Only, Rita has the bad habit of keeping a guest author visible for only one week. So, here is our chat. I hope you enjoy it, and please comment.
This week it is my pleasure to catch up with Bob Rich, whom I first interviewed in November 2016. Bob, would you please introduce yourself to my readers and tell us what you have been doing over the last two years.
Thank you, Rita, and lovely to “meet” you again.
I am a visitor from a faraway galaxy. At home, I am an historian of horror, so Earth is my favourite place in the whole Universe. Nowhere else do you find a game designed to kill sentient beings (war). Nowhere else are child rearing practices designed to damage the children. And nowhere else is the entire global economy designed to destroy the ecology of the whole planet, leading to global suicide. For an historian of horror, that’s delicious.
While I am here, I pretend to be a good bloke, who deeply cares about reducing suffering. I tell everyone I am a Professional Grandfather. So, I work for a survivable future, and one worth surviving in.
I understand you have published two more books. Say something about them.
Both of these books have been cooking in the background for some years.
Last year, I did a first-time experiment and self-published Guardian Angel. I used Kindle Direct Publishing in order to enter it in a contest Amazon was running. As it happened, the contest was a con game, and I had 0 chance of winning. That’s Amazon for you.
A few words about the story:
My little heroine, Maraglindi, was born near the Hunter River in what is now Australia, in 1850, as the result of her Aboriginal mother’s rape by a white man. Unknown to everyone, she was a guardian angel in training. Not having experienced life as one of us, she needed to live on earth. As Jesus, the Buddha, and many other such guiding spirits needed to experience suffering, so did she. So, she chose to be born an Australian Aborigine, at a time when the invaders from Europe considered Aborigines as worse than animals. So, she was child of the land, fruit of an evil deed, and instrument of Love.
The reviewers have been kind. Rather than blowing my own trumpet, let me quote a few:
Margaret Tanner: “Glindi, an aboriginal woman, gives birth to a baby girl who she names Maraglindi (Glindi’s sorrow). Born during violent times when aboriginal men were treated worse than their Masters’ dogs, the women suffered even more. Their only use was to satisfy their owner’s lust, and keep his house in order. Against this horrific background, the author has woven a rich story of love, hate, decency and depravity, that once you start reading you won’t be able to put down until you have devoured every word. It is quite obvious the author has done extensive historical research before he wrote this story.”
Max Overton: “Guardian Angel is a book I would not hesitate to recommend, not just as a story that describes the racial discord of earlier times, but also as one that holds out a hope that things can be different. We live in times where hate is rearing its ugly head once more, so we need stories like this to remind us that hate can be overcome, not by violence and more hatred, but by love.”
“Stormy White:” “Guardian Angel is a beautiful story of Maraglindi, a magical aboriginal girl with green eyes who is the epitome of love and tolerance. Horrible things happen to good people, but the reader is not drawn down to a dark place. Loved the portrayal of the aboriginal outlook, customs, ties to the land, and the imagery of life in Australia in the 1850s. Author has a knack for putting words together in a refreshing way.”
The second book is Hit and Run, published by Writers Exchange.
My beta readers, and fans who have read many of my books, reckon it’s my best yet (but then, they’d said that about Guardian Angel as well).
His mother named him Chuck because she was chucking up all through pregnancy. Abused in every way you can think of, by 14 years of age he wanted to die, but take as many other people with himself as possible. So, he stole a car and killed 6 little kids and the crossing guard, narrowly missing 84-year-old Sylvia Kryz. That night, he somehow appeared to her. He, Sylvia and I are all mystified by this, but it happened, because reality lives in my computer. She was the first adult, ever, who treated him with decency, despite his horrific actions. She enabled him to continue to look after his little brother, by coaching him on how to his school principal without obscenities. This led to a long process of transformation into a thoroughly decent youngster you’d be happy to have as a friend. And if this seems unbelievable, it ain’t so. There is a great deal of research showing that if a violent “no hoper” chooses to model on one or more decent people, this kind of transformation can occur.
Would you like to give us a short excerpt from one of your books?
This is from well into Hit and Run. Our killer boy, now renamed Charlie, is a reformed person, because he has decided to model his life on several people, Sylvia Kryz being top of the list. He is attending the local high school, and spends lunchtimes with a group who have entered a solar car model competition.
