New interview with writer Dr. Bob Rich

Author Dr. Bob Rich is back here for a
visit. Today we’re talking a bit about his new inspirational book with
paranormal elements, Hit and Run.
Bob visited
last summer and we talked about his historical
novel, Guardian Angel

***Bob is running a free book edit contest. If you are a writer, or have a writer friend, you can find the details for the contest here. The deadline for submissions is October 15.***
Bob was born
in Hungary, but that was at a very young age. He acquired his mortal enemy when
he was 5, and after that life was guerrilla warfare against his stepfather. He
won every battle, but lost the war: in 1956 the iron curtain got a temporary
rust hole, and the old boy shoved Bob through it, but kept the family behind.
Bob arrived in Australia, and couldn’t even read street signs. This is why he
eventually became a writer and editor.
He has so far
retired from 5 different occupations, but still going strong writing and
editing. However, his main reason for being on this planet is because he is a
Professional Grandfather. He works to have a survivable future for all young
people, and a future worth surviving in.

There is lots
of stuff relevant to that at his blog, Bobbing Around
Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews.
Lisa, it’s my
honor, and I am grateful you have me here for the second time. I’ll do my best
to entertain your visitors, and hope to chat with them via comments.
Please tell us about your newest
Last time, I
told you I had 16.5 published books. Well, the 17th has formed fruit, and here
it is, ready to be plucked.
It starts
with a horrendous crime, and has many other violent events, but it is not a
crime book, or horror, or violent. Rather, it somehow came together as a story
of hope, compassion, decency — and it’s not my doing.
You see, the
narrator is 84 year old Sylvia Kryz, who narrowly escaped death, and witnessed
the murder of six children and the crossing guard. The book is her journal of
the following 9 months.
If I’d
written the account, it would probably be a story of just retribution, but I
only typed her words into the computer.
The killer
was 14 year old Chuck, who hated everyone. He wanted to die, but first intended
to take as many others with him as he could.
On the night
of the terrible event, he appeared in her bedroom, as an image? Apparition? Who
knows. It puzzled him, it puzzled her, and it puzzles me. But it really happened.
I know, because reality resides in my computer, and it’s in there.
A little
later, we find out that in a previous life, he’d been her dog. Maybe that’s the
connection that made it possible. Anyway, Sylvia found out that in all the
world, there was one person the boy loved: his 6 year old brother. Using this
lever, she eventually led him to change. She was the first person in his life
who’d ever treated him with respect and decency. So, he modeled on her.
You’ll find a
note from me at the end of the book, in part looking at the scientific evidence
for this kind of change. It is completely realistic. Drug- and alcohol-crazed,
violent no-hopers can change their ways, if they decide to model on a positive
role model.
that, the next time you have the opportunity. We all do from time to time.
I’m no good
at praising myself, so maybe you’ll allow me to quote a few random reviewers:
Eggleton, talented YA writer:
Uplifting and EmpoweringHit
and Run
 is an interesting and uplifting story written in a simple
declarative style that’s well-suited to the imaginary diary of a most unlikely
spiritual leader. Without understanding the paranormal phenomenon, Sylvia, the
elderly hero, communicates with pure hatred by employing unconditional love,
thereby defeating the evil that had infected a community of vengeful victims…
I recommend Hit and Run as a perfect read for those stuck in skepticism and
negativity, and who are willing to invest a little time to work toward inner
peace. As such, I give it five stars.
Max Overton, author of over 30 books:
This is a simple story yet
also a complex one with a wide array of characters on both sides of the ledger.
Some people actively work against Charlie’s rehabilitation; others refuse to
even give him a chance, but a growing number believe in the possibility of
change and it is heartening to see the gradual blossoming of a mind stunted by
terrible circumstances. ‘Hit and Run’ is a story of hope in a world where it
sometimes seems as if civilisation is crumbling around us.
Carolyn Harris, historical writer:
Hit and Run is a book full
of meaning and valuable insights into living a fuller life, but even without
those, it’s a bloody good yarn! The people are so clearly depicted, you can see
them, they move, they have feelings and ideas, agonies and pain, love and
courage. The story line goes along smoothly and quickly with never a dull
moment, never a loss of plot or a fault in the planning of the events.
What inspired you to write this book?
can go wrong in two ways: if there is no emotional bond between client and
helper, and if there is too close a bond. The first one is probably obvious.
Therapy is not just a business transaction, but needs empathy: you need to
“feel for” the other person. This is not “I know how you feel,” because you can
never know how someone else feels, but more like “I appreciate your suffering,
and am here for you.”
But the
second kind of problem is equally damaging. You can’t pull someone out of a hole
by jumping in yourself. Nursing students are told, “It’s not your pain; you’re
not there to share it but to relieve it.” This is why it’s unethical to do
therapy with people dear to you. My daughter fell from a horse, and suffered
multiple fractures of her right arm. I splinted the injury to reduce her pain,
and make the ride to hospital bearable. I achieved “professional distance” by
repeatedly saying inside, “It’s only a broken thing I need to fix.” I collapsed
a second after handing her over to the professionals.
Well, one day
I had a victim of crime client, whose story got me furious. I’d most definitely
jumped down and joined him in his hole. This time, my tool for climbing out was
“displacement,” something that goes right back to Dr. Freud. I’ve seen a lady
use it by vigorously vacuuming the house instead of punching her husband in the
Instead of a
vacuum cleaner, I used my computer, and started a story to displace my anger
into. Within this magical tool, I turned myself into an 84 year old woman who
was almost killed, and witnessed a far worse crime than what my client had
Only, once I
was Sylvia Kryz, I acted and thought like her, not like Bob Rich. The entire
book is her journal of the nine months of her contact with the young murderer.
Among other things, the language is hers, too, not mine. As a child, she was
trained never to say or write obscenities, and that explains a peculiarity in
the extract below. It annoyed me for the first few paragraphs in the book, but
I got used to it.
Excerpt from Hit and Run:
I’ve chosen a
segment from well into the book. The killer boy is now Charlie (because the
name, Chuck, was a form of abuse), and is out on bail. John, his child
protection worker, is driving him to his first meeting with his mother since
the arrest. He’d asked Sylvia to come along, too. I’ve chosen this part because
it demonstrates the power of aikido.
We drove in silence for a while, going through an
industrial area, then grassy paddocks. Charlie suddenly said, “Hey, we’re
going to Minton?”

