Monday, March 9, 2015

Michigander Monday: W. Bruce Cameron

I'm pleased to welcome W. Bruce Cameron to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Bruce, please tell us a little about yourself.

Bruce:  I was born in Petoskey Michigan, though I don’t actually remember much about the event. For a long time I was a child. Then, much too briefly, I was a young man. Somewhere around age 22 I became middle-aged. The condition persists to this day.

I always wanted to be a writer. I mean, I would not have objected if I had turned out to be a professional athlete, or the heir to a tremendous fortune, but when I imagined myself as a grown-up, it was always as a man with a shelf full of bestsellers that I had written and which had made me very popular. However, when I got out of college, I found it difficult to live on my income as a writer, which was zero. I wound up holding down a whole roster of jobs, including repo man, insurance salesman, ambulance driver, financial analyst, and my favorite job title: Chief Knowledge Officer.  Through it all, over the years, I wrote. In all, I wrote nine unpublished novels before my 10th book, Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, was published. In August, my ninth published book will be out and I will finally have as many works in print as I do novels that have never seen the light of day.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your books.

Bruce:  I am probably best known for my two book series: A Dog’s Purpose, and the sequel, A Dog Journey. A Dog’s Purpose spent a combined 52 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and flirts with getting back on that list every Christmas. It was simple, really: I wrote a book centered on two themes we know are true – that true love never dies, and that our real friends are always there for us if we just know where to look. In my experience, when you mine something that is universally recognized as fact, people will want to read your work.

Yet, I started as a humor book writer. So, humor finds its way into everything I write. In October 2014, my novel, The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, introduced my readers to the hilarious world of Ruddy McCann and his fellow misfits in the very real town of Kalkaska Michigan. It’s a murder mystery, a thriller, and a romantic novel: but it is also really funny. It is the best reviewed book I have ever written, and has reader ratings almost as high as those for A Dog’s Purpose. The premise: what would happen if one day you heard a voice in your head, a voice claiming to be a ghost, sort of, the ghost of a man who is been murdered. The victim wants you to find his killers and bring them to justice. Along the way, you need to make a living, which you do by being a repo man and by being the bouncer of your sister’s bar. I am currently crafting the sequel to The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, which will be out in a year or so.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Bruce:  Ellie’s Story, a book for young readers, will be out in April 2015. It is based on the life of one of the dogs from A Dog’s Purpose.  It has one of the cutest puppies ever photographed on the cover.

In August 2015 the most ambitious book I have ever written will be published: The Dog Master.  It tells the story of one of the most pivotal events in human history – the very first time a wolf was domesticated. Set against the backdrop of one of the most dangerous times in our existence (the beginning of the last Ice Age), it’s a dramatic, sometimes violent, and always exciting tale, told from the point of view of the humans and the wolves involved in this amazing experience. Though I am proud of all of my books, this one taxed my talents and stamina more than anything else I have ever done.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Bruce:  I traveled almost continuously beginning October 26, 2014 and ending in mid-January. I gained so much weight I was afraid the airline was going to charge me extra. I experienced sleep deprivation, battle fatigue, too much fried food, and an eardrum bursting number of airport announcements. To even contemplate another appearance at this point sends me into hyperventilation. I am assuming that at some point in my life I will leave my home and go back out into the world, but right now, all I want to do is curl up with my dog.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Bruce:  My favorite bookstores are in Michigan because they are in Michigan. It is one of the best states in the Union in which to read. There is just something about the weather, the way the clouds and the cold combine to make a fire, a mug of coffee, and a good book an irresistible lure.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Bruce:  Just like the character Ruddy McCann in The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, I was a repo man in northern Michigan. I spent most of my time in a car driving around the area. When the autumn colors were in full blush in the sunlight was spilling out of the sky, lighting up all the red and gold and yellow and green, I would laugh out loud with delight. Anyone who has never seen Michigan owes it to himself to go there and experience a uniquely glorious place.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Bruce:  I was born on July 25. Around that date, every year, Charlevoix hosts a Venetian Festival. When I was growing up, I assumed that the boats, the fireworks, the art fair, and everything was all because people were just so happy I had been born. I refuse to be dissuaded from that delusion to this day.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Bruce:  Outside the library in Petoskey Michigan there is a bronze statue of Bruce Catton. He is apparently the other “Bruce C.” who was born there. I expect that any day now I will get a phone call telling me that they are ready to unveil my bronze statue.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Bruce:  People don’t realize that there is another West Coast in this country: the long, gorgeous shoreline of Lake Michigan. A long time ago I wrote a travel article for Rachael Ray magazine extolling the benefits and beauty of this other West Coast. To do my research, I drove all the way from Benton Harbor to Harbor Springs. It was a really stupid idea. I did not have time to enjoy a moment of the trip, I was always behind schedule. However, I have also driven the West Coast in California, albeit at a more leisurely pace. I would put Michigan’s line up against California’s any day of the week.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally, which is the better term: Michigander or Michiganian?

Bruce:  I have never met anyone who calls himself a Michiganian. It sounds like some sort of sandwich. I am a Michigander.

Debbie:  We'll add you to the Michigander column!  Bruce, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!


Ann Finkelstein said...

Great interview. I look forward to reading Bruce's books.

Linda K Sienkiewicz said...

So prolific! Thank you for featuring Cameron!