Thursday, June 25, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Rich Amooi

The Write Way Café welcomes Rich Amooi, who pulls from his experiences and love of romantic comedies to create fun, light-hearted romances.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance? 
     My wife knew how much I loved romantic comedies and heard some fun radio commercials I had written, so she convinced me to take some creative writing classes for fiction. I ended up taking four classes at Stanford between 2010 and 2012. I started writing short stories and many of them were romantic comedies. After she read my twenty-page short story, Five Minutes Late, she loved it so much she said I had to make it into a novel. Isn’t it great having someone who believes in you so much? I took her advice and that was my debut novel!

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do? 
     I did a ton of research online because I knew I didn’t want to have a traditional publishing contract. I wanted complete control, to be my own boss. I researched everything I needed to know about self-publishing, writing, hiring cover designers, hiring editors, selling books online, formatting ebooks, having an author platform where people could find you, etc. I learned a lot by reading posts in the Writer’s Café forum on Kboards from authors who were already self-published and selling books.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     Dog Day Wedding was another book that started out as a short story in my creative writing class. The title is based on the 1975 Al Pacino movie, Dog Day Afternoon. In the movie, Pacino robs a bank and ends up taking everyone hostage.
     My story is a lot lighter since it’s a romantic comedy, but the final scene is three chapters long and includes a wedding with hostages. Don’t worry, nobody dies and there’s plenty of red velvet cake for everyone! As for the inspiration behind the story, I love weddings and wanted to do something fun and crazy.

Why did you pick the setting you did? 
     I picked it because it was local and I knew it! Can’t get much easier than that! In fact, my first four books are set in small cities very close to my home in Silicon Valley.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     I think there are pieces of me in many of my characters. How scary! LOL.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret? 
     Dog Day Wedding was the easiest to write out of the three books I’ve written so far and I’m not sure why. I wrote it in November of 2014 when I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I am still trying to find the system that works best for me and I think I work better and faster with pressure and when I plot as many things out as possible ahead of time. Keep in mind that is completely opposite of what I did when I wrote short stories because with those I would just write and see where the story took me.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after? 
     I usually learn a lot when I have to do research for one of the characters. In Dog Day Wedding the hero, Giovanni, makes guitars for a living. It was fascinating to find out how they are made and how much some of these hand-made guitars sell for.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about romantic comedies; about cops and shotgun weddings? 
     I’ve learned that I am still learning! The response to my books so far has been amazing but my writing is not where I want it to be. I want to continue to improve my craft. Reading helps me with my writing, that’s for sure, so I need to read more. I’ve learned that writing can be very difficult at times and there have been more than a few occasions where I wanted to scream or pull my hair out.

What from your previous jobs as a DJ and radio personality has translated into something useful in your writing? 
     I’ve been to over 1500 weddings and I’m considered an expert when it comes to wedding receptions. Lucky for me many romance novels have wedding scenes, so they are pretty easy for me to write. I also have plans to write a romantic comedy that is set in a radio station and don’t think I will encounter too many difficulties.

Was it hard to switch gears and build a writing career? 
     I must admit it hasn’t been too difficult. I knew what I wanted to do and just had to figure out how to do it. I researched for months. I still research now! I do need to stay focused because it is very easy to get distracted when you are working from home.

Describe situations you’ve encountered where writing romance, a female-dominated genre, proved interesting, intimidating, fun, different. 
     One of the first pieces of advice I received when I consulted publishing experts at the beginning was to use a female pen name instead of my real name. The thought was that women would feel more comfortable (and prefer) reading a romance novel written by a woman. But some of the most popular romantic comedies in Hollywood were written by men and I wanted to be attached to the story. I love romantic comedies so much and I wanted everyone to know that there are men out there that do. I also figured that the women who love romantic comedies were open minded enough to try a romantic comedy from a man. Because the bottom line is, we all just want to be entertained.
     I haven’t encountered any situations working in a female-dominated field. I find it quite fun being one of the few men doing it and other romance authors I’ve met have been so supportive. I can’t wait to get together with 2500 romance writers in New York for the Romance Writers of America conference. My wife is going with me since she just started her first romance novel. 

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     We have an office but I don’t like it for writing because the desk faces the wall and it’s kind of a boring place to write. My three writing spaces at home are the dining room, the family room, and the backyard. My favorite one is in the backyard under the patio cover in front of the water fountain. It allows me to relax and write, while listening to the water of the fountain and the birds singing. There is also a hummingbird feeder almost directly over my head so I enjoy them as well, many of them hovering right in front of my face.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, The Best Man by Kristan Higgins, and Stop the Wedding! By Stephanie Bond. I love love love fun romance novels with humor. Now you know why I write them!

What are you working on now? 
     I’m just getting ready to publish my third romantic comedy, Kissing Frogs, so I am in the beginning stages of the next one, Mr. Crotchety. This is the story of a bitter, cranky (Crotchety!) man who gave up on love after losing his wife, but then meets the most positive woman in the world. One thing is for sure, he’s either going to kill her or he’s going to marry her. Can you guess which one? LOL.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     I am obsessed with romantic comedies and want to continue down that path. I may write a few parodies but my first eight books I know for sure will be rom-coms. I do have plans to take all of the short stories I wrote at Stanford and put them in an anthology, but that doesn’t have much priority right now.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
     I already had my first dream job when I was on the radio. My second dream job is writing romantic comedies. Yay! If I had to choose something else, I would say it would be a professional soccer player. I played soccer for over 25 years when I was younger and absolutely love the sport.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? 
     Keeping track of all the different parts of the story. That drives me nuts. I think once I find the best way to plot my stories, it will be a hundred times easier. I’m trying a new outlining method with Mr. Crotchety to hopefully better manage everything, so hopefully this is it. Cross your fingers!

Quirky Romantic Comedies from a Guy's Perspective

Amazon US           Amazon UK

About Rich:  
     Rich Amooi is a former Silicon Valley radio personality and wedding DJ who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster and has a hairy golden retriever/lab mix that likes to eat carrots, tuna, and Manchego cheese imported from Spain.
     He believes (Rich, not the dog) in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Learn more about Rich on Social Media!
Facebook          Twitter          Google+   
Goodreads        YouTube


HiDee said...

Romantic comedies are so much fun. You've got a great background to draw from for ideas. I look forward to checking out your books. Thank you for being with us today!

Rich Amooi said...

Romantic comedies are the best! Thanks so much for having me!