“Yes. We’ll meet Tommy and your mother at the
playground near your old school. This way, there is less chance of being

Soon we were there. A blond young man was pushing
Tommy on a swing. The playground was shabby and ridiculously small. John parked
not three metres from the play equipment.
Charlie hopped out and gave me a hand while John got
my wheelie frame from the boot.
Of course, Tommy practically flew to Charlie, who was
now strong enough to lift him high into a hug.

A few minutes sitting on a park bench were enough for
my arthritis, so I returned to the car and knitted there, window open.

The utility soon arrived, with the obese woman at the
wheel. The car was now pink overall; an undercoat I think. Margie emerged and
shrieked, “Chuck! Tommy!” She rushed toward them, arms outstretched,
tears running down her face. She dropped to her knees and hugged Tommy to her.

He turned his face away and stood there, body rigid.

Margie stood and pulled Charlie into an embrace.

He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away.
He stepped back. “Mum, sorry. 

You stink something awful.”

“What the f–?”

“Mum, listen. Tommy and I now brush our teeth
twice a day, and have a shower every morning. They forced us do it at first,
but actually it feels good.”

“La di da! Me Lawd, don’t we sound grand?”

Charlie grinned. I saw his mind click: speaking the
new way was a landmine here. “Yeah, Mum, f–n sure. I learned how to speak
uppity, like. But lissen. If ya can speak like other buggers and smell OK, you
won’t be treated like a dog.”

“F– off!”

“Nah, I mean it. Y’know you’re always bitching
about the c–ts looking down at us? That’s the secret. Change your undies every
day, like, have a shower before ya go out, wash your f–n clothes once a week,
and speak a bit different, and you’ll be treated like a lady.”

“Yeah, right.” She did a prance of what she
must have imagined a lady to be like, to the protective workers’ wide grins. As
she turned a little she saw me in the car. “Oh hi,” she said.

