Questions for the Author

Your bio says you were a cop for 45 years. What made you decide to write novels?

My wife encouraged me for years to write about the sometimes dangerous, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking events I encountered during my career. For years, I resisted, assuming no one would be interested in reading about a cop’s adventures. But something happened one Christmas season a few years ago that made me change my mind. We were talking about what to buy our three grandchildren besides more video games. Then it hit me. Why not write a Christmas story in which they were the stars. Santa’s Super Rescue: How Beezle T. Claus Tried To Steal Christmas was the result. The experience was a lot of fun, and so many people enjoyed the little story besides just the grandchildren that I decided to take a chance on writing a novel. Not long after that, Body Toll was born, followed by The Six O’clock Rule, and now the newest in the series, Perception of Power.

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While Santa Claus is making his rounds on Christmas Eve, his evil second cousin, Beezle T. Claus, and three giant elves, Spike, Tiny, and Gumball Goober, kidnap him and steal all the toys. Just when it appears Christmas will be ruined forever, three children with unique super powers come to the rescue and save Christmas.

Since you mentioned your three novels, I was wondering how you came up with the titles?

Through the first 50 drafts, I called Body Toll Crime Story because I was having trouble thinking of a name that fit a story about a serial killer. I came up with half a dozen titles that, upon checking copyrights, were already taken. Body Toll was not in use, and it fit my idea for the plot. I based the title for The Six O’clock Rule on advice I received years ago from a police chief I knew in Texas. It was a perfect fit for the character conflicts I wanted to explore. Choosing the title for Perception of Power was a no-brainer because I wanted to write about power and how the pursuit of it can corrupt even the strongest person.

Are your characters based on real people?

Yes and no. That was a definitive response, wasn’t it? Actually, in all three novels, I purposely avoided creating characters based upon members of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department since I served as the chief of police. However, I did combine personality traits and physical characteristics of certain people in my previous departments. Gordy Cooper and Roy Connor are two examples, but, before anyone asks, I choose to take the Fifth on the identities of their real-life models! In Perception of Power, there are a few characters based upon real people who allowed me to use their real names. Of course, I took literary liberties with certain events for purposes of, hopefully, improving the story.

Is it possible your main character, Clay Randall, could share his thoughts on what it’s like to see his career and, sometimes, his innermost thoughts, detailed in the novels?

“Clay, would you like to respond? Clay . . . Clay, are you there?!””

“What? Yeah, I’m here. You caught me on a bike ride. What’s going on?”

“A reader wants to hear what you think about having your career and your thoughts documented for everyone to read.”

“Well, at first, it was . . . what’s the word? Unsettling? A little embarrassing at times? Not about you sharing events in my career. I’m okay with that. I mean, it’s all in the public record. But I’ll never be comfortable with you putting my personal thoughts down for everyone to read. How would you like it if I put your private thoughts out there for everyone to read?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’ve never thought about it. Of course, I have one advantage over you.”

“What‘s that?”

“I can access your thoughts, but you don’t have the same capability. For example, I remember that time when you were a young patrol officer and a pretty girl in a red Corvette pulled−”

“Whoa! Hold up! There’s no need to dredge up the past. Besides, that happened over twenty years ago. Anyway, I gotta go. The rest of the guys are hollering for me to get rolling. Nice talking to you, Bruce.”

Was the serial killer in Body Toll based on a real person?

No. I’ve studied a few of these psychopathic killers (Ted Bundy and Danny Rowling in particular), but the serial killer in Body Toll is totally my invention.

Are The Six O’clock Rule and Perception of Power continuations of the events in Body Toll?

It’s called the Detective Clay Randall Series, so the answer is generally, yes. Although the main characters appear in all three books, each one can be read as a stand-alone novel.

When you were still a police officer, how did you find time to write books?

Good question. I often wished for a few more hours in the day just to keep up! Seriously, though, I wrote in the evenings after work and on weekends, juggling my time between family and other work commitments. Since retiring, I find I have more time to write. Now, it’s a matter of setting aside time each week to work on the novels.

As you prepare to write a new novel, do you compete an outline before you begin?

That may be a more disciplined way of going about it, but it doesn’t work for me. I launch the story with an overall plot in mind, including a general idea of the opening and closing. But the part in the middle? I wait for the characters to take over and drag me in directions I never imagined when I began. I explain it by using the analogy of a road trip. I plan to leave Jacksonville Beach and travel across country on Interstate 10 to California, with stops along the way in several scenic locations. I head out as intended, but, at some point, I exit the interstate and begin traveling back roads. Eventually, I make it to California, or, instead, I might end up in Oregon or Nevada. I’m just along for the ride!

What authors do you like to read?

I guess my favorite author is Stephen King. Although his novels no longer cause me to shiver and want to look over my shoulder at what might be gaining on me, he is still a masterful storyteller. I’m also a solid J. K. Rowling fan. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “This guy likes horror and children’s fantasy?” Well, yes. The chronicles of Harry Potter are one of the best I have ever read. Then, in no particular order, there is Dean Koontz, Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, Vince Flynn, Michael Crichton, Joseph Wambaugh . . . I could go on for several pages. What can I say? I like to read.

What has been the hardest thing for you since you started writing your novels?

In a word – MARKETING! Writing is the fun part. My wife read somewhere that book publishing is 5% creative and 95% marketing, and that is so true. But, when you’re a small time author struggling to find an audience, marketing is what you do. Oh, well, whatever it takes . . .

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