Manic Readers

Bob Bickford

“When I was little, the library was my favorite place,” says Bob Bickford. He was born in Lone Pine, California. His parents liked to move and so did he, for a while. He has roots throughout the United States, but he was mostly raised in Toronto, Canada. His father was a psychiatric social worker who grew up in the slums of Boston. He was a tough guy who got an education on the GI bill and pulled himself out of his birthright. He married twice, the first time to a woman who left him a widower. Alone with a toddler, he was determined that it wouldn’t happen to him again, because the second time he married a woman much younger than he was.

Bickford’s mother was the product of a Southern family—royalty that included the same Duke family that bought a university and named it after itself. Willful and rebellious, she scorned Southern conventions, rejected the closeted skeletons and wide streak of alcoholism that hid behind decorated formality. She disowned her family, converted to Catholicism, marched for civil rights, and married the older man from a poverty-stricken background. Bickford is the oldest of the seven children she bore, one after the next.

The children were brought up in curious contrasts. There were the economies that so many mouths to feed on a middle class income made necessary—hand-me-down clothes, Tang and powdered milk, peanut butter sandwiches for ten thousand consecutive school lunches—but his mother’s background dictated private schools and music, dance, and art lessons.

Bickford attended St. Michael’s Choir School and studied piano and organ at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He hated studying anything at all. His mother was determined that he should be a doctor and despaired over his future. He only wanted to read fiction, and did so endlessly. The library is still his favorite, enchanted place. He didn’t realize he was, in fact, studying for what he wanted to do most.

His father’s plan to not be widowed again fell through, and Bickford’s mother was suddenly gone when he was sixteen. His father had been ill equipped to raise one child the first time, and now there were eight of them—the youngest only three years old. In some sense, the children lost him, too.

Life changed, just like that. Bickford’s behavior guaranteed him a quick expulsion from his exclusive school. He did manage a high school diploma—by the skin of his teeth—but he was mostly happy to leave school for good. He lost an early love and wandered to Los Angeles. He learned about the streets, and about living in the places that cause most people to lock their car doors when they drive through. He was blessed with the same genes that took his father through life in the mean part of Boston, and survived.

Eventually, he grew up and moved again, first to Atlanta and then back to Canada. He made a living in the “fixing cars” arena. He lives in a very old house on a wooded lot that is infested by dogs, turtles, and parrots, and perhaps the ghost of a young girl. His teen-aged son, a light in his life, wants to be an author and a professional football player. Bickford never tells him that both are nearly impossible, because they aren’t.

Bob's MR Links
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Deadly Kiss

MR Publishers
Black Opal Books
Champagne Books
Current Releases

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Caves in the Rain
During the summer of 1946, a group of children play a kissing game behind a general store in rural Georgia. It’s just kids having fun, until one innocent kiss leads to the brutal beating death of a ten-year-old boy. The horrific hate crime shak...
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Deadly Kiss

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