Friday, August 9, 2013

Know Your Hunt to Read Authors: Bruce Fottler

Welcome to the inaugural edition of "Know Your HTR Authors." This week, we are proud to feature Bruce Fottler, one of the earliest adopters of Hunt to Read and a very enthusiastic user of the site. We had a chance to discuss a number of topics with Bruce, including moving from the Midwest to Boston, his intriguing book, Chasing Redemption, and a funny piece of advice he once received at a writer's conference. Enjoy! -D.J.

Check Out (and Rate) Bruce's Books on Hunt to Read:

Chasing Redemption
Dover Park

The Juncture

Thanks for joining us for the first KYHTRA (still working on the acronym) post ever, Bruce! Any opening remarks on this most historic of occasions?

Thank you! I'm honored to be the first author interviewed, although I'm also a bit embarrassed over being referred to as a “very enthusiastic user of the site”. To be honest, when I first came across it, I was quite skeptical. It looked pretty rough, but there was something unique that I liked - the analytics. After giving you some rather blunt feedback, the response I got surprised me. You listened and took it to heart. That's what drew me in. Soon after, a number of positive changes were made.

Book promo sites are a dime a dozen these days. I try to stay with those that have an effective reach, because managing them on an ongoing basis can be cumbersome. With HTR, I've enjoyed working with a willing attitude to improve, and seeing improvements actually get implemented. The analytic and rating feedback is a huge plus. It's the type of detail I've always wished retail sites like Amazon would offer more of.

Now, we just need to work on that acronym...

Tell us a little bit about yourself--where are you from? How did you get into writing originally?

I moved to the Boston area in 1979 when I was 14 years-old. It was a rough transition for a kid raised in the Midwest. To make it even more challenging, I ended up going through four new schools in three years. I suppose that experience helped awaken my imagination and writing became an outlet. It wasn't until my senior year in high school that I entered a writing contest and won second place.

Over the following years, writing became just a hobby. I never had a lot of time to dedicate to it. I was much more interested in film directing and producing. I did some amateur film-shorts and dreamed of someday getting a call from Hollywood. That call never came (no surprise). Writing, on the other hand, was something I could always do without worrying about budgets, actors, wardrobe, props, or securing locations. There's never any limit in my imagination. It's like directing a movie with an infinite budget.

You have an interesting story about your first book, Chasing Redemption. Tell us a little bit about it.

The story centers around a captain (Ben Wildes) who led a rather charmed career. It abruptly came undone with a bizarre and tragic accident. He was found negligent and was suspended. The story opens during his low point, and with a surprising offer to redeem his career. He accepts, because as a man of faith who had everything shaken apart, a chance at redemption is a temptation he can't resist. From there, he basically falls down the proverbial rabbit-hole and becomes embroiled in events that will have profound historic implications.

The story itself is set eighty years from now and is a major part of the overall plot. I envisioned a future that's neither utopian or dystopian, but a continuation of current trends. It was mainly driven by an anti-futuristic visionary sentiment. You remember those visionaries way back when who thought we'd all have flying cars by the year 2000? Or that we'd all have our own personal jet-packs? Yeah, those guys. My future has some interesting stuff, but sorry, no warp drive, hover-cars, or eradication of all diseases.

In my version of the future, we haven’t traveled out further than Saturn. In fact, the only reason we're out in space is for mineral resources. Space has become the new ocean, and hundreds of commercial vessels make their voyages like their ocean-faring counterparts do today. They are safeguarded by Earth Space Defense (ESD), because of the ever looming threat from the other superpower: The New People's Republic of China (The Republic).

Several treaties clarifying territorial boundaries have been in place for decades, but a cold war has prevailed. Despite deep-seated mistrust and suspicion between the two superpowers, they have managed to maintain a peaceful coexistence. For over four decades, two great fleets of warships have warily patrolled their respective territorial lines. There has never been a shot fired between them. That could all change with the mission that Ben's tasked with.

Do you have a favorite quote about writing?

There is one quote that I hold dear from CS Lewis: “The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.”

As a Christian, I understand how heavy-handed and preachy Christian authors can get. I'm personally not out to beat people over the head with my beliefs, but just strive to write good stories that have a wide appeal. I like to weave virtuous principles and themes into my stories, but not in a way that's overly moralizing. Hopefully, just a bit thought provoking.

How has your writing influenced other areas of your life? Have you found yourself thinking differently as your writing output has increased?

My writing output dramatically increased since I got laid-off from a company I worked at for over 20 years. It's been rough trying to find another job in this sour economy. But for the first time in my life, I had plenty of time to devote to writing. So, I finally got to finish my first novel that I've been plugging away at (on and off) for over 15 years: Chasing Redemption. I've published two more novels since and more are in the pipeline.

Now that I've written and published, have I found myself thinking differently? Yes. I've come to see that there are more opinions about writing than one can count. It's hard to know which ones are relevant and which ones are garbage. Depending on your situation, I suppose a lot of opinions could go either way. The one piece of advice I've found consistently good is: Keep writing!

Any favorite "war stories" from your time as an author? Maybe something that happened at a writer's conference or in a writer's group?

A few years ago, and well before I considered doing anything with my writing, I sat in a crowd of authors listening to a lecture by an author agent. He asked if anyone was writing a novel that had vampires, zombies, or wizards in it. Before anyone could raise their hand (and several seemed ready to), he pleaded with us to stop. "Those ships have already sailed," he said while gritting his teeth. I think I remember him saying he'd use any manuscripts containing those types of characters as kindling for his fireplace. I really enjoyed that lecture, because he encouraged us to stop chasing the popular and seek out something different to write about. In other words, try to be the one that comes up with the new thing other authors want to copy.

Lightning round time! Favorite book?

I have many, but the one that provided the first spark to write a novel was The Hunt for Red October.

Favorite movie?

Ben Hur. Record setting 11 Oscars (and back when there weren’t as many categories).

Mac or PC?

PC, only because corporate America started me on one. I'm sure I'd like a Mac, if I ever got the opportunity to use one.

Place you want to visit that you haven't been able to yet?

Scotland, because I'm half Scottish.

Thanks for your time, Bruce! Be sure to check out Bruce's books, Chasing Redemption, Dover Park, and The Juncture, all on Hunt to Read. Be sure to let him know what you think of his covers and blurbs; I know he appreciates the feedback.

Happy hunting!
D.J. Gelner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hunt to Read. Contact him directly at

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