Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Author Interview ~ Don Bruns


Don Bruns, an advertising executive, has a lot of irons in the fire. He and three friends converted an old 1905 neighborhood grocery store into a very cosy, nostalgic used book store, Bookends Used and Rare Books. Living in Ohio, the author travels to Florida and the Caribbean on a regular basis.

--- Interview

First, thanks for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you, it is a pleasure to interview talented writers and after reading STUFF TO DIE FOR, I so wanted to interview you. What a great book!

MWU: If your wife Linda was approached on the street, what would she say your writing quirk(s) is/are?

Don Bruns: I don’t know if it’s a quirk, but I like to write out by the pool when I’m at our home in Florida.  And there’s a mockingbird that sits on the roof of the house next door and gives me a concert.  Somehow I’m inspired by that.

MWU: Aside from your wife, who would you say has been the biggest supporter of your writing?

Don Bruns: I have a support group.  My attorney, a former math teacher, a buddy from Chicago.  But I’m always surprised by the ladies in their eighties and even nineties who email me or call me on the phone.  There are three or four of them that read everything and comment on all the characters and scenes from the books.

MWU: If you were one of the characters in the STUFF SERIES and one in the CARIBBEAN SERIES, what type of character would you be and why?

Don Bruns: Skip is the narrator in the Stuff series.  A starred review from Booklist compares the narrative style to Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, so I suppose I’d be Skip.  I think Twain probably identified with Huck.  In the Caribbean series my protagonist is a journalist who covers rock and roll and travels to the islands.  No question who I want to be in those books!

MWU: If Skip Moore or James Lessor could step from the pages of the STUFF SERIES what do you think they would say to you? What would they be thankful for? Upset about?

Don Bruns:  Skip does step from the pages as the narrator with asides to his readers.  Skip Moore is an interesting guy.  He’s a smart dude, could be independent, but for some reason chooses to follow some of the hair-brained schemes his best friend comes up with.  Secretly, Skip wants James to succeed, knowing all the while there’s a slim chance of that happening.  James just wants to make a million dollars in the shortest time possible with the least amount of effort.

MWU: If one of your characters could step from the pages of the CARIBBEAN SERIES, which character would you most want it to be and why and least want it to be and why?

Don Bruns: Ginny Sever, Mick’s ex-wife is a vibrant character.  She’s a knockout and very strong.  I patterned her after a young lady in Chicago who I admire a great deal, so I know who she’s most like.  Still, I’d like to meet the real Ginny Sever.  There’s no one I wouldn’t want to meet.  These are my people.

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from the STUFF SERIES or the CARIBBEAN SERIES (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….

Don Bruns: Elevator pitch?  The Stuff series is about two 24 year old guys in Miami who start their own detective agency.  They have no clue what they are doing and they are constantly screwing things up.  Publisher’s Weekly says “Be prepared for laugh-out-loud moments.”

The Caribbean series is about a journalist who covers the entertainment industry.  Mick Sever always seems to find the seamy underbelly of the business and he investigates the strange characters that populate the world of pop culture.

MWU: I really enjoyed Angel from STUFF TO DIE FOR and wondered if he comes back and makes an appearance in any of the other STUFF SERIES books?

Don Bruns: You wouldn’t believe how many people want Angel back.  I haven’t found a place yet, but the book for 2012 is still being written, so who knows?

MWU: How do you develop and differentiate your characters and how do you “stay in character” when your writing? Has this processed changed over time?

Don Bruns: I have a pretty clear sense of who the characters are.  It’s always been there.  My publishers did not believe that I wrote the first Stuff book,  They accused me of using my wife.  They just didn’t feel that I could make the departure from hard-boiled Mick Sever to befuddled Skip Moore.

MWU: Who do you see as your “ideal” reader?

Don Bruns: I should have a better sense of who he or she is, but I don’t.  Demographics say it should be women 35 plus.  I hear from a lot of guys and women, so I don’t really know.

MWU: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Don Bruns: Keep writing.  People get hung up on the story line, or characters or they put it down for awhile.  If you’re putting words on paper things start to happen.  You can sort them out later.  Just keep writing.

MWU: What are you working on now and when do you expect to release the next book? 

Don Bruns: Too Much Stuff is just out.  Next year Food Stuff (or possibly Unsavory Stuff) is coming out in December.  And I’ve got another series I’m working on plus a stand- alone that I’m shopping

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?

Don Bruns: The same advice as to writers.  Keep writing.  To the readers, keep reading.  We appreciate your support!

The synopsis for STUFF TO DIE FOR

Chasing the American Dream could leave you running for your life. Best friends James Lessor and Skip Moore are hardly on the fast track. While James works as a line cook at Cap'n Crab, Skip spends his days selling—rather attempting to sell—security systems to people who have no money and have nothing they care to protect.

