Monday, December 8, 2014

{The Bookish Inquisition} Transcript and Invitation

Yesterday, we chatted with THE COTTAGE PARK PUZZLE author Richard Siddoway. If you missed it, we've provided you with a transcript of our conversation below. We want to thank all of you who attended. Below the transcript is an invite to our next author chat on January 4th.

Richard Siddoway Chat Transcript:

LRR: Hi, Richard! Nice to see you. =)

Richard: Nice to be here.

LRR: How has your Sunday been? Ready for Christmas?

Richard: We're almost ready. We're leaving this afternoon for a short trip to Las Vegas to see our youngest daughter and then continue on to Mesa, AZ to visit our oldest son.

LRR: Oh, wow. That sounds like fun. You have 8 children, correct? Do the other 6 live at home?

Richard: We have four who live in Utah and four who live out of state. So, we see four of them quite often, but miss the others. We have 26 grandchildren and wish we were able to see all of them more often.

LRR: Oh my goodness! That's a huge family!!! I bet when everyone's together it's a lot of fun. =) Did you begin writing when your children were small?

Richard: I've written ever since I was a teen, and had a few things published under a pseudonym. The first thing published under my name wasn't until 1992, when I was 52 years old.

LRR: Did you write the same type of stories as a teen?

Richard: Sort of. The first thing I wrote back about 1957, was about a cashless society where everything was purchased using a card and a biometric scan of your fingerprint.

LRR: Very futuristic for that time period, but almost a reality now. What prompted your interest in writing?

Richard: When I was a senior at the University of Utah, I needed a class to fill my schedule and took one in creative writing from Dr. Brewster Geilsand, who was one of D.H. Lawrence's friends. He encouraged me a great deal.

LRR: What was the one piece of advice he gave you that you still use to this day?

Richard: He said, "Make your characters real."

LRR: And are your characters based on people you know?

Richard: Yes. In fact this new book that will be released next month deals with an autistic child. I have a severely autistic grandson who exhibits all the behaviors that Corky does in the book.

LRR: How does your family feel knowing that you use them as references and inspiration in your story?

Richard: They're OK as long as I disguise them. Often I change the sex of the person and, of course, the names change.

LRR: How long did it take you to write THE COTTAGE PARK PUZZLE?

Richard: It took about a year. You make a good point though. I probably should have explained that mercurial behavior better. All of the people who read the book before publication were familiar with autistic behavior and it didn't seem to bother them at all.

(LRR Note: His answer above was partly in response to a question and a couple comments I made that I promised I would not provide in the transcript because it presented a spoiler.)

LRR: Do you always use the same people to preview your work before it's published?

Richard: No. I have some people who ask to read everything, but I usually try to find someone who has some familiarity with the topic. For example, when I wrote "The Christmas Wish," Senator Orrin Hatch and his wife, Elaine, had asked to read it and provided a nice endorsement.

LRR: I saw THE CHRISTMAS WISH was made into a CBS movie. Did you have any say-so in how it was made?

Richard: Very little. Beth Polson bought the rights to make the movie and became the producer. She hired the cast, the screen writer, and the director. I did get to go to Burbank and meet Debbie Reynolds, Neil Patrick Harris, and Naomi Watts during the filming, but that was about all.

LRR: How did you find your first publisher? Did you have an agent?

Richard: This is a longer story than you may want to hear, but I'll try to do a summary. My first wife died from cancer at 45 and left me with six children. Everybody knew somebody I need to meet. One of the women I took out to dinner was a wonderful woman named Sherri Dew. She is the CEO of Deseret Book. During our dinner conversation I mentioned that I had once submitted a manuscript to Random House and after 18 months they sent a rejection letter. She assured me that if I submitted something to Deseret Book, I'd hear back within six weeks. A couple of years later I submitted "Twelve Tales of Christmas" to her. Eighteen months later I received a rejection letter. I submitted it to Bookcraft, and eighteen months later they published the book.

LRR: Oh, wow. I'm sorry to hear about your first wife.

Richard: It's not something I wish on anyone. However, my wife, Janice, and I have been married now for 25 years.

