Name Richard (Rick) Pieters
Rick: I was in college when the Beatles first came to America
Fiona: Where are you from?
Rick: Ohio. Though I spent most of my formative years in Southern California, I came back to Ohio sixteen years ago and have never regretted coming home.
Fiona: A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc
Rick: I was raised the son of a Presbyterian minister who was the son of a Presbyterian missionary in Korea (where my father was born), having fled the pogroms of Ukraine and converted in Japan. My mother died when I was twelve, my father when I was fourteen, and my stepmother when I was twenty-two. I hold a BA from the College of Wooster in Ohio, English/Creative Writing major. I’ve lived with my life-partner, Jack, for thirty-eight years now.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Rick: I guess that would be stepping into the world of self-publishing when the publisher of my novel, Dark Light, decided suddenly to close shop. It’s been a great learning experience, and another lesson in keeping on, slow and steady. I may put out a couple short stories before going into the next novel.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Rick: Eighth grade or so? Why? Because I could, because writing, the process, the use of words, language, fascinated me and I was good at it. I was a feature writer for my high school paper and had an amazing creative writing teacher then who gave me tremendous encouragement. I’ve worked as a songwriter, written poetry, short stories, and even a couple fan fiction stories.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Rick: I think I answered this already. I’ve considered myself a writer since first feeling the satisfaction of putting ideas, fantasies, thoughts, into words and those words into form. I think I’ve always thought of myself as a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Rick: Besides wanting to dive into writing a novel? I’d have to say I was inspired, if that’s the right word, by the hateful rhetoric of many of the televangelists. What to do about it. Taking it to a horrific extreme and having a protagonist find a way to fight it. I also wanted to create a gay lead character in a novel that was not a genre-specific gay novel.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Rick: That’s a question you’d have to ask my readers.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Rick: Giving credit where credit’s due, I didn’t. A good friend who was party to the novel’s creation and read both early and final drafts came up with it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Rick: I would never tell readers what I want them to grasp. I’d rather they tell me what they did grasp. A novel is interpreted by the reader.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Rick: The setting is based on a real small town in Ohio, so it’s planted in reality, but the rest is purely fiction, although, for all its paranormal, supernatural fantasy elements, I’m afraid more of it is realistic than even I want to think.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Rick: Not really. Of course we always draw from aspects of our own lives and the lives of those we know or have known, but specifically, no.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Rick: If I had anyone I might call a mentor, it would be Ms. Barbara Schick, the aforementioned high school English teacher. Her influence has stuck with me. Books that influenced my life? Hard to pin that down. Maybe Tao Te Ching.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Rick: Right now I’m beta reading a first novel by a very dear old friend (my ex-wife.) She’s written and published screenplays and spiritual books, but this is her first foray into novel writing. I can’t say anything more about it, though, obviously.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Rick: Most recently I’ve enjoyed reading Dallas Mullican, A Coin for Charon, the first in a series.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Rick: I’ve been beta reading and going through the process of getting my book back up live on all the vendors, so other than head-plotting a possible sequel to Dark Light, my latest is a short story, Less Than a Handful, as yet unpublished.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Rick: I’m not sure if, by entity, you mean humans or organizations. I felt greatly helped and supported by the many people I “met” on the wonderful writers’ forum, Agent Query Connect. Personally, I am fortunate to know many supportive friends and have a very supportive partner.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Rick: At my age? Well, I plan to keep doing it, but I’m not what anyone could call prolific, so it is what it is.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Rick: Not really. I think the many rounds of editing gave me ample opportunity to change what needed changing.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Rick: Not really. Probably when someone in my youth, a teacher no doubt, told me “good work.”
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Rick: Again, not really. The last short story is done and the novel is still brewing in my head and in some docs of thoughts and notes.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Rick: Staying motivated. I’m a terrible procrastinator. I’m more a pantser than planner, so sometimes I’ll come up against a wall and it can take a while to think my way (or let the characters show me) over, under, or around it. But my key there is never let go. Not to say I haven’t finished pieces that I trunked because I thought they were crap, but I did finish. You gotta finish to know, and that can be a challenge for sure.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Rick: Hmm. I don’t know if I can pinpoint a favorite. I prefer literary fiction. Writers who make words sing. McCarthy, Proulx, Chabon. In every case, it’s writers who bring characters alive with words that make me put the book down for a second to absorb the beauty or insight of a line.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Rick: Not at all. I’m not much of a traveler at this point, and I tend to prefer writing about worlds I know (either in reality or in my imagination.)
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Rick: Ginny Gallagher of Gin’s Book Notes.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Rick: Pulling the characters together (I began to think of them as unruly schoolchildren) toward the conclusion. That and then killing my darlings. I cut over 80K words in editing, so huge chunks had to go. But I actually really like that part when the lump of clay, the hunk of stone becomes a sculpture.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Rick: Perseverence. And then judicious and ruthless editing.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Rick: Keep working on craft, keep reading, keep listening to those who know what they’re talking about, be open to advice but believe in your gut, too. And keep going.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Rick: If they are my readers, they’ve taken time to read my work, so it would have to be “thank you.”
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Rick: Funny. I don’t remember the title, but I remember it very well. Not the story particularly, but it was about someone named Mr. Cook, and I’d never seen “mister” written down to connect with the spoken title, so I remember trying to sound it out and coming up with “Murr Cook,” which my mother corrected. I was embarrassed but also proud to learn that Mr. was “mister.”
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Rick: How much time do you have? I’m an easy mark. I prefer my humor dark. The Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino make me laugh. I cry easily. I cry at sad, happy, touching, moving. One of the few books to make me cry was McCarthy’s The Road. Movies? Too many to name.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Rick: I can’t pick one. Lao Tse, because wisdom. J.S. Bach because, to me, he heard the music (and mathematics) of the spheres and brought it to our ears. Mozart, because genius. Tarantino, because Tarantino. Fitzgerald. Jane Austen. Because they saw the follies of their times and societies.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Rick: I want no headstone, no memorials. Just throw me back into the earth.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Rick: I’m an avid gardener and a pretty good cook.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Rick: Too broad a question. I love historical dramas, horror, mind-bending things. Fargo (movie and TV), Penny Dreadful, Spotlight, anything about Elizabeth I, All About Eve. Beautiful films (I’m an art-house regular.) Movies and films that throw light onto the human experience in all its comedy, absurdity, tragedy, and humanness.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Rick: Wow. Talk about a broad question. Foods would be (besides comfort foods) Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Indian, sushi, I like hot and spicy. Italian, of course. There are no colors I don’t like. My musical taste runs from Renaissance and Baroque to most classical (not so much very modern classical) including opera, country (the real thing, especially Bluegrass), blues, jazz, good film scores. My taste is fairly universal. My earliest writing was as a singer songwriter in the late folk era. I was a musician, though my guitar sits unplayed as of late. So music remains a huge part of my being.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Rick: I’d love to have been a virtuoso musician (instrumental and/or singer) or a brilliant actor.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Rick: I do, but I’m very inactive there. My last post was, I think, last May. I accept I’m not much of a blogger, but I hope to get back to it. My blog is: Room to Wonder http://richardpieters.blogspot.com/