More About Rich
The Early Years
Rich was born in 1948 in Los Angeles. In high school, he read the works of Leonid Andreyev and Nathanael West. Then he discovered Per Lagerkvist’s The Sibyl.
“It described possession by a higher power,” Rich says, “That captivated me at the time, and still captivates me. A few years later, I found Juan Ramon Jimenez and the die was cast. I was convinced that fiction would lead me down a long corridor, and I could see ‘Exit’ flashing at the end of it.”
In 1965, Rich started college at Berkeley. He majored in English lit, finding heroes both within his coursework and outside—William Blake, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Walter Pater and Henri Bergson. “All of them were important to me because they saw our everyday world as a veil, behind which a world more profound, more alive, and more real, was waiting to be discovered.”
“I was crazy about Ibsen and still am. Not the Ibsen of A Doll’s House, but the Ibsen of Peer Gynt, Brand and The Master Builder. About the same time, I discovered Knut Hamsun’s early work and the legacy of Arthur Machen.
Music played a role: “For all of these writers, especially Hopkins and Machen, the rhythm and melody of language gave it the power to transport us into the emotional domain of an unseen world.”
Adulthood—More or Less
Rich wanted to spend full time in his literary dream world:
“I recoiled at the idea of expressing myself through commercial vehicles, so I got a job in the computer industry, and beavered away in the stolen hours. A number of my heroes had to work for a living, so I figured that wouldn’t be so bad. Well, the stolen hours turned into stolen years.”
Rich worked on six different projects during this time, making significant progress on all of them, but completing none. “They were just too ambitious. I had no help, and asked for none, so I spent years stumbling around in the dark. There were moments of the blackest despair. What I wanted, I wanted very badly, and my failures crushed me.”
He did well in the computer industry. Ultimately, he was president of two high-tech start-ups, and partner in a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. “The more demanding the job, the worse my life became. I would get up at four in the morning, write for four hours, drive to work, bust my guts, crash and wake up at four a.m. again. If the bubble hadn’t burst in 2000, I’d be in the graveyard. I hung up my tech spurs, and focused on my very first project, Wild Animus.”
The novel, Wild Animus, was published in 2004, followed by Too Far, The Hope We Seek and Arms from the Sea. He is currently working on his fifth novel. “For most of my life, I had little confidence that any of these projects would ever see the light of day. It’s a miracle to me that things worked out.”