Robert Hirsch was born in Pusan, Korea in 1949. At age five, upon the conclusion of the Korean war, his mother placed him on an airplane and sent him to America under the adoption of his biological American father due to post-war hardships and the ostracism against Amer-Asian children that existed in Korea at the time. He did not see her again until forty years later in 1993 when they were finally reunited. Living in the South (Columbus, Georgia, 1954), he was prohibited by segregation practices from enrolling in public school because he was half Asian and deficient in English, and subsequently received his first four years of education in Catholic schools. From there he attended Department of Defense schools until age thirteen when he received American citizenship. His family then moved to France where, despite the fact that he did not speak French, he was placed in the French school system. Within three years, however, he became fluent in French and upon graduation from college at Cameron University in Oklahoma (1971), he became a French teacher. He retired from education in 2012 after a 40 year career in which he served as a teacher, Dean of Discipline, assistant middle school principal, high school principal, and superintendent. He is currently writing novels and serving as a public speaker / organizational consultant.
He has long had a passion for writing, has published poetry, authored a regular newspaper column, and has recently published his first fiction novel, Contrition, with JournalStone Publishing of San Francisco. As with most writers, witnessing the human condition has been utterly fascinating… a bittersweet communion of heartbreak and inspiration. “Due to the extremely unusual, transitional circumstances of my life and the many odd experiences it has thrown at my feet, writing has been cathartic for me,” says Hirsch. “We as feeble humans are often swept into the rushing tide of circumstance, and are consequently forced into making decisions that violate our core principals… and thus begins that inner struggle that so hauntingly lingers within the brackish backwaters of our conscience.”
And now from the author himself:
My writing delves into the cerebral aspects of the personal reflection that arises as we confront challenge and conflict. More specifically, I like to examine and expose the impact that previous failures, collapses, and misdeeds have had upon my characters, and how those past experiences affect the psyche of my characters as they grapple with the obstacles I have placed before them within my plots. I have determined by now through both personal experience and observation that regardless of our individual successes and victories in life, we each inevitably leave behind us a wake of damage as we plod forward through life. Often this damage to others is created through no malice or intent of our own, but comes about as a result of being swept into the currents of circumstance. Whether the damage done to others is deliberate or incidental, however, the end result is the same… hurting others. This may be of little consequence to the malevolent, but the decent soul is profoundly affected by the effect of his/her own errant actions upon others. And thus begins that parasitic inner struggle that slowly eats at the “good heart” as he/she struggles to navigate through the see-saw of the conscience.
In my novel, Contrition (JournalStone Publishing, August, 2012), the placid existence of a small coastal community is disrupted by the brutal murder of a ten-year-old girl within the attic of the house of the Brothers of Holy Cross who run the local Catholic school. Within the web of shock, mystery, and horror that begins to unravel as the crime is investigated, the disconnected lives of five characters begin to converge in an unanticipated communion of personal contrition as the murder of the young girl forces them individually to return to the pillory of their own guilt for things that occurred earlier in their lives. Contrition crosses genres (suspense, mystery, crime, horror/supernatural), but remains true to one simple theme… the human heart’s quest for atonement. Though the human heart is the wellspring of great strength, courage, and perseverance, it is also fragile… and once broken, can force the strongest of souls into the bottomless depths of depression, defeat, and inner collapse. The heart, then, is the very core of our humanity, and there is no medium in existence that can so effectively and precisely convey the struggles of the heart better than the written word of fiction. Solid writing entangles us within the lives, aspirations, and fears of the characters placed before us. Good writing sweeps us into plots and storylines, regardless of themes, settings, or time. And this, I find, is the exciting challenge of writing… imagining and creating emotion.
I have just completed two more novels, Promise of the Black Monks and Hammer of God, and have just this month sent them off to my agent (Loicano Literary Agency, Texas). These two novels form a prequel-sequel package and, unlike Contrition, are purely of the historical fiction genre. They cover the abandonment and subsequent upbringing by Benedictine monks of a ten-year-old boy during the political and spiritual turmoil at the close of the 11th Century, just preceding the First Crusade. Again, despite the complete left turn from Contrition in terms of setting, genre, and time period, my driving theme in these two books is the human heart and how it navigates one through both internal and external adversity.
Robert’s novel, Contrition, can be ordered through JounalStore.com, Kindle, Nook, Barnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million. More information and musings by Robert Hirsch are available at his website: robertehirsch.com.
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