Robbins returns as writer
November 9, 2007
For David Robbins ’76 J.D. ’80, four years of Tribe Pride just did not suffice.
p. Apparently, neither did seven.
p. After a long hiatus Robbins has returned to his alma mater to pass on his expertise as writer-in-residence.
p. Since his departure from Williamsburg, Robbins has published seven novels. An eighth is due to be released in January and he has a ninth in the works. His novels have been ranked on the New York Times Bestseller List and have even been adapted for film.
p. His novels to date include “Souls to Keep,” a cosmic love story, “The War of the Rats,” an historical fiction chronicling the battle of Stalingrad and “The Assassins Gallery,” an alternate history political thriller supposing the assassination of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
p. Robbins admited his undergraduate work at the College did not necessarily lead to his becoming a fiction author, though he always had a penchant for the creative. He earned a B.A. in theater and speech and attended the Marshall-Wythe School of Law to curb his indecision about entering the real world.
p. According to Robbins, he and many of his peers considered law school “the great catch-basin of unfocused over-achievers.”
A mere 50 weeks of practicing law were adequately intolerable for Robbins.
p. “If you are a writer at heart, it emerges,” Robbins said. Soon thereafter he began penning the first of his many novels, signed with a publishing house and spawned his career in fiction.
p. Every year, the writer-in-residence position at the College brings an acclaimed author to teach a course in the English department. This semester, Robbins is leading an advanced creative writing workshop. Robbins said he was flattered to be invited back to his alma mater, and hopes he will be an inspiration to aspiring fiction writers.
p. Robbins stressed that “to be advantageous as a writer you must work harder than the next guy.” Conceding that no author is born brilliant, he lauded meticulous editing as the key to good writing.
p. To be an effective critic of self-produced work, he said one must become detached from bias in editing white maintain an authoritative stance. A particular aim of editing he impresses upon his students is succinctness. To Robbins, honed writers can pare down their words to convey much by saying little.
p. Robbins cautioned that success as a writer does not blossom overnight. He explained that “progress is incremental in the literary world” and encourages his students to continue to write regardless of critical success.
p. Robbins’s literary investigations have taken him all over the world, from Russia to Cuba and many places in between.
To fully prepare for his novel “The Liberation Game,” Robbins drove a truck across Europe to gain insight into the setting of his then-fledgling novel.
p. While drafting his novel to be released in January, Robbins spent months in the Ukraine to explore the harrowing aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant catastrophe.
p. Robbins credited an array of influenced for his love of literature. He reminisced about his mother’s captivating storytelling techniques as an early fondness for stories. Always aware of what he described as his creative “bent,” he was a voracious reader and cited G.M. Fraser, author of the “Flashman” comic books, Vladimir Nabokov, Leo Tolstoy and Tom Robbins among his favorite authors.
p. Though teaching at the College this year, Robbins vowed he is always “a writer before a professor” and continues to work on his novels.
p. Robbins presented his latest novel, “The Betrayal Game,” to an audience in Ewell Hall. The novel will hit book shelves in January. Until then, Robbins will continue with his writing, as always, and instill inspiration in undergraduates at the College.