BY RJ PARKER
He served aboard the USS Ranger (CVA61) from 1969 until November of 1972 and then earned an AA degree in Auto Technology from Chabot College in Hayward, CA, and a BA degree in English from Cal State Hayward. When not fixing cars and writing books, Bernard enjoys basketball, backpacking, and scuba diving.
I'm proud to say that Bernard is in the TOP 100 AUTHORS RANKING on Amazon in TWO categories.
Bernard, we've been friends and partners for some time now and I make no bones about it, you're by far my favorite author. I have not read a book you've written that I didn't like. Many of your books I've read two and three times. I've mentioned on facebook several times, and in interviews, that my favorite book of all time is COLD BLOODED. So we'll start with that book.
What influenced you to create Nick McCarty, the assassin and bestselling author in COLD BLOODED?
An on-line writing friend of mine, Amie Stuart, who has written many romance novels, started a discussion about adding human elements to a cold blooded killer. A jumble of ideas formed in my head about an assassin working for a shadowy government agency doing contract killing with a perverse sense of humor. He decides to start writing novels with a character that kills people for a living all over the world. To the chagrin of his bosses, he becomes a bestselling author with his assassin series. The cover fits perfectly, but Nick wants more. When he’s ordered to kill a young woman in the witness protection program, her picture reminds him of a first love from long ago. Nick’s a famous author, lives in the beautiful coastal town of Pacific Grove, and is rich – but he wants more. The novel starts with Nick traveling to observe Rachel, the woman he has been ordered to kill. Instead, after seeing Rachel, he heads east, and kills the man who ordered her death. That is where the roller coaster ride begins.
You've written many action books. In all of them, your main character is like an 'Action-Hero' who can shoot, fight, kick-ass. Tell us why you pick these hero type figures.
I grew up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E Howard, Ian Fleming, Donald Hamilton, and John D MacDonald. Larger than life characters like Tarzan, John Carter, James Bond, Matt Helm, and Travis McGee captivated my imagination. I knew if I ever started writing novels, I would create my own set of larger than life heroes, but many with a darker side never envisioned by my childhood favorite authors.
In most all your books, if not all, you use fun, humor, and bantering which is a nice mix. Any particular reason you add humor?
I write what I love to read. One of my favorite authors is Janet Evanovitch. Her Stephanie Plum series is hilarious, but has a serious side too. Also, during the seventies, I began reading a series familiar to many. Written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, the Destroyer series had it all for me – it combined satire, humor, bantering, and a nearly indestructible character named Remo Williams. I’m hooked on the humor side I can blend in with my writing. It makes the editing chore a lot more pleasant.
Many authors like myself stick with one genre which we're comfortable in. But you have something for everyone. Tell us about your genres you write in.
If I get struck by an idea, or a childhood memory, or a wrong that needs righting, a story pops into my head I can’t tell in one genre. THE PROTECTORS is of course a police/crime action novel with the ingredients I love: humor, bantering, and wrongs to be righted by badass characters. It began because I was haunted by a real life episode decades ago where an eleven year old boy escaped from inhuman monsters in a van. He led San Francisco police back to the van where they found the monsters and a kidnapped three year old girl. They arrested the monsters. I decided to write a novel beginning with a different ending for the monsters, administered by my character, Connor Bradwick. His partner, Ellie James, is based on a police woman who had my shop in Oakland on her beat. She didn’t take crap from anyone.
An idea about a computer hacking teen witch, where I could use my old hometown of Warren, Ohio led to the paranormal young adult novel STORM. I combined tongue-in-cheek elements of my own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the X-Files, and even the X-Men for a gruesome story of occult murder. I mixed in teen angst, romance, humor, and a murderous woman witch.
While growing up, I read everything about the Knights of the Round Table, and Lancelot was my favorite. I hated the way the Camelot legend ended. I decided to change it by creating a paranormal adventure where a new legend is forged. In my novel LANCELOT, only a paranormal crew could take on the task of my remake of Camelot.
Action/adventure/thriller genres with a military and espionage flavor need larger than life characters to carry out my themes. For example in HARD CASE and MONSTER, my fictional golems John Harding and Jeremiah McDaniels (nicknamed Cold Mountain) hand out justice seldom seen in real life. When I read your true crime novels like TOP CASES OF THE FBI about serial killers and gangsters, the first thing that jutted into my head was an urge to send John Harding and the Cold Mountain out to set things right.
Science Fiction with monsters and space marines needed retelling with a brutal correction of ongoing events thrown in. I wrote CASSERINE to solve it all. I put together one of my favorite group of characters and had some of the most fun I’ve ever had as a writer.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Anything with a combination of action, romance, and humor. At times I’ll get on a horror kick where I’ll read Dean Koontz and Stephen King.
Why did you write HARD CASE in first person POV?
It was a challenge. I wanted to see if I could create the cage fighting, espionage thriller through John Harding’s eyes. There are of course many drawbacks to first person POV. Every detail must be revealed through John. At first it was grueling, but as the story progressed, I began to see each scene through his eyes, making it an easier task. In the sequel coming out soon, I break the rules and use first and third person while introducing my new additions to John Harding’s crew in THE LURE OF HELL.
Do you watch UFC fighting?
