Posts Tagged ‘appearance’

Palm Springs Film Festival Appearance

Saturday, November 15th, 2014


Love books and movies? Want to be in balmy Palm Springs in January? Then come join The Power of Words:  Book to Screen, a January 8th, 2015, event that is a new part of the superb Palm Springs International Film Festival. It’s an all day affair of literary panels and movies, discussing how books make it to screen. Among the talent speaking:  Author Mark Bowden and scriptwriter Ken Nolan, on their film Black Hawk Down; and writer Amy Jo Albany and producer Albert Berger on their film Low Down. I’ll be sharing a panel with the fantastic  Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of The Descendants and The Possibilities. A few of the films will be screened on January 7th, the night before the full day symposium.

Come join us. Should be fascinating.

Come Dine With Me

Thursday, July 24th, 2014



Come dine with me, in my favorite Indian restaurant in New York, proceeds to go to the wonderful homeless charity BRC, with a signed book and film poster thrown into the pot. To bid for the meal, please go to

Buddhaland Brooklyn Teaser

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

At the wonderful Strand Books last week. Here is a brief clip, reading a scene from Buddhaland Brooklyn.



Performance at The Strand

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Esteemed Jungian analyst Morgan Stebbins will interview me about BUDDHALAND BROOKLYN at Strand Books in New York.

The night’s theme: The psychology of religion.

The date: July 11th

The time: 7pm

The address: 828 Broadway

You’re all heartily invited to come join us.


KGB Bar Lit Magazine Interview

Thursday, July 5th, 2012


My favorite place to read in the entire world is New York’s literary hangout, the KGB Bar on 85 East 4th Street. I’ll be reading Buddhaland Brooklyn at the KGB Bar from 7pm to 9pm on October 14th. But, in advance, the KGB’s Sunday reading director, Suszanne Dottino, slyly asked my wife, Susan Agar, to interview me for the KGB Bar Lit Magazine.

She’s a smart one, that Suzanne.

Lesson: Never let yourself be publicly interview by your wife. She’ll get stuff out of  you that no-one else will get to. Here’s the full interview that just went online today.





Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

First wave of readings for BUDDHALAND BROOKLYN are coming in. Here the roll out so far.

Thursday, July 19
7:00 PM
Talk, Reading, Q&A, Signing
1805 Walnut Street
Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Saturday, July 28
2:00 PM EST
Reading, Talk, Q&A, Signing
Milford Historical Society
608 Broad Street
Milford, PA 18337

August Date/Time TBA
Talk, Reading, Q&A, Signing
686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Thursday, September 20
7:00 PM CT
Talk, Reading, Q&A, Signing
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093

September Date/Time TBA
Market Square
680 N. Western Avenue
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Sunday, October 14
7:00 PM EST
Sunday Night Fiction
85 E. 4th Street
New York, NY 10010

Lunch TBA
Talk, Reading, Q&A, Signing
40 Locust Lane
Bronxville, NY 10708

Coming Home To Zurich

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Richard Morais in Kindergarten at ICS, with friend Yuko, in 1966

In the 20th century masterpiece, The Magic Mountain, the great German writer, Thomas Mann, physically plays with our sense of time. He seems to be saying in this literary classic that there are moments in life that go by at such a painfully slow pace they seem like years, and then there are years that go by so fast they seem to disappear in an eye-blink. I experienced just such a Magic Mountain time-collapse last week while in Switzerland.

In 1972, at age 12, my family lived in Switzerland and that year I performed in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, directed by the theatrically-inclined teacher Ray Wilcox, in the Primary Hall at the ICS Inter-Community School Zurich. Last week I found myself, at age 50, again “performing” in the same Primary Hall, this time to an audience of ICS students listening to me rabbit on about my life as a journalist and novelist.

As the Mikado in Primary Hall, circa 1972

Discussing writing with ICS students in Primary Hall, 2011.

I am not sure what it was – a perky girl turning her head, her ponytail swinging out, or perhaps a sad-eyed boy with shoulders slumped under the weight of teenage life – but suddenly I was not grey and balding in 2011, but a wide-eyed boy making my way down a school hall, trying to find my destiny (or at least the right classroom.)

But a little background before we proceed. My ex-pat parents (American and Canadian) were relocated from Lisbon, Portugal, to Zurich, Switzerland, in 1961. I was 10 months old at the time of our arrival in Zurich and had three older brothers. We all attended ICS in the 1960s and 1970s, and I personally went right through: from Reception at St. Andrews Church and music lessons with Mrs. Atkinson at Seefeldquai, to 3rd Grade in Regensdorf, to 7th Grade graduation from Zumikon.

I had reached this time portal in 2011 because my life as a writer actually started in Reception at ICS, when my teacher, Miss Margaret Evans, calmed us at circle time with a terrific character she herself had invented. Shirty Girty The Witch was a cross old witch who lived in a toadstool, and whenever Miss Evans regaled us with Shirty Girty adventures, made up on the spot, I was transported into a magical world. From then on, storytelling was my thing.

I eventually attended the American high school across the Lake of Zurich, and then, at age 16, left Switzerland altogether for Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Life took its natural course, and for the next 25-years I was a journalist at Forbes magazine. I have always been half European and half American, and I used this multicultural straddle to build myself a foreign correspondent’s life: My wife and I lived in London for 17 years, where I was Forbes‘s European Bureau Chief, and where our daughter was born and raised.

