Monday, September 21, 2020

Interview with western novelist Bob Brill

Writer Bob Brill joins me today to chat about his new western, Lancer; Hero of the West – The Broken Bow Affair.

Bob Brill is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and writer who is well known in broadcast circles and radio news. A former national correspondent with the UPI Radio Network and currently a news anchor/reporter with the only All News Radio Station in Los Angeles, he has written a dozen books. Aside from other novels and non-fiction books, Bob has just completed the sixth novel in the Lancer; Hero of the West series. There will be ten. He writes one a year.

Welcome, Bob. Please tell us about your current release.
The Broken Bow Affair is the sixth in the series and takes place in Broken Bow, NE. Lancer is hired by the local cattleman’s association to find who is rustling the local herds. He meets up with his usual legendary characters along the way. There are usually a couple of them aside from the men he knows and hangs out with in Tombstone, AZ, such as the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. 

What inspired you to write this book?
Several of the Lancer series deal with International Affairs (New Orleans and Los Angeles in particular as well as Santa Fe). This one deals with a real problem the West faced; rustling and the growing power of corporations (aka associations). I wanted to delve into America’s growing corporate structure as well as bring in some historical figures.

Excerpt from The Broken Bow Affair:
   Lancer stepped in quickly.
  “Look fellas I got breakfast coming and I’d really like to eat it without getting heartburn, if you catch my drift,” the gunslinger registered. “Now if we can put the family squabble aside for a few minutes, I do have a question maybe the three of you can help me with.”
  The brothers agreed without a word to settle this later. Lancer needed help and they were obliged to give it. 
  “I’m going up to Nebraska tomorrow, cattlemen up there in Broken Bow, got some troubles and need my help.”
  Virgil’s ears perked up right away.
  “Range War? Didn’t think you’d get involved in something like that. Nasty business.”
  Lancer waived him off.
  “Nah, rustlers,” he assured the older Earp. “Seems something about they got it going on up there and can’t seem to catch who’s behind it.”
  “Cattleman’s Association hiring you?”
  Lancer nodded. Wyatt didn’t look up from his coffee and said it straight forward.
  “There’s your answer,” he replied. “Never knew an association of cattleman to be anywhere near the honest truth. Probably doing the rustling themselves and looking for someone to blame it on. You look out for yourself up there. We are really talking nasty business.”
  Lancer had thought about it but since he didn’t have much to go on yet, he wasn’t making any assumptions. He took in all that Wyatt was saying however.
  “I’d rather face Johnny Ringo than a cattleman in a suit and tie, any day,” Wyatt pointed out.
  Just then a booming voice came from the doorway.
  “Well, I’m right here law dog.” 
  Johnny Ringo stood tall enough despite not being a man of great stature. When he spoke, whether softly or with a keen sense of power, people listened. Wyatt, surprised, did not even look up.
  “Can’t you figure enough to come in out of the rain, Ringo,” Wyatt suggested. “Oh, I forgot you did.”
  The comment was enough to rile Ringo and move his hand toward his gun. It didn’t take much because Ringo was always looking for a fight, itching to pull his .44. 
  “I wouldn’t do that,” came the voice of Doc Holliday behind Ringo. “Johnny Ringo why don’t you just sit down and have some breakfast? I’ll even pay for it.”
  Ringo stood frozen. He’d love to tangle with Holliday and maybe would one day, but not today. As his hand moved slowly away from his holster Ringo settled down a bit.
  “You keep your money Holliday,” he answered. “I can buy my own breakfast, anytime, any day.”
  Virgil couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
  “Yup, I guess the price of cattle just went up, didn’t it Ringo, I mean some folks got their pockets full of foldin’ money, not just jinglin’ change, ain’t that right?”
  “You got somethin’ to say Earp, you say it!”
  Virgil got up from the table and walked directly over to Ringo. The two men went face to face and stared, neither with a smile to be had.
  “I got something to say, Cowboy,” Virgil held his ground. “Where’s your partner, Curly Bill this morning? Oh, he’s probably eatin’ Tortilla’s and enchiladas somewhere near the Mexican border, I figure.”
  As Ringo’s hand moved closer to his side again, Doc put his hand onto Ringo’s hand and held tightly. Ringo, despite his lack of even temperedness, understood he was not going to win anything here. He stared directly into the eyes of the elder Earp, turned and stormed out. Doc let him move on.
  “Now nobody sit with their back to door, ya hear?” Virgil warned.
  “Not necessary,” Doc responded. “You see, Johnny Ringo, while a desperate scoundrel, carries too much pride in himself to back down and then shoot you in the back. He’ll be back, but his breakfast will be eaten elsewhere this morning.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
As far as books go, I start writing the next Lancer in November or December but I have not decided where yet. I'm thinking San Francisco but that's not set in stone. Right now I’m getting ready to shoot a documentary on an event from 50 years ago. February is the 50th anniversary of the Sylmar earthquake and I was a senior at Sylmar High School at the time. It’s a big project and won’t give me time to write. Although I am working on another book which I’ve been working on for ten years but I only pick it up when I have little else to do, and that’s rare. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written since childhood but I really began the craft seriously and professionally in 2008 when I started putting together “Fan Letters to a Stripper; A Patti Waggin Tale.” I own the rights to a long dead stripper who married a major league baseball player. It’s a coffee table biography. When I was 7 I started writing jokes for friends and family and I guess that contributed to my quirky sense of humor. 

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t, my day job is as a news anchor and reporter with the only all news radio station in Los Angeles. Otherwise, I also write screenplays and pilots as well as books, a couple of blogs including the very popular “ It’s a weekly column about baseball from 1960-69. I also produce a trivia show on my YouTube Channel several days a week and once in a while I sleep. I find the time to write in between other stuff and when I decide I need to work on one project I write for hours at a time until I want to stop. The next day or even later in the day I go back to it. It usually takes me 3-4 weeks at most to write a first draft of anything. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I buy and sell baseball cards, something which I became well known for. At one time I was considered an icon in the industry when I wrote “The Brill Report,” which was a twice weekly “FAX newsletter in those days. It is a passion of mine (baseball cards not newsletters).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The Lone Ranger

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I am on the treadmill at the gym I still watch half hour episodes of the Lone Ranger on my phone to make it through the exercise. I really hope people enjoy Lancer and my weekly baseball column as well as the short films I’ve produced and hopefully one day I will actually sell a screenplay and see my work on the big (or the little) screen and not just the Internet. Dreams never end and I really do just enjoy working and creating. 


Thanks for being here today, Bob!

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