Creative Corner – Robert Rand
It’s a New Year … and I have some New Interview Questions!! And I’m kicking off 2016 with an interview subject whose life story is the sort of tragedy and redemption tale normally found in the pages of fiction.
Meet: Robert Rand
Robert Rand is a reformed career criminal, having spent seven prison terms and a total of twenty-five years of his life incarcerated in some of California’s most dangerous prisons. He now lives in Arkansas with his family where he enjoys time with the kids and grandkids and as much fishing as he can get in.
- Welcome, Robert Rand. Thanks for joining me here on Creative Corner. What should my readers know about you?
I am a 50 year old father and grandfather who was a long time career criminal, (spent 25 years in prison for various charges, from assault, to explosives to illegal weapons, to forgery), and have now turned that experience into a series of crime/thriller novels.
- What are the 3 words that best describe you?
Determined, loyal, Smart-ass
- Tell us about your work.
While in prison in Chino, Ca., I began writing endings to the dozens of tattered paperbacks that we inmates were provided for our reading pleasure. Westerns, thrillers, romance, horror and even a couple biographies. The books became a hit around the prison. That lead to my writing the first draft of Criminal Option (The Rourk Family Saga, Vol. I). I was able to draw on some events in my own life while writing the manuscript. My main character, Sullivan Rourk, is an Indian Casino manager, I was part of the management team at an Indian bingo/casino; however, the vast majority of the book is all fiction. Sullivan is a flawed hero who takes some getting used to. By the end of the first novel, he has regained a certain enchantment with the readers. I wrote the first draft of the follow-up, Las Vegas Demons (The Rourk Family Saga, Vol. II) in one 26 hour writing session while incarcerated in Pleasant Valley State Prison. The third installment, A Family Betrayal (The Rourk Family Saga, Vol. III) took about a month. Though my first novel to gain attention was one I co-wrote with the masterful thriller novelist, Mike Wells. With Mother’s Approval has helped pay the bills for the last year.
- Which piece of work are you most proud of?
I find myself rereading the third Rourk novel. Throughout the series, I ruthlessly kill beloved characters. I write as if I am watching a movie and seeing the scenes unfold as my pen touches the page. I have been warned to not do this because readers become enamored with characters and develop a relationship with them. I feel I get around that by creating new, and better characters to take the place of the old ones. This is, I believe, is exemplified in A Family Betrayal.
- What other creative endeavors do you enjoy?
I am involved in several businesses, the newest being a 3D printing company.
- What would people be most surprised to see on your Kindle or bookshelf?
A dogeared copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy Hell.
- How about your playlist?
It is an eclectic mix of today’s country, classic rock and 80’s metal.
- I love music, and I’m always interested in the musical tastes of my friends. Tell me your 3 favorite songs.
Blake Shelton’s Boy’s ‘Round Here; Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Karn Evil Number 9 1st Impression; Tracy Byrd’s Keeper of the Stars
- What song best describes your life?
The Grateful Dead’s, Hell in a Bucket. The part that goes “I might be going through hell, but you know I’m enjoying the ride!”
- In the story of your life, who would you like to play you?
Nathan Fillion (Plays Richard Castle)
The Glamorous, Dangerous Romance Section:
- You’re about to be teleported back in time to the days of castles and dragons. Please cast the following roles:
- King Sean Connery
- Queen Keira Knightley
- Prince Daniel Radcliffe
- Princess Meghan Trainor
- Court Jester Ron White
- Alchemist Carrot Top
- Evil Nemesis Rush Limbaugh
- Dragon Mel Tillis
- What is the biggest danger facing the castle?
The dragon is trying to be friendly, however as he attempts to speak, he spits fire because of his stutter.
- How do you prevail over this danger?
Teach the dragon to sing
- We’re off to the Cannes film festival. Who do we meet there?
- What do you wear on the red carpet?
Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, a T-shirt, and a leather bomber jacket from WWII
- You’re about to be sucked into a soap opera. The only thing you have control over is which one you land in. Which one is it?
Days of Our Lives
- You’ve been invited to 2 different events, each taking place on the same day/time. Do you attend the star-studded charity event for a charity you don’t feel strongly about? Or a low-key gathering of a dozen people you find interesting and entertaining?
I love giving of my time and money to causes I care strongly about, I am loathe to be cornered into crap I don’t care for. I would spend time with the dozen interesting people.
