Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Somerville Novelist Randy Ross Didn't Need an Agent

Randy Ross

Somerville Novelist Randy Ross Didn't Need an Agent

By Doug Holder

  Somerville writer Randy Ross didn't need an agent because he sold his book on his own to a willing publisher.  The novel, “God Bless Cambodia” reached fruition through a long and arduous process. Ross, a man lingering on the cusp of 60, met me at the Bloc 11 cafe on a rainy, late spring morning. Ross is resplendently bald ( like yours truly) and has a lot of nervous energy and a quirky sense of humor.

Ross had a long road to publication—it took him seven years. The book, " God Bless Cambodia,” which Ross describes as a travel/literary/mystery was sent out to agents that Ross met at Grub Street (a literary center based in Boston). He wound up sending the book out to well over 100 agents and when that did not produce the desired results he sent it to a number of small presses. It was picked up by a small press in Long Island, N.Y.--run by a couple in their 80s.

Ross—for many years worked as an editor at PC World—but he quit that to pursue his writing and performance career. He had a sort of early version of “ God Bless Cambodia”-- a chapbook of sorts--- “ The Chronic Single's Handbook.” It was developed into a one man play—which he has performed at various fringe festivals, including the iconic one in Scotland. In preparation for this venture Ross took acting lessons to perfect his craft.

The “Chronic Single's Handbook” is based on Ross' travels in Asia after he quit his job at PC World. It came from his posts on his blog, “ Kvetching.” Ross told me, “The story basically dealt with my travels in Asia after I quit my job of many years. The character is looking for love—(or at the very least to get laid) and hopes for some kind of change. Unfortunately he comes back very disillusioned.”

Ross said he still performs around the country, and from time to time he lectures about the ins and outs of getting published. Now and then Ross teaches memoir writing. I asked him what are the essentials of writing a good memoir. He stated, “ A memoir is similar to fiction. You need a plot—not your whole life story—but an event or series of events that are interesting or revealing. Also standard elements are dialogue, good characterization, and some sort of theme.”

Ross has lived in Somerville since 1999. He likes the city—but said a number of his friends had to move out because the high rents of apartments, as well as exorbitant  home and condo prices. He also reflected, “ I'm not young and hip anymore—and that seems to be the prevalent vibe in the city.”

Ross has no regrets about leaving his high paying job at PC World. He lives on his savings—has taken the occasional consulting gig and lives frugally. He is in the process of writing a second book that deals, as he describes it as the dilemma of  “ men as victims.” He told me “ It starts out at a poetry reading at Whole Foods. It is about an angry middle aged white man taking a stand for—well--middle aged white men.”

Ross told me he has upcoming engagements at Timothy Gager's Dire Reader Series in Cambridge, at Duck Village in Somerville's Aeronaut Brewing Company, and Porter Square Books..  Go to Ross' website for more information.
   ( July 7  Reading at Porter Square Books)

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