“Hello Margie, how are you?”

“I’m OK. Did you put Chuck up to this

“No. It all came from his heart. He wishes you
well, and is passing on to you what’s worked for him and Tommy.”

She opened her mouth to reply, but the roaring of an
engine interrupted her. Tyres squealed, and the battered sedan shot around a
corner. It pulled up, almost ramming into the ute with the fat woman still in

Bruce jumped out. He wore a black singlet and shorts,
showing florid tattoos covering his arms, legs and chest. He rushed toward the

John stepped in his path. “Hold it, Mr
Hemp–” he started.

“F– off outa me way!” Bruce kept charging,
straight at John.

What happened was too fast for me to see, but in an
instant, Bruce was face down on the ground. John had a foot on the back of his
neck, and held Bruce’s left arm at an odd angle. 

“Mr. Hempenstall, if you
struggle, your shoulder will dislocate,” he said calmly.

Jake had his mobile phone out.

John looked at him. “Wait,” he said. He let
Bruce’s arm go and stepped back.

Bruce rolled over and sat on the ground, massaging his
shoulder. His face was thunderous, and I noticed that the pupils of his eyes
were like pinpoints.

John stood there, looking down. “Mr. Hempenstall,
as you know, there is a court order that you are not to attend access meetings
by Ms. Debnall.”

“F– that. I’m the one what has to see the poor
bitch cry herself to sleep every night. So, I’m gonna grab Tommy and he’s
comin’ with us. Chuck can come if he wants, I don’t f–n care, but Tommy is

“No, he is not. Tommy has been committed to
foster care by the Children’s Court, and you have no power to reverse

Bruce stood.

Margie shouted, “What the f– are ya doin’ here?
Howd’ya find me anyway?”

He grinned. “Stupid bitch, yer phone is on. I
tracked it on GPS.”
John interrupted. “Mr. Hempenstall, you’re
violating a court order. Please get in your car and drive off. Otherwise, I’ll
have to report you.”

“Yeah, right. Little uppity c–t, got me that
time. Now I’ll tear off ya head and sh–t in the hole.” He advanced toward
John and launched a punch.

John lightly swung aside and pulled on Bruce’s arm,
kicking the side of his ankle as he lurched forward.

Bruce fell on the grass, rolled and was up. He put a
hand in his pocket. “F–n little c–t,” he growled. “I’m gonna
kill ya!” His hand was out, his thumb moved, and a wicked six-inch blade
pointed at John.

Margie shrieked, “Bruce, no!”

Weaving side to side, Bruce advanced, making me think
of a snake about to strike. John waited. Suddenly Bruce moved forward — and
was on his back, looking dazed. The knife flew through the air, landing far
from where Bruce lay.

John calmly said, “Violating a court order is one
thing. Death threats, carrying a concealed weapon, and attempted murder are
something else. My colleague is ready to call the police. If you now get in
your car and go, I’m still willing to let you off.” While speaking, he
walked over to the knife, picked it up and pushed something. The blade
retracted. John put it in his pocket.

“Hey, that’s me knife!”

“You’re better off without it. Later, I’ll break
the blade off and put it in the recycling.”

By then, Bruce was standing, looking murder.
“F–n snooty little bastard. I will surely kill ya.”

“You and whose army?” Charlie goaded him,
safely behind John.

John half turned. “Charlie, we never taunt a
beaten opponent. He deserves dignity, even if he is misgui–“

Bruce jumped at him. This time, I thought in alarm.

John was down on one knee and Bruce flew over his
head, banging hard into the A frame that held the swings. He lay still.

