Richard Warren Field - Writer/Musician
Ever since high school, from the early 1970s, I’ve felt as if my life flowed
along a dual track, always split between the pragmatist and the dreamer, as if
the left-brain and right-brain remained in a still never-ending struggle for
preeminence. I was elected Junior Class President and achieved a 3.62 grade
point average (out of 4.0 back in those days) in a college prep curriculum that
included the top math and science classes. But I also won the John Phillip Souza
Award as the outstanding musician in the high school band, largely because of my
compositions for high school band and high school jazz band. I conducted my
composition “The Parthenon” to a standing ovation in my senior year in 1972.
In college, the dual track remained. I double-majored in music and political science, finishing my Bachelor of Arts in 1976 with a 3.81 grade point average. College years featured a concert band and a jazz band piece performed, and two composition recitals, including a multi-media extravaganza in my senior year that combined music, art, drama, dance and poetry (Dean Butler, later a successful actor in films and television with a regular role on “Little House on the Prairie,” played the title role in the ten minute play from the production, called “The Voyage of the Traveler”). On the opposite track, I acted as a Teacher’s Assistant for a comparative Government class (taught by Frederick Fennell). Over half of the professors from the Political Science department attended my multi-media senior composition recital, telling anyone who would listen that “we consider Rick one of our own.”
After college, I figured I would need to choose one of those two tracks. Yes, the political science department head offered to write recommendation letters for graduate school, and told me I should consider becoming a professor. But I was tired of the “Ivory Tower,” and made what I thought was the choice between the two tracks—I moved to Los Angeles to become a professional musician: a singer-songwriter/composer.
In Los Angeles in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I made appearances at record company showcases, including two appearances at the Alternative Chorus Songwriters’ Showcase (ACSS) at the world famous Improv in West Hollywood. This showcase, with performers chosen by audition, with 6% to 10% chosen to perform, launched a number of songwriter and artist careers. I also did some background music for up-and-coming film directors working on their student film projects, and on their demo shorts (unfortunately, none of these young directors ever “up-and-came”). I was chosen to participate in a professional film-scoring workshop that included renowned jazz musician Jeff Lorber. But none of this resulted in enough success to launch a full-blown professional music career. The second track seemed to insist on remaining a factor as I paid the bills with a succession of insurance claims jobs, including managing an independent insurance claims office in Los Angeles for a short time.
But the second track also called in another way, a more creative way. The political science Richard Warren Field was not prepared to be submerged, forever subservient to the composer/performer Richard Warren Field. After watching the Viet Nam War movie “The Deerhunter” in 1978, and hearing all the complaints about the film’s inaccuracies, I took on a major research effort to learn the truth, and produced a novella, Attrition, in the early 1980s. I never did find a publisher for Attrition (I found an agent, but not a publisher). But Attrition was reviewed as an unpublished novel by West Coast Review of Books, with encouraging praise offered. This began a pattern of creativity that led to The Swords of Faith.
In the 1990s, the political science Richard Warren Field took over the “creative track,” and music took a back seat. Unabashed idealism and optimism, always present in my make-up, now demanded expression. And the perfect breakthrough opportunity seemed to be available—The Turner Tomorrow Award, with a $500,000 prize, asking for novels set in the near future, with an optimistic, constructive vision of the future. I was already working on a novel set two hundred years in the future with an optimistic view of how the world would evolve. But this award asked for novels to be set in the “near future.” So I imagined what would need to happen to reach the future I had envisioned. I created a fictional election during which a third-party candidate advocates the changes needed to get to that future. I researched all the issues I needed to master for this novel, including the political process, and how the great problems of today might be resolved.
This novel, The Election of 1996, did not win the Turner Tomorrow Award. (Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael won the award. This launched Quinn’s writing career, which involved the expression of a number of unique insights about humanity’s present, and humanity’s past. And it was not set fifteen years in the future—I probably could have entered my futuristic novel, which is still yet to be completed.) I revised and reworked and rewrote and came up with The Election. I tried to get The Election to the public through the traditional route, including submission to major publishing houses by a New York literary agent. But I could not get a publishing deal, so decided to go the self-publishing route. This was the time of Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield), Mutant Message Down Under (Marlo Morgan) and The Christmas Box (Richard Paul Evans). Though I did not come close to matching their successes, I sold out the entire print run, and garnered a number of positive reviews and endorsements, including a review from Publisher’s Weekly, and an endorsement from Campaigns and Elections magazine. Again, the meticulous pattern of immersion into a subject, mastering it, then offering unique and creative insights was repeated.
So how did all this lead to The Swords of Faith? I have covered that in another article, “What Happened to the Sequel?” to The Election. But the pattern of immersion into research repeated again for The Swords of Faith. From that familiarity with the worlds of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, I am set to offer today’s readers a fascinating and entertaining glimpse into the past, a formative past, a past that offers insights reverberating right into the most pressing issues of our times.
Mystic jazz productions of vintage rock using modern sounds and technologies ─ familiar songs offered in a fresh way; new songs offered in a familiar style.
Swords of Faith
Stories set in the past featuring dilemmas familiar to the present with consequences resonating into the future.
Mystic jazz celebrating the “Issa legend” – the idea that Jesus may have visited India and learned some of his history-altering spiritual insights there.