Paperback Writer welcomes author Bruce Cook, author of the mystery/suspense book, Blood Harvest (Capital Crime Press, May ’08), as he virtually tours the blogosphere in January on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!
Leave a message and be in the running to Win Prizes. As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available.
About the Author:
Bruce Cook, who also writes under the pen name Brant Randall, has earned credits as writer, producer, or director on eleven independent feature films as well as commercials. He has written more than twenty screenplays, including the films Husbands, Wives, Money & Murder; Line of Fire; and Nightwish.
Since 1973 he has taught at a number of film schools, including USC, UCLA, and Los Angeles City College. Among his thousands of former students are Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), actor Laurence Fishburne, Paramount VP of Marketing Lucia Ludovico, numerous directors and producers, six Academy Award nominees and winners, and twelve Emmy nominees and winners.
Jackie Sue Palmer, age 13, testifies at an attempted murder trial-
The bailiff placed me in this little cubby next to the judge’s tall desk. They call it the witness box. Every eye was on me, and I felt like I was a move star or something. Which sits just fine with my own future plans.
I caught sight of the woman I had met in the bathroom, taking notes on a pad of paper, laughing all the while. She was sitting in the front row, right behind Andrew and Angus MacKay. There was a man unkown to me sitting next to my cousins. He was maybe thirty or so, not bad looking for a man of his age. I guessed he was their lawyer.
The judge looked over the end of his nose and right down my blouse. He gave a little smile to himself and motioned to the bailiff.
A Bible was placed in front of me.
“Place your right hand on the Bible, raise your left hand, and repeat after me,” said the bailiff.
“I’m left-handed,” I said. “Does that make any difference?” I gave an innocent look, the kind Mary Pickford is so good at.
The spectators in the courtoom laughed out loud at that, causing Judge Halbersson to rap his gavel several times and demand order.
“Which hand you use is not germane, Miss Palmer,” said the judge.
“Of course it’s not germane,” said I. “I’m an American, born right her in Potemkin County.”
That drew another round of guffaws from the gallery. I saw this was going to be a good crowd.
The bailiff glared at the citizens who were laughing. I though the judge might break either the gavel or the top of his desk. I put my eyes down and looked demure. At least I think I did. I was trying to.
The bailiff placed my left hand on the Bible. “Do you solemnly swear to tell…” “I most certainly do now swear. My parents raised me to be ladylike.”
Welcome to Paperback Writer
PBW: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
BC: This novel grew from an incident related to me by my grandmother when she was in her nineties. She was a Scotch-Irish girl from rural New England, one of twelve children, though two died in infancy.
I knew she had married young, perhaps at sixteen, though she sometimes claimed she had been eighteen. She said that after her wedding day she never returned to her home town. I assumed that she eloped or otherwise angered her parents. At one point I asked if her parents disliked my grandfather, who I remembered as personable and charming. She claimed that they liked him very much. He was a perfect example of the immigrant success story. She came to America from Greece at sixteen, without any English and started working the next day. Within five years he owned his own restaurant, and in another five he added a chain of candy shops and drug stores.
“So why didn’t you ever return to your home town?”
“It was those dumb clucks.” She used this expression only when quite angry. “My brother-in-law didn’t think it right for a white girl to marry a non-white European.”
This was new territory to me, but when I read my grandfather’s immigration papers I found that southern Europeans—the Greeks, Spanish, Italians, and Turks—were classified thus until 1912. But it was her next revelation that stunned me.
It wasn’t dumb “clucks.” It was dumb “klux.” It was the KKK that had driven my grandparents from the town. This was not consistent with what I had learned in my history classes (if only they had been so interesting!), and so I began to research.
PBW: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
BC: Because my background is physics, math, and cinema, I am a strong believer in preparation. I outline the rough story, then research the topics that have come up, then put chunks of the information I have learned into the outline at the appropriate spot.
PBW: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
BC: Yes, I do. However even the details of the story have been planned, they often change as I write. Certain characters will turn out to be stronger than others and so I may bend the story in their direction.
PBW: Do you have a process for developing your characters?
BC: I write brief synoptic biographies of the key characters, no more than one page. As I think of other traits or bits of background information I add it to the bio. I “see” each character in my mind’s eye as an actor in a film. In some senses I can place that character in an imaginary scene and just watch what they would do, see how they would react.
PBW: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
BC: I write myself, my family, my friends, and my enemies into the characters. When I observe a person on the street who has particular habits of speech, gait, and dress, that person can become an actor in my story.
But there is seldom a one to one correspondence between any fictional character and the people around me. Instead I borrow traits, then mix and match, put in a blender, puree, and half-bake.
PBW: What is your most favorite part about this book?
BC: Jackie Sue is my favorite character. She is a precocious thirteen year old, just realizing the power she is going to have over men. She is loosely based on a trio of young women I knew in high school.
(Hmmm. I wonder where they are now? Perhaps I should Google…oh, I’m getting off topic.)
PBW: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
BC: After it was finished I sent it to the press that had published my first novel, Philippine Fever. They liked it and knew I would work hard at promoting it. Bingo, second book contract.
PBW: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
BC: I sent the ms to several agents who all rejected it with little or no comment. I eventually did secure an agent who sent it to the major publishing houses in New York. In short order I had seven rejections, but some of them included words of encouragement even though claiming the project was not right for them.
Philippine Fever was published by Capital Crime Press. After the majors had rejected the ms, my agent was out of ideas about seeking a publisher. I asked if she minded if I pursued small presses. She didn’t so I began talking to editors from small presses whenever I met them—usually at writer’s conferences.
Three small presses offered to publish Philippine Fever. The monetary differences in the offers were not great. I made my choice based on how well my book matched their catalog.
PBW: What has been the best part about being published?
BC: My growth as an author has come from hearing directly from readers. It has taught me what seems to connect with them and what things just irritate folks (even though I thought those things were precious).
PBW: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
BC: Real history is a lot better than that stuff you slept though in high school and college. All you need to do is ask the people who were there what happened to them. Don’t rely on the reports of journalists or historians.
PBW: Do you have plans to write another book?
BC: My third book, Tommy Gun Tango, is due out in July 2009. It concerns the corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department in the early 1930s and the way they helped the movie studios cover up murders by stars.
PBW: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
BC: So far it has been great. I can answer the questions without dressing up, using gasoline, or brushing my teeth.
PBW: Where can readers find a copy of your book?
BC: Any bookstore can order it, since it distributed by all the regional subs. It is carried in some stores of the major chains. Amazon.
PBW: Do you have a website for readers to go to?
Thank you, Bruce for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.
BLOOD HARVEST VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ’09 officially began on January 5 and will end on January 30. You can visit Bruce’s blog stops at http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in January to find out more about this great book and talented author!