About Me

Credit: David Lance Goines

I've lived in Berkeley for over 20 years: I'm the girl in shabby black clothes who is always carrying a book. Hmm, that could describe half of Berkeley.

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Robert W. Fuller, Author of the Rowan Tree

Robert W. Fuller, former president of Oberlin College, is an established nonfiction author and public thinker who recently published his first novel, The Rowan Tree. The adventures of his life include consulting with Indira Gandhi, meeting with  Jimmy Carter in regard to the President’s Commission on World Hunger, working in the USSR to defuse the Cold War, and keynoting a Dignity for All conference hosted by the President of Bangladesh.

How long did it take you to write The Rowan Tree? Was there anything you needed to accomplish first?

RWF: I’ve been writing The Rowan Tree for 19 years, adding to it year by year till one day I realized it was done. Before I could finish it, I had to express the ideas in it in non-fiction form (Somebodies and Nobodies and All Rise). Only then were the intellectual foundations clear enough to me to dramatize them properly.

Do you interact with other authors in Berkeley?

RWF: Yes, I know a half-dozen other writers in the Bay Area, but truth be told, in this day of the Internet, I interact as often with people who are far away as who live in town.

How did the local community of authors or the cultural milieu in the Berkeley influence The Rowan Tree?

RWF: The Bay Area is a place that gives permission to explore possible futures. I doubt that the East Coast would have been as conducive to conjuring up a pacific global future as was the Golden State.

What other activities, events, or other cultural resources could support and encourage your work?

RWF: I wish there were potlucks for writers, say about 3 a year, where published and aspiring writers could congregate and share tips about how to get the word out using social media and other internet tools. Publishing, as we’ve known it, is no more. It would be good to explore its future together in person. Would successful writers show up? I think so.

Do you feel that Berkeley would benefit more from promoting niche opportunities or from encouraging broader participation in cultural events?

RWF: Both are useful.

Do you think social media helps or hurts local arts and cultural communities?

RWF: It does not matter if social media helps or hurts. Social media is a fact, and here to stay till something offering even more participation and recognition comes along. The focus should be how to use social media to make the work of local artists known in the Bay Area and elsewhere.


The Rowan Tree is available as an ebook or in print format.

The Rowan Tree

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