James and Skip aren't upwardly mobile, but they're about to get literally mobile when James spends a surprise inheritance on a white box truck. An investment in the future, he surmises, as these two are starting a business. Moore and Lessor, or Lessor and Moore. Have Truck Will Haul.

But the fledgling business takes a shocking turn when James and Skip unload the contents of their first moving job and find some unexpected cargo—a bloody human finger.

As James and Skip scramble to stay one step ahead of the perpetrators of a gruesome crime, they'll learn that there is some stuff you should never touch—and some stuff to die for in this witty, gritty mystery about big dreams, big ideas—and big trouble.


James Lessor, Skip Moore and their white box truck are back. And when Reverend Preston Cashdollar and his traveling tent revival come to town, James and Skip reinvent themselves—as Holy Rollers.

Rest assured: James and Skip aren't seeking salvation; they're seeking the Almighty Dollar. After all, Cashdollar's prosperity gospel draws thousands of people with open minds—and open wallets. After some minor modifications to the truck, Less or Moore Catering is ready to roll, and the entrepreneurs are born again, intent on making a mint by selling meager meals to the hungry masses.

As James and Skip become entrenched in the Cashdollar culture, they start to realize that this good reverend is nothing but bad news. Cashdollar may preach about seeing the light, but his organization has a dark side of greed, power, corruption and murder.

When James and Skip see something they shouldn't, their meals-on-wheels venture is about to become hell on wheels. The love of money may be the root of all evil, but the stuff dreams are made of could be James and Skip's worst nightmare. As James and Skip seek the truth, they'll either need to keep the faith or run like the devil!

The synopsis for STUFF TO SPY FOR

Best friends James Lessor and Skip Moore are still stuck in dead-end jobs, still living in their ratty apartment in Carol City, Florida, and still dreaming of hitting the big time. It seems those dreams are finally within reach when James lands a job to install a state-of-the-art security system for Synco Systems. There's a huge commission—and plenty of strings-attached. To collect on the cash, James will have to provide 'additional services' by assuming the role of pretend boyfriend of Sarah Crumbly, an employee who's having an affair with Sandler Conroy, Synco's married president. When Sandler's wife offers James a tidy sum for the dirty details about what's going on at Synco, James and Skip resurrect their entrepreneurial dreams and go into the business of being spies. The spymobile—their beloved, rattletrap of a boxtruck—is on its last legs, and they'll have to spend a small fortune on spy equipment, but there's no business like spy business. In this spy game, James and Skip may be the ones who get played—or worse.


It's official: stumbling, bumbling James Lessor and Skip Moore are licensed private investigators. Now, that's some scary stuff. It could take time to get More or Less Investigations off the ground, so James takes a job with a traveling carnival show. But this show has a dubious reputation, having had a string of accidents and at least one death in the past year.

When they're hired to investigate what's caused the carnival chaos, James and Skip set into motion a dizzying, roller-coaster chain of events.

After a terrifying trip on the Dragon Tail ride, a not-so-fun dust-up in Freddy's Fun House, and a host of threats, James and Skip realize they'll get anything but cooperation from this cantankerous cast of carnies. But when a carnival worker is murdered, James and Skip will have to act fast . . . because they might be next in line.

For James and Skip, the only thing sweeter than the smell of corndogs and fried dough will be the sweet smell of success—but in this case, 'success' means getting out alive. When this investigation goes completely off the rails, and James and Skip will be in for the ride of their lives.

The synopsis for TOO MUCH STUFF

It took Henry Flagler years to build a railroad to Key West. It took thirty seconds for a hurricane and a twenty-foot tidal wave to destroy it. Five hundred people were killed in that violent 1935 storm and many more were missing. Among the unaccounted for was a finance director for the East Coast Railway, Mathew Kriegel, who had loaded one and a quarter million dollars in gold on a train that very morning. The man and the gold were never found.

Newly minted private investigators James Lessor and Skip Moore have just been hired by Kriegel's great-granddaughter to help her search for the lost gold. And she many or may not have the map that leads to the treasure.

Fighting off competitors, scuba diving, digging in a spooky cemetery, and almost getting killed in the proccess is just part of their job. Come along for the ride, but watch your back. It's a very dangerous mission, and don't count on James and Skip for help. They can barely take care of themselves.

The synopsis for JAMAICA BLUE

When successful and charming rock journalist Mick Sever goes to Jamaica to see the "next big thing," a reggae/rap band with a flare for hypnotic beats and violent lyrics, he finds that there's more than just sun, sand, and music on the island of Jamaica. Danger, lies, sex, and murder abound in the tropical paradise.

Led by front man Derrick Lyman, a talented and captivating performer with a radical political message, the band seems set for instant stardom. But then a young girl is savagely murdered at an after-party celebrating the band's first American concert in Miami. Roland Johnson, the band's security guard, is caught with a knife in his hand at the crime scene. Roland is arrested and charged with murder. For all involved the case is closed—all except Mick Sever.

