Richard Happerger: Running and writing
Meeting the Rising Writer No. 1
I’m quite honored, today, to introduce you to this blog’s first Rising Writer. In Authors’ Tale, every week, a new writer is featured, along with a short excerpt from their work. This week, Richard Happerger has willingly accepted the opportunity of being a featured writer and in addition, has accepted to introduce himself and participate in a virtual interview. It’s been wonderful hearing his response, and I can’t wait for you to get to know him, too.
Born in Toronto, Canada, according to Richard, he has spent a large part of his childhood living in Germany between the ages of 4 to 14. He’s a recreational runner, and he is currently training for a marathon in October in Chicago. He also spends time with his family as a father to his 11-year-old son and as a husband.
Richard, thank you for participating in this interview.
When did you start writing?
I only started the idea of writing at all in early 2014, so I’m really new at this. It started when I had a little tiny idea that started with a daydream. I kept adding to it until I had a small story. Eventually, I thought I needed to write it down. Really, it was when I bought a discounted copy of The Nighttime Novelist. With that, I started learning what makes a novel. Since then, I have read many other books on writing to get the information from different viewpoints. I learned a lot from those and from reading actual novels in order to read as a writer. Since then I have written smaller pieces for the learning experience while I continue on my bigger project.
What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?
I am working on a novel, which is a challenge since I am so new at this. This is a story that inspired me to start writing in the first place. I’m anxious to complete it, but I won’t rush it. I want to make sure it is the best I can do, even if it requires learning as I go along. I have ideas for a second story, but I won’t explore it anymore until I’m done with the first one. In the meantime, I do try to work on smaller projects like short stories that I can complete quicker. It is a way to practice writing different types of stories and show them for review. I have not developed a set technique, but if I ever make it to the second novel, I plan to be a lot more organized. I probably won’t be. At the beginning of the current novel, I put together an outline in order to show to a friend who is an avid reader and ask “Would anyone read something like this?”
Give us insight to your main character. Who is he or she? What is his or her purpose?
My main character is Canadian of German descent. He visits Berlin, Germany at different points in his life. Once as a child and then to study art for a year as an exchange student. It was during his second visit he develops a relationship with his friend’s sister, a Turkish immigrant girl he met during his first visit as a child. That relationship produces a daughter he knows nothing about until he returns in present day with his family. In play, he is being “knighted” as a swordsman by his imaginative eight-year-old son, to be the slayers of monsters and dragons. His mission is to be the protector of children everywhere. Largely symbolic, he needs to be this person when he tries to connect with his daughter (19-years-old), who wants no part of him, but needs him to help her fight her own demons. At the same time, he needs to deal with the impact of the news that his daughter was conceived while he was already in a relationship with his high school sweetheart, who is now his current wife. Having lost his passion for the art after he returned to Canada, we will once again re-discover it after seeing that his daughter has a natural talent but has also abandoned it. So in the end, he has to learn to save his new-found daughter, save his marriage, learn to be true to himself and follow his passion. He will undergo a career change but not to become an artist. He will be freer creatively. The stale career that he is in up to this point has much to do with the guilt he felt after he returned to Canada many years ago.
That is an amazing build for your character. Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere really. I also draw on my own personal experiences or other peoples’ experiences. I may use a personal experience as an idea, then build all the fiction around it. Ever since I have become interested in writing, I tend to notice the world around me more.
Do you research your book? If so, what have you learned through your research?
I have done some research, even minor searches for short stories. Even if it is a work of fiction, it needs to have plausibility. So if a story takes place in Berlin I would want to make sure where people spend time and live is based mostly on real places.
Do you have any favorite books? Favorite motivational quotes?
My favorite quote is from Ernest Hemingway “The first draft of anything is shit.” It really helped after those first few steps as a novice writer when I couldn’t understand why the vivid scenes in my head didn’t come out on paper right away.
What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
Whenever I write something I want to move people and leave them with a thought. It can make them laugh, sad, curious or even angry. Just as long as it is memorable. If it’s a sad story, I would like leave people with a sense of hope. I think that is the way I want to approach it. For myself, ultimately, I want to discover how far I can take this creatively. How much can I do with this? I would like one day to discover for myself if I am naturally good at this, but I have a lot to learn still.
Do you have any advice you’d like to give other writers?
I’m not sure if I am qualified yet to give advice, but one day I want to be able to say “If I can do it, so can you.” For all those future writers out there who are just starting, you will probably enter a period or many periods where you don’t think you have what it takes, and you think your writing is horrible. Don’t listen to those voices, especially your own. When I first started this writing thing, I was just waiting for someone to tell me I can’t do it. It turns out, the only voice that ever doubted that was my own. You need to find others who are in the same boat. It might be intimidating at first to join a writing group, but only they understand what goes on in your mind.
Thank you so much, Richard, for taking time to participate in an interview with me. Though writers can’t find you yet, you’re still available on Authors’ Tale. It’s wonderful to be meeting you, so I hope we all get to see you around!
Have a blessed evening,