Home > NewsRelease > In Conversation With Richard Lewis Mater Author of Beat
In Conversation With Richard Lewis Mater Author of Beat
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Thursday, November 17, 2022


Bookpleasures.com welcomesas our guest Richard Lewis Mater author of Beat.

Norm: Good day Richardand thanks for taking part in our interview.

Please tell our readersa little bit about your personal and professional background.

Richard: Well, my fatherwas from Brooklyn and served in military intelligence during WorldWar II.

My mother was a liaisonofficer with the French Army, and the two met and fell in love inoccupied Germany after the war.

I was born in England andgrew up in California, on the East Coast, and for most of my teenageyears, in Munich, Germany, where my father worked for Radio FreeEurope. 

My professional careerbegan with low-level jobs in book and magazine publishing in New YorkCity. Then I chucked it all and hit the road for California, alongwith my girlfriend in a used VW bus.

For work I did factory andrestaurant jobs, manned retail counters, pumped gas, and did somefreelance writing.

Eventually, I moved toHollywood and re-invented myself working in television news and localprogramming. That was followed by a long career in networktelevision.

Norm: How has yourenvironment/upbringing colored your writing? 

Richard: Growing up inEurope from age 11 to 17 had a huge impact. We traveled a lot andvisited relatives on my mother’s side in England and France.

I think I grew up with apretty international perspective. Beat incorporates an element ofthat. San Francisco circa 1976, as depicted in the novel, has a doseof Paris.

Even several of thecharacters are French. 

Norm: How did youbecome involved with the subject or theme of Beat?

Richard: I wanted to writeabout being an angst-ridden 20something trying find his way in life.A first-person psychological character study.

The screws put to theprotagonist, both self-inflicted and brought on by the turmoil of thetimes and his own history -- especially coming up through thecounterculture and the anti-war movement.

When you’ve discardedmiddle-class goals and a life plan, how do you put it all backtogether in some new way?

Factor in the end of the anti-war movement,the revolutionary nihilism of the Weathermen, drugs going fromrelatively benign pot to cocaine, speed and heroin.

You hit a wall,and you know it’s time to do something drastic and new. “We’repushing a decade since the Summer of Love,” as Constantina says inthe book. “It’s time to move on.”

Norm: What were yourgoals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel youachieved them? 

Richard: My first goal wasto write a novel, hopefully a good one. One dealing in themes ofcompromise and lost idealism. Chronicle a generation. 

I grew up surrounded bybooks, including the French Obelisk Press versions of Henry Miller’swork when it was still banned in America: Tropic of Cancer andCapricorn.

I also became a big reader of Hemingway in my earlyteen years. Steinbeck, Hesse, Camus, and Kerouac followed. J.D.Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I was a voracious reader. 

I think I did a solid jobwriting Beat. I kept at it until I was confident that I didthe best I could. And that took years.

Norm: Is there much ofyou in the character of Billy Johnson?

Richard: Like Billy, I wasan activist in the anti-war movement who later found myself in theSan Francisco Bay Area during the early and mid-1970s.

It was the end ofinnocence in the counterculture. And at that point, I was done withradical politics. I needed to figure out the next stage of my life.  

Norm: How did you goabout creating the other characters in the book such as Manny and Ti?As a follow up, are the characters in your book based on people youknow or have encountered or are they strictly fictional?  

Richard: Some of thecharacters in Beat are inspired by real people, others arecomposites, and some are completely fictional. But even the onesinspired by real people took on a life of their own during thewriting process and changed. Sometimes drastically so. Sometimes lessso. 

Norm: What was the mostdifficult part of writing this book?

Richard: Learning to writefiction, the nuts and bolts of a novel. Staying with it over a periodof many years.

Coming back to it fromlong breaks. Determining the ending, which went through severaldifferent incarnations.

And overall, what to cutand what to keep and continue to re-write. But I loved the creativeoutlet it provided, and most of the time the process was veryrewarding and fun. A joy really. 

Norm: Did you learnanything from writing the book, if so what was it?  

Richard: I learned a lotabout myself and about the process. For one thing, writing a novelcan be far more challenging and time consuming than one assumes goingin.

And perhaps it’s betternot to know that ahead of time. Also, I was pleasantly surprised atwhat I pulled off in what I consider to be the best chapters andscenes. Punched above my weight, I would say. 

Norm:  It is saidthat writers should write what they know. Were there any elements ofthe book that forced you to step out of your comfort zone, and if so,how did you approach this part of the writing?  

Richard: Writing a novelwith all that it involves was stepping out of my comfort zone. I hadpreviously written only non-fiction. Music and entertainmentindustry-related pieces and one non-fiction book.

I approached writing anovel by being sure to work with a very good editor once I had theroughest of drafts. One who got what I was trying to do and who was agreat teacher.

And there were somespecific scenes that were a real challenge for me. I kept at itrelentlessly until I thought I got them right. 

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and Beat?


Norm: What is next forRichard Lewis Mater? 

Richard: I’m finishingup a distance-running memoir. It includes essays and reflections onrunning, a life lived, paths taken and not taken, aging, and more.All of it is set against taking on an iconic distance-runningchallenge in my 60s.

Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owesomething to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would thatbe?  

Richard: Yes, I thinkwriters owe readers their best effort, and hopefully they inform andentertain in some way. Take the reader on a journey to someplacedifferent, interesting, that makes them think -- or even justescape. 

And a laugh or two alongthe way is good. 

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Beat

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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