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Meet Richard Sanders Author of the Quinn McShane Novels
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on April 5, 2011
 


Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest Richard Sanders author of Sex Death Dream Talk, The Dead Have A Thousand Dreams, Tell no lie, We watched her die, The lower Manhattan: Book of the Dead, and The Seventh Compass Point of Death and is most recent novel, Dead Line.




Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest Richard Sanders author of Sex Death Dream Talk, The Dead Have A Thousand Dreams, Tell no lie, We watched her die, The lower Manhattan: Book of the Dead, and The Seventh Compass Point of Death and is most recent novel, Dead Line.

Good day Richard and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.

Richard:

Well, I've worked as an Executive Editor at People and Entertainment Weekly magazines and their websites and I still stay in touch with the staffers. I often talk to younger journalists and try to use my example for inspiration--as a guy who spent time in jail, rehab and a psych ward and somehow went on to become a successful editor at Time Inc and managed to stay sane and alive. And who's managed to stay married to a beautiful woman for 41 years. The same beautiful woman, I should add.

Norm:

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?

Richard:

I learned to write, literally, overnight. It happened during my freshman year in high school, the first time I was forced to read Shakespeare. I sure didn't want to, but as we started reading The Merchant of Venice in class, I immediately fell in love with the language. I'd never appreciated the music and the rhythm that marks good writing before. So I went home that night and tried to put music and rhythm into my own previously pathetic writing. To my shock, to my teacher's shock, to everyone's shock, I did pretty well. And since writing is the ONLY thing I've ever been able to do pretty well, I decided to stick with it.

What keeps me going? I guess Love and Happiness, as Al Green sang. Or joy. I think there's a real joy in shaping words and thoughts and images. And there's a real joy in sharing that joy with other people.

Norm:

What served as the primary inspiration for the book and why were you interested oddly strange behavior known as a fugue state? As a follow up, what kind of research did you do to write Dead Line?

Richard:

It started when I read a play by Pirandello called Henry IV, about a someone who suffers a head injury in the 1920s and wakes up believing he's the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV. I was fascinated by the idea of people believing they were someone else. Once I started thinking about it, I hit on the idea of memory loss, which led me to study recurring amnesia and then to study fugue states. You're right, they're very strange episodes. People under stress can suddenly forget who they are, take on the personality--and the memories--of another individual, and then switch back to their original identities.When Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926, and was found living in a hotel under a different name, she was probably experiencing a dissociative fugue state. So I researched that, and also the subject of children who kill--they're a separate, distinct and creepy species all on their own. Besides those two areas, though, most of Dead Line didn't need much additional research. All the media and journalism scenes are based on things that actually happened to me or to people I know.

Norm:

Are your books improvisational or do you have a set plan? As a follow up, what was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Richard:

I find that after thinking about a story for a while, I always have a very clear idea about where I'm going to start but only a vague idea about where I'm going to go and no idea about how I'm going to get there. Or if I'm going to get there. So I guess the answer is I have a loose plan with plenty of open spaces and the rest is improvised.

Surprises? Yeah. I always knew the media world I worked in for 30 years was crazy, but recalling some of the events for Dead Line made me realize how truly, completely, unalterably insane it really was. Or is.

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing? If so, how?

Richard:

If you mean my past, yes, it's definitely had an impact on my writing. I got myself in a lot of trouble with drugs, alcohol and bipolar depression. At one point, I was suspended from People for a few months and had to go through a battery of psychiatric tests (and several years of random urine testing) to get my job back. Dealing with those problems, and overcoming those problems (I've been clean and sober for 22 years), forms the basis of what I write. I don't always write about substance abuse, but all my books deal with addiction in one way or another--addictions to power, addictions to control, addictions to money. Or, in the case of Dead Line, an obsessive need to control memory and the past.

Norm:

What was the most difficult part of writing Dead Line and did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Richard:

Well, that relates to the last question and answer. Spiritual redemption is an important theme for me, and one of the challenges I face is mixing the healing powers with the murder and mayhem of an exciting thriller. I try to make the spiritual insights part of the characters--and I think I've taken that further in Dead Line than I ever have before. I've tried to inject some of these characters with an adrenaline-fueled sense of faith, with the zen freedom needed to trick away the grasp of addiction.

Norm:

How did you go about creating the characters of Trish Fennelosa and Quinn McShane? Are they based on anyone you know?

Richard:

They sure are. Quinn McShane is a recurring character in all my books. He's a former investigator whose life was destroyed when he murdered a man in a drug and alcohol haze, and who's started over as a journalist. So ask yourself. Journalist? Drug and alcohol problems? Obviously he's my alter ego. Only he fights a lot better than I do. (My last fistfight was in 1980 and my hand still hurts.)

Trish Fennelosa is an arrogant, self-centered, certifiably insane editor. Let me just say that I've dealt with a lot of editors in my career, and not all of them are crazy. But many are. So Trish is an amalgam of many different editors I've known, their traits lovingly selected and put together in one big demented package.

Norm;

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Richard:

Beside writing naked while I'm standing on my head? Nothing, really. Honestly, I don't think I have any quirks--though I occasionally hear comments from my wife about me getting up at 5 am to write every morning, obsessively keeping at it for long hours and not paying attention to anything else that's happening around the house. However, my selective hearing is so well-developed at this point that I can usually tune her out.

Norm:

Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you self-publish?

Richard:

I self-publish. Like many other writers, I've pitched many books to many agents and have gotten many rejections. At one point I found an agent who was very interested in what I was doing, but the next thing I knew her firm had gone out of business and she was collecting unemployment. Around that same time my wife gave me a Kindle for my birthday. I think you can see where this is going. Frustration over traditional publishing? Excitement over new way of publishing? I've been self-publishing since then. I love it--I have complete control over what I do and when and how I do it. That said, I do plan to try to find an agent some time in the future and get into traditional publishing. But not as an end-goal. It would simply give me another tool for selling and marketing books.

Norm:

Do you have any suggestions to help our readers become better writers? If so, what are they?

Richard:

Do whatever you have to do to develop and maintain confidence. I know that sounds stupid and trite, but a loss of faith in yourself does more damage than anything else can. I'm really shocked by the number of brilliant, talented people I've known in my life who never went anywhere because they couldn't sustain confidence. It's such a tragic waste. I normally don't think of Henry Ford as a profound thinker, but he said something once that I've found helpful: "Whether you think you can or think you can't--you're right."

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your novels?

Richard:

I have a page on Facebook called Am I Laughing With, Or Laughing At, Richard Sanders? (You see the confidence problem.) Or you can just friend me on Facebook. I also have a BLOG

And I have a BLOG specifically about Dead Line that's constantly (or frequently, or often) updated:


Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Richard:

Why didn't you treat me like some kind of genius and ask me a big, visionary question about the future of reading and publishing? That way i could've said that I'm very excited about the future of reading and publishing. Yeah, I know, there's still a lot of resistance to ebooks and digital publishing and self-publishing and blah blah blah. People say traditional books have been around for 500 years and they've done all right by us. But I like to mention a point the terrific social architect Nicholas Negroponte makes: Traditional books have done all right only for a small segment of the world's population. There are billions of people on the planet who've never seen a printed book and never will. They're too expensive to produce, too difficult to distribute. But if books can be downloaded on mobile phones or on cheap ereaders, can you imagine the growth of literacy in the world? Can you imagine how many books will be read? So, yes, I'm very excited about the future of reading and publishing. As Al Jolson might say, You ain't read nothing yet.

Norm:

Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

CLICK HERE TO READ NORM'S REVIEW OF DEAD LINE

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