INTERVIEW WITH BOBBY RICHARDSON:
Author Bobby Richardson joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an author! Bobby is a middle school teacher and the author of Penny Hike, a book originally written as a short story for a creative writing class at Westfield State University. His wife encouraged him to expand it into a book, and a few summers ago, Bobby did just that, writing in the morning before his children woke up.
How did you get started writing?
As a survivor of sexual abuse by a family member, I was full of rage and anger. When I started visiting with my psychologist, he recommended I journal my feelings. It was from those journals I realized words could come to life and reveal my emotions as much as me showing them. Writing became therapy for me, which led to me turning words into stories.
Who influenced you?
Author Michael Patrick MacDonald and his memoir All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. Macdonald's story of growing up in the projects in South Boston with the issues many poor white kids faced paralleled my life growing up poor in Somerville, Massachusetts just outside Boston. He created a picture of despair throughout the memoir, but ended it with the feeling of hope, and if he could survive growing up the way he did, I could do the same. My novel Penny Hike, although fiction, is semi-autobiographical with a sense of hope at the end of the novel.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
I devour coming of age novels and stories of the human condition. Contemporary Adult author Lisa Genova, to me, is the best author in terms of creating realistic worlds where the main characters live with diseases, chronic illnesses, or disabilities. Lisa Genova leaves the reader completely understanding what life is like living with conditions all too close to us. Coming of Age novels melt my heart. There is nothing more real than feeling raw emotions after I have turned the last page of the novel. Emotions, happy or sad, make me feel I am alive and reading these genres fulfill that for me.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
The ole' cliché: read, read, read, read! Reading all types of novels makes authors better writers. When I am stuck with a scene and don't know where to go with a character, or what I want the character to say, I reflect to novels that were unique in terms of voice, structure, or dialogue. I feel as authors, even though we are all different, we are all connected in some ways through the authors we have read over the years. We all have a little bit of Dickens, Bronte, Hemingway, Bloom, Seuss, King, Lowry, etc...in all of us because as writers, I am pretty confident we have all read these authors' novels, which we have taken with us to our typewriters or laptops. We evoke their spirits when we need a little boost to complete a sentence, page, or chapter. READ! READ! READ!
Where is your favorite place to write?
As a father, husband, and teacher, time and space are limited for me. It's not so much where to write, but finding a quiet place to write. Anywhere there are no screaming children wanting your attention, a wife needing help around the house, or distractions that take away from my writing. Wouldn't it be nice if all authors had a secret hideaway where they could escape to, but for most authors that is not a reality. When I make millions writing my novels, I will buy that getaway island where no one lives but me! (Joking!)
What else would you like to tell us?
I cannot stress enough as a teacher how important it is for all kids to read. Sometimes we force them to read the classics, for most of them, they are boring and not interesting enough. We need to offer students a diverse library of novels. The world is getting smaller each day, and by allowing more diverse novels in the classrooms across America, the students will have a deeper understanding of other cultures, countries, and most of all, understand the universal theme of the human condition.
Bobby, thank you so much for spending six minutes with LitPick! Your dream writing getaway looks amazing!
Interview with the Somerville Times: http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/46512