Ric Conrad was born in Van Nuys, California. The son of a Lutheran minister, he spent his earliest years in Malibu and Sacramento. After a move to Springfield, Oregon, Conrad voiced his intentions to be a writer. Spending his teenage years in the Willamette Valley, he dreamed of travelling the world. He joined the U.S. Navy a year after graduating from high school and embarked on a life of adventure.
Conrad was on active duty from 1986 through 1989, enjoying visits to: Tijuana, Mexico; Subic Bay, Philippines; Mombasa, Kenya; Pusan, South Korea; and Hong Kong. He served aboard the USS Enterprise for three years before returning to the civilian sector. He went on to serve for twenty-seven years in the Navy Reserves, seventeen of which were with the Seabees, the construction battalions. He visited: Santiago, Chile; Mendoza, Argentina; Kuwait; and was mobilized with the Seabees for duty in Al Asad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He founded Kahuna Books in November 2012. His freelance work has appeared in: Climbing, Portland Monthly, Oregon Coast Magazine, The Gorge Magazine, and 1859 Oregon’s Magazine.
With his adventures on Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, Conrad was struck by the fascinating topography of the Hawaiian Islands, as well as their rich history. He was searching for a geographic location in which to set his pending novels. After exploring Kealakekua Bay, Haleakala Crater, and Waipi’o Valley, he knew he had found the perfect venue for his books.
The first project published by Kahuna Books was Mount Hood: Adventures of the Wy’east Climbers, 1930–1942 (2014). This nonfiction book explores the founding of the Wy’east Climbers, an elite group of mountaineers who made first ascents of the toughest climbing routes on Mount Hood. Rescuing injured climbers in violent storms at 10,000 feet, searching for lost alpinists amid sprawling glaciers, and recovering bodies on steep, icy slopes, the Wy’easters pioneered organized high-altitude rescue operations on Oregon’s highest peak.
Conrad’s debut novel, The Chiefs of Avalon (2016), explored several themes: idleness as the enemy, the saving power of fraternity, chivalry, and spiritual rejuvenation. Adopting the structure of the Arthurian tale of the quest for the Holy Grail, Conrad introduces a group of retired chief petty officers, bent on retrieving a chalice their ailing mentor desires to see before dying. Their seven adventures in the Hawaiian Islands mirror the Seven Virtues, the medieval concept of practicing specific virtues in order to combat the seven deadly sins.
The author’s sophomore effort, The Naha Stone (2017), will depict the early life and development of Kamehameha the Great. The book describes his birth in Upolu, his historic encounter with the Naha Stone, and culminates with the Battle of Ke’ei. Themes Conrad will explore include: civilization versus savagery, the grim reality of war, and the power of cunning over strength.