AA: When you formulate a character, do you tend to fashion them out of people you know and tweak them, or do you start from scratch?
AA: Specifically regarding your story, “Ambrosia”, what inspired the events in the story?
AA: You set “Ambrosia” in
JB: Being from the Mitten state, it’s an easy default. I’ve traveled it from coast to coast and up and down the Thumb, and back and forth across the
AA: You chose to have your protagonist be female. Do you have any difficulty writing a female versus a male? What were the challenges you faced?
JB: It was a little interesting, but I know some women similar in demeanor to my narrator. Usually my narrators are smart-ass, quick talking men. Edie didn’t present herself that way, nor did she try to sound like she was the chief of police. Her job has forced her to be a patient observer. I tried to paint her story that way.
AA: When you get an inspiration for a story, do you immediately set out to write it, or do you jot it down and let it incubate before you begin crafting a story?
JB: A little of both, actually. And then there are the times I sit down and I can’t pull myself away from the keypad. I carry a pocket paperback Moleskin journal with me at all times.
AA: For “Ambrosia”, when you look back at what inspired your story, as the revised the story, did the initial inspiration persist, or did the story take on a life of its own?
JB: The only thing that came up differently was the antique lamp. It became a red herring. I wish now I had done something a little differently with the lamp as that plot device, but as I answer this, I realize it would have added about an extra 2000 words and that would have been too long for the anthology.
AA: As you write and re-write a story, how do you know when you are ready to submit your work?
JB: When I can’t possibly imagine any other twist, turn, or direction. When it reads like the snap of a whip. When I have nothing left to give and it has nothing left to take. After all of that, I close one eye, proof it to the best of my attention span, and then send it out.
AA: Do you have a circle of people who read your work in order to get feedback? If so, how valuable is that to the finished product?
JB: I have a friend who is a member of SAG. When I was writing screenplays with her husband, she read a few. Sometimes I shoot her a couple of my short stories. Her husband and I collaborate quite a bit. I’ve also joined a few writers’ groups online. The best feedback source, though, is the editor or publisher. I’m not one to hold that every word I put down is gold. If a publisher wants a poodle, he gets a poodle. Freeing myself from my ego has propelled me further than the last 30 years of trying to justify something that only worked for me.
AA: What genres do you enjoy reading? Do you tend to write stories that reflect your reading preferences?
JB: Crime fiction. Adventure fiction. That Hard Case Crime fiction line is superb. I really dig true crime and other nonfictions that have a story. I read one awhile ago about Teddy Roosevelt’s son hauling the former president through the Amazon after an accident crippled MR. Roosevelt. Fascinating read.
AA: What are you currently reading?
JB: Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover
AA: Finally, if you don’t mind my asking, what are you working on currently?
JB: A guy I work with who originally inspired my Harry Landers, PI, character just gave an idea for a story that wasn’t that bad; I’m trying to develop a new lead and sidekick from it. I just finished a 35k word YA novel that I pitched and got a foot in the door with it. My collaborating buddy and I have one we’re sharing with his thirteen year old daughter. She says it’s boring and wants to know where the boys are in it. We may abandon that one.