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Richard Bard’s “Brainrush”

© Richard Bard

Richard Bard is the best-selling author of the novel, “Brainrush, a Thriller”. It is currently the #3 Bestselling Action/Adventure on Amazon and the #4 Top Rated (best reviewed) Mystery and Thriller. The sequel, “Brainrush II, The Enemy of My Enemy” was released on December 2011, to rave reviews. Richard was an Air Force pilot, security consultant and entrepreneur prior to the Brainrush series. Cancer killed Richard Bard’s career as a USAF pilot, but it didn’t kill him. Thirty-six years later he’s still going strong. He currently resides with his wife in Redondo Beach, California. He has a management degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.

Welcome to OpenBeast. Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Hello OpenBeast fans. It’s nice connecting with you here. I hope you enjoy the interview and feel free to contact me if you have any more questions. Happy Holidays!

What is BRAINRUSH all about?

I’ve always been fascinated by people with extraordinary mental abilities.  I heard about photographic memory and I thought, “Why can’t I do that?” 

I was astounded to learn that there are a growing number of cases where ordinary people suffer a head injury and then immediately develop incredible mental abilities – like photographic memory, math skills, or artistic talents. Doesn’t that mean those “gifts” lie dormant in all of us just waiting to be unlocked? When I discovered that scientists are developing ways to tap into those abilities organically, the concept grabbed hold of my imagination. What would it be like to be “gifted” with the flip of a switch? And what would happen if the wrong people grabbed hold of that technology? Brainrush was born.

Here’s the pitch: When terminally ill combat pilot Jake Bronson emerges from an MRI with extraordinary cognitive powers, everyone wants a piece of his talent – including Battista, one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. To save his love and her autistic child, Jake is thrust into a deadly chase that leads from the canals of Venice through Monte Carlo and finally to an ancient cavern in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan – where Jake discovers that his newfound talents carry a hidden price that threatens the entire human race.

Talk to us about your Book Two.

There was a serious learning curve associated with writing the first novel – lots of classes and workshops at UCLA, reader groups, contests, rejection letters, and rewrites, rewrites, rewrites! It was quite a challenge. While I still have a ton to learn about the art of writing, Book-2 was a lot more “fun”, if that makes sense. The characters have all become my best friends. I enjoy jumping into their heads and writing scenes around them. Whenever it feels like things are going too easy, I stop and ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen to them right now?” Then I make it so!

Here’s the pitch for Book-2: Former combat pilot Jake Bronson believed the worst was behind him. But when a sophisticated terrorist cell shows up in his home town, he’s drawn into a conflict that threatens the heart and soul of every mother inAmerica. The bonds of love and loyalty are tested as Jake and his friends are swept into a deadly chase that takes them from the beaches of California, to the depths of the world’s longest underground river, and finally to the remote jungles of the Venezuelan rain forest – where Jake discovers that it will take far more than his enhanced abilities to prevent what is coming.

Why the focus on autism?

When I started my research for Brainrush in 2008, the Autism Society of America posted statistics showing that autism affected 1 in 150 births. In 2011 it increased to 1 in 110 births. It is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the world, with 10-17% annual growth and annual costs in theU.S. alone of $60 billion. With early diagnosis and intervention the costs of lifelong care can be reduced by two-thirds. More importantly, the quality of life for those affected can be significantly improved. Autism and other spectral disorders affect us all in one way or another. The more visibility the topic receives, the better the chances of early detection, treatment and, hopefully, a cure. 

My father had a genius level IQ. He died of Alzheimer’s, betrayed by his brain. I can’t begin to imagine how horrible that must have felt for him. It’s difficult to wrap words around my motivations. But, somehow, shining a positive light on autistic children in my stories seemed like a natural thing to do.

Why the name “Brain Rush”; especially when it’s the name for a failed game show on the Cartoon Network?

Hah! If you check the original copyright of the manuscript, you’ll discover that I coined the name before the live-action game show aired. However, there is an interesting parallel in that the game show featured screaming characters on rollercoaster rides. Brainrush (the book) isn’t much different. One reviewer wrote that Jake’s story had, “more twists and turns than a corkscrew.”

You are a cancer survivor and today you are a best-selling author. What is your outlook about second chances?

When you learn that your days are numbered, everything changes. Things that seemed so important – like money or success – suddenly don’t matter anymore. Life becomes all about love, family, and forgiveness. But you don’t have to face death in order to embrace life. You simply have to decide to make a change, not just for your own sake, but for those around you. We all have second chances. Third, fourth and fifth chances, too. It’s never too late.

How do you get inspired?

I’ve read thrillers of one kind or another my entire life. As a kid I can remember reading a series that featured secret agent Nick Carter, aka the Killmaster. I moved on to Ludlum, Clancy, Cussler, Preston (and latelyRollins,Berry, Eisler and dozens more) – between 40-50 books a year for a lot of years. I like to intermingle thrillers with books from fantasy authors like Goodkind or Brooks, then add in a little military action by the likes of Dale Brown or Stephen Coonts, dashed with a sprinkle of historical fiction by Bernard Caldwell or Stephen Lawhead.

Add to that the fact that I’m fanatical about going to the movies twice a week (as long as there’s good popcorn), and you can imagine what it’s like inside my brain. It’s packed full of characters and adventures. A lot of them surface when I’m dreaming – and some of those dreams are pretty intense. I grab my notebook and start writing. The next morning I sift through the scribbles. Scenes emerge.   

For me, writing isn’t an optional exercise; it’s mandatory. If I get to the end of a day and I haven’t advanced the story, I feel bad. I suppose if I lived 1,000 years ago I’d be the “Bard” riding from village to village telling stories at the localInn. I understand they’d get free beer or ale for their efforts.

Any upcoming initiatives or project you would like to disclose?

There have been some intriguing sparks of interest fromHollywood. You never know where that could lead. I’ve always thought of Brainrush as a movie. In fact, the original manuscript is written as “scenes” rather than chapters. It would be a dream come true! I hope it happens, because my wife is already shopping for a red carpet dress…

What are your leisure time activities?

Does enjoying my wife’s amazing cooking count? I’m not kidding around here. She is an outstanding cook. I’m a lucky man! I’ve already talked about reading and the movies. Beyond that I enjoy a number of things, like guitar, piano, rollerblading, racquetball, tennis, and singing in the shower (smiles).

Finally I got a significant question: McDonalds or Burger King?

Okay, here’s the deal. I lived inSan Bernardino for six years when I was a kid. I could ride my bike to the first (at the time it was the ONLY) McDonalds. One of my best friends lived across the street. I had two burgers, fries and a coke for lunch yesterday. Need I say more?

For more information visit Richard Bard’s website at www.richardbard.com.

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