Wikinews interviews novelist James Bruno
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Wikinews held an exclusive e-mail interview with James Bruno, author of the political thrillers CHASM and Permanent Interests.
Bruno, a former diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, military intelligence officer and journalist, retired early to take up writing. He says that because of his experiences, his books "possess an authenticity rarely matched in the political thriller genre."
When asked about what inspires him to write he replied, "During twenty-five years of working on national security in the federal government, I regularly faced situations which made me say, 'Fiction can't rival this.'"
His books are currently available on Amazon.com and Lulu.com.
- You've written two political thrillers. Tell us about them.
- Mr. Bruno: CHASM is about Washington powerholders, who, in pursuit of their own ambitions, take actions which trample on the little guy. But one average citizen, a victim of their policies, embarks on a quest to expose the hypocrisy and lies. It also demonstrates how malicious policies can overwhelm their implementers, dragging them into hellish behavior and self-destruction.
- Permanent Interests is about a nexus between senior government officials and organized crime. The story authentically captures political intrigue, greed and treachery in the highest levels of government. And it all comes crashing down in face of relentless pursuit of the truth by the system's would-be victims.
- What inspires you to write?
- Mr. Bruno: During twenty-five years of working on national security in the federal government, I regularly faced situations which made me say, "Fiction can't rival this." Senior White House officials who leak classified information to the press, a Cuban spy who gave up our secrets in real time to Castro, CIA agents with Keystone Kops skills, incompetent ambassadors, our early lethal aid to the progenitors of the Taliban all made me wonder sometimes how we ever did anything right in our foreign policy. Our debacle in Iraq, the Valerie Plame case, bin-Laden's escape, distorting intelligence for political ends and condoning of torture only reconfirm my sentiment. So, I cut short my diplomatic career to have more fun writing stories which encompass the chicanery and fecklessness of government. I am legally required to have all of my books vetted by State Department censors prior to publishing. So far, they've posed no objections.
- What sets your books apart from all the rest? How are they unique, different?
- Mr. Bruno: I have spent ample time at the White House and have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Secret Service on presidential security overseas. I also know the Pentagon, CIA and other national security agencies well. Based on these experiences, my stories possess an authenticity rarely matched in the political thriller genre. My background as a news reporter gives me an eye for detail as well as a honed sense of suspense-filled action.
- Will you be writing another novel soon?
- Mr. Bruno: I am completing a thriller about a CIA officer who gets in the way of a huge Caspian Sea oil deal. In doing so, he becomes the target of his superiors in Washington. The characters in this story will be more multifaceted and nuanced; the plot will underscore the lack of black and white solutions to problems and the fact that there are no pure heroes or pure villains among those who implement our national security goals. Strong women play prominent roles in this story. I hope to have the book out on the shelves this year.
- Is there any advice you can give some of the authors reading this who are struggling with their writing?
- Mr. Bruno: There are no magic bullets to becoming a successful published writer. There are two essential ingredients: a) hone your writing skills till you're satisfied they are of a professional caliber; and b) persevere, persevere, persevere. With the conglomeratization of the publishing industry and the bottom-line-driven motive to stick with a few proven authors, it is harder than ever to land an agent and to get published in fiction. But somebody has to succeed and you must believe you are that somebody.