Refinement, Courtesy, and Why We Write; a Conversation with Bob Wildman, Author of the Book, The Inquisitive Yanqui

The Inquisitive Yanqui by Bob Wildman

“I don’t like the big fruit bombs,” Bob Wildman noted while discussing a Cabernet Sauvignon he’d had recently. His preference is for the more subtle and refined wines. It was a comment he made at the end of his discussion about his novel, The Inquisitive Yanqui. Lucky for us, Bob Wildman lives in Reno and graciously agreed to come to our book club meeting. What a treat to get to speak directly with the author about his novel.

“The story began to write itself,” he said. “I had the feeling that Elena was writing herself.” Like the author’s preferred style of wine, Elena is elegant and refined. She has the strength and subtlety of a true heroine. “Dave and Elena are two very much above average people who were thrust into a situation that was much bigger than they. And they rose to the occasion.”

The story has geopolitical intrigue, espionage, and romance. It also has wine. “I really started to study wine when I got out of graduate school in ’75, so that was a long time ago. Back then the known wine world was Europe and Napa Valley.” The author is a certified specialist of wine. He is also a clinical psychologist. “There might be some lessons in the novel. One relates to relationships. I think Dave and Elena developed a wonderful relationship under very trying conditions and we can learn from them.” But, his most interesting observation was on the writing process itself, “I believe there are great mental health benefits to writing a novel, and one of them is dissociation. You enter into another realm of consciousness.” “People don’t often ask you, ‘What are your values? What are your goals? What is your purpose here on earth?’ But we should be thinking about that. And writing a novel more than anything else I’ve ever experienced will help you understand what your values and goals in life are.”

The values and goals of the characters in the novel are high ideals put into action. The book is set in the fictitious South American country of Cortesia. When asked what motivated him to write the book, Dr. Wildman answered; “I was filling in in some mental health centers in Alaska, and it was very dark and it was very cold and kind of depressing. And I thought maybe something I could do would be to create this fantasy story in this warm place. That really is how this particular book began.” In warm and sunny Cortesia the military and political characters, the revolutionaries, work together ever respectful of each other, toward a common goal; promises are kept, responsibilities are owned. The romantic relationship between the main characters, Elena and Dave unfolds slowly, and evolves in a very courtly manner out of respect and kindness. Cortesia may not exist on a map, but in its English translation ‘courtesy,’ it is the underlying theme throughout the story. It is the structure that holds Cortesian society together as they reform their government; it is the force that pushes forward relationships throughout the novel. Through the actions of his characters, Bob Wildman creates a society that reflects the best in refinement and that is courtesy.

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