Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
SEAMAN, DEEJAY, BARKEEP, WRITER
WHEN MY LIFE IS IN TURMOIL." SAYS Mark Richard, "I gravitate toward the coast. You can't go any farther unless you want to grow fins or drown yourself." As a child, Richard, who was born into a Cajun family in Louisiana and raised in Texas and Virginia, nearly did drown, twice. When he was 4 he fell from a Kirbyville, Tex., pier where his father, William, a forester, was fishing (another man on the pier pulled him to safety). At 12, he got wiped out by a huge wave while surfing North Carolina's Outer Banks in the aftermath of a hurricane (the wave hurled him onto the beach). What he calls his "weird fascination with the water" can be traced to these early dramas.
Like Fishboy's eponymous narrator, Richard (pronounced rih-SHAR), who is 37 and single and lives in Manhattan, has shipped out, working scallop and shrimp boats from Nova Scotia to Cuba. On terra firma Richard has been a teenage deejay on WYSR-AM in Franklin, Va. (at age 13 his voice changed "overnight"), and later a house painter, aerial photographer, ad copywriter, bartender, editor at Military Business Review and private eye (mainly a desk job verifying résumés). Along the way he earned a degree in journalism from Washington and Lee University and became a writer, although his mother, Claire, claims he was writing stories—about good kings and bad kings—-in second grade. "It's been said that I write about fringe characters who have no hope," he says. "But you have to bring the lights down so that the point of light is apparent. Only in the dark do we see the hope."