Please tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is The Zipper Club. I was inspired to pick that title from some friends who live in the same community as I do, one of whom had recently had open heart surgery. At lunch one day, he said, “I am now part of the Zipper Club.” He went on to explain that the scar from his surgery looked like a zipper (I know, gross, right?), and that he and some other friends who had also had the surgery had formed lunch group and called themselves The Zipper Club. Catchy name, I thought. From that, I outlined a story around the title about a group of senior citizens who get caught up in a scheme where an unscrupulous developer tries to take over their community in order to flip the land for a project worth a hundred billion dollars. A hundred billion dollars brings corruption, betrayal, and murder into the picture. It’s the members of the Zipper Club who stop the bad guys from executing their evil and unscrupulous plan.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently working on a work that I think I’m going to title Sax Man’s Journal, which is the story of a young man trying to become a successful musician in New York City in the early ’60s. I’m not too proud to use a good idea, and I structured the story similarly to the way Elizabeth Gilbert did in City of Girls where the entire book is a response to a single question posed on the first page of the book.
How do we find out about you and your books? I have a website, of course. That is www.MichaelBronte.com. I also have an Amazon author page. That link is author.to/MichaelBronteBooks. I also have an author page on Goodreads at www.Goodreads.com. Any of those places will show my books with a description of each. Just do a search for Michael Bronte books. I am also on Facebook and Twitter.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I’ve read and I’ve been told many times that a writer needs to write about what he knows. As such, what I know best are my own experiences. There’s a little bit of me in every book I write, from personality traits, to my sick jokes, to the language I use for different characters. Every scene and every character is vivid in my mind as I write, either someone I’ve known, or someplace I’ve been.
When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
It’s an odd story. I was writing radio commercials in the late ’80s and my boss gave me a computer so that we could “telefax” our material back and forth and eliminate travel time. As such, I had to learn a word processing program, and in order to learn the program I had to write something. “What do I write?” I asked, and I decided to write a story which eventually evolved into my first book.
Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I try to maintain a discipline for writing time. Usually first thing in the morning is my best creative time, so I try clean up any work or correspondence at the end of each day so that I have a clean agenda every morning.
What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
My kids are grown and out of the house, so luckily I no longer have that obstacle to work around in terms of time. My wife is my in-house critic, proofreader, and psychologist so she allows me my writing time—most of the time—and only occasionally throws something at me and yells for me to “get away from that damned computer.”
What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Believe it or not, writing functions as my relaxation and keeps my brain moving in the right direction. Besides that, cooking, gardening, fishing are some other things I enjoy, but even if I’m doing those things chances are I’m think about my current project. I guess I don’t have a very exciting life. I did save a dog once.
Where do your ideas come from?
I’ve gotten ideas from my family, friends, TV shows, from newspaper articles, other authors, and other places. An idea can come from anywhere. Usually something clicks in my brain and a little voice will say, “That’s a neat idea from a story.” Those tidbits stay with me like tattoos and I eventually get to them.
Do you feel humor is important in books and why?
Some humor is imperative, but it has to work. I’ve read books where the author tries to be funny and it comes across as forced. I’ve also read works where there is no humor at all, and my wife usually wakes me up when that happens so that I can wipe the drool off my chin. See? That was humor.
What kind of research do you do?
Lots and lots of research, for biographical and historical facts—I think everything I write should be historically and biographically accurate—to researching settings, to scientific data, and on and on… you get the idea. Researching settings can be difficult, so I’ve even traveled to places I write about to that I can “feel it.” If a character says something in one of my novels, I’ve done the research to make sure it’s accurate.
Please tell us about yourself.
Please… that’s much too boring. Let me just say that I’m retired, and my writing is my second career. I’ve been lucky that I have kind, stable, and hard-working children. I’ve been married to the same woman for over forty years, and I now have grandchildren. About my career before writing, I was pretty successful by most standards, but I don’t think anyone ever gave a rat’s ass about me and it was all political crap.
What are some of your favorite things to do?
Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
A few you might recognize are John Connelly, Lee Child, Nelson DeMille, and David Baldacci. I just read another author that I liked so much that I went out and got another of his books, C.J. Box.
What do you think of critique groups in general?
Tough question. I guess the short version is that some people get what you were trying to do and their criticisms are valid—you should listen to these people—while others are totally off base. I think these other critics are writing not from the point of view of what the story is, but what it should be. For these people, I find myself telling them to write their own story if they’re going to try and transform yours.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In this political climate? Probably hunkered down in a survival bunker with some freeze-dried Pop-Tarts and an extra-capacity M4. Our leaders are crazy! Party doesn’t matter.
How many books have you written, how many have been published?
Eleven. All published.
After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
Generally not, unless there is an error that someone found that I need to correct.
Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Getting feedback from readers. I get letters from readers who tell me their life stories, or about their families, or how they identify with the characters. I think that means I’ve touched them somehow. Up to now, that’s been a good thing.
If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
What is your greatest desire?
That my wife and I continue to be healthy and have the opportunity to spend many more years together. Also, that my children and grandchildren have an opportunity to live a good life with minimal struggles. I think that’s becoming more and more difficult as time goes on. I think things like the national debt, poor leadership, and other social and political conditions are making it more and more difficult to raise a family, put kids through college, and be able to retire comfortably, way more difficult than it was for me (not that I didn’t have my own struggles, and plenty of them). I think it’s going to be significantly harder for my children and grandchildren to achieve a better quality of life than I did.
Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Encouragement. Hmmm. That’s different than advice. I guess the most significant piece of encouragement for a writer is to keep writing, even when things don’t look so rosy. I think you have to have a passion for this kind of thing, so be sure to learn the craft from a technical point of view and have a thick skin. Oops. That’s advice, isn’t it. Okay, then do it because it’s fun.