Name  Richard Slota

Age 69

Where are you from

Born in Orange County in Southern California

A little about your self, `ie your education Family life etc  

I grew up in Anaheim California, USA, the second of 5 children.  I attended Catholic schools and started college in a seminary studying to be a priest.  I dropped out after a semester in the spring of 1966 and was immediately drafted.  I then enlisted as a battlefield medic in the Army and seemingly on my way to Vietnam.  The single luckiest thing that ever happened to me in my life was getting pulled out of  battlefield medic school and sent to Medical Lab Tech school because I had high grades in science and math in high school.  Otherwise I am very confident I’d be dead now.



Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I am writing plays and trying to get stage productions. I’ve had productions of 2 plays: Famous Michael and We All Walk In Shoes too Small.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I started out as a teenager writing love poems to my high school girl friend.


Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

The day blurted out to my high school English teacher that I thought I could write better than Shakespeare.  She laughed.  Sometimes humiliation is motivation.


Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

I have an earlier, unpublished, first novel.  I wrote it to teach myself how write a novel. I was, at the time, a union steward in a sewage treatment plant and helped lead 35 men out the front gate in a successful 5-week strike. So, of course, that’s what I wrote about.


Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

A confessional style that loves the cadences of how people talk and the cadences of landscape.


Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The first-person POV in the novel is Patrick’s who is a ‘stray son.’


Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Reconciliation is sometimes possible and sometimes not. Forgiveness is not always warranted.


Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The book is emotionally true about my father’s death and it’s aftermath in my life.  It’s emotionally true about my mother’s incestuous relationship with me.


Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

I am influenced by Shakespeare, Dickinson, Donne, cummings, Elliot, William Stafford, and the great detective novel writers.  I studied stacks of detective novels in teaching myself how to tell a story.  Also, Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Joyce, Morrison, Atwood, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Twain.  My mentor was Bill Dickey, a professor in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University, who is deceased.




Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who  is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

New? No, because I don’t keep up with new fiction.

Favorite? Twain, because he captured America’s soul fictionally in words first and best. It’s funny but it’s not funny.


Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you, outside of family members.

Bill Dickey, as I said before, and my publisher, Daniel Slosberg and my family.


Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Of course.



Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No, although I wish I had the patience to find every last typo.


Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?




Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am also a playwright. I am finishing a second draft of play set in a grungy blue-collar gym, starring the world’s second strongest man.  It’s about what masculinity is and isn’t.  I call the play Mascularity. I have a poem about my mother’s death, Mother Like An Army, coming out this fall in the poetry journal, Caveat Lector.

Last year I co-wrote a non-fiction book with Yaw Boateng about the commercial kidnapping industry in Nigeria called, Captive Market: Commercial Kidnapping Stories from Nigeria.

Last year I also published 2 plays:

Famous Michael, the story of a Vietnam vet medic who can’t forget the war and the woman who can’t forget him.

Babatunde in Hell.  Can an ineffectual man satisfy his wife, his married, pregnant mistress, and a Ebola spreading, penis-snatching  witch? Hell no! (Set in Nigeria.)


Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The business and PR side of writing.


Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I travel to West Africa frequently for research and to visit my daughter who lives there.


Fiona: Who designed the covers?

My friend, Dan Strickler.


Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Making sense and comedy out of family dysfunction.


Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned to love my father. I began the novel hating him.  By the time I finished, I loved him.



Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?

I can only see a young version of my father in the role


Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write about what you don’t understand.


Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?




Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Go Set a Watchman



Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

Probably  a Dr. Seuss book.



Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

My friends make me laugh and human viciousness makes me cry.



Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?

I wish I could go back in time to meet William Shakespeare, because he’s the greatest writer of all time.



Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?

The End.  Really.–because I don’t believe in an after life.



Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?

Reading, working out, eating popcorn, traveling.



Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Grace and Frankie, MASH, Jungle Book, Birdman, The Revanent.



Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Pizza/blue/classic jazz.



Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I would liked to have been a saloon singer, a great basketball player and a great actor.



Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

I have 4 books on and an author’s page.



Amazon Authors page USA