By Ryan Mancini
Signal Staff Writer
The Open Book Store held another book signing, this time for author and Stevenson Ranch resident Rich Allan on Saturday afternoon.
With stacks of his two novels “Drafted” and “Identity Check” on display, Allan read excerpts into a microphone as visitors stopped by.
“I’ve always been a writer,” he said.
His first book, “Drafted,” tells the story of a young man who was drafted into the Vietnam War. Eli “I’m not supposed to be here” Jones tries to elude bizarre and dangerous encounters before and during his deployment, which include “nude fire drills, a snake-charming stripper, and the Georgia swamps, to being buried alive by Le Huu Duc in a Vietnamese POW camp training,” according to the book’s description.
The book is “50 percent autobiographical,” Allan said, adding that those encounters were based on true stories during his own years in the Army while in Vietnam. While a comical story, Allan remembers the darker moments following the draft.
“It was a serious situation,” he said. “People do die in this. It’s in the book, but I had three people, when I was going through infantry Army officers training, who were killed.”
A thriller, “Identity Check” brings three stories together, featuring murder, mystery and an American president. Originally a screenplay called “Next of Kin,” Allan developed a new title and decided to go ahead with a novel.
“I was a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.,” Allan said. “I knew George (H.W.) Bush and his wife. I used to work with her on the literacy campaign, so I knew some of the ins and outs of Washington.”
The inspiration behind telling three stories that came together came from reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Allan said.
“The other thing you do when you’re a writer is you still read a lot, because you get a feel for other people’s styles and the things you like and the stories you like,” he said.
While set in the nation’s capital, Allan assured that “Identity Check” was not necessarily a commentary on politics today.
“I would say definitely escapism,” he said. “It’ll definitely ring true for anybody who knows anything about the Washington scene and politics, and it kind of gives you an inside look at the White House, a sitting president and a wife, living in that bubble.”
Along with his novels, Allan has written several short stories, like “Pepe,” which won first place in a short story contest in Texas. An anthology featuring “Pepe” and 11 other short stories is set to be published by the start of 2019.
Allan’s next work will be a mystery series, beginning with “The Killer Sasquatch.” Set by Crater Lake in Oregon, the first book features a Native American private investigator who happens to be a skilled tracker who teams up with his nephew to solve the case. The planned sequel, “The Case of the Missing Rock Star,” will be a fictional take on what happened following the death of musician and Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
When he’s not writing, Allan finds work as an actor and performs hits from the 1960s with his band Revolution Road.