Please welcome to the Ventura County Writers Club my neighbor, memoir author, Richard Hulse from Oxnard. The son of a Travel Editor of the LA Times, it seems Richard was always meant to write. Richard has lived a colorful life, teaching in Australia for two years before settling in the San Fernando Valley to raise his family. Richard has a wife, two kids, and four grandkids, and is the author of two books: Forty Years of Friendship and My Brother Bo, Addicted in Paradise.
Please enjoy our interview below as Richard discusses the amazing way in which his stories have traveled to publication and beyond.
GL: Can you tell us a bit about your life?
RH: I taught in East LA for eight and one half years, then junior high for thirteen and one half years, teaching social studies mainly. Then I taught at Granada Hills high school and taught magnet in social studies until the athletic director job came up and I got that job and I taught PE as well as being the Athletics Director for twelve years. I had a great experience in teaching. I found it very rewarding. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and then my wife and I lived in Simi Valley for about twenty-eight years where we raised our kids. Then I bought the mobile home in Hollywood Beach as a vacation home and now we’ve lived here permanently for the last five years.
GL: Where has the publication of your work taken you?
RH: My first book I self-published through I-Universe and I published the first copy and then I rewrote it and published it a second time. It’s called 40 Years of Friendship. It’s a story about my friend and I and our forty years of friendship. The unfortunate part of our relationship is that this guy died in 2007 in a condo fire. After he died, I was obviously very sad, and I thought maybe I could write about my friend, maybe I could ease the pain and I ended up writing a book about the guy. I have a friend that read the book and he took a chapter and used it as a basis to write a play about it which was presented at the Hollywood Fringe Festival last summer and also it was put on at the Valley Relics Museum in Chatsworth last September.
GL: As a memoir author what is it like recalling the past?
RH: You can’t remember everything that occurred. By reflecting the essence, I tried to be as accurate as I could. You have to recapture it. That’s what a lot of people do.
GL: What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?
RH: Read a lot. Reading will help you become a better writer. Maybe you read a book that’s not so good, but you can learn from the mistakes the person made. I think going to the VCWC and listening to people represent the club in various areas can help. Also maybe going to school and taking some English classes. The first time I started to write was because my friend was an English major at CSUN. He gave me books to read. He taught me how to write better through reading different authors like Saul Bellow, Theodore Dreiser, Jack Kerouac, and Ernest Hemingway. I read about twelve to thirteen books in a year and a half and I had a blast.
GL: Are there any movies that inspire you to write?
RH: Cool Hand Luke and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Cooky and crazy. It’s sort of normal but sort of abnormal. I’ve used what I’ve read and viewed to try and help me when telling stories.
GL: What was your path to publication like and the query letter process to agents?
RH: My Brother Bo Addicted in Paradise was published by a Mississippi editor, Meredith McGee, through her company Meredith Etc. Before her, I emailed it to companies and they would say this is not the type of story we’re looking for. I probably contacted twenty five or thirty publishing companies and I got rejected. I’ve been interviewed by the Ventura County Reporter about this book because they’re going to write an article about prescription drug abuse in the next month or two. I wrote a letter to them that said they might be interested in my book, I gave them details and a summary. I sent a copy of this book to Barack Obama. I sent it to Oprah Winfrey’s publicist in the hopes that they might do something with it. If you want to sell a book you’ve gotta give it to as many different agencies and groups that you can to get it known.
GL: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
RH: I wrote both books as a catharsis and the book I wrote on addiction, I also hoped someone who reads it might learn more about what addiction is. My Brother Bo Addicted in Paradise is about my brother, Bo and his struggle with prescription meds. This is kind of like part of his legacy that I hope will help somebody.