Yes. My first experience with its predecessor, full contact karate, began when I studied karate in high school, and Tae Kwon Do in the service. I found out quickly it was not for me. Back then, I watched the full contact matches with undefeated octagon fighter, Chuck Norris. He was incredible. Most people only know him for his movie and TV roles, but he dominated full contact karate. When the UFC began televised matches, I got hooked on following some of the major fighters. Randy Coutour was one of my favorites, and I was glad to see him start getting some movie roles. It’s a brutal sport.
Did you serve in the military, maybe a Sniper? Ha
I served four years in the United States Navy. I was an Interior Communications tech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger for three years from 1969 through 1972. I know you want to know about my fascination with snipers, partner. It began back then when stories began circulating about the deadliest Marine sniper of all time, Carlos Hathcock. That Marine accomplished missions unbelievable outside of the world of fiction.
One of my favorite books is HARD CASE with John Harding. Tell us about him and about your upcoming book this summer.
John Harding was my answer to people who have made victimhood a way of life. John grows up with an alcoholic father who beats the crap out of him whenever he’s on a bender. Harding endures. Rather than becoming a carbon copy of his father. He does what many with tough childhoods actually do in real life rather than hit the Oprah circuit – Harding makes a life for himself in a brutal but positive manner. One of my favorite all time scenes is when Harding goes to fight in an Oakland back alley warehouse:
“Even with the cool outside air rattling through cracks in the sheet metal walls, a pungent mix of sweat, cologne, perfume, rage, anger and fear assaulted my nose. I inhaled deeply. Walking into a dirty cesspool of an arena like this made my blood pound. It reminded me of home, fightin’ off my old man and the bimbos he accumulated. My fingers curled into tight fists at my sides - nothin’ like memories of Pa to get me in the mood.”
Oh Yeah! That’s John Harding in a nutshell, partner. With the sequel THE LURE OF HELL, I introduce Clint Dostiene and Lynn Montoya. Dostiene is a Company assassin with instinctive investigative skills. Lynn Montoya rounds out this deadly duo as probably the most brutal woman heroine I’ve ever created. She will strike a chord with women and men. These two cold blooded killers find a glimmer of hope in each other. John Harding helps them explore it, as he and his boss Denny Strobert stitch together Harding’s West Coast Murderer’s Row.
What qualities make a successful writer?
Imagination, ego, an ear for dialogue, and a strong grasp of life’s challenges are some of the keys to writing. A cement headed ego to write the way you want to is one of my personal ones, because in the end, if you don’t love what you write, the editing will drive you insane. When my writer friends mention critique partners and writing groups I tune out completely. I write alone. No critique partner could possibly know what I have in mind while reading the first chapter of a novel I’m writing. I don’t have Stephen King or Nora Roberts type fame and success. I have no idea if I ever will, which brings me to my last key point, a successful writer is one who passionately enjoys the creation and telling of a story, and steadfastly sees their creation through to the end, never knowing if the story will ever gain an audience. In other words, if you measure success in writing with monetary reward, you’re probably following the wrong dream path.
You've done both, self-published and traditional publishing, which would you recommend to a new writer?
If an author has dreams of book signings, the New York Times Bestseller list, and huge advance checks, traditional publishing is probably the only way to gain that type of success. It happens to very few. My advice for a new writer is keep writing and finishing novels, and editing them to a polished state of readiness. While querying agents with HARD CASE, I wrote three novels. HARD CASE was the last straw for me. I’m sticking with self-publishing, but for those writers set on traditional publishing, don’t stop writing. Keep producing and honing your skills.
Do you have any aspirations in having one of your books on the big screen? If you had a choice, which book would you like to see picked up by Hollywood?
I have the ambition. I’ve written four screenplays. I converted HARD CASE into a screenplay, and I’ve converted my young adult novel, DEMON, into three screenplays. All are feature length. There are a plethora of scams out there in the screenplay world, and although I plan to keep converting novels into screenplays, I believe any chance I have of achieving success will rely on my success as an author. It’s a very cool dream though.
In your opinion, is writing a natural gift or an acquired art?
Writing skill and editing are acquired arts. Imagination and bull headed determination are not learned. Anyone can write well with practice and training. Creating a story others want to read is a completely different matter. This business has become a combination of many skills. For example, an author could be creating the greatest stories ever done, but without marketing skill, the stories may never be read.
I realize you can only write part-time as you run a business, but how long does it take to write a book?
That’s a tough question. Sometimes a novel will eat me up from the inside out like my DEMON, DEMON INC, and DEMON AT WAR young adult trilogy, all full length novels, but completed in the span of around nine months. The soon to be released THE LURE OF HELL tore through me in two months time. HARD CASE took triple that time to write. Longer novels like my military novel PEACE which was around seven hundred pages took nearly a year to write. I have to admit, my day-job really doesn’t get in the way of my writing. The myth of starving artists hammering out torturous novels while only breaking for whiskey, a little food, and a few minutes sleep make me laugh. I write constantly, if not on my laptop, then in my head. I never worry about time to write. I worry about never losing track of my story. Story drives everything for me.
Thanks very much for the interview, partner. It was a pleasure. I hope we can share in projects for many years to come. THE LURE OF HELL will be a real kick for us I think.
Thank you my friend and partner for taking the time to answer a few questions for me and our fans who enjoy your books. Links to Bernard's books and social media contacts are listed below.
BERNARD LEE DELEO - SOCIAL MEDIA & VENUE LINKS
COMING JULY 4, 2013.....
HARD CASE II - THE LURE OF HELL