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About Richard G Sharp
Following years in the Washington, DC area as an international development and transport consultant, with assignments mainly in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the former Soviet Union, Mr Sharp now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a member of the North Carolina Writer's Network and the Charlotte Writer's Club. While "The Duke Don't Dance" is not autobiographical, Sharp takes advantage of his broad experience to develop the novel's vivid scenes of Thailand during the Vietnam conflict, post-colonial Africa, the Soviet Union and, of course, Washington, DC.
Sharp was the youngest child in a large family with both parents born in 19th century Missouri, their history forming a starting point for "Jacob's Cellar" and "Time Is the Oven," (both published late 2012) tales of rural protagonists in the fringes of the South. The great grandson of three Civil War soldiers (two Union, one Confederate) and another grandfather displaced by the great conflict, Sharp explores the Civil War's impact on ordinary men and women caught up in the war and its aftereffects.
From an interview with Tic Toc Book Reviews (http://wrighton-time.blogspot.com):
On influences: "This may be surprising to most who have read The Duke Don't Dance. While my work has been compared (quite over-the-top) to Henry James, Joseph Heller and Evelyn Waugh, my greatest influence by far actually has been Isabel Allende, particularly her work up through Paula. She greatly informs my treatment of female protagonists and inspires my interest in the evolution of personalities and generations over time."
On writing style: "I always start writing around that initial concept, whether it comes in the beginning, as in Jacob's Cellar, or later in the novel, as in the other two books. The concept provides a time and place anchor that is then elaborated through accurate historical milestones and the emergence of the protagonists interacting within the time frame. The conclusion, driven by the evolution of my characters over the passage of time, is a late development, never the starting point."
"To me, it is important that the protagonists not give a damn about what the reader thinks of them. The characters in a novel should never be pleading to the reader to love them or think they're cool. If protagonists are to seem like real people, they simply can't care that some omniscient narrator is polishing up their image or alter their dialog so that all of the things that one wishes one had said are said. Sometimes that approach tests the reader a bit at the outset until they get into the stream of what's going on. But my protagonists don't care and neither do I. In the end, I think that makes for a better story."
From an Interview with Whitehair365 (www.whitehair365.com):
A typical working day. "I wake up early and turn to writing or related research early and work in concentrated intervals with numerous breaks throughout the day. I change my focus among drafting, editing and research frequently. I can usually find one mode that works for the particular moment in time.
The most powerful challenge in writing. "Impatience with my progress. Writing a novel is a marathon, not a forty yard dash and the hills seem to get higher somewhere around mid-course...Technically, I think it is shifting perspectives between protagonists so that they emerge as different personalities. After experimentation with writing in the first person, I switched to third person. However, rather than being the "omniscient narrator," I want my third person prose to mostly reflect the outlook of the main protagonist in a given situation or that of an identifiable observer at the scene. I'm not always successful, but I want the reader to feel increasingly familiar with each protagonist through both the narration and the direct dialog."
The best thing about being an author. " For old codgers like me, writing The Duke Don't Dance is an opportunity to shock the young, raise the dead and drive the unsuspecting right out of their heads. My novels are pretty much about the past, an irreverent contribution to social archeology, so I do enjoy feedback from those who have found some preconception shattered or some vague suspicion confirmed."
A sweeping saga of American idealism and disillusionment, Richard Sharp’s exquisite Crystal Ships traces the lives of seven friends through two decades of violence, hope, and social revolution.
Sharp spins an epic tale that starts back in the heady days of the Kennedy administration, when Camelot appeared as a shining beacon of hope for all Americans.
But as the years tick on, riots, assassinations, drugs, gender conflicts, and the Vietnam War come crashing into the country’s consciousness.
Through it all, seven very different individuals live out their lives against the backdrop of these monumental events, unwittingly encapsulating the spirit of the time. From a youthful striver from Boston’s Irish working class inspired by JFK, a Harvard-educated, would-be poet of the drug culture, and a dedicated Vietnam War volunteer, to an abused aspiring dancer and her repressed girlfriend, a conflicted housewife-career woman and a South African exchange student following the American dream—each individual carries the burden of the times.A companion piece to Sharp’s prize-winning novel, The Duke Don’t Dance, the newly released Crystal Ships ultimately stands as a novel for its generation that is simply breathtaking in scope.
Pursuing a difficult romantic relationship with a “sporting lady” aspiring to become an actress, he meets only disappointment, marries a respectable woman and seeks unsuccessfully to return to the rural life of his youth. Following a family tragedy and estrangement from his wife, he undertakes an odyssey to Panama during the failed French canal project, eventually returning, definitely older and arguably wiser, to Missouri for unanticipated reunions at the novel’s dramatic conclusion. Although in some respects a sequel to Jacob’s Cellar, the novel is a stand-alone romance inspired by Frank Jame’s love of Shakespeare, with a plot reminiscent of “A Winter’s Tale.“