Midday on Wednesday, I’d finished typing up several more pages of my experiences, enjoying the smell of rain coming through the open window, when suddenly I heard Charlie’s anguished voice, although he didn’t appear. “Aunt Sylvia,” he said, “call the cops, quick!”
“We’re all tied up with duct tape, over our mouths too. They’re bashing Mr Thompson, and smashed up the model car, and talking ’bout raping Michelle!”
I snatched for the phone. While pushing 000, I tried to think of a plausible way of explaining my knowledge.
“D24. Police, ambulance or emergency services?” a cool female voice said.
“Police please, quickly.”
Within seconds, a male voice asked my name.
“Uh, it’s an emergency at Hilder Heights High School, in the mechanics room. A teacher and a group of kids are being tortured, right now!”
“Before I dispatch a team, I need to know it’s genuine. Who are you ma’am, and how do you know this?”
“My name is Sylvia Kryz.” I snatched for my address book. “Please quickly contact Detective Sergeant Jemima Johnson, who’ll vouch for me.” I read out her mobile number.
“What other details can you give me?”
Charlie was obviously monitoring my conversation. He said, and I repeated, “There are five men, armed with guns and knives. They have the occupants of the room immobilised with duct tape, and over their mouths too. The teacher, Mr Thompson, and this group of children overpowered a drug dealer at the birthday party of one of them, and these men are coercing the group to withdraw their testimony.”
“I still need to know how you know this.”
Charlie told me Tim’s details. “The boy who had the party is Tim Colston. His parents are also at risk. Their address is 52 Gatalli Road, Hilder Heights.”
“That’s all very–”
I heard a click, then Jemima saying, “Dispatcher, I can vouch for Mrs Kryz. I don’t know what this is about, but immediately act on her information, whatever it is.”
“Yes, Sergeant. I’ve already sent two patrol cars, but it’s a hostage situation if it’s true.”
“Accept it as true. You have my authority to mobilise Special Ops.”
After a few seconds’ silence, the dispatcher asked, “Ma’am, please give me your address. You’ll need to make a statement.”
I complied. As soon as we disconnected, I found the school’s phone number, first recorded when Natalie started there, and called. I asked the secretary to put me through to the principal. She must have sensed the urgency from my voice, because he picked up almost immediately. I introduced myself, and he recognised the surname. “You’re Ron’s mother?”
“I am. But there is an emergency. Your teacher, Neil Thompson, and his model car group are being held captive in the mechanics room, and he is being bashed. I’ve contacted the police and they’re coming.”
“Sir, please just accept it and act with urgency. We don’t want children hurt.”
“Mrs Kryz, I can’t… hold it, two police cars have arrived. Thank you ma’am, we’ll do our best.”
Charlie said, “I’ll have to leave so I can concentrate here.”
Every second took a year. I could do nothing but worry. At last, the phone rang at about four o’clock. I nearly jumped off my recliner chair in a startle reaction.
The principal said, “Mrs Kryz, the Police Special Operations Group has captured the criminals. Neil and all the kids are alive, though he and one boy were taken to hospital, and all the others have minor injuries. Thank you for your remarkable warning. How did you do it?”
“Charlie Debnall told me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We have a connection I’d find unbelievable if I wasn’t a party to it. It’s a sort of a telepathic link. He can speak to me, and even appear to me, when he is in a kind of a trance state. He managed to do so while they were beating up Mr Thompson.”
“Remarkable. I have to accept the evidence, but…”
“Exactly how I feel, though we’ve been doing it since July.”
“I need to reassure the other parents, and ask them to pick up their kids. It’s been quite a day here.”
I could imagine it was.
Charlie arrived home half an hour later, in the company of Carl and a huge blond man who just had to be Carl’s father. Carl had a black eye and walked with a limp. Charlie had a red circle around his neck, and his right arm was in a sling. However, he grinned as he introduced Mr Stregar. “Aunt Sylvia, I managed to help the cops. Broke the knee of the worst crim!”
“He did!” Carl said. “That’s what gave the police a chance to break in. They told us after that they could see into the room using infrared scopes, and when Charlie made his move, they used the distraction. The Captain said Charlie should get a medal!”
“Yeah, but they caught me when I came in.” He lifted his good hand to his neck. “One was waiting behind the door, and dropped a noose around me neck, and next thing I was on the ground with guns pointing at me guts. Aikido didn’t help much then.”
