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Thursday 22 October 2015

ℚ Bryant’s Gap - Michael E. Burge

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Bryant’s Gap (, Michael E. Burge Publishing, 306 pages) a Mystery. 

"Bryant’s Gap is an intriguing murder mystery with much stronger character development than you see in many of today’s bestsellers". ~ Kimberly @ Lazy Day Books

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A big welcome to Michael E. Burge; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for Bryant’s Gap?

"About fifteen years ago my wife and I did some genealogical research and uncovered a newspaper article in the Butler County Democrat (Hamilton, Ohio) published in May of 1905. A man had been found on the railroad tracks nearly cut in half, one leg was found a hundred feet away and an arm was severed.  The body was badly bruised and mangled.  There were some peculiar items on his person.

The man turned out to be my maternal great-grandfather.  Prior to finding the article, no one in the family knew much about the circumstances of his death.  The story was that he had gone off to find a job.  Based upon the items found in his possession, it seems there was a bit more to the story.   I had always thought it was a great premise for a novel."
Ah, now that is wonderfully intriguing.

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"Clearly, every novel is a composite of the experiences, feelings, and perspectives of the author. Because Bryant’s Gap is my first novel, I think it probably reflects more of those things than subsequent works might convey.  What I’m trying to say is that I think a first novel is a bit cathartic . . . a way for a person to get a few things off his chest.  A writer probably puts more of himself into it."
Worm Moon Rising - Lee Capps 
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Bryant’s Gap - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"Well, of course I wanted an image that would reflect the theme of the story, and maybe a significant scene in the book.

Initially, I was thinking of a big harvest moon hovering over the river, something with a mysterious look to it. Then, when I started looking for images, I found several images of trains and railroad tracks that drew me in. As a kid, I was always infatuated with trains. My Grandfather and several other family members worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. What is more thought provoking than a train whistle in the distance, or standing on the tracks and contemplating where they are headed? I think for a lot of people, trains are a symbol of adventure.

Since much of the story revolves around trains and railroad tracks, I finally settled on a wonderful image created by Brian Edward Stevens, a great photographer from Logan Ohio.  Julie Leuck, an artist from Chicago did the graphics. By the way, I used the big harvest moon photograph in the interior of the book.  It was done by an artist named Lee Capps."
Why should we read Bryant’s Gap and what sets it apart from the rest?   What makes your book unique?
"I had a couple of clear objectives in mind when I decided to write the book.

I wanted to tell a story that was intriguing, but also easy to follow.  Personally, I don’t care for books that require the reader to grope for the meaning of a passage or reread every other page to comprehend what’s going on.  I think it breaks the mood of the scene. I believe the words on the page should stream through the readers mind, creating images that play out like a movie. Allusions, metaphors, and all those other literary devices can be contemplated later, but during the initial reading, the reader should be entertained, as though the storyteller is sitting across from him, weaving the yarn.

I also wanted to take people back to a time when things were simpler, moved at a slower pace.

I think Bryant’s Gap achieves these things."
Can you tell us something quirky about Bryant’s Gap, its story and characters?
"Many of the scenes in the book are based upon real incidents, with a few embellishments and alterations, of course.

There is a character in the book by the name of Richard Matthews.  He has the nickname Dimples.  This character is loosely based upon the actor, Robert Mitchum.  Mitchum’s nickname was Muggles.  There are numerous stories about the escapades of the late actor on those occasions when he visited the Chicago area.  Word is, he was quite the ladies’ man and that he loved to bet the ponies.

Another scene in the book involves a conversation about a cockatoo and a disreputable hotel. The story I told was inspired by an incident many years ago, when I was in the Navy.  I was sitting in a tavern with a couple of shipmates and a guy walked in with a cockatoo on his shoulder.  He sat down at the bar ordered a beer and began carrying on a conversation with his loquacious feathered friend.  I think the man called the bird Harvey.  Anyway, the two chatted until the bird let loose with a couple droppings and the bartender escorted the guy to the door.  The hotel I had in mind was located in the south suburbs of Chicago."
Who would you recommend Bryant’s Gap to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I would recommend Bryant’s Gap to those who like a good mystery, would like to meet a few interesting characters and learn a little bit about what things were like in this country just after World War II.

I think readers will enjoy visiting those simpler times, evenings listening to radio shows like the The Lone Ranger, The Jack Benny Show, The Life of Riley.  I believe radio invoked the imagination similar to the way a novel does.  Those were fond memories for me, and I think for many other people as well.  Younger people, who didn’t live through that era, have told me they appreciated the insights the book gave them.

I also added a touch of humor here and there.  With all the challenges we face in our lives today, a laugh or a little smile is a good thing."
If you could / wished to turn Bryant’s Gap into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Since we’re talking about a dream team here, I might as well go for the gold.

I thought the 1992 film, Unforgiven, was one of the best directed movies I’ve ever seen.  I love good movies, and I’ve seen a ton of them over my lifetime.  Clint Eastwood can take a simple, gritty story and turn it into an enthralling, moving, and entertaining movie.  He did the same with Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino.  He would be my choice as director.

As far as the leading roles, maybe Hugh Jackman as Grady, Kurt Russell in the role of Bert Thatcher, and Jeremy Renner as the despicable Wesley Donnigan.  I guess, as long as I’m fantasizing, I may as well throw in a little Russell Crowe.  He’d make a good Charlie Jenkins.

On the female team, how about Reba McEntire as Minnie Thatcher, Morgan Saylor as Lizzie Thatcher, Cate Blanchett as Bonnie, and Amanda Seyfried as Marcia.

I did some heavy fantasizing with that exercise. That wasn’t easy. We’d probably have to rob Fort Knox or hit Donald Trump up for a loan just to pay the salaries on that little project."
LOL - uhm... I think you could have done worse when it comes to salaries - I am sure there are some more expensive actors out there... and what a dream team they would be! As per Hugh Jackman, I will never forget him playing the lead in Oklahoma in the West End (many, many years ago)... and of course at the time I had no idea who that really talented chap was...

What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I started writing Bryant’s Gap about two years ago.  Once I decided to tackle it, I just sat down one day with the idea in my head and started writing the first chapter.  Everything mushroomed from there . I had the key points of the story in my mind, but the details and the characters developed as I wrote.  The characters drove the story line. "
What is your writing process?
"Bryant’s Gap was my first novel and I learned a great deal about myself and the process of writing.  I see myself writing more novels in that genre, but will also be trying my hand at some others as well.  The one thing I know is that I will stick with my approach to writing as long as it works for me."
What is in store next?
"I am currently working on what might be labelled a coming of age story with a hint of mystery.  There is also a good possibility that Grady and Bert will make an appearance in a future novel."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"We currently don’t have any pets, unless you consider a small pond of Shubunkin Goldfish pets. As a kid I had every animal imaginable, dogs, birds, cats, hamsters, lizards, a duck. You name it, I had it at one time or another. Maybe that’s why I have none today. As far as something special to me, I guess my wife would probably tell you it’s my seven-iron."

Brilliant!  Thank you for sharing that great picture with us :-)

Bryant’s Gap - available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo purchase from Smashwords


Omnimystery News said...

What an entertaining interview with this author! Thanks so much for introducing him and his new mystery to us.

Michael E. Burge said...

Flora, Thank you for conducting the interview and for the thoughtful and creative posting! It was a pleasure talking with you. Michael E. Burge