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Inspirational Indie Author Interview #74: Author Interview with Robert Roseth: Mystery and Satire at University

by Alliance of Independent Authors
November 15th 2020

My ALLi author guest this week is Robert Roseth, who spent his career at the University of Washington, helping to make scientific and technological breakthroughs und... More

I'm Howard lovey, and you're listening to inspirational indie authors every week. I feature a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors to find out what inspires them and how they are an inspiration to other authors. My guest this week is Robert Rosette, who spent his career at the University of Washington helping to make scientific and technological breakthroughs understandable to everyday readers. After retirement, he embarked on the second part of his career, writing a combination mystery and satire called Ivy Is a Weed. Robert also discovered that the best way to publish his vision is to do it the Indy way. My name is Robert Rosette, and I Am the author of Ivy Is a Weed, which was, uh, self published in June. This was the first thing I did after I retired from my day job. I had worked for 35 years

, little more than 35 years at the University of Washington in what we call the news office, which is not quite public relations. It's more about what the faculty are doing in terms of research and commentary on events in the news and towards the end of my working life, I began to think about what, what I would do when I didn't have to goto work in the morning, and I realized that I had an ambition for a long time. Teoh right, something longer than a three page news release. Robert was born during a time in the United States when, if you could imagine it, science and technology Education was emphasized as a patriotic duty because of the space race with the Soviet Union. Robert calls himself a Sputnik baby, which is why he decided to go to college at MIT. I was born in 1949 and I think Sputnik was launched in the middle

fifties. I grew up in one of the Chicago suburbs northern suburb of Highland Park. Right around that time, the emphasis, uh, on everything in school kind of shifted to science and and so did I. I read a lot about outer space. One of my favorite authors growing up is a anel, Um, entry school was Jules Verne, and I remember reading from the Earth to the moon and a trip around it, and I was very interested in planetary science. I was always kind of divided as a young person At the same time I was taking advanced classes and in physics and math. A girlfriend and I were directing plays. I was very involved in theater. Nonetheless, I overrode my artistic impulses and we went to MIT. But I couldn't keep them under management, and I shifted out of engineering into political science. In the late sixties. It was. It was an interesting time to

go to college. Robert finally settled on journalism, but with a science background at MIT, he found that he was able to marry the artistic and logical parts of his brain. There weren't many people that really understood science and math and journalism school of people that were geared toward journalism research, you know, doctorate programs. But but the rest of the rest of them really liberal arts people. But so they sort of steered me into science journalism, and I actually was lucky enough to study with the science editor of The Associated Press, who was visiting faculty member there, became a friend of mine, and so when I graduated, I had this this journalism background. But I had the specialty in science, and it turned out the best place to do those kinds of things other than a handful of newspapers was on a university campus where, you know, I could interview faculty and write about their research and try and interest reporters either

in the region or around the country or eventually around the world. In in writing about the kinds of research that was going on there, that was my my entry into university. I would, you know, call up professor and go to his office and in one form or another, the question that I was always asking Waas tell me about your life work. They're very few people to whom you can ask that question. I'm saying, Yeah, I don't wanna talk about that, you know? So you're immediately greeted with enthusiasm and in fact, the people are often flattered that somebody wants to talk about their life work because it's just, you know, outside of a small circle of colleagues that doesn't really happen. And the other thing is that in Anak Adele environment, these people are teachers. They're happy to explain things in my job. For the most part, I would focus on the kinds of things that had some kinds of

practical applications, not always I mean, there's a lot of pure science A T universities That's just sort of, you know, improves our understanding of the universe. You'd get a look at things that you know might come down the road 5, 10, 15, 20 years later. I mean, you know, I hear when I start Thio, uh, read stories about covert and monoclonal antibodies. I knew a journalist in Seattle who probably wrote the first Lehman's book about monoclonal antibodies, and it was largely based not entirely, but a lot of the people he interviewed worked at the University of Washington, where I waas So you know, here I got a bird's eye view of of a kind of an unusual science that is now changing therapeutic medicine in major ways

