Featured Interview With Dave Riese
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
Born in 1946, I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, graduating from Arlington High School in 1964. I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, majoring in English literature. During my junior year, I studied English Literature at Oxford University and travelled in Europe.
After graduating in 1968, I enlisted in the Air Force one step ahead of my draft board’s invitation to join the army and travel to Vietnam. I married Susan, my high school girlfriend, during leave between tech school and my posting to the Philippines at Clark Air Base. During my final two years in the military, my wife and I lived near Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington D.C.
Discharged from the military in 1972, I attended Boston University on the GI Bill for a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. The following summer, I was hired by the University of New Hampshire to script and film videotapes about government social programs for the elderly.
My videotape grant ran out in 1976, but luckily at that time, companies were eager to hire people for their IT departments. Although I had no computer experience, I was hired by Liberty Mutual Insurance to attend their three-month training course. I learned later that the major reason I was hired was my writing and communications background. An English degree can be a valuable asset!
During my 35 years in information technology, I worked in the financial and insurance industries. I retired from Massachusetts Financial Services in spring of 2012.
My wife and I moved north of Boston in 1974. Our daughter lives in Ireland with her husband. Our son and his wife are both pediatricians working in Rhode Island. We have four grandchildren.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I have always been fascinated with books.
I began writing at Bates College in Maine. While studying abroad at Oxford University in England during my junior year, I travelled throughout Europe during term breaks. For my B.A. thesis, I wrote stories, essays and poems based on my travel journals. Like many young writers, I was ‘bitten’ by the poetry bug in my twenties. I was cured, mercifully, within two years. Three poems were good enough to escape the shredder.
In my mid-twenties, I began writing short stories. An early story, submitted to the University of Massachusetts literary magazine, was not accepted, but the editor wrote a personal note praising the story and encouraging me to continue writing. I have always treasured that ‘rejection.’
While studying for my MBA at Suffolk University in Boston, I entered stories in the university’s annual short story contests and won a couple of cash prizes. Despite that success, I knew I had to keep my day job.
In my thirties, I began writing a novel off-and-on over several years. I finally finished the 400-page novel. It hides in a cardboard box under my desk.
When I decided to retire in 2012, I sat myself down for a serious talk. “You’ve always thought of yourself as a writer,” I told myself, “but you spend more time thinking about publishing a book than you do sitting down and doing the hard work to write one. Don’t die before giving your dream a real chance.”
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
My favorite authors are Irish and English, such as Sebastian Barry, William Trevor, Colm Toibin, Frank O’Connor, Jaime O’Neill, Edna O’Brien, Jane Gardam, Brian Moore, Peter Ackroyd, John LeCarre, Patrick McGrath, Ian McEwan, Magnus Mills, John Mortimer, Roddy Doyle, Virginia Woolf, Michael Frayn, Graham Swift, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Taylor, Hilary Mantel, Charles Dickens, and Evelyn Waugh.
My favorite American and Canadian writers are Edith Wharton, Pat Barker, William Maxwell, James Cain, Jim Thompson, Willa Cather, Stewart O’Nan, Bernice Rubens, Mordecai Richler, Alan Furst, Muriel Spark, Patricia Highsmith, Ernest Hemingway (short stories), Scott Turow, Henry James, Eudora Welty, and Tobias Wolff
Tell us a little about your latest book?
The Inspiration for Echo from Mount Royal came while having coffee one morning with a friend. Before going to work, I’d often meet an elderly Jewish woman in the coffee shop downstairs from my office. We talked ‘books,’ sharing a similar taste in fiction.
When she learned that I was a writer, she told me many stories about her experiences growing up in Montreal before and after WWII. Her story about her engagement as an 18-year-old girl astounded me. She invited me to ‘write it up,’ thinking it would make an interesting short story.
Over the next ten months, I gave her chapters to read. When the 300-page manuscript was finished, she hefted the pages laughing, “This weighs more than a short story!” After another year and a half editing the book, it was finally finished In October 2014.
A brief synopsis:
In Montreal, it’s 1951. Rebecca Wiseman briefly meets a handsome young man at a college dance but has little hope of seeing him again. When Sol Gottesman tracks her down and asks her on a date, her joy turns to amazement when she learns he is extremely wealthy.
Rebecca, 18 and a freshman in college, lives with her family in a working-class Jewish neighborhood. When Sol takes her in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce to the most expensive restaurant in the city, Rebecca enters the world of upper-class privilege. Her romantic dreams are coming true.
But clouds begin to gather as she learns that despite Sol’s outward charm, he lacks self-confidence. On a visit to Mount Royal overlooking Montreal, Sol reveals the simmering conflicts in his family and his fear that his brother plans to drive him out of the family business. Rebecca loves Sol and wants to protect him, but helping him stand up to his family, puts her squarely in the midst of it all.
Class, religion, sexual inexperience and family rivalry test their love. Rebecca, wondering if their relationship can survive, struggles to control events with humor and forgiveness. But Sol has a secret that threatens their future happiness. And then, a late night telephone call changes her life forever.
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