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1978: The wave of gentrification has yet to break over downtown Los Angeles, and vast swathes of the warehouse district lie nearly abandoned by the sterile trench of the city’s concrete-clad river.

Lenny Strasser, a straight-arrow type with a taste for shady places, plunges into that world to discover that sometimes the only distance between two points is a very crooked line. When Lenny’s friend Dave Larrabee nags him into helping him track down a missing girlfriend, Lenny suspects that the girl doesn’t want to be found. He knows her all too well: she was his before she was Dave’s, and she’d gone gleefully missing from his life one time too many. Worse, he’s not entirely sure he’s over his feelings for the theatrical and self-centered Kate.

But this time it wasn’t one of her ordinary infidelities–she may have fallen, again, into the hands of the charismatic Nighthawk, who could lead her into territories where the danger is real and role-playing no protection from harm.

The quest takes them into hobo jungles and punk squats by the LA River–and into an after-midnight darkness of moral ambiguity that changes Lenny’s life in ways he’d never dreamed of.



What initially got you interested in writing?

I began reading before I was five (my father taught me), and I became profoundly addicted to reading–an affliction that still graces me today. Oddly, though, I never considered writing until my last year of high school, wen a long-term substitute teacher assigned a “creative writing” exercise, and I realized, “Hey, I can do this!” I changed my major from science to English in my first year of college, won a writing scholarship to Pepperdine University, and embarked on a life of underemployment, dashed hopes, and profound fulfillment, which I continue to enjoy today.

What genres do you write in?

Literary fiction, short story, mystery, essay, occasionally humor and poetry.

What drew you to writing these specific genres?

Those are what I love to read.

How did you break into the field?
While I can’t say I’ve really broken into anything, I first started publishing while writing essays and articles on environmental issues, primarily urban design and transportation practices. Constant writing–I’ve published in a number of magazines online and off, and have edited two online ‘zines–primed me to return to fiction after many decades away. My formal warmup was to spend a year writing a very rough draft of a memoir, with no real intention of publishing it. Once that reached nearly 100,000 words, I felt I was polished enough to pick up creative writing again. I’ve started off with “independent publishing”–using professional editors to review my drafts, and asking my wife, a talented layout artist, to design the books themselves. We’ll see how that goes.

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

A sense of place and how it affects us; a fellow-feeling with the narrator; a feeling that they’ve actually met the characters in the book. A habit of living more consciously, and of compassion for their fellows. A consciousness of the way they use language.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Creating scenes and watching the characters live in them, and hearing these imaginary people speak in their own voices.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

Marketing. Writing itself is a pleasure, not a challenge, even when it’s hard work. Especially when it’s hard work. I have difficulties with self-promotion; it seems so immodest!

What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

Write five days a week even if for only an hour a day. You write by writing, not by planning to write. Just start. You can edit later. (And you’d better.)

What type of books do you enjoy reading?

Novels of all sorts, memoirs and biography, short stories. Good mystery novels–Simenon in French, Mosley, the classic noir crowd. Other favorite authors include Susan Straight, Thomas Hardy, Hemingway of course (mostly the short stories), Tolstoy….

Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

About me personally? Not much.  I can be clever in a wisecracking way–my friends seem to enjoy that. I try to speak gracefully, and sometimes succeed. I’m a good enough photographer to have occasional exhibitions and be published now and then.

Oh, yeah: and English is my second language; I was born in Argentina.

What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
I’ve got a somewhat out-of-date portfolio website at http://www.rickrise.com, an Author Spotlight page on Lulu at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/rickrise, and the inevitable presence on Amazon, where “The Dust Will Answer” resides at http://amzn.com/B00U3IJG9K.



Richard Risemberg was dragged to Los Angeles as a child, and has been working there in a number of vernacular occupations since his teens while writing poetry, articles, essays, and fiction, editing online ‘zines, sneaking around with a camera trying to steal people’s souls, and making a general nuisance of himself, which is his forte. He’s survived long enough to become either a respected elder or a tedious old fart, depending on your point of view, and is still at it. It hasn’t been easy for any of us.

3 thoughts on “AUTHOR INTERVIEW – Richard Risemberg

  1. ellen

    wow nicely done..really captured Rick well..glad to have seen this and thanks for sharing..

  2. Richard West

    You should come read that in the shop.

  3. Gigi Durr

    I enjoyed your interview. I think folks would like to read your work based on your interview. Continued success.

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