Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Same Six Questions - James Bruno

Welcome to this Thursday edition of The Same Six Questions! Today's guest is James Bruno!

Hello, Andy! I worked for the federal government for over two decades, first in military intelligence, then as diplomat with the Dept. of State. I served in S.E. Asia, Pakistan, Cuba, Guantanamo Naval Base, Australia, and, of course, Washington DC. I speak seven foreign languages. I’ve spent lots of time at the White House and even served in a presidential protection detail abroad. I am currently a member of the Diplomatic Readiness Reserve. I found myself repeatedly facing situations in which I would say, “Fiction can’t beat this.” This is what led me to become a novelist.

The Same Six Questions

1. Have you published a book yet?

I’ve published three political/spy thrillers, all Kindle bestsellers. My latest is Tribe, about how power, love, and fathers and daughters come into play in conflict-riven Afghanistan, and how the government gets it all wrong. What separates Tribe from its competition is its authenticity - so authentic that the U.S. government censored it. I draw heavily from my service involving Afghanistan, including in the field. I’ve been featured on NBC's Today Show, in the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, regional NPR and other national and international media. My other thrillers, Permanent Interests and Chasm, have landed simultaneously on Kindle Bestseller lists, including #1 in Political Fiction and Spy Tales. All three can be purchased in ebook and print form from Amazon, or directly from Lightning Source in print. Havana Queen, a spy thriller set in Cuba, where I’ve served, will be released this year.

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I started out as a news reporter with UPI and CBS-News during and after college. It was great to see my stories disseminated nationwide, or used by news anchors in their reporting. I didn’t get into fiction writing until much later, as a lark. I was detailed for training at the U.S. Naval War College for a year and was bored. So, I wrote my first novel. I, however, didn’t just plunge into it. I read a lot about how to write the novel beforehand and took a workshop with a NYT bestselling author, who, by the way, remains a good friend to this day.

3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction (say, >1000 words)? What was it about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?

Permanent Interests is a taut political thriller in which corrupt White House officials sell out to the American and Russian mobs to re-elect a weak President Corgan at all costs. American ambassadors and Russian spies who get in the way are killed. Diplomat Bob Innes falls into this conspiracy of political intrigue and murder and becomes the target of hired assassins and Russian mafia hitmen. He and Lydia, a beautiful Russian escort to powerful men, work with the FBI to bring down the President's men and the Russian mob's Godfather. Al Malandrino, a colorful New York mob boss, becomes their unexpected ally. Permanent Interests authentically captures political intrigue, greed and treachery in the highest levels of government. And it all comes crashing down in face of relentless pursuit of the truth by the system's would-be victims. As you can see, this book has just about everything a good thriller needs.

This is my first novel, written when I was being instructed in how to fight wars by the U.S. Navy. As I said, it’s been a consistent Kindle bestseller.

4. When was your first indication, "I can do this (write)"?

My first-ever query letter actually went to Random House. Jonathan Karp got back to me immediately wanting to read the manuscript. While it didn’t result in a sale (it needed some rewriting), I saw that I could grab the attention of industry pros. I then landed an agent shortly thereafter. I knew I could compete in this field. I had what it takes.

5. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be?

Camilla Loomis, the high-powered Washington socialite in my latest thriller, Tribe. Camilla claws her way from Appalachian trailer trash to Beltway powerbroker through pluck, brains and cunning. My wife, however, might wish to steer me clear of the beautiful and scheming Camilla.

6. It's a dark and stormy're alone in the house...there's a knock at the open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little girl. What's on the doorstep?

A certified letter from Washington stating, “You will report for duty on {DATE} for service in Iraq / Afghanistan.”

I was put on notice two years ago to expect to be called back up. I’d rather stay home and write my thrillers than to go where the action is and experience them firsthand.


Thanks so much for joining us today, James! For more of James and his writing, check out his blog.

Swing back on Monday when my guest will be Heather Jensen!

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