Continuing my little jaunt around my home state of Arizona, I am now in Chino Valley to interview my good buddy Robert Redding. Robert is clearly a Renaissance man, interested in so many different topics that it would take a full page just to list them. He brings that eclectic interest and passion to his writing, as well, and I would be hard-pressed to pigeonhole him in any particular genre. So far he has released two books, Over the Road: 37 Years of True Truckin’ Adventures and Mutual Funds Are Cheating You! Let’s start there and see where it leads us.
MJB: Robert, I am going out on a limb here and just guessing that your 37 years
as a truck driver provided you with more stories than you could ever put down
on paper. Can you give us a quick peek at one or two of them?
RR: Of course, Melissa…happy to. The book is filled with crashes and breakdowns,
junkies and prostitutes, steep hills and problems with police. My favorite
story is “Granddad.” It is about a
trucker hauling steel in Ohio. He was
caught in a blizzard, forced off the road, and buried in a snowdrift. It was the Blizzard of 1998 that killed 51
Five days later his son, on a
snowmobile, came looking for him. The
buried highway showed no sign of his truck.
He was on a huge snow berm, looking over waves of drifts that marched to
the horizon. He realized that it was too
late, his father was dead. Dropping his
head in grief, his tears fell at his feet.
Then he saw the top 3 inches of a CB radio antenna poking up out of the
RR: Yes, I wrote up my trucking
stories as they happened. When I retired
I finished them off and put them on Amazon.
The first story I ever wrote was
about the Death Road which runs from La Paz into the Amazon basin in South
America. This road is the food lifeline to
the ancient silver town. During a
weekend some friends and I were on the road.
Overnight, a massive rain storm hit.
A bridge and a hundred yards of road disappeared into the valley
below. This trapped hundreds of people,
and dozens of vehicles on the dangerous and precipitous lane. It was the height of the rainy season and
repairs would take a month. After that I
became addicted to writing out my adventures, which were mostly overseas travel
MJB: And now for something completely different… mutual funds. What background
and experience do you have in the financial world? And what compelled you to
write about this? (Keep in mind that I am not—and maybe some of my readers are
not—a financial whiz, so please keep it simple.)
My own study led to the discovery of our hard wired psychological traits
that prevent most people from making money in the market. Inevitably it seems we are programmed to buy
high, and sell low. The pain of losses
is so high, that we hold onto bad investments, even though we should dump them
as soon as they start to fade. For
instance, if you were to buy ten stocks, you would find that three start to
lose money, four stay the same, and three start to gain in value. It sounds crazy, I know, but what most people
will do is take profits and sell the gainers, and hold onto the losers until
they spiral down, and then sell at the nadir.
The truth is that every
generation helplessly makes the same mistakes over and over again. We rarely learn from our past.
Almost all of us have money in mutual
funds. It is considered to be the smart
way to save for retirement, and it is if done right. It is really very simple. The key is decades and decades of compounding
interest. So, very early in life, buy
into a mutual fund that holds blue chip stocks, and continue to invest every
month. Forget day trading, forget penny
stocks, forget currency trading, forget buying gold…and especially forget
buying and selling. Buying into a blue
chip index fund is investing, everything else is gambling.
MJB: I know you’re also interested in things like astrology, UFOs, symbolism and
crop circles, just to name a few. Is there any one topic that pulls you more
than the others, or do you find yourself jumping from one to another
constantly? Which topic appeals to you the most, and why?
RR: I have always been interested in
crop circles and astrology. In 2012 I flew to England and took a tour of the
crop circles. This adventure lead to a
book called “Autobiography of An Alien”.
The interesting idea here is that crop circles are made by humans, but
not all of them….and the difference is easily seen.
I started studying astrology in 1973
and found that I was quite fascinated with it.
I studied it for a very simple reason. If astrology was everything they
said it was, then everybody should be studying it, as it gave paranormal
powers. I did charts for a number of years, but soon became fascinated with
astrological symbols…their source, their original meaning, and how they have
evolved into what they are today. For
example, Christmas is full of symbols that we have forgotten the meaning
Besides my other subjects I have
discovered an interest in the Symbolism of Geometric Forms and Polarity and Duality. Of course these are deadly dull subjects to
most people. Lately I have been asking
everybody if they have seen a ghost, or a UFO, and writing out their
stories. That is kind of fun.
MJB: So far all your writing has been non-fiction. Do you think there might ever
be a novel mixed in there somewhere? If so, what might it be about?
RR: I started a novel. I have the first chapter. A teenager, just out of high school, starts
on a cross country bicycle trip. He
arrives in Boston during a rainstorm and takes refuge in a church. There he interrupts a church council
meeting. The Pastor allows the kid to
dry out at his home. They start talking
and the kid spends the night. The
Pastor, who has just lost his wife, knows it is time for a change in his
life. He has a lot of money and is going
to retire from the church. This is what
he knows. He can go anyplace he wants,
and do anything he wants. He has
complete freedom to do what he wants. He
invites the teenager along as a travel companion.
The theme of this book is: IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO ANSWER TO ANYONE….WHAT
WOULD YOU DO?
MJB: Do you read as many far-reaching topics as you write? What books have really
grabbed you? What authors have inspired you?
RR: Like most writers I’ve read
hundreds of books. This is the how I see the writing process. A kitchen chief has
basic ingredients all around him. But his skill comes in the re-combination of
these ingredients into a fashionable new recipe. In the same way I take the
ideas in these books and combine then into the newest cutting edge speculations.
Because there is nothing new under the sun, the skill comes in the
re-combination of these ancient concepts to provide a unique, and purely
personal, perspective. After all, there is no progress without speculation.
My favorite fiction author is
Somerset Maugham, a great story teller. I’m not much into fiction these days….I
did that years ago. My favorite contemporary author is Colin Wilson. I have always had an interest in the
paranormal, and this author explains it well.
MJB: I noticed on your Amazon Author Page that you’re working on a book called The Symbolism of Salt, the Essential Element.
Were you aware that there is a prehistoric salt mine nearby in Camp Verde? That
for the Indians there around 1000AD, making a pilgrimage to the salt mine was a
RR: That’s right. Of course, we have
to have salt to live. In past times,
salt was so scarce it was as valuable as gold. Salt was also sacred because it preserved
foods. Most people know the word salary comes from
salt. Also, the main reason that the
Erie Canal was built, was to bring salt from depositions near Buffalo to New
MJB: And I see you’re also working on a book called The Mystical Symbolism of the Christian Fish. How far back did you
find evidence for the spiritual meaning of the fish? I’m pretty sure it
RR: Because of my interest in
astrology, I wrote a paper on the “Symbolism of Astrological Animals.” This led to a book called “The Mystical
Symbolism of the Christian Fish.”
In pagan times, the fish, because of
its abundance and diversity, was a symbol of fertility and prosperous healthy
living. Fish were considered to be messengers
from the Gods which dwelt in the Great Oceans, the source of all life. At first used by the early Christians, it was
later replaced with the cross as the symbol of Christianity. The reason….the church fathers wanted to excise
all pagan symbols from the Church.
MJB: Robert, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat. I
have a feeling you are never at a loss for things to do, read, write! Now, if
people want to find out more and/or connect with you, how can they do
RR: I have to admit that I am really
a tech dinosaur I have no idea what I
would do with a Twitter account and never spend time on Facebook. Here are some websites that I am on.
Amazon Author Page