Author Interview with Dr. Bob Rich
What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?
I have 3.25 psychology books: Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias, Cancer: A personal challenge, Personally Speaking: Single-session email therapy with Dr Bob Rich, and a quarter-finished book on depression.
The cancer book has 11 other contributors, though about three-quarters is my writing. So, I subcontracted the expertise. :)
My input into that, and the other three, is through many years of experience as a psychotherapist. This gave me the joy of being of service to many hundreds of people, showing them the path out of suffering. That was the real research, not the part where I looked up references.
The research for my building book was the building of my first house. Let me recommend, build your second house first. What I did was to find a succession of laboring jobs in the building trades. I worked for a concretor for a few weeks, then poured concrete at my house site, then wrote it up for Earth Garden magazine.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
In between the fun of storytelling, I am slowly progressing with a user’s guide on depression. It starts with a first aid chapter that tells you how to protect yourself from monsters like Depression, Anxiety and Hopelessness.
Since we have a galloping epidemic of depression in our crazy world, there is a huge market for how to cope with it. I am superbly qualified to write on the subject. You see, I was certainly depressed by five years of age, though I didn’t know it. I merely knew I was stupid, and ugly, and couldn’t do anything right, and no one could love me. My self-healing started when I was 21. After two years, I had the monster under control, which lasted for twenty years. Then I grew further, and defeated it: previous triggers had no effect on me. Then, in 2011 I had a three week relapse, just to make sure I couldn’t be arrogant. Oh, and I have a Ph.D. in psychology and 22 years of psychotherapeutic experience.
I have also assembled a collection of short essays, “You too can gain contentment,” which is available free on request. You can ask for this on the page for my novel, “Ascending Spiral”.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a non-fiction book?
Many instructional books, and most of academic writing, invite sleep. They are boring and badly worded. This is not a good idea. I remember actually enjoying Isaac Asimov’s science textbooks. When I wrote my Ph.D. thesis, I made sure it was readable and even entertaining. (I was awarded the degree despite this.)
The trouble with this question is that there are several kinds of nonfiction book, and they need different approaches:
Self-help or how-to books require expertise in addition to eloquence. My woodworking book is a series of stories, each with a woodworking lesson. I had done every one of those projects before writing them up.
Recipe books require research, field trials and accuracy. I am not limiting this to cooking. How to create a variety of decorated greeting cards is probably a recipe book, and this approach can apply to things like weight reduction. I edited an excellent book on that topic: Your Designer Diet by Todd Hoff. It was basically dozens of things you could do that added up to weight reduction.
Biography needs documentation, imagination and empathy. Even if the subject of the biography is still alive, and perhaps cooperating with the writer (or IS the writer), a biography is like archeology. A lot more needs to be constructed than the available memories and records. So, it’s a little like historical fiction, built around what is known.
History, geography, travel writing and journalism are less about facts, though they had better be correct, but should inspire, instruct and entertain. History is not a list of facts, names and events, but happenings experienced by real people. A historian should bring these people and their circumstances to life. Similarly, geography should take you THERE. While thfacts about Antarctica are essential to a book about it, the writing should make me feel the cold, admire the hardy animals that swim and run around the place, understand the workings of the glaciers... the facts need to be brought to life.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
Well, I have retired, heh, heh (5 times actually, from 5 different activities). But even when I was working full time, writing was what I did when I was doing other things. Then I got to my computer, and recorded it.
I expand further on this in this essay. There, I introduce you to Little Bob, who lives inside my head and does the writing while my attention is elsewhere.
Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?
I am part of a monthly round robin of writers all addressing the same topic. Your readers may be interested in the essays I’ve contributed, which answer various aspects of this question.
How have your friends and family received your career as an author? Are they supportive?
My children are my supporters and severe critics. If something is wrong in my writing, even a comma out of place, one of them is guaranteed to tell me about it. This is great. My wife provides the environment that allows me to thrive, and puts up with me, something that amazes me and makes me very grateful.
All my friends have known of my writing career, it’s just part of Bob like a bald head or a twisted sense of humor.
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you?
Marketing. I am not a salesman, but, like many writers, a loner. I’ve recently been spending weeks publicizing my newest novel, Guardian Angel, which was the subject of my previous appearance at Pandora’s Box Gazette, and while I never put the hard sell on anyone, I am thoroughly worn out with blowing my own trumpet. I’d much rather be of benefit to other people, and the only thing that kept me going was that this book, like all my writing, is intended to be of service, to make our world into a better place.
Thank you for chatting with me. I completely understand about loving the writing and editing process, but disliking the marketing aspect. That's not my cup of tea either, even though I know it's essential to market your work in order to make it as an author.
About Anikó: The stranger who loved me
All my recent published works have been fiction, but my previous appearance at Pandora’s Box Gazette has been in that role. So, I thought to share nonfiction writing with your readers.
My last published nonfiction book was the multiple award-winning biography, “Anikó: The stranger who loved me”
She was a less than five-foot-tall giant who survived the unsurvivable and achieved the impossible more than once. She risked torture and death to keep her baby son alive during the horrors of living in a ghetto under Nazi rule, only to have the man she loved tear that son away from her. Behind the Iron Curtain, she build a million-dollar export business despite the dual handicaps of being Jewish and a woman in an anti-Semitic, patriarchal culture.
“All my life I’ve had the terrible handicap of being a woman. I have abilities. I can do things, but I have not been allowed to, simply because of my sex. I want to achieve. I want to shape my world, steer my own ship, build my own castle. I don’t want to be merely the loyal supporter, the little woman in the background, the loving helpmate.”
I was the son my stepfather transported to Australia for the term of my natural life, so we became strangers, but she loved me anyway. Even on her deathbed, she was my researcher on this book about her life.
I returned from Hungary with so many documents I almost had to pay excess luggage, but then I couldn’t look at them for two years. When I started, I wrote the book in three months, which was fast for me, given all the other demands I had on my time back then.
About the Author
Bob Rich literally fell into nonfiction writing. He was making mudbricks when the local children kidnapped him to play in a football game. His muddy boots slipped, and he tore a cartilage in his knee. Bored out of his mind in hospital, he borrowed a typewriter (that’s how long ago it was) and wrote an article about building for Earth Garden magazine. This was the start of his first book 6 years later: The Earth Garden Building Book in partnership with the magazine’s publisher, Keith Smith. This book went through 4 editions, and sold over 100,000 copies in the small Australian market.
Next book was Woodworking for Idiots Like Me, which sold 60,000 copies, and is now available as in effect a giant web page.
As a psychotherapist, Bob has also written 3 psychology self-help books.
Connect with the author online here:
A special thank you to Dr. Bob Rich for guesting again at Pandora's Box Gazette. We hope you all stay for a bit to chat with our guest author!