Posted on September 16, 2020 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we’re interviewing action/adventure and mystery writer Don Rich.
Rich is a fifth-generation Florida native who worked on sportfishing boats as a teenager and also became a pilot in his teens, logging time in more than two dozen aircraft types. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was a successful entrepreneur and briefly was even a small-town mayor.
Combined, these vocations and life experiences have helped him become a writer of “Waterfront Escapism” and “Coastal Adventure” stories. In Y2K he and his family relocated to Virginia, adding a list of new waters to be fished and explored.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
DON: It was purely by chance.
I enrolled in a writing class at the local junior college (what they called state colleges back in those days) because it was a required course. As luck would have it, I ended up in the class taught by the head of the English department.
A couple of weeks into the semester she asked me what I planned to do with my writing after I graduated. I thought it was a weird question since I was only in this class because it was a requirement, not because I wanted to be there.
I replied that I had no plans to write anything after I finished her class. She gave me the strangest look, one that was half sad and half amused.
She told me I needed to reconsider that because I was one of the top three writers she’d seen in her more than three decades of teaching there. That was the moment I learned the full meaning of the word “dumbfounded.”
I didn’t realize it then, but almost four decades later I would point to this as being a pivotal moment in my life. It planted a seed in the back of my brain which made me believe I might be capable of becoming a writer one day.
That seed sprouted after I discovered a book by Wayne Stinnett called Blue Collar to No Collar: From Trucker to Bestselling Novelist in Two Years. That was three years and tens of thousands of my own book sales ago.
Needless to say, it has been an amazing three years.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
DON: I was surprised at what a tight-knit group independent coastal authors are.
Writing is such a solitary endeavor, surely these authors must all be loners, right? They aren’t, at least not as a rule.
I’ve had many reach out to me and have yet to have one ignore an email when I reached out to them.
I think it’s because as writers, we feel an inherent need to communicate. Not a day goes by now without an email, text, or call from a fellow coastal writer.
The most rewarding part has been having authors who I’ve been reading for years reach out to me and say that they’ve become readers of my series. That’s pretty mind-blowing, and about the biggest compliment that I’ve received.
No, actually, that’s wrong. I had one writer I’ve read for years suggest that our characters should cross paths in future books. THAT was even farther up there on the rewards scale, and definitely something that’s on my to-do list.
Writing is the easy part. The most challenging part is the business side of things and the time it consumes. There’s all the record keeping, tax filing, banking, scheduling, and everything else that comes with any small business.
Correspondence is another time eater, but it’s so very necessary, from social media to the monthly letter I send to my Reader’s Group.
Then there’s the advertising side, which is crucial. The Fussy Librarian has filled in a huge and regular piece of the puzzle for me, making this part much easier.
SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?
DON: The first time someone emailed and told me I was their new, most favorite author.
THAT was the day I became a real writer. It was also the day I really started feeling the pressure to live up to that with each subsequent book.
I never want to lose that person’s faith in me. It’s a great honor that brings with it a ton of responsibility.
SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?
DON: I want readers to understand what I mean when I say that my books are about “Waterfront Escapism.” That’s the phrase I coined for my stories after none of the standard descriptions seemed to fit.
I hope what I’ve written takes my readers away from their own worries and cares, even if only for a while.
I want to make them feel the need to return to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the shores and waters of the mid-Atlantic with me and my characters.
When Casey or Dawn are at the helm of their Jarrett Bay sportfisherman, I want readers to feel the boat’s acceleration and the wind in their hair, too. I want them to share the rush of releasing a white marlin alive and well after a hard-fought battle.
I want them to relax and enjoy a beer or two at the Mallard Cove Beach Bar with the characters after the boat’s been washed, the fish are cleaned, and the bad guys are all dealt with — either behind bars, or dead.
That’s what Waterfront Escapism is all about.
SADYE: What advice, as relates to your writing career, would you give your younger self?
DON: Start writing stories now, even if you are only doing it for your own amusement, and keep all of them. Get a great editor, proofreader, and a group of the best beta readers you can find.
Create a newsletter or a Reader’s Group and grow it organically. People who seek it out and sign up will stick with you and follow what you write.
In your letters to them, make sure to tell your readers what you would want to be told, but only do it as frequently as you would want to hear it. Nobody likes a flooded inbox.
And above all else, remember these three words: Write a series.
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Categories: Author Interview