Hi all! I am delighted to share my conversation with Richard Schwindt, a writer of fiction and self-help. I suspect his work as a therapist and social worker provides a foundation for his world and character building. I believe all my readers will enjoy this and I look forward to the comments. Thank you and cheers, Rox
Please lets talk and share a bit of your background with my readers, Richard.
Your professional background appears to provide a good jump off point for fictional characters and honest support for emotional recovery from some of the biggest life challenges. How did your education help to drive your career?
Social workers, like many professionals, are socialized into predictable thoughts and attitudes. This is not usually bad, but sometimes needs to be challenged. If these challenges emerge through fiction and humor, they can reach people you might not with a lecture and a straight face.
Was there a specific event convinced you writing was a good direction for you?
Learning to write in grade 1. That’s all it took.
You create in depth self-help books. Without bending any privacy issues, were there certain times that drove you toward writing these support guides?
The self-help books address real issues faced by my clients. They are written for ordinary people who struggle, and prefer practical help over an academic dissertation. And yes, some of the issues addressed have been faced by me and my family, most notably workplace mobbing, and congenital heart disease.
What is the biggest inspiration to your fictional writing?
Three things factor large in my fiction. As mentioned, my profession pervades my work, and many of my characters are social workers. Second, I am influenced by a sense of place. All my books are set in communities where I have resided: Scarborough, Sioux Lookout, and Kingston. Finally, most writers will cop to a romantic imagination, and love of reading. In my case the books of Conan Doyle, Rex Stout and Ian Fleming spring to mind.
You have published several genres. Do you have a favorite?
Sigh. I wish I did have a favorite genre. But I have fun dipping into everything. My work in progress, is a mad attempt to synthesize all the fiction into one epistolary novel. Just keeping track of characters – which include me, and a fictional version of me – is brutal. For some reason it is emerging with a distinctly gothic mien. Go figure.
You are not an author I would classify as stuck in a rut. Do you take on other writing projects?
I occasional write for small professional journals, particularly on the topic of workplace mobbing, where few voices are speaking out. But –and this answer will endear me to writers everywhere – I have the most fun writing book reviews. At this point I have done over 400 reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and still enjoy every one I write.
Alright, Richard, I am suitably endeared now!
From reading some of your books and blog, you seem to lace honest, humor, and reality in nearly equal doses. How did you develop this skill?
Those are survival skills, now fully integrated. I have had to take on many difficult issues, and situations over my lifetime. Turning into a sanctimonious scold would have long since burned me out, even while weakening my voice.
Some of your writing appears to require extensive research. What do you find are the best avenues for your exploration for content?
I rarely do research. I’ve been doing clinical social work for 40 years, and there’s more than enough book fodder baked into those experiences. The last serious research I did was on the anatomy of Lamprey Eels for Herkimer’s Nose, one of my Kingston “monster” books.
From your fictional books, do you have a favorite character?
In Herkimer’s Nose I introduced a French Canadian naval officer with sociopathic tendencies, named Marie Lesage. She is all kinds of fun to write. She is a perfect foil for the more straight-laced protagonist, Courtney Snow.
Are your fictional characters based on people you know?
Only occasionally, as sweet vengeance on people I don’t like. In “Kingston: Confidential”, “Fuckwad” and “Barfette” are based on real people. Most of us aren’t going to make a fortune writing fiction. Why not enjoy a few perks along the way?
What steps do you take to make your writing the very best it can be?
Like many helping professionals, I am blessed with an abundance of free floating guilt. As a writer, I would be lost without it. I hate editing, and I am terrible at it. Without guilt, I would never edit at all, which is unforgiveable in a serious writer.
I just love your sense of humor, Richard. It is straight up transparency that always works as it is such a rare, but treasured quality.
Tell me a little about your writing process and how it has evolved over time?
Hearing about my random and chaotic writing process may only confuse and depress your readers. My unconscious mind drives the process, and it’s only conversant under deep hypnosis.
What formats are your books available in?
Most appear as eBooks; around four or five are available in paperback. Emotional Recovery from Workplace Mobbing, by far my best seller, is available as an audiobook, and has been translated into Spanish.
Can you tell me a little bit about your next book and when it will be available?
I have just released a short book of essays on psychotherapy, but my next fiction book is going to be the epistolary novel; a weird tale of loss and adventure called “The Death of Brenda Martin.” I am hoping to publish it in late summer, or early fall 2021.
What are you passionate about?
Too much. But passions need to be kept under control. In this day and age, restraint is a good quality to nurture.
Most authors I come across are readers. Does this apply to you? If yes, do you have a favorite genre to read?
I do a lot of reading for indie writer friends. This has exposed me to books from many genres. My good fortune; they are almost all terrific writers. That said, I never say no to a sea monster book.
You are hosting a dinner. You have invited two authors to join you (Doesn’t matter if they are alive or not). What questions would you pose to each of them and why?
I can’t imagine more fun than throwing a dinner for Christopher Hitchens, and David Foster Wallace. First, ply them with liquor, then see if they can be manipulated into a topical argument.
Richard, I love this idea. May I being included in the guest list so I can watch you work your magic?
What interests you outside of writing?
I treat watercolors like the moody and intoxicating mistress I don’t have in real life. That said, I wrote Weasel and Rag, the most despicable possible take on the topic. It is so offensive to fellow painters that I’m not sure if I fear it selling, or not selling, more.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming authors?
I’m more an idea guy than a great prose artist. I’m neither meticulous, nor anguished in the process. I just crank ‘em out. Too many naturally talented writers spend too much time blocked. I look at some of these people with envy and a mild superiority complex, thinking: “just write the damn book!”
Richard, this has been fun. it is delightful to learn about you and your writing. I plan to pick up a few more of your books and get busy. Talk again soon.
Where can folks find you and follow you.