. So that's the kind of thing you see at universities, if you're lucky. So Robert did that for his entire career, helping to translate science for everyday readers and reporters. A year before he retired, he looked around at his university environment with his elaborate theme, Politics and Separate World, and decided that it would be a great setting for a story. And that's how his book, Ivy Is a Weed was born. It begins with the death. The head of their public relations office at a major university in the Pacific Northwest gets a call very early in the morning, very late at night from the campus police telling him that they found a body on Central campus. And so, being the guy that has to work with the news media, he's obligated to go out there. And it turns out that the person who whose body is found was a university vice president, and

it from the the physical description and reality of the situation. It looks like his last living place, other than the fall down, was out of, ah, window in the administration building. And the story goes that the police campus police investigated very quickly and conclude that, in fact, he fell out the window, and the head of the public relations office has. He doesn't have specific reasons to doubt that conclusion, but he's not, you know, being a former news recorder. He's just a little suspicious that there's some loose ends, and so he starts to investigate what happened, and pretty early on, he develops a strong feeling that this was not

a knacks ident all death. You know, the question that's posed in the front of the book was, Was this fellow defense straight ID one of my favorite words? Or did he defense straight himself and our invest? Our intrepid investigator concludes that in fact, he was defense straight ID, and he begins to investigate what might have been the reasons for this fellows demise. And he interviews people at the university and outside the university, and a whole group of people who are many of them are characters in their own right, and he develops his own idea about what had happened. But it takes him in a kind of a funny direction. He has trouble kind of closing the loop on the mystery There. There are elements of it that really don't

quite fit together. But as he pursues his investigation and gets a little lucky, get some help from people he knows. Ah, picture of what happened begins to come together and, you know, without being the spoiler here. It's the kind of thing that in some environments you might not believe. But at a university, it makes total sense. After Roberts completed his book, it took him about a year to discover that he'd rather not compromise his work. So he self published, and he doesn't regret it. In fact, he's gathered some positive reviews, including from book life at Publisher's Weekly. You know, I mean, one of the things I learned about the business of writing fiction is that there are people with some very fixed ideas about what is the right way and wrong way to do it. I actually

spent more than a year trying to work with small presses, which ended up being a kind of a disappointing experience. But there are a lot of things. If you write something and you say that it's a mystery, it has to follow certain rules, or people will sniff you and say, No, that's not really a mystery. You can't do it that way. And And to have a mystery that was also a satire is not all that common either. And that and that's off putting to some of the you know, true believers in the mystery genre. So, you know, you have to sort of figure out are you going to try and right the way people expect you to write or you get right the way you feel like writing, and unfortunately, at the place I am, I am in life. I don't have to do this for a living, and so you know, I could write it the way I wanted to. Robert is working on a new book. In fact, he's been working on it for three years, which he says at the age of 71 is a long time. Meanwhile, Roberts

advice toe all writers is to read and then read some more. You know, I read all the stuff about the stuff on Facebook, of writers, groups and things like that. And I mean, the only true thing I can say is read like crazy, you know, read everything, read everything that you possibly you know, like and because the person that you become as a writer, I think, is formed from the experiences of what you read and what sticks with you from your reading. And you know, if you read good things and and develop a friendship with a good editor, you'll become a good writer. You've been listening to inspirational indie authors. I'm Howard Lovey. If you are a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and would like to be considered for the show

. Please write to me at Howard had Alliance Independent authors dot or GTA and tell me what inspires you and how you can inspire other authors. If you enjoy this podcast, please tap on your favorite podcast app and give us a review that will help others discover the family of ally podcasts. As always, find more author advice, tips and tools at her self publishing advice center. Self publishing advice. Yorg. And if you haven't already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self publishing ally. You could do that at Alliance Independent Authors Dot or GTA yeah.

Inspirational Indie Author Interview #74: Author Interview with Robert Roseth: Mystery and Satire at University
Inspirational Indie Author Interview #74: Author Interview with Robert Roseth: Mystery and Satire at University
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