“Yeah,” Carl continued, “they were adults in school uniforms. Came into the room when only Mr Thompson was there, tied him up and put him in a cupboard. They grabbed us one by one, had a lookout outside with a radio. They were specially waiting for Charlie. Me, I walked in and got punched.”
“And your leg?” I asked.
“I got kicked as part of the softening up process. Charlie too, in the elbow. We all copped some, even Michelle, but poor Mr Thompson got the worst. And they shot Harvey when the cops burst in. The ambos said it wasn’t fatal or anything, he’ll get through it, but he’s in Year 12 like I am, should be preparing for his final exams.”
“And the model got damaged?”
Charlie laughed, ruefully. “Nah. Got smashed to smithereens. That’s one of my dictionary words. They really enjoyed doing that.”
Mr Stregar said, “I run my own business, so have flexible time. I’ve offered to take over the project while Neil is out of action.”
“Is there any point with the model destroyed?”
“I’m applying to have it judged using the photos and videos that were made at every stage.”
“You remind me of Edison,” I told him. “You only ever lose by quitting.”
“That’s it. Nice to have met you, Mrs Kryz. We’d better go.”
When the visitors left, Charlie’s face lost its smile and his body slumped. “Aunt Sylvia, I got a problem.”
“The bullet hitting Harvey was aimed for me, only a cop dived through the window, you shoulda seen it, and tackled the crim. So, me mate got shot instead.”
I thought of my first contact with Dr Vlad. “Tell me about it so vividly that I can be there.”
“They was on drugs. Ice I reckon, that makes some people look to violence for anything. They just wanted to hurt, and the excuse was to get us to withdraw bein’ witness against that pusher. They was off their heads. And one was the worst. He was mauling Michelle, and was the most violent with Mr Thompson. And so I thought I’ll take him out. They can shoot me so what, I won’t have to go to jail then. I was hoping the cops were outside. So when no one noticed, I slowly pulled me knees back and when he walked into range, I kicked the side of his knee, and everything exploded. There’s two windows, and a copper dived through each, head first, it was really somethin’, glass, noise, and behind me I heard the door crash in, and that one gunshot that shoulda killed me but got Harvey.”
“All right, tell me again.”
He did, with a few more details. He repeated the story five times, and by then he looked and sounded like it had happened to someone else.
Over the years I know you have answered many cries for help from people who are distressed or going through a crisis. Are you still involved in this work and have you published any papers which might be helpful to others who find themselves in a similar situation?
Rita, Tom Sawyer said, work is something you get paid for. This is pro bono, so it isn’t work.
I regularly answer cries for help people post at Queendom and also people find me and send me emails, because my answers are in the public domain. I get one or two a month. Also, many of these (mostly young) people stay on as long term grandchildren or children or brothers/sisters, depending on their age. I have a granddaughter in Jamaica who has put her life together and is doing well. She dashes off a short email to me every now and then. There is a once suicidal young woman in Saudi Arabia who contacts me when she notices herself slipping back into depression, and a fine young man in Sweden. A few others keep in touch maybe once a year.
Naturally, while each person’s despair is unique, there are similarities, so I have posted two pages to my website, with the two most common themes: people who had done something sexual to a child while children themselves and are now eaten up by guilt, and people who are tortured by urges to kill or torture.
Also, my next coming book will be From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide. I’ve sent it off to my publisher. It is a complete therapy guide that’ll be useful for everyone, not only those struggling with depression, and all in less than 50,000 words.
Are you still editing books for other authors?
Oh yes. It’s a way I can be of service. About a year ago, a lady sent me a fantasy novel. When I returned it, there was more red than black. She rewrote it, and while there was a lot of improvement, I still more than earned my fee. Recently, she sent me the first two chapters of her third attempt, and it was EXCELLENT. Although I knew the story already, the first few paragraphs got me in, and I think it will now be a winner.
Wouldn’t that fog up your glasses?
There is also a group of academics in Thailand and Australia, who are writing a book about the application of the late Thai king’s “sufficiency economy philosophy” to education. When they are ready, they’ll send me the manuscripts, my job being to translate Thai English into clear language, to line edit it, to comment on any content inconsistencies, and to ensure the writing of the several authors forms a continuous whole. I have done this task for a previous book of this kind: Sufficiency Thinking: Thailand’s gift to an unsustainable world, by Gayle Avery and Harald Bergsteiner. If this logic was applied globally, we would have a sane world economy instead of one galloping toward extinction.