But we all have a destiny. Two years ago I left Forbes to pursue what I always thought was my true calling as a novelist, and I am blessed that my debut novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey, has done quite well. I suppose word got around, because on May 4th and May 5th my former teacher, Linda Kubler, arranged for me to come back to Zumikon to help celebrate ICS’s 50th Jubilee.

For two days I led writing workshops with students from Grades 6 to 10, and it was, for me at least, a deeply moving experience, possibly because I finally had what I have always wanted – a captive audience. They had to listen me.

Woohoo. The 6th Grade was working on “Myths & Legends”, and we identified traits of the Gods before collectively “writing” a story with modern characters exhibiting the same God-like attributes. With Grades 8 and 11, I told my macho war stories from the frontlines of journalism, and passed on some techniques for interviewing which they then tried out on me. (The great investigative reporters aren’t table-pounders, I pointed out, but are totally unthreatening and make the interviewee relax into revealing something they shouldn’t.) Grade 9, meanwhile, were writing their own short stories, and so I showed them how to rewrite a story, line by line.

Moved by the short stories they shared with me, earnest and sophisticated efforts well above student pay grade, I subsequently wrote detailed comments to each of the participating students. It was a privilege to be offered a glimpse of their imaginary worlds and I thought it only right that their best efforts were appropriately rewarded with my best efforts. This is not public relations puffery or alumnus ooze when I say ICS’s students struck me as extremely bright and alert and talented.

On the last evening, ICS organized an Indian dinner in the dining hall, and that night I read from The Hundred-Foot Journey, took some questions, before signing books for anyone good enough to buy my scribblings. My old friend, Ali (Moser) Frey, sat in the audience, her son now an ICS student, and Orell Füssli, the bookstore chain supplying the books, walked away from the evening very content with the number of books they moved.

Answering questions at the 2011 50th Jubilee dinner and reading

Towards the end of my delightful ICS visit, I experienced another one of those tipsy takes on time. I looked out at the dining hall and saw the regal white mane of big-hearted Ms. Kubler (Kindergarten), the high cheekbones and olive-skin of Ms. Will (3rd Grade, now Mrs. Zita), heard the infectious laugh of Ms. Marek (4th Grade, now Mrs. Stucki) rise above the butter-chicken air.

I was once again in class. This time, however, I was up at the blackboard and my teachers were sitting in the orange seats and dutifully giving me their attention. I confess it took all my restraint not to assign them some homework.

Reading in Switzerland

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Promotional poster for my reading on the Bahnhoftsrasse, Zurich

Just returned from a fantastic week of reading and meeting old friends in Zürich, Switzerland. Very emotional to read from The Hundred-Foot Journey at Orell Füssli on the Bahnhofstrasse, the elegant bookstore on the 5th Avenue of Zürich, where once I had my nose pressed against the glass. More later on returning to my old alma mater, ICS Inter-Community School of Zurich, for a reading and workshops with the students.

New Addiction Coming On

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Wife and daughter at Johns Hopkins lacrosse game

I feel a new addiction coming on. Saw my first lacrosse game live this spring, when my buddy, Karl Bietsch, took me to see his son, Klark, in a high school dust-up outside of Atlanta. Move over soccer. Lacrosse players make soccer players look laid back and the incredible team work is awe inspiring – no room for prima donnas.

Last night I got a glimpse of the game at its best. Our daughter took my wife and I to see Johns Hopkins’ Blue Jays wage season finale battle against the Navy’s Mids. JHU beat the white pants off the Navy, 14 to 5. I love the speed and the choreographed precision of the ball passes and the wholesome bonhomie of the tub-thumping crowd – reassuring in these fraught times.

Proof below that the game made my hair stand on end.

Author and daughter

Closing The Circle: ICS Inter-Community School Zurich, Switzerland

Friday, April 8th, 2011

ICS Inter-Community School of Zürich

I am a writer today in no small part due to Ms. Evans. She was the soft-spoken reception teacher I had at the ICS Inter-Community School Zurich in Switzerland in the mid 1960s. Ms. Evans, a Brit, invented a robust fictional character, Shirty Girty the Witch, and when we pressed her at circle time, she’d make up one of the witch’s escapades on the spot. Shirty Girty was always cross and hated interlopers and lived in a toadstool mushroom in the forest. When Ms. Evans opened her mouth, I was transported into another world, and there my life as a storyteller began.

Thirty years later, when my daughter was a toddler and we had to sit en table for three hours during some delicious but drawn out dinner in France or Italy, I desperately needed something to glue my restless daughter’s bottom to the seat. The only thing that worked: my own cycle of Shirty Girty tales, also made up on the spot.

How much I owe Ms. Evans, ICS, and, of course, that bad tempered witch (with a heart of gold below her gruff exterior.) It’s payback time. This year ICS in the “gold coast” suburbs of Zürich, Switzerland, is celebrating its 50th anniversary and I am returning to my alma mater to help blow the party horns.

On May 4th and 5th, I will be making my way from class to class, talking with ICS’s students, of all ages, about storytelling, the imagination, and the act of writing journalism and fiction. I can’t wait. But ICS also plans to entertain parents and alumni and related adults: May 5th, at 19.00 hours in the school’s Hall, ICS is having an Indian dinner catered before I stand to give a reading of The Hundred-Foot Journey. What a fitting way to pay back the institution that gave me so much. I genuinely cannot wait.

For those not attached to ICS, but still interested in hearing me read while in Zürich, I will be reading at The Bookshop on 70 Bahnhofstrasse on May 6th at 20.15 hours. For further details go here.

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