Today, as part of a new blog series called In the Armchair, where I’ll be talking to creatives, I’d like to introduce Richard Robbins to you all.
Richard is a fellow author of literary fiction at Evolved Publishing. I interviewed him about his novel Love, Loss, and Lagniappe, which has been receiving glowing advanced reviews and is released today.
Love, Loss and Lagniappe
Author: Richard Robbins
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Editor: Lane Diamond
Cover Artist: D. Robert Pease
A love story that defied the laws of nature….
Life is good for Dr. Drew Coleman, a successful young eye surgeon living in Uptown New Orleans, and he knows it. Having met and married his beautiful medical school classmate, Kate, the two settle happily into the routine of raising their two young daughters.
Drew’s charmed life is soon shattered by devastating news, causing him to go on a ten-year transcontinental journey of self-discovery, during which he explores the nature of God and Man, the divine inspiration for many of New York’s landmarks and artistic treasures, and the relationship between the found and the lost souls passing on the street. He meets a number of memorable characters, including the young blue-haired runaway, Blue, who renounced her given name when forced to leave her Minnesota home with her girlfriend, Anna.
In time, he discovers and explains the scientific basis for the meaning of life, and is finally found, or finds himself, setting the stage for a bittersweet and memorable ending.
In the Armchair: Richard Robbins
1. What drew you to literary fiction as a genre?
I have always liked telling good stories, and I feel that the best stories are grounded in reality, particularly the relationships among family members. Parents and children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren all provide endless sources of humour, tension and human emotion.
I am also a highly emotional person, the first parent to embarrass their child by tearing up when dropping them off at college. Literary fiction provides me the best opportunity to mine those relationships and emotions for memorable and hopefully important stories.
2. What are the themes of your novel and how did you go about choosing them?
The first story essentially chose me. Early in our marriage, my wife was diagnosed with a significant brain tumour. At the time, we had three children under five years of age. Fortunately, she survived the episode, and after a recovery, has thrived. However, I have never fully gotten over the effects of spending eight hours in a waiting room, not sure if she was going to make it or not. During that time, you can’t help but wonder what the future will bring. Writing this novel was therapeutic for me, even if I found people walking by me in Starbucks wondering why there was a grown man typing with tears in his eyes. I have been amazed at how many people, particularly men, have felt the need to express to me their loss and their emotions surrounding their loss after reading the book.
3. Who is your favourite character in the book?
Probably Lauren. She is a firecracker, and not afraid to do or say exactly what she wants or means. This is particularly evident in contrast to Kate’s caution. Every sibling and parent is amazed at the differences between siblings raised in the same home with the same parents and gene pool. Hopefully I have captured that phenomenon in this work.
4. Could there have been any other ending?
Yes, of course, but for me, there was only this one. I don’t want to give anything away, but when I considered the ending, I first considered what I believed the ending would be if I were in Drew’s place. Drew is not me, but I could not help but put myself in his place. Also, I wanted to be greedy with the ending. What I mean by that is that I wanted to capture as many emotions as possible in the final paragraph, actually in the final sentence. All the pain, love, loss, friendship and optimism Drew experienced through his journey.
And every story I will ever write will include at least one dog.
5. What are you going to be writing about next?
The next novel is called Panicles. A Panicle is a form of branching flower in which all branches come off one main stem, which feels like a metaphor for family lineage to me. It is a story of two families, one wealthy and powerful, one of more modest means, and their relationships to themselves and each other. The fundamental question addressed is the price of fame versus the simpler pleasures of living a private, more grounded life. This story will be longer and more ambitious, and there will be more humour, plenty of tears, and an ending you will never forget. I am looking forward to its release in late 2019.
About Richard Robbins
Richard has always liked telling good stories, but it was not until his youngest child left for college that he was able to find the time to put them into print. His first novel, Love, Loss, and Lagniappe was inspired by actual events in his life, and utilises Richard’s Medical and Business School background to explore the journey of self-discovery after heartbreaking loss, while revealing the scientific basis for the meaning of life (you’ll have to read it to find out!).
Richard is currently working on his second novel, Panicles, a multi-generational story of the intersecting fate of two families and the price of fame versus the simpler pleasures of a grounded life.
Richard lives in New York City with his love and inspiration, Lisa, his wife of thirty years (and counting), near their beloved grown children.