Also, right now, I am running a free book edit contest. There is no entry fee. The deadline is 15th October, 2018. People need to send me a 200 word book description, and the first 1000 words. The manuscript need not be complete yet. The first prize is a free edit of a full-length uniform by an award-winning editor. That’s me.
Would you like to give us another story about one of the pets you have owned? I really enjoyed the last one about the goat!
I could tell you about Daisy. She was a sheep who spent her lambhood with goats, so was very smart. One day, she got caught in a tangle of blackberries, and bleated me a loud message. Fortunately, this wasn’t too far from our house. I took gloves and secateurs, and freed her. After this, I was her best friend, and she generally loved humans. Sheep on a farm are not pets, and their reaction to seeing a human is to move the other way. But Daisy came toward us, and the others followed her like sheep. She lived to be an old lady. Incidentally, this is one of oodles of evidence that other animals are different from us, but equal. They remember, experience emotions, can reason.
Another of my pets is Jarvis, though no one owns him. He is one of my beloved grandsons. As a little boy, he lived with my son in Darwin, and came to spend a month each year with us. Oh, my son is his father, if that makes sense. One of the attractions of coming to Victoria was that here, he could split firewood. In tropical Darwin, there is not much use for that. Here was this chubby little boy who stood with feet apart, exactly in a safe stance, looked at the spot he wanted the log splitter to hit, in the way a karate exponent looks at a ceramic tile he is going to smash with bare hands, then… WHOOM. He’d deliver a perfect blow. Well, he has grown into a slim, muscular, tall young man who is a gentle giant. He has been highly successful in something called cage fighting, and has got a qualification as a personal trainer. He is considering studying further as a physiotherapist so he can relieve suffering, and is a vegan because he doesn’t want to kill and eat other sentient beings.
Or I could tell you about a four-legged, furry person no one owned, and was nobody’s pet. He was a wombat who decided to move into a friend’s house while they were away on holiday. He smashed into several doors in turn, springing each open, but then, trying to exit, he forced them shut again. He ended up in the bathroom, with no way out. The house belonged to a single mother with a young son. When they returned and saw the devastation, they called for help. Opening the bathroom door was no good, because the poor, starving, terrified miniature bulldozer cowered away from people, in the furthest corner. I eventually solved the problem by climbing in through a rather small window. Then, running from me, he exited in a hurry. I am sure he decided to avoid human habitat and stick with caves under tree roots, for the rest of his life.
But, I have decided not to tell you about any of these. I refuse to answer your question.
Are you still updating your blog Bobbing Around?
Bobbing Around is the name of my blog, and also the title of my monthly newsletter. It includes anything I find interesting from time to time, which is all too much. My fans lovingly tell me to keep it shorter, and I do my best. But then no one compels them to follow up every one of my links.
It has three kinds of content: raves from me, for example about writing, understanding our world, and politics; 500 word essays from guest writers; and links to interesting stuff I find in odd places, and even in even ones.
Between blog followers, newsletter subscribers and announcements at various venues, perhaps 2000 people get notified of my posts.
Every time I post something, I get a few more followers, so, often people with no previous contact must notice it through recommendation.
Oh, one important component is that I invite 200 word promo items about anything I don’t disapprove of.
Will there be any more books or have you run out of ideas?
Run out of ideas? How do you do that?
Winston Churchill said, the problem is not to find a solution, but to select from the dozen available. That’s my problem too.
Having completed and dispatched my book on depression, I have returned to a science fiction series I’ve been playing with since 2015, The Doom Healer. Three volumes are complete, the fourth about three-quarters done, and the last one on the way. I don’t want to submit it to a publisher until all five are done, so they can appear in quick succession. Don’t you hate it when you’ve read a great book, and the sequel is promised… some time in the never-never?
There are dozens of little files hiding in my computer, each the seed of a story. Occasionally I add to them, and occasionally I look at them, and one may burst into flame and take off.
Do you have any events or book promotions coming up that you would like to tell us about?
Rita, what I REALLY want to promote is not my books, but my campaign to make this planet a better place for all living things. People who want to support me might be kind enough to follow my blog Bobbing Around.
I’ll finish with a wish for you, and all your visitors:
May you live in contentment;
May you be healthy;
May you rise to your challenges;
And above all, may you grow spiritually.