Mike Rich used to talk about writing, then he decided to do it.

But Rich wasn’t the garden-variety gabber blowing smoke, he was a professional one who used to talk to a lot of authors as one half of the morning commute show on KINK-FM in Portland, Ore., where the idea for “Finding Forrester” came to him.

The year-end Sony release, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Connery as a reclusive famous author, was written in the afternoon hours between Rich’s radio job and the evening sleep pattern necessary for a morning host. The catalyst to fruition for the piece was the Nicholls Screenwriting Fellowship offered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

“The fellowship opens doors for you, and I’m very indebted to the fellowship, which encourages you to keep on writing,” Rich says. “When Variety announced the 11 finalists with their names and screenplay titles, that spawned quite a bit of interest.”

In the late fall of 1998, while Rich, a 41-year-old Santa Monica resident who grew up in rural Oregon, linked up with Billy Rose at the United Talent Agency, “Finding Forrester” found its way to Rich’s fellow Portland resident Van Sant through Lawrence Mark at Columbia Pictures. The Van Sant creative connection made for easy script meetings at Portland breakfast joints.

Once Connery came on board as star and executive producer, the pace picked up. The film was shot in the spring, and Rich’s input was welcomed by the filmmakers.

“I had one of the great experiences,” he says. “We had a very talented creative team on this. No one was excluded. No one was reluctant to state an opinion — what a rewarding experience.”

While Rich “found it surprisingly incredibly difficult” to write his first screenplay, he’s already sold his second, tentatively titled “The Rookie,” which is in pre-production at Disney. John Lee Hancock, the screenwriter of the Clint Eastwood movies “A Perfect World” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” is set to direct the piece, which is based on the actual story of Jim Morris of Big Lake, Texas.

Morris, a high school baseball coach, challenged his team to strive for the championship and the kids, in turn, challenged him to try out as a professional pitcher. Classic underdog Morris was eventually called up from the minors by the Texas Rangers and struck out the side as a reliever in his first major-league appearance.

“The mistake I made early on was that I concentrated on making the dialogue witty, clever and snappy — but it didn’t sound genuine,” Rich says. “Through the Nicholls fellowship, the advice I got that mattered the most was to not think so much about dialogue, but know your characters. Once you know them, they’ll talk for you.”