Friday, 8 January 2016

Q & A with Michael Bronte

The Dealership
by Michael Bronte 

Carmen Madrid finally got his opportunity when he moved up to become a hotshot salesman selling Jaguars, Lincolns, and Chevys. Life in Jamaica Queens was good-for a while-but the commission checks weren't as big as he'd anticipated, and it wasn't long before he was looking for other ways to pay the bills. That's when he discovered that the dealership did more than sell cars. Money laundering, drug peddling and pornography were all part of the gig, and it wasn't long before he had to make a choice: be an honest salesman, or take the big money from the "side jobs" the dealership offered. There are others interested in his decision. Meet Rita O'Shea, the lady cop who infiltrates the dealership by working undercover as a salesperson, Patty Fairchild, the goody-goody owner who wants to prove she can make the dealership profitable, and Chita Espino, who believes in Carmen when others do not. Travel with Carmen through the gritty world of fast cars and faster women, organized crime and racketeering, all of it shrouded by the crack epidemic and tough times that blanketed New York City in the mid-'80s. Does Carmen do the right thing, or does he become just another punk trying to get over on others before they get over on him? Find out how he walks the line between decency and depravity, and see if he comes out on top. It's quite a trip. 

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Read It & Reap:  June 16, 2016

Michael Bronte is a graduate of Union College in Schenectady, New York, and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and lives with his wife of 36 years in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "All of the heroes in my novels are everyday people," says Bronte. "Any of them could by your next door neighbor. None of us really know what we're capable of until the time comes for us to reach beyond the boundaries of our everyday lives. Remarkable feats of courage are performed everyday, by everyday people. It's amazing."

​ As a young teenager I remember reading paperback mysteries under a huge oak tree outside my parents’ neighborhood grocery store in Dalton, Massachusetts, a small town located in the heart of the Berkshires. I can recall pulling a book from the rack and getting locked in to those novels as the fragrant summer breeze of Berkshire County tried to turn the page before I was done reading it. I don’t know why, but I was greatly affected by a book titled The Fan Club, by Irving Wallace. When I was done reading it, I can still recall thinking that someday I’d be able to write a book like that on my own; I knew I could do it.

Well, the idea stayed dormant for over thirty years while I did what I thought I should have been doing for a living (looking back, it all seems so trivial sometimes) until I rekindled my infatuation with writing novels. Now, many years after that, and many mistakes and many failures later, there are five Michael Bronte novels available. They are: The Dealership, Presidential Risk, Porchball, The Tenth Caller, and Lost Friday.

 Q & A with Michael Bronte

1. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
 All of the main characters in all five of my current novels are just everyday people: a car salesman, a small town newspaper reporter, a down-and-out high school kid, etc., but all of them encounter circumstances where they have a choice.  They can either rise to the occasion and do the right thing morally, or they can retreat and live with their lack of bravery (or fortitude, or honesty, or ability) for the rest of their lives.  All of my main characters struggle with this inner battle, and overcoming their own doubts or proving themselves to others is definitely a point of conflict for them.  All the characters are flawed in this way, and I try to make the reader pull for them as they go through the book.

2. Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
 I used a professional graphic design firm to do my covers.  I usually have an idea of what the graphic and lettering should look like, or represent, and I give them that information.  Then, I also give them a couple of representative sample chapters so they can get the flavor of the language, the settings, etc.  From that point, I will get a first attempt at a cover.  Sometimes it’s on the money, sometimes it’s not.  I’ve found that when I leave it entirely to someone else to do the cover without input from me, I am seldom pleased.  I need to be involved in the design and in the tweaking as well.  I guess I’ve got some control issues there, but hey, they’re my books.

3. Describe your ideal writing spot.
 For me, it’s not so much the writing spot, and I’ve written in many places such as office, train, vacation, cruise ship, etc., and familiarity definitely has its advantages in terms of getting in the groove and getting my mind to engage and come up with that next scene or sequel, but, for me, it’s the writing time.  First thing in the morning, when my mind is fresh is usually my best time.  That being said, I’m jotting down ideas at all hours of the day and night as they come to me: on napkins in restaurants, backs of envelopes and business cards, writing notes into my phone, etc.  I’m always thinking about where the story is going.

4. What is the best advice you have been given?
 Don’t trust anyone who asks you for money and promises to help you sell your books.  How true.  They’re all scumbags.  Second piece of good advice: Don’t believe every so called “experts” or “reviewer” that blows down the highway.  When you get criticism, you got to be big enough to admit to yourself when you wrote something lousy, but if you think you wrote something good, and you’ve got enough background and done enough other reading to know it’s good, then stick with what you wrote.  Study the art of writing scene and sequel and how to create conflict, and if you’re convinced that you’ve done a good job, then stand up for yourself and tell the critics to pound sand.

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
 I’m still struggling with that.  I never really had a notion of “I want to be this,” or “I want to be that.”  It hurt me, because I never really had a specific path to go after.  I was smart in school, so I always got good grades and was successful at whatever I got involved with, but I didn’t really go after a profession with a passion.  Although I’ve been successful in my life, all those successes weren’t necessarily predefined objectives.  I think writing these books is probably the most target-oriented endeavor I’ve ever done, except for wife, kids, etc.

6. Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
 I’m definitely still a paperback guy, especially the pulpy mass market stuff.

7. If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
 I kind of like the x-ray vision thing, and most of the reasons why have nothing to do with seeing naked women.

8. What book are you reading now?
 I picked up David Baldacci’s The Target—another of those mass market paperbacks—to read on a long plane ride recently.  I’m about halfway through it.

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