Interview with bestselling author, David Richards.
"Beauty and the Beast meets Dante’s Inferno. a love story across time," which is how internationally bestselling author David Richards descries his latest novel, Love Letters To The Virgin Mary. Once successful, his hero David has lost everything in his life. Until one day, watching Thor Ragnorak on TV with friends, he is mysteriously thrown out of his chair. When he recovers, David realizes he’s become one with Thor. The novel asks the question: What happens when you discover you’re a god? And how do you release the god inside you?
David Richards believes that we all have a god inside us. A provocative coach as well as an author, he challenges readers in interviews by asking – does that question terrify or excite you? Your answer is the beginning to your own hero’s journey. Love Letters tantalizes, challenges, and enchants the reader with an epic love story and one man’s travel through time to find the answers he needs.
David Richards is a business professional, life coach, yoga instructor, and self-development speaker. His early childhood was spent in various parts of the United States, as well as three years in Okinawa, Japan. He joined the Marines after graduating from university with a degree in English. Following in the footsteps of his father and brother, he served fifteen years on active duty before deciding to leave the military to pursue his own passions.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born into a military family, and spent much of my childhood living on military installations, including three years on the island of Okinawa, Japan. By the time I became a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but lacked the confidence and understanding of what that meant. I received national recognition for a short story I wrote, and my poetry won contests, but I didn’t have a view on how I could become an author as a way of making a living. Since my grades weren’t good enough to get any sort of academic scholarship, when it came time for college, I went the route of Reserve Officer Training Corps and Penn State. When I graduated, instead of going into the workforce, I became an officer in the Marines.
I spent fifteen years on active duty, and was part of the initial landing force in Somalia way back in the 90’s with Operation RESTORE HOPE. I suppressed the writer’s bug within me for about ten years, then started writing poetry again…most people don’t think of Marines as poets, and it made for some interesting conversations with my fellow officers. I realized in 2006 that I was interested in discovering what life was like away from the military and decided to leave active duty.
Much to my surprise, I immediately fell in love with yoga. Between learning to navigate the corporate world and finding stillness on the yoga mat, I also realized that, after a lifetime spent moving every few years, I had the chance to live in one place. For me, that opened the window to writing.
I became a yoga instructor, and spent the next eleven years attempting to write my first horror story. I loved Stephen King growing up, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorites; I wanted to be a horror writer. Finally, in 2017, I was inspired to switch genres and wrote my first book, Whiskey and Yoga, about finding your purpose in life.
Tell us about your book Love Letters to the Virgin Mary: The Resurrection of King David.
I wanted to imagine a love story that staggered people’s concept of love, and what it means to be human. At the heart of it, Love Letters explores a profoundly captivating question: how would man discover his divinity? The premise behind the story is that David is a mortal man who has spent his entire life looking for a single woman, on a planet with billions of people. As the pandemic begins, he undergoes a spiritual awakening, and sees the woman. What follows is the harrowing journey he makes in discovering his identity.
Why did you choose that title?
One of the hitches in my giddy up as a writer is, I need to know the title before I can write the story. I literally went through hundreds of ideas, most of which never lasted more than a few days. Finally, in the Fall of 2021, I thought I had it; Who Holds Mary? It was the idea that the Virgin Mary must have a special place in heaven, given that she was the vessel for the virgin birth. That title lasted until November, but didn’t feel right. One day, I was just so frustrated. It had been two years since the initial spark for this story had caught fire. In a moment of exasperation, I yelled out, “what is this?”…and Love Letters to the Virgin Mary was what came back to me.
What was your impetus for writing this book?
The first title of the book was Being. Back in October of 2019, when the idea first came to me, it was focused on our fascination with social media. At the time, research showed that people were checking their smart phones an average of eighty-five times a day. Being was meant to answer the question, to what end? If billions of people across the planet were becoming addicted to their smart phones, where was that going to lead us?
By January, 2020, the idea had evolved into an exploration of the relationship between “being” and “doing”. In other words, who we are is more important than what we do, yet what we do is constantly shaping who we are.
How would you describe the work?
Beauty and the Beast meets Dante’s Inferno. Without giving away too much of the plot, the idea behind the story is that we are all gods or goddesses, and that it is up to each of us to discover and sculpt that identity within ourselves. When the angel Gabriel appears before Mary to tell her she’s pregnant with the Messiah, she’s told Jesus is the Son of David. This story explores how that might be possible.
Would you consider it a religious book?
Not at all. Religions are movements. Roman Catholicism. Sunni Islam. Orthodox Judaism. Salvation is a personal journey. This story is of David’s salvation.
What type of reader do you think will enjoy this book?
Anyone wanting to stretch their imagination. Imagination is the most underutilized resource on the planet. We are all gifted with an incredible imagination. The reality is, civilization has largely been shaped by left-brained pragmatism, with just enough right-brained creativity to keep things interesting. I don’t think I’m giving away too much if people have seen the cover but, have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be hit by Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir? This story is my answer to that question.
What was the hardest part about writing Love Letters to the Virgin Mary?
Without question, the hardest part was getting a foothold on the three Abrahamic religions. It’s interesting, because they all share common ancestry; King David is revered in all three, as are figures like Moses and Abraham. Jesus and Mary are venerated in Christianity and Islam. This story turns all three religions into a love story; that was an incredibly difficult mountain to climb.
What surprised you most?
I never, and I mean, never, thought I would end up writing a love story. I ‘ve never read a romance novel. Besides Frankenstein, Pet Sematary is one of my favorite books. There is maybe a thimble of romance in the former, and a grisly bit in the latter. Outside of those books and school assignments, I grew up reading comics. Granted, there are some romantic stories in the pages of the X-Men, or between Superman and Lois, but romance wasn’t a genre I spent much time thinking about. Now that it’s done, it’s the most beautiful love story I can imagine.
Is there a central message you would like readers to take away from the book?
The biggest message is to seek greatness within yourself. So many times, people spend their energy and focus trying to control the external world; that’s an exercise in frustration. If you want to transform the world, first transform yourself and watch how your world changes.
Are you working on other projects?
I’ve begun tinkering with an idea for a sequel to Love Letters. The working title is The Silence That Whispered: The Second Coming of Thor. If that title sticks, I’ll start writing over the holidays.
For more info please visit: https://www.davidrichardsauthor.com/
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