Bruce Lewis was a crime reporter for several California daily newspapers, where he earned six awards for best news and feature writing. Bruce is the author of the Kim Jansen Detective Series. His debut novel, Bloody Paws, won a Maxy Award for best mystery novel of 2021. Bloody Pages, a mystery novel dealing with intergenerational violence, was released on August 11, 2022. Bloody Feathers, Book 3 in the series, will be released on March 3, 2023. On December 11, 2022, his publisher, Black Rose Writing, posted the first of Bruce’s ten episodes, Death of the Stray—A Veterinarian’s Revenge, to Kindle Vella. He is working on a fourth novel, with the working title, Bloody Robes.
Bloody Feathers A bullet explodes the cremation urn of a beloved bookseller during his memorial, sending shrapnel into a dozen mourners, including Detective Kim Jansen. As she recovers, Jansen finds herself tangled in four mysteries tied to John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, one of the world’s most valuable books.
Who’s your favorite author? – Stephen King. King is a master storyteller—as we all know—whose writing technique is invisible, with his characters driving every story at a mad pace. For light reading, I enjoy Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett, and Nevada Barr’s Anna Pidgeon.
What is the best book you have ever read? Shipping News by Annie Proulx. The quality and complexity of her writing is astounding. I read it long before I became a novelist. It would be interesting to re-read it and see what magic I could glean for my own books. I wish I had her talent.
How long did it take you to write your first book? – I got the idea a dozen years before starting it. In late 2019, I started writing it at a relaxed pace. I’d walk a mile and a quarter down to a coffee shop, write for an hour, then walk home. I would do that a few times a week. I wrote parts on my iPad and some on my iPhone while riding buses in Portland, Oregon, where I lived for six years. Bloody Pages, book 2, took 90 days. The difference: a publisher encouraging the next book in what would become a series, learning tricks from other novelists, and creating an outline before starting. As a former newspaper reporter accustomed to working on a deadline, I’m a fast writer. I suspect I could write the next one in less.
How do you come up with character names? They pop into my head. I try to keep them simple, so they don’t distract from the storytelling. Sometimes, I use versions of family names for the fun of it. For example, my mother’s first and middle name was Dorothy Maxine, and my grandmother was a Reid. I combined them into Maxine Dorothy Reid. In Bloody Paws, she’s a homeless meth addict. No, my mother, who passed away many years ago, was not a drug addict or homeless, nor was my grandmother, who died 25 years before I was born.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I practice a hybrid style. I’m a planning pantser. I create a one-page outline of the entire book, one line per chapter. Before I write, I add another paragraph or two describing what happens in each chapter. I always know the beginning and end of the book before I start to write. With a direction in mind, I write by the seat of my pants to fill in details. I see each chapter like you would see a scene in a movie. I visualize it, then write what I see.
Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I do both. If I think a particular location, like a restaurant, might object to what I write (such as a serial killer as one of their regular patrons), I’ll use a fictional name. Otherwise, I use real names and real locations I’ve visited personally.
What advice do you give to up-and-coming writers? Don’t fret about how long it takes or obstacles that might arise. Just get the story down on paper. Once it’s down, you can begin shaping it the way you like. And, for gosh sake, don’t worry about getting an agent or writing a bestseller. And write a little or a lot every day to achieve your goal.
What is the most challenging part of the writing process? The editing. I love writing. Hate the editing. VERY important, but also VERY Tedious. I’m working on ways to produce a cleaner manuscript as the story unfolds rather than do all the editing at the end. Polishing creates the gem. I wish I were more patient with the process.
-Oregon Writers Colony – https://oregonwriterscolony.org/contact (member news
-Willamette Writers—Portland Chapter
-California Writers Club—Mt. Diablo Branch
-Portland Audubon Society
-Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
Where books are available
Online: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble
Independent Bookstores: Powell’s (Portland), Reasonable Books (Lafayette), and Gallery Books (Mendocino)