Rich Amooi’s latest novel set in Del Mar and San Diego
After a successful career as a radio and wedding disc jockey, Rich Amooi turned to another livelihood.
Over the last five years, the Rancho Penasquitos resident has written and self-published 15 romantic comedy novels. He attributes the pursuit to one person — his wife.
While they were living in the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley, Amooi said, Silvi Martin encouraged her husband to follow her footsteps and take creative writing courses at Stanford University. Her encouragement occurred after hearing a humorous radio commercial he had written.
“(She) told me, ‘This is brilliant. You need to consider going into writing fiction,’” he said in a recent interview. “My wife is the one who encouraged me to start writing, to write romantic comedies, to publish.
“It’s because of her that I’m actually a published author today. ... She’s a big reason for my success.”
Amooi also credits Martin, herself a published author, for writing long-form fiction after she read pieces he had written for a short-story class at Stanford.
“I wrote 20 short stories,” Amooi said. “There was one in particular that stood out for her. She said ‘You need to turn this into a book.’
“I laughed when she said that because the idea of trying to turn a 5,000-word short story into a 75,000-word novel seemed mind-boggling to me at the time.
“She absolutely fell in love with the story and said, ‘You need to expand it. I can visualize this as a full-length book, not just a short story.’ ... And it did end up becoming my first book.”
His latest effort, “It’s Not PMS, It’s You,” came out last year and is available by going to Amooi’s website, or directly to amazon.com and Kindle.
Largely set in Del Mar and other familiar San Diego locales, the plot evolves from an embarrassing mishap at a gym in which corporate climber Ruth “Ruthless” Harper meets a man who she learns later that day is the same guy hired to be her landscape designer.
A near-death experience leads Ruth to realize she needs romance in her life. Yet, her venture into the dating game, as orchestrated by her office assistant, Dee, is the catalyst for a series of farcically disastrous scenes worthy of a sit-com laugh track.
“I’ve always wanted to write a story about a strong, confident woman who doesn’t take crap from men,” Amooi said. “That’s how I first came up with the idea for the story. I’ve seen some of the stuff that women have to deal with in the world, and it doesn’t seem fair or right to me.”
As of Sunday, Feb. 23, the 378-page title was listed the No. 1 best-selling comedy among Amazon selections. More than 80 percent of the readers gave it a five-star rating.
“This has been my breakout book,” Amooi said. “This book has had phenomenal success. ... It gives me joy that I’m able to bring some positivity and fun and laughter to a world that many times is filled with way too much drama for the average person. ... I get to help people escape and there’s nothing better than love and laughter.”
Amooi is among the rare men who write romantic comedy, but it is the niche to which he was attracted long before he started composing fiction.
“My obsession with romantic comedy started back in the ’80s, with ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ and the John Cusack films,” Amooi said. “I just became obsessed. It was really all about the dialogue and the humor.
“There was something that really connected with me. When I decided to start writing, there was no other thing on my mind. I had to write romantic comedies.”
Amooi’s decision to base “It’s not PMS, It’s You,” as well as other recent and future books in San Diego County is a natural since he and his wife picked the region as the place where they wanted to live when they tired of the pressurized lifestyle of Silicon Valley.
A job offer to Martin to teach Spanish at Westview High School on Camino del Sur cemented their decision to move here in September 2017 rather than live in Spain, where she was born and her parents still reside.
“Everything lined up so perfectly, it was meant for us to be in San Diego and it has felt like home to us since the first moment we got here,” Amooi said.
Martin’s infatuation with the area is reflected in her two novels placed in Coronado. Amooi’s 2018 book, “Something About a Cowboy” was set in Julian. Amooi’s next planned novel, “Just Another Silly Love Song,” will also occur within the county, he said.
“When all is said and done, I will probably have a romantic comedy set in every single place in San Diego County,” he said. “That’s the goal. That’s how much I love this place.”
That Amooi has attained success by self-publishing rather than getting an agent and attempting to entice publishing houses to print his work reflects his tenaciousness.
“I decided from the beginning while I was taking the writing classes at Stanford that I was going to self-publish,” he said. “I wasn’t even going to pursue traditional publishing. ... I decided I wanted to give it a shot myself first because I like being my own boss.”
Such confidence is a rare commodity, one that Amooi apparently had as a child while living with his parents in San Jose.
“I knew at the age of 12 what I wanted to do for a living: I wanted to go into radio and be a radio DJ,” he said.
After winning on-air promotional contests and going to studios to pick up his prizes, he was mesmerized by disc-jockeys working in their booths spinning the latest hits and entertaining listeners with their verbal patter.
“After I graduated from high school, I went into a radio broadcasting school, and then eight months later I graduated, and a week after that I got my first radio job. And then I did radio for 33 years,” Amooi said.
“It was a great career. Basically, being able to talk for a living and play my favorite music was a lot of fun.”
In his senior year in high school, Amooi said he along with fellow students took a personality test, the results of which offered them guidance on possible career paths.
“One for me was radio,” he said. “The other one was zookeeper.”
It’s doubtful Amooi will find himself feeding giraffes at the San Diego Zoo.
Yet, if his latest volumes are indicators, it would not be surprising if the landmark someday appears as a rendezvous for romance seekers drawn from the menagerie of characters springing to life from Amooi’s imagination.