LRR: What is your goal you want to achieve with your novels?

Richard: I always try to write something that is clean and has a message. One of the authors who critiqued Cottage Park said, "You always have a savior in your books." I hope that's true.

LRR: I did appreciate the cleanliness of COTTAGE PARK. So often, nowadays, novels have a tendency to be vulgar.

Richard: I'm not sure what led us down that road. So much of what is published today seems to need a shock value.

LRR: Agreed - I believe society has become immune and desensitized to what would have shocked us 20 or 30 years ago so people/newsmen/etc try to find new stories with increased shock value. Sad, really. I'd like to see a 180 turn and people focusing on positive events.

Richard: I suppose bleed leads, but I'm confident most people are really good people at heart. When I read the language used in many of today's popular novels, that language doesn't reflect what I hear from my friends and neighbors.

LRR: You have very different neighbors than I do, then. =) Is there a message you'd like to send to your readers?

Richard: Thank you for supporting those of us who have the guts to put our pen to the paper (figuratively), and try to entertain.

LRR: Is there anything you'd like to mention that I've not asked you about?

Richard: There is one message I hope comes through in Cottage Park. Our society hasn't developed ways to deal with people who are different. Whether it's autism, Down syndrome, skin color, religious affiliation, or whatever we need to learn to be more inclusive and loving in our relationships with each other.

LRR: I agree. We (as a society) could do better in how we deal with those different from us. Do you have any suggestions on how someone like myself (who has no experience in dealing with these types of situations) could do better?

Richard: Study. When I was in the Utah legislature I was asked to run a bill to secure funding for schools to handle autistic students. I knew nothing about autism and spent hours researching the autism spectrum. Little did I know that I'd have an autistic grandson five years later, who could benefit from these programs.

LRR: How did you get into politics? Was that your major in college?

Richard: No, I was a biology major in secondary education. I was asked by a number of people to run because they were unhappy with our current representative. In the county convention I said there were three things that bothered me about politics. One was that you could buy a vote if you had enough money; second once you got in you felt entitled to stay for life; and third that we didn't vote for people, we voted against people. I vowed to accept no donation over $25, serve three terms maximum, and never say a negative word about my opponent. i won the race and served my 3 terms.

LRR: That's amazing! Would you ever go back?

Richard: I'm not sure I could be elected. I'm a moderate Republican and live in Tea Party haven.

LRR: Ah, understood. Well, I thank you for your time today, Richard. It's been enlightening and I wish you much success in your future. =)

Richard: Thank you, Mandy. I appreciate your time and your critique.

LRR: My pleasure. Have a wonderful holiday!

Richard: Merry Christmas

The Bookish Inquisition, 1/4/16: Jackie Parry

Originally from the UK, Jackie is now an adopted Australian. She grew up with horses in the UK until her world was shattered*. Disillusioned with life she ran away to Australia and met and married Noel. They decided to buy a boat and set sail. So within her first year living in a foreign land she was getting used to a foreign husband and a foreign life on board!

*They’ll be more information in their next book ‘Of Foreign Build’

After suffering an emotionally-brutal bereavement and against her counsellor’s advice, Jackie ran away. Suddenly within a new culture, with a new husband, and no friends, she was living in the obscure world of cruising with zero knowledge of boats.

Crashing within the first twenty-four hours, Jackie realised life would never be the same again; a floating home with no fridge or hot water, and with a dinghy instead of a car. Suffering self doubts, she became fearful of her new world.

The first off-shore voyage took Jackie into a ferocious storm, which battered her physically and mentally. Amid the raging seas, Jackie shed the fear she’d been harbouring.

Soon she was blissfully voyaging around the world, but she still carried the mixed emotions of losing one man, while falling head over heels in love with another.

Not only did Jackie deal successfully with the challenges of her new existence, she also battled with the testosterone fuelled nautical world to become both a professional captain and a qualified maritime teacher.

Most importantly, Jackie found herself.

Instructions for joining the Inquisition:

1.) Go to
2.) Type in the room name (LRRTBI)
3.) Choose and type in your own nickname
4.) Type in the password (TBI0104)
5.) Click the "Join" button

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