

CH: Since the book describes the racial discords of earlier times and today, where did you get inspiration for your characters?

BR: As I’ve said, I’ve had the honor of being a counselor for several years at an Aboriginal health center. This was very rewarding work, particularly being accepted as ‘Uncle Bob’ by the younger people.

Also, my past life recalls have told me that I’ve had close and loving connections to Australian Aborigines when I was an Irishman transported to New South Wales for the term of my natural life, and when I was a woman whose karma was marriage to a monster of a husband. This story is told in Ascending Spiral.

The people in my stories are just…my children. I need someone to do something. A person comes, and we gradually get acquainted. In Guardian Angel, Maraglindi needed a family to be born into. When I sat down to write her birth, I didn’t know who they were, but they did. As they did things, and thought, and talked with each other, I found out all about them, eventually knowing more than they did themselves.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

BR: The man who murdered my little girl. It’s OK, death is not the end; it is only a change of state, a liberation, and the start of the next phase of existence. And she was born again. But she did have to die, and someone needed to be responsible. I then needed to get into the reality of the perpetrator. I feel the disgust even as I am writing my answer to you, right now. But again, it’s all right—Maraglindi helped him the very next day. And if that doesn’t make sense to you, you’ll need to read the book.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

BR: You’re trying to make me choose among my beloved children? Can’t be done.

My little girl Maraglindi is always physically awkward, and self-effacing. She dislikes it when people praise her for what seems to be just natural. But she is the instrument of Love. I’d like to be more like her.

Her father, Mick, is an amalgam of several Aboriginal men I’ve known. He is intelligent, physically powerful, has a lovely connection to animals, is gentle with people but when provoked, he has a cold fury that destroys what’s in his path. He sees the injustice about him, but controls his anger, and his attitudes are far more civilized than that of the invaders, who despise him.

Glindi, Maraglindi’s mother, is a delightful young woman with a deep laugh, and a generosity of spirit.

Gerald is wonderful. He and his friends did something terrible that resulted in the death of a little child. Retribution from the magic man killed his six friends, and he also almost died, taking months to recover. This changed him into the kind of person I wish to be, and indeed he is the main hero of the story, after Maraglindi’s death.

Alice was the lady who saw Maraglindi’s high intelligence, and spent her money to send the little Aboriginal girl to a Ladies’ College. Actually, apart from being a wealthy landowner’s wife, she reminds me of my wife and daughters.

But if I have to choose one, it’s Kirsten. We meet her when she hits and kicks Maraglindi, and then leads her friends in a campaign of discrimination almost till the end of the first school term. All the same, when it is time for Maraglindi to be born again, she chooses Kirsten as her mother. Why? I’m not going to tell you.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

BR: All prose is poetry. For me, what I say is important, and how I say it is equally so. My writing may be challenging, amusing, informative, or annoying…but never boring.

CH: Are any of your personal experiences reflected in your writing?

BR: Always. My writing is me and I am my writing.

CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

BR: Isaac Asimov. When I was a student, I read his textbook on chemistry. It’s the only scholarly work that’s actually fun to read, and it explains the basic concepts, approximately better than possible. His science fiction writing has the same characteristics. Although, his characterization is not as good as that of many other writers, the flight of his imagination is delightful. I’ve read everything he’s written (but then, the same is true for many other writers).

CH: Which writer do you admire most and why?

BR: J. K. Rowling. She has revolutionized children’s writing. Thanks to her, millions of kids are now keen readers. She survived rejection after rejection, but persevered until a then, a small publisher took a chance on her, and they both succeeded beyond any possible dreams. Mind you, I have never been able to finish reading any of the Harry Potter books.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from your readers for this book?

BR: One friend couldn’t get into it, because he doesn’t believe there are angels, or that anyone can read minds, or put the grace of God into people by touching them. To my great delight, everyone else has been most complimentary. People have told me Guardian Angel draws them in, so they have to keep reading. After they’ve finished, it stays with them, and makes them see events around them in a different light.

It’s a very new release, but already the 5 and 4 star reviews are accumulating. No one has had the temerity to give it less than 4 stars.

CH: What can we expect next, is there another book in the making soon?

BR: Always. What, only one? Actually, Guardian Angel skipped ahead. Last year, my novel, Hit and Run, was accepted by a publisher, but we have been struck by severe front cover-itis. The publisher is still struggling with getting an artist to design the right cover. Right now, when time permits, I am working on Depression: You Can Gain Contentment in A Crazy World, which is a user’s guide to living with depression, and I am also working on The Protector, which is the sequel to Guardian Angel.

 CH: How to Find Dr. Bob Rich:

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

BR: Guardian Angel is a new experiment for me and I self-published it on all Amazon sites.

CH: Any closing remarks?

BR: Full circle. Cheryl, thank you for the honor of inviting me along. If your schedule allows it, I’d be delighted to reverse roles, and interview you at Bobbing Around.

CH: Thank you so much, Dr. Bob Rich, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Dr. Bob Rich and Cheryl Holloway.

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