Sever, a relentless and charming sleuth, isn't convinced that the simple guard is the cold-blooded killer everyone thinks he is. Stories of other murders and violence that follow the band lead Sever to believe there is more to the story than meets the eye. Threatened by the band, the police, and dangerous unknown assailants, Sever, with the help of his beautiful and intelligent ex-wife Ginny, is determined to learn the truth.

In the world of music, with double deals, beautiful women, and sexy sounds, nothing is as it seems. Set against the exotic backdrops of Florida and Jamaica, this is an edgy, atmospheric, edge-of-your-seat mystery that will keep you guessing right up to the shocking ending.

The synopsis for BARBADOS HEAT

Congressman Robert Shapply is no saint. A former music insider who fleeced his clients for millions, he now leads the crusade against offensive and violent rap lyrics. When he is attacked and murdered in front of his Adams Morgan home, the list of suspects—from former clients to current headliners—is endless.

But the killer might be closer to home: Police arrest Shapply's son and charge him with murder.

For music journalist Mick Sever, covering this case is personal. Mick, a former client of the congressman and best friend of the accused killer, knows the case isn't quite as simple as it appears. He believes his friend's claims of innocence and sets out to prove them. With the help of his ex-wife and an old friend, Mick must penetrate the bizarre Shapply family—the icy matriarch, Alicia, the disturbed daughter, Amber and the minister brother-in-law—to find the truth.

From Washington, D.C. to Sarasota, Florida and Barbados, rock and roll journalist Mick Sever follows the leads, trying to prove the innocence of his former childhood friend. Threatened by unknown assailants and dangers at every turn, Mick becomes the hunted as the killer turns the tables in a stunning climax.


When you're looking for a lost person, looking in Miami, Florida can get you killed. As entertainment journalist Mick Sever and his ex-wife Ginny try to find their friend, pop-music star Gideon Pike, they soon realize he doesn't want to be found. Pike's career, his business associates, and his fortune are all being held hostage by a Korean mobster named Jimmy Shinn, who is blackmailing the singer/piano player.

The steamy underworld of Miami, with its excesses, crooked cops, strip clubs and murder all comes into play as Sever and his ex-wife try to find Gideon Pike and save his life. In the meantime, they risk losing theirs.

Billions of dollars are at stake in fast-paced South Beach, and when those kind of dollars are in play, the stakes are high. The Severs never give up on the hunt, and enlisting the help of some colorful locals, they search for the singer and the story, finding that you should always be somewhat careful of the people you put your trust in.

The synopsis for ST. BARTS BREAKDOWN

Sun, sand, and a psychopath. It's a deadly mix. Rock and roll journalist Mick Sever is back with a new assignment: interview music legend Danny Murtz. One of the most successful producers in music history, Danny Murtz has walls lined with gold and platinum records—and a closet full of skeletons.

Known for producing an unbelievable string of hits, Murtz is also tied to a string of disappearances. It seems a number of Murtz's romanitc conquests have vanished into thin air. After his latest incident, Murtz conveniently retreats to his secluded St. Barts villa.

Before Mick Sever can hop a plane to the island paradise, he's nearly run over by a speeding car. Coincidence? Maybe, but hit maker Danny Murtz and near misses seem to go hand in hand.

Murtz's stay in St. Bart isn't quite the relaxing vacation he'd hoped for. When he begins receiving anonymous threats implicating him in a number of crimes, Murtz gets the message loud and clear: someone is trying to bring him down. Fueled by a steady stream of drugs and alcohol, and ravaged by mounting paranoia, Murtz begins to unravel. In Murtz's muddled mind, everyone is suspect—even his long time secretary Nancy and attorney/manager/chief cleaner-upper Harvey Schwartz. And Mick Sever's quest to get to the bottom of the story puts him at the top of Murtz's hit list.

If Danny Murtz has his way, Mick Sever will only need a one-way ticket to paradise. Because if Mick isn't careful, his next column will be an obituary—his obituary.

The synopsis for BAHAMA BURNOUT

or rock and roll writer Mick Sever, another story, another deadly island paradise is all in a day's work. This time, Mick heads to Nassau, Bahamas, home of the legendary Highland Studio. Known for pumping out hits that burn up the charts, Highland is where the magic happens-or rather, where the magic happened until a devastating fire destroyed the entire studio. No one knows how the fire started, who started it-or whose body was found among the charred ruins.

Sent to get the inside story on the opening of the new Highland Studio, Mick finds this is hardly the Phoenix-rising-out-of-the-ashes story he expected. Some say the studio's haunted, some say it's cursed, but one thing is for sure: someone—or something—wants to stop the music. A smashed guitar and erased tracks send a subtle warning, but murder? That's an entirely different tune. If Mick doesn't act fast, Highland Studio, along with everything and everyone in its path, could go up in smoke. It's not always better to burn out than to fade away.

To learn more about Don or to order any of his books, please visit his webiste: Don Bruns 

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