- You’ve been chosen to receive a custom wardrobe by the designer of your choice. Which designer is making it for you?
Who designs Wrangler jeans?
- People magazine is featuring you on next month’s cover. Why?
For receiving the Oscar for best adaptation 3 years in a row for the Rourk Saga franchise.
- We have front row tickets to Fashion Week in NYC. Who are we sitting with?
- Whose collection are you most looking forward to seeing?
Fruit of the Loom
- You’re given to chance to star in either Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Which movie do you choose?
- Which role do you play?
- Who is starring in the movie with you?
A big hairy wookie
- Which would you rather see make a comeback – disco or psychedelic rock?
Disco is dead so let’s leave it in its grave. Bring on the Phychedelic Rock!!!
- Everyone’s running for President these days, so why not you? Tell me your campaign slogan.
“I’ve been to prison, I won’t do anything to go back! Trust me!”
The Personal Touch:
- You recently co-wrote a book with author Mike Wells. What was it like to collaborate with another author?
Very fulfilling, actually. I had written the manuscript and Mike made some significant changes that created incredible improvements. I am not interested in keeping MY story “pure”. If I can get help improving a story for my readers, I am all for it!
- Would you ever do it again
- Who would be your dream writing partner?
James Patterson, for purely financial reasons, but Dante Aligheri for the opportunity to pick that twisted mind!
- You’re very candid about having spent nearly half your life in prison. What led you to make the decision(s) that resulted in this outcome?
After being beaten, raped and left for dead by a neighbor when I was 10 years old, I soon turned to drugs to ease my mental anguish. The drugs cost money and the quickest way for a 10 year old boy to get cash was to commit crime. I stole cars and sold drugs until I was 15. Then I moved on to other crimes, like armed robbery. I stayed high for the better part of the next 30 years and supported my habit with crime, even when I had jobs that could fully support my meth habit. The terror was something that was forced upon me, the choice to hide the fact of the horror was one I should not have made. I found drugs and booze and then chose to be a criminal and drug addict. Then 11 years ago, I chose to not be a criminal and drug addict. I chose to write about criminals and addicts instead.
- How did you learn to make different decisions for yourself?
When I last went to prison, I was going to be away from my young daughter until she turned 16. That hurt. I called my grandmother to tell her how much time I took in a plea bargain. She told me, “I guess I will never see you again.” She died three months later. That was devastating. I began looking at my life and as I saw the U.S. Service men and women dying in Afghanistan and Iraq, I realized how unfair it was to those brave people that I took advantage of the freedom they were dying to defend. I chose then to contribute to American society and never again take from it.
- What are your thoughts on jail being used as punishment vs. rehabilitation?
I believe in the death penalty as a punishment, not a deterrent. And I believe it should be expanded to include rapists and child molesters. Drug offenders who are not ready to quit will not benefit from forced rehabilitation. I think all crimes should be punished with an indeterminate sentence of whatever years to life. If the inmate refuses to comply with the rules and get a GED and a viable trade, then the inmate should stay in prison. It seems harsh, but it would greatly reduce the violence in prison and make inmates who are on the revolving door of incarceration pay attention and have a better chance at not re-offending.
- What, if anything, do you think should be reformed about the US prison system?
The system should have mandatory high school equivalency and mandatory viable trade education/training completed by the inmates before being released. If a person does not want to get educated, they can stay in prison.
- Describe your interest in writing a family saga.
The Rourk Family saga did not begin with it being a saga in my mind. It was intended as a single entry novel. My mom read the first draft of the manuscript and was so enthusiastic about it that she wanted me to write a follow up because she loved the characters.
- Your saga involves the casino business in Las Vegas. Do you have personal experience in this area?
I come from a family of Las Vegas lovers! I worked as part of the management team at an Indian Bingo/Casino in the mid to late 80’s.
- Describe your ideal day fishing.
The cool, light breeze makes the 80 degree sun seem perfect. Small waves rock the boat dock and the woodpeckers in the pines behind me keep up a steady staccato of mindless noise that prevents me from thinking of anything other than the next fish to catch and release.
Reach Out & Touch Someone:
- Where can my readers get more information on you?
- What social media sites do you use? How can my readers follow you? https://www.facebook.com/americancrimenovels
- Where can my readers purchase your work?
Thank you, Clara, for having me here! I am honored to be a part of your Creative Corner!
Thank you so much for joining me, Robert! Best Wishes on all your future endeavors!!