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Richard E. LaMotte is an accomplished author and writer. Now retired from the film and motion picture industry, Richard is devoting his time to his love of stories and spending time with his wife Patricia in Valencia, California. His newest novel, “The Song of Ramon and Maria" was released in September 2022.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what you do today other than writing.
Aside from writing, I enjoy being retired and doing retired people stuff, reading, working in the garden, going to the gym, and having fun and traveling with my wife. I used to draw and paint more and have some work online at some gallery sites (FASO, Fine Art America), but I don’t do that as much anymore. Maybe this Spring, I will get re-inspired.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I love telling stories. I’ve always enjoyed stories that communicated something, some emotion, or moments of experience from someone’s past that offered insight into something I could never know otherwise. I love imagination also, the world of imagination. Combining events and characters from experience and imagination into a new story that communicates something to others became irresistible.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think it’s connected to being very young and listening to my father tell me stories about his experiences in the First World War as a flyer or my mother and her sisters talking about the Mexican Revolution. I think those moments, being young and hearing the grown-ups talk about past events, history, about a world gone into the past, conjured-up images that I wanted to write down. Not knowing, years later, I would write a novel about those memories.
Do you have a specific writing style?
No. I studied screenwriting at UCLA and SC extension classes and took a summer of Film-Making at Art Center Pasadena, CA, and I’ve had the opportunity to read dozens of Movie Scripts, so the three-act format is pretty well ingrained in my approach to writing. But my reading ranges from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Elmore Leonard and includes Oscar Wild and even Frederic Remington, so I like to assume the style that I think best fits the material.
I used to outline the story on 3x5 cards; now, I start with an Idea (Theme) and a Character, research a setting (story world) and just start. I know act one will run about fifty to a hundred pages and so on.
How did you come up with the title?
‘The Song of Ramon and Maria.’ During the Mexican revolution, a music style was created in Mexico that reflected the troubled times. It’s called a ‘Corrida.’ A Corrida is a kind of poetic ballad, sometimes a cautionary, heart-breaking story of star-crossed lovers. That’s what I wanted to try and write – a heart-breaking story of star-crossed lovers in the context of Mexico’s revolution, but universal in its humanity. Most people won’t relate to the title as I do, but I tried to reinforce the idea with the illustration I did for the book cover.
What has influenced you the most as a writer?
Probably my background in filmmaking. I worked for years helping to bring other people’s ideas to the movie screen, and I love the magic of that kind of idea transmission, but I want to create some stories of my own through writing.
Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?
I get story material daily from everywhere, including my memories and past life experiences.
What books have influenced your life the most?
Early on, probably the Bible. Later I read pulp fiction, Private Detective stories like “Shell Scott” and others, sometimes big historical fiction works. They all impressed me with the enjoyment I received, enabling me to experience worlds outside my own.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Staying off of ‘YouTube.' (Lol)... Actually, I like the challenge. A good challenge pulls things out of you, strengths you didn’t know you had, or reveals weaknesses or areas to work on. Keeps you on edge, awake, and alive.
Who designed the covers?
My wife and I do. I painted the cover for “Ramon and Maria." The photos used for “Crime Story” and “The Treasure” were pulled, purchased, and manipulated by my wife (who is also my reader, editor, formats, and publisher.) As for my film costume book, “Costume Design 101,” I painted the cover for the first edition (Actually a costume sketch from “The Wind and the Lion.”) and the publisher did the cover for the second edition.
Who is your favorite author, and what is it that strikes you about their work?
Honestly, I don’t have a favorite. I like Oscar Wilde’s humor and word choices, Elmore Leonard’s easy story-telling ability and dialogue, Joseph Wambaugh’s throw-away grittiness, and Stephen King’s slyness. So many others. I can’t pick, but I do love reading!
Do you ever experience writer's block?
Sure. When I do, I try and find the source of the block. Is it, ‘I’m out of ideas?’, I’m just ‘tired’, ‘I don’t like this story anymore.’
From there, I fall back until I rediscover my reason for starting and what I found interesting about the original idea, then try and re-focus my energy on a solution. I have about five or six stories open on my computer, so I can switch back and forth and don’t have to stop writing altogether. Actually, working like that means that a story situation I initially thought worked in one story I sometimes find works better in another.
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
Don’t ever give up. If it’s a solid idea, it’s waiting there to be uncovered. Just write everything you know about the idea and keep rewriting, honing, researching, and shaping until it’s what you want. It’s like any art project, it can lead you if you let it.
Where would you choose if you could live anywhere in the world for a year while writing your next book?
A condo in Waikiki, or a riad in Marrakech, and a place overlooking the sea in the south of Spain.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy reading my novels as I wrote them for you, the reader. I sure hope more readers will hear or learn that my novels are available. I am fascinated by reading their book reviews and comments. It helps me know if they like what I am writing. Even what they experience as they escape into a new world through my novels and through written words, if only for a few hours.
Find out more about Richard and his books on his website at https://richardlamotte.com/
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