Author Interview Sixty-One – Bruce Durham – Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror

Welcome to Bruce Durham and a return to Hell.

#HeroesinHell #PoetsinHell

Excerpt from ‘Hell-Hounds’: from by Bruce Durham,  Poets in Hell, copyright (c) 2014, Janet Morris.

Marconi nodded slowly at first, then vigorously shook his head. “Maybe they’re not dead. Maybe they’re trapped and need our help.”

Bell stared at him for long seconds. “You’re shitting me, right?”

“No. No, I’m not. We can’t just leave. We have to know for sure if they’re safe, or not.”

“Sure we can leave. In fact, I insist.” Bell jerked his thumb toward the van. “They get hazard pay, so it’s not our problem. And what happens if we run into one of those hell-hounds?” Bell reached for his tool-belt. “Let’s see. I have a hammer, a screwdriver, cable-crimpers, some ty-wraps, an ohm-meter.

Hmm. No gun. Must have left that back at the shop along with the bazooka. Of course, we could always try harsh language. Hell-hounds hate harsh language.”

Where are you from and where do you live now? Born in Toronto, Ontario, I have lived most of my life in neighbouring Mississauga. I spent over 30 of those years in the CATV industry in a variety of capacities, most recently as a consultant.

At one time I moderated the Fiction Forums for Paradox Interactive Games, laying the groundwork that turned it into a wildly successful platform where gamers still write about their empire building experiences. And, until recently, Administered the Community Forums for the official Robert E. Howard website.

Though my age has been placed around the Jurassic Era, the reality is I am 60 and been happily married for 29, almost 30 years. My wife and I own a Shar-Pei named Haley and a Brussels Griffon called Maggie Q. Both run the household with firm paws.

Some boring (mainly Canadian) personal facts:

* I saw The Beatles when I was 12. All I remember is the screaming.

* In 1971 I walked away from a plane crash.

* Around the same time I met Pierre Elliot Trudeau at a political rally. Love him or hate him, the man oozed charisma.

* I met Isaac Asimov at a Convention in Toronto and PO’d him with my request to sign a book (sorry, no further details coming with that one). At the same Con I was mistaken for David Gerrold.

How did you end up writing for Heroes in Hell? It was through my friend Michael Hanson. I was writing for his ‘Sha’Daa’ series of books when he mentioned he was involved in the ‘to be resurrected’ ‘Heroes in Hell’ series. Being a fan of the original ‘Thieves World’, and specifically the character of Tempus Thales, I asked if he could mention my name if an opening in this by-invite-only anthology came up. The rest, as they say, is history.

How do you deal with writing in a shared universe? I had lots of experience with this concept before I came aboard. For several years I ran a series of collaborative ‘books’ based on the computer game Europa Universalis from Paradox Entertainment.

I was essentially a ‘dungeon master’ that guided over a dozen writers through a storyline I created based on elements of the game. It was very successful and a blast to do. It also gave me a chance to hone my craft, so to speak. This experience made fitting into the intricacies of the hell-world quite easy.

Why did you choose the characters you are using? Being a Canadian through and through, I thought this was the perfect chance to introduce some important historical characters from my country that most people probably never heard of, or knew little about. Though British, General James Wolfe was key in the formation of Canada, while I found his sickly character (he suffered from consumption) fascinating. Beyond that, there were some important military leaders like the Duke of Marlborough, Prince Eugene of Savoy, and Belisarius that screamed for attention.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’ve been writing short stories for various publications for about a decade now. My work encompasses several genres, including fantasy, SF, horror, historical and alt-historical. My very first sale, ‘The

Marsh God’ was published in the late and lamented ‘Flashing Swords eZine’ and garnered recognition as Best Short SF & Fantasy story for that year. It was also adapted into a graphic novel. My latest story is ‘Hell-Hounds’, and appears in the recently released ‘Poets in Hell’.

Where do you find inspiration? Many of my story ideas come from history books and daily news. It’s amazing how often the phrase ‘I’m not making this up’ from some current news item will produce the germ of a story.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? Arguably my favourite character is Mortlock the Footman, found in two anthologies from Rogue Blades Entertainment: ‘Return of the Sword’ and ‘Rage of the Behemoth’. Mortlock is my ‘everyman’, a person with a somewhat jaundiced view of the world. He’s a reluctant hero, no world saviour. He’s just happy to follow orders and live to see another day, though events usually conspire against him.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No, but I’ve been awfully tempted. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen one of these days.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I tend to go overboard with research. Especially with my historical pieces. The beauty of this is that it often leads me into areas of history I know little or nothing about. Then after compiling the research, the trick is to let that knowledge support the story and stay away from the dreaded infodump. Another advantage is discovering some obscure event that develops into a story idea.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Naw. I just like to tell a story with no ulterior motive.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great characters, solid plot, great world building, technically perfect. To me this is a natural progression. A solid plot is almost as important as great characters. I’ve read stories that had well defined characters and good world building but virtually no plot. Just a lot of wandering around.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I self edit, probably more than I should, but also rely on trusted people and editors to correct my glaring omissions and missteps.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Definitely, though I think the perception is slowly changing. I’ve read books from indie authors that were excellent, and books from the traditional authors that left a lot to be desired. A lot. The beauty of the indie scene is that it caters to many, many tastes, while I find the traditional publishers tend to jump aboard a flavour of the month and milk it to death.

Do you read work by self-published authors? All of the time.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I recently completed ‘I, The Sun’ by Janet Morris. I have a fascination with the Hititte culture and this book fulfilled it in spades. Well researched and well written. Definitely recommended. I also completed ‘The King in Yellow’, by Robert W. Chambers. I had to thank the recent series ‘True Detective’ for turning me on to that one.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? This depends on the genre, but for fantasy my favourite traditionally published author is Robert E. Howard. Those who know me will find that no surprise. I also enjoy Joe Abercrombie. For history I’ve always enjoyed the works of Nigel Trantor and Bernard Cornwall. SF is a bit harder, as I prefer hard- edged space opera to today’s watered down fare. I would have to go with Frank Herbert or maybe Larry Niven. Indie authors? Well, there’s Joe Bonadonna and Howard Andrew Jones to name a couple.

Do you have a favourite movie? No, but I have a top ten list. Again, it depends on the genre.

Do you have any pets? I have two dogs. Haley, a shar-pei, and Maggie Q, a Brussels Griffon.

Book links, website/blog and author links:


Amazon Author Link:

I am also on Goodreads and Facebook.

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