Local author’s memoir ‘Train Wreck’ explores the world of dating for the 40- to 60-year-old set

The cover of "Train Wreck"
(Karen Billing)

The Del Mar to Rancho Santa Fe corridor plays a starring role in a recently published memoir, “Train Wreck: Love and Deceit among the California Elite”. In the book, first-time author and former Encinitas resident Richard Phelps opens up about his dating experiences as an empty-nester and divorced father of three.

The memoir dives into the North County lifestyle, targeting the 40- to 60-year-old demographic as Phelps details the confusing search for a mate as a grown-up: “What’s reasonable or completely crazy and what’s sincere, misleading or even deceitful all become blurred in the modern dating world,” writes Phelps.

Richard Phelps
(Copyright of Richard Phelps)

Published through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, the book highlights the “bizarre” behavior of suddenly single adults and takes a humorous look at local spots like the social dining area at Flower Hill’s Cucina Enoteca and the Del Mar Racetrack. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, or in some cases the not-so-innocent.

“It’s been an interesting transition from the big-time corporate world but it’s well worth it,” said Phelps, who had a long career in telecommunications and now runs Language & Luxury, an immersion language learning program that doubles as a luxury vacation.

Phelps initially started out writing the book with a fictional character named Chad Duncan whose life closely mirrored his own. After receiving advice from an editor that he should turn the work into a memoir, the true stories started spilling out.

“I put a lot of effort and time into writing about my relationships,” Phelps said. “I’ve poured a lot of personal things in there and addressed those items as I’m maturing and evolving…I’ve always been kind of an open book, I don’t have regrets.”

Just before writing the book, Phelps launched his new business Language & Luxury, tapping into his own experiences working and living internationally and the love of learning new languages he’s had since high school. His company offers “ridiculously cool” excursions for savvy travelers as they seek to improve their language skills. Language & Luxury currently offers customized tours in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Colombia and Israel, with plans to expand soon into Taiwan and Japan.

“The post-COVID travel boom has been great, and the company is growing rapidly,” Phelps said.

For more visit The book can be found on or on Amazon.