As October rolls on...wait just a second. Today is October 11. You fans know someone celebrating a birthday today. Not that I'm looking for gobs of well wishes (but any presents you want to send will be accepted), but today, yours truly is 47. Whew!
However, I shouldn't be the focus today. Well, not solely the focus. I've been invited to the living room of this week's featured author. We're surrounded by colonial décor including a cherry coffee table with beveled glass. I almost rest my foot against it but received a dark look and change my mind. However, I'm relaxed by the Cambria white wine and the only disturbance to our chat is the quarter hour bonging from the cherry grandfather clock.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
My name is Bob Bonelli. I am an athletic 63 years old; an accomplished Masters long distance runner who is still competitive and a Masters All American marathoner. I was educated as an engineer and started my career in engineering; had 30 successful years in the financial industry; and returned to my engineering roots 4 years ago. I am an entrepreneur, having recently started a business to commercialize discoveries of the University of Missouri relative to natural gas vehicles. I am a person of faith. I hold dear the power and responsibility of the individual to effectively use the talents and freedom we are all provided by our Creator. I am devoted to my family. I have always been a writer, my parallel career, and have been published in the genre of business, historical non-fiction and fiction. I don’t look at myself as the most fascinating person in my community because we are all fascinating, but I will say that my ability to communicate – both in writing and speaking – does allow me to stand out as a leader and I never hesitate to take a stand on issues.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
Perhaps not so dark, but I did serve our nation during the Vietnam War by working on the guidance system of a submarine based nuclear missile. I was actually one of those nerds.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a circus performer?
Writing has been my parallel career all my life. I enjoy communicating with people. I have been blessed with an unusual combination of strong right and left brain abilities and therefore I am both creative and analytical. This dual talent allows me to use my fertile imagination and ability to use disciplined literary execution to tell interesting stories in a way that expresses a point of view while being entertaining.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I would enjoy sharing dinner with the late Ayn Rand. While I may not agree with all her philosophy, she did celebrate the power of the individual in her writing. She successfully delivered that point of view in her writing and used a gripping story as the channel. I suspect that she and I would spend hours on talking about individual rights and responsibilities; how to communicate that philosophy to others; politics; and writing. I think that she also had strong left and right brain talents, and it would be interesting to be able to spend time with another person of that unusual gift.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?
My recently released novel The Lubyanka Strategy is a great story. I think it would provide you with a wonderful diversion from that deserted island or the four hour layover. The story will take you to modern day Moscow and it will also take you deep into the human side of the Russian people. The plot will challenge you to think, and the characters will touch your emotions.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
The start of every great story – and fiction writing is all about story telling – is the plot. This is my starting point. Once I feel comfortable that I have a plot that will interest readers, my next step is to develop the elements of how the plot will be carried. The most important elements are the characters. The reader identifies with the characters and if the characters are interesting, the reader will be able to accompany them throughout the story. I agree with the adage that “well developed characters actually write the story.” I do not use a story outline, but I do develop an overall plan. I expose my characters to various situations in my plan – all to carry the plot - and challenge their personalities and abilities. The plot reveals and the story evolves. I use a combination of life experience and deep research because, in my opinion, good fiction is based on accurate reality. The reader is best entertained and challenged, also in my opinion, when reality is weaved into the fabric of the story. The most important trait of any writer is discipline. A good finished product takes focus and a great deal of hard work. I wrote The Lubyanka Strategy end-to-end in one sitting, but then re-wrote it and edited it at least 9 times to make sure the story was interesting, consistent and accurate (relative to the plot and the characters). Good literary style is important. Proper prose – sentence structure, spelling, word usage, etc. – is extremely important. It is the way the writer shows respect for the reader. Yes, writing is a talent. But development of talent requires a great deal of real work.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don't know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
My best advice is for you to focus; don’t think about the “end” but think about the journey. This takes discipline. Every writer has their own approach, but the successful writer enjoys the journey as much as the destination.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” what is your philosophy of life?
Get into trouble! There is no satisfaction in being a spectator. Life is full only when you engage. Act on your ideas. Success is not the goal, active participation is the goal. Success will come.
9. Please tell me you're not going to stop writing? What's next for you?
The Lubyanka Strategy is the first of a series of novels about my main character, Michael Clark. I have at least 3 more strong plots developed, so there will be at least another 3 novels. However, the series will not be limited to a specific number of novels. I will continue to build stories around this character as long as the stories challenge the reader’s mind; touch the reader’s emotions; and are entertaining.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
People can learn more about me by going to http://www.bobbonelli.com