John looked at him, then said to Jake, “Police
and ambulance.”
What’s the next writing project?
It’s with the
publisher, Loving Healing Press
The title is From Depression to Contentment: A
self-therapy guide
. I have an advance review from one of my wonderful beta
readers, Theresa Hortley:
I don’t suffer from depression, but I read this book
because I am privileged to be one of Bob Rich’s beta readers. All the same, it
has proven to be immensely useful to me, personally.
Depression is everywhere. Every year, a distressingly
high proportion of the kids I teach are obviously depressed. Friends,
relatives, colleagues — it’s all around me.
Now, I can understand where they are coming from, and
can be more effective in helping them, though not as a therapist of course.
But this is far more than a self-help book. It is an
inspiration. One sentence late in the book has captured me: “knowingly or
unknowingly, all of us are apprentice Buddhas.” Depressed or not, if you read
this book, you will become a better person.
You wouldn’t expect a book about depression to be
humorous, but in typical Bob Rich style, he got me chuckling time and again.
Just one example: a patient told Bob that he’d known all his life that he
didn’t matter. Bob’s reply: “Right. You crawled out of the womb believing you
didn’t matter?”
All of Bob’s novels I’ve read are full of therapeutic
lessons. Here is a book designed as a set of therapeutic lessons that is as
enjoyable to read as any novel.
What was your biggest challenge when
writing this new book?
The challenge
came after the book was finished, revised a zillion times, and accepted by Writers Exchange E-Publishing.
We couldn’t
get a cover to suit. The publisher paid for an artist, who did a TERRIBLE job.
I asked for help from my newsletter readers, who came up with lots of good
suggestions. She took these on board, and hired a second artist. The result had
nothing to do with the feel or theme of the book. The fellow hadn’t even
bothered to read a few paragraphs.
Then an old
friend of mine came to the rescue. She is Martine Jardin. I used to edit for
her when she was the publisher for Zumaya Publications. She is a brilliant
artist, and did all the covers for my earlier books. She designed the beautiful
cover you can see. Rather than go with the title, or the plot, she captured the
spirit of the story. One commenter said, “It’s nothing to do with the story,
and everything to do with the story.”
If your novels require research – please
talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while
you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
I learned to
love research as a severely depressed child. There is a joy to learning new
things, regardless of the subject matter.
When a new project
hijacks me, I spend a great deal of time immersing myself in relevant
background knowledge. Nowadays, it’s easy with the internet. Twenty years ago, while
I was writing about events in 700 BC (when I was very young), I spent days in a
university library.
For “Hit and
Run,” the only new information I needed concerned what happens in a court of
law, and had advice from four generous lawyers.
My book with
the highest number of awards is “Anikó: The stranger who loved me.” This came
about because after my stepfather’s death, I was sure my mother would soon
follow, so I set her a task: provide me with material for her biography. I
visited her in Hungary when she was dying in hospital, and her last whispers
were still as my researcher, giving me instructions on whom I should interview
and why. I returned to Australia with a suitcase full of documents — then
couldn’t even look at them for two years. When I did, it was like getting into
a time machine.
What authors do you enjoy reading within
or outside of your genre?
My genre
is… everything and anything. I don’t read horror for its own sake, because if
I wanted horror, I could read the news. I don’t read romance for its own sake,
because the romantic myth is, believe it or not, the cause of a great deal of unhappiness.
It’s an application of the consumer myth to human relationships.
Of course,
terrible events, and romances, are part of life, part of what gives a story
tension, and I both read and write about them — as integral parts of a story.
As a youngster,
I consumed all the books in a couple of libraries, and have kept this up.
However, in the last 10 years or so, most of my fiction reading has been books
sent to me for editing or for a review.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers today?
Life is too
short for the seriousness it deserves. I learned this from a young fellow in
700 BC.
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and
Lisa, it’s my
pleasure and honor. I have a wish for you and your visitors: 
As you slide
down the banister of life, may all the splinters face downward.

3 thoughts on “New interview with writer Dr. Bob Rich

  1. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Barbara, you are amazing. You've beaten me to the first comment.
    Lisa, Barbara pops up on all my interviews, guest posts and even blog posts, and motivates me to do my best so I can live up to her expectations.
    I am looking forward to chatting with anyone who comments, and even with people who don't.

  2. J.Q. Rose says:

    Hi Lisa and Bob. Enjoyed the interview. Bob is such an interesting fella. I read Hit and Run and after I finished I wanted to believe it was based on a true story, but the woman's heart is too good to be true. Am I too cynical? Love that book cover. Thanks for sharing the story behind its creation.
    JQ Rose

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