Why do you write fiction?
I commuted by train to New York City for my job. I read the newspaper in the morning and books at night. My favorite genres were mystery, suspense and historical fiction. Despite having a vivid imagination, writing a novel was the last thing I thought I would ever do.
Then I read an article about a father in Boston whose child was born with brain damage. He refused to take him home from the hospital. He thought he could return the child like a damaged piece of merchandise he bought in a store. The nurses were outraged, and their disgust was quoted in the article. That’s when my imagination took over and I asked myself, “What if the child was misdiagnosed?”
I took that thought and began making notes. The notes turned into paragraphs and the paragraphs into chapters. Thus my first mystery, Secrets Can be Deadly was born featuring detective, David Nance. I was hooked. I followed that with two more David Nance mysteries and one Russell Gerard mystery.
Please tell us about your book. What ideas or images inspired this novel?
My paternal grandparents immigrated to Paterson, NJ, in the late nineteenth century. Paterson was not the strife torn city of today. It was America’s first industrial city inspired by Alexander Hamilton and became the center of the silk industry in the United States until the depression.
I was born in Paterson but my family moved away when I was eleven. I had no idea about the life and times of my grandparents so when I read in the newspaper the Passaic County Historical Society was giving lectures and tours about Paterson during the hey-day of the silk industry, I went. The lectures were mostly about the four-month silk strike of 1913.
Those lectures and the tour were fascinating. I thought I’d try writing a novel set in Paterson during the times of the silk trade.
Returning home, I took out my pen and paper and developed a plot. I would have a silk industrialist clash with his progressive wife and his unionist brother. So now I had the three main characters, but who were they? What were their characteristics? Then it hit me, why not use my grandparents only change the names? I knew a lot about the family. They seemed a perfect fit.
My paternal grandfather was stern and industrious. He owned a bar in his early days in Paterson then went into jobbing silk-yarn seconds. His way was the only way. Domineering!
My maternal grandmother was a philanthropist, suffragist, follower of Margret Sanger’s ideas on reproductive freedom and an avid speaker against child labor.
One of my uncles was laid back. He went with the flow. He was not particularly imaginative, but a hard worker. Give him a job and he did it. The other uncle was a radical union leader. If the U.S.S.R. were in existence in the time period I set for the novel, he would have been called a communist.
Quite a conflicted group. They were exactly what I needed for this novel.
I asked my mother if she had any stories about my grandparents. My father had passed away before I got the idea to write this novel. Here are some stories that I used in the early part of the book. I don’t want to give you too many as they will give the book away.
My grandfather was chased out of Ireland by the priests for fooling around with the colleens. Thus the prologue. My grandmother’s parents were adamantly opposed to their daughter marrying my grandfather. This became my second chapter.
“Ugh, they all had mistresses,” my mother said of her father-in-law and his brothers.
What great stuff!
Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write?
I write my books with adults in mind. However a strange thing happened to me when I wrote The Nano Experiment. I received this review:
“…This book will appeal to young adults because it does start with great action involving a main character that has all kinds of problems as a teenager allowing the reader to associate with her life. The language used is appropriate with sex scenes being minimal and discreetly described…” D. Deen
Please describe your writing routine.
First I come up with a plot and the end of the story whether it be a mystery or historical fiction novel. I must know the ending before I can start writing. Then I outline characters to fit the plot. However, I only layout two or three chapters at a time because situations that come up in one chapter lead to the next and the next and even characters I hadn’t thought about. In my latest novel, Love’s Sweet Sorrow, coming out in September 2014, my first attempt at a romance novel, the introduction of a new character changed the entire story. My goal is to write at least one chapter a day.
What advice do you give new writers just starting out.
Join a writer’s critique group where you can get honest feedback on character development, dialogue, voice, plot, conflict and setting. But don’t automatically take anyone’s critique as gospel. Remember, it’s your story. Analyze the critiques to see if they have merit.
My group has six writers. If one person criticizes something then of course I consider it, but I may or may not take it as valid. But if three or four in the group say the same thing about a segment then I take it under serious consideration and rewrite that segment and resubmit it to the group.
More about Silk Legacy:.
In early twentieth century Paterson, New Jersey, dashing 29-year old Abraham Bressler charms naïve 19-year-old Sarah Singer into marriage by making her believe he feels the same way she does about the new calling of a modern woman. He then turns around and gives her little more respect than he would a servant, demanding she stay home to care for “his” house and “his” children.
Feeling betrayed, Sarah defies him and joins women’s groups which are actively participating in rallies for woman suffrage, child welfare and reproductive freedom. For a while she succeeds in treading delicately between the demands of her husband and her desire to be an independent woman. Her balancing act falters when a strike shuts down Paterson’s 300 silk mills. With many friends working in the mills, Sarah is forced to choose sides in the battle between her capitalist husband and his socialist brother.
Jealousy, infidelity, arrogance, greed — the characters’ titanic struggles will catapult you into the heights of their euphoria and the depths of their despair. Who will triumph and who will be humbled?
How to connect with Richard:
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDaSCO2qfnU