Interview with WL (Bud) Gorman, Author of 'The Brickbox'

  Oct 5, 2020

I was privileged to invite Author WL (Bud) Gorman for an interview to discuss his latest book The Brickbox and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!


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What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?
I have had an interest in homeless people for a long time.  In the summer before my last year of university, some buddies and I worked on an isolated railroad gang in the middle of the British Columbia Rockies. We met a lot of interesting people that summer … immigrants from Europe, full time railroad workers, indigenous men. They were all memorable, but the ones who made the biggest impression on me were the homeless men. I knew nothing about people who lived on the streets. Some of these men were working on the gang because they were given the choice of jail or the rail gang.  

Most of them were there so that they could earn some money during the summer months then return to Vancouver and drink their way through the winter. But as sad as that may sound, these men were still living, breathing human beings, most of whom treated me well. It took some time to gain their confidence, but when they opened up, their personal stories were very interesting. None of them looked for pity. All of them were honest and most exhibited a capability for introspection that I never could have imagined had I not met them.

What I learned from them was that the public’s stereotype of homeless people was not accurate … there was no “one size fits all” description that could be ascribed to them. Certainly, some of them were aggressive and hard to live with, but most of them were kind, thoughtful and shy. And several of them were as smart and clever as anyone I had met at that point in my life. So, when I finally got serious about writing my first novel, I knew that I had to take a crack at knocking down the stereotypes about homeless people. Also, since I was young and because this experience had a considerable impact on my perception of things, I wanted to write a coming of age story, but not about myself.     

Is this book suitable for high school students?  What about adults?
To me the book is a crossover. I wrote it so that it would have appeal to both adults and young adults. The core of the story is the coming of age journey of a runaway teenage girl and I believe that her transformation from shy small-town girl to resilient survivor will appeal to young readers. The street people who take her in and teach her how to survive should be of interest to both young readers and adults because these characters defy stereotypes… and they are different.

The language in the story is colourful but it is not coarse. I wasn’t looking to assault everyone’s sensibilities with verbal harshness. There is enough physicality and aggressive behavior in the story without having to spice it up with ever-present expletives.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
There are a number of social issues in the stories that will hopefully give readers something on which to reflect and I believe they are presented in the story with subtlety. These include judging people based on their appearance; the lack of support for military veterans; domestic abuse; mental health; and safe injection sites for drug users.        

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Editing the story.  It's not much fun discarding characters and cutting out dialogue, but it has to be done. First drafts are simply a baseline for all that follows - the nose-to-grindstone revision process.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
I think I learned that I had even more concern for people in distress and people in need than I had before I starting writing in the book.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  
I read both. E-readers are great for travelling and for those occasions when you have to sit and wait (for whatever reason) for extended periods. If I'm at home, nothing beats a cup of tea, a comfy chair and hard copy book.    

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?
My niche genre is adult contemporary. I also write action - adventure. In both cases I like to base my stories on character-driven conflicts and relationships.

What books and authors have most influenced you?
Charles Dickens, Leon Uris, Herman Wouk, Stephen King, Lee Child.

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you?
I love rock and roll music, classic films, the golden age of television, well-written stories, tying trout and salmon flies, dogs and ... I am hoping to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances through the promotion of my novels.  

Do you have any more books in the works?
I am writing Book 2 in the Grace and Redemption series and Book 3 is done in outline. I also have the outlines and notes written for two more novels outside the series.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I will read reviews, fully aware that not all of them will be what I'm hoping for. Readers have different tastes in subject matter, characterizations, tone and writing styles. Every author must therefore have broad shoulders and a calm outlook towards criticism.

Any advice to new/aspiring authors?
If you are serious about writing, understand that it will be a lot of work, a lot of frustration and ... did I mention it will be a lot work? But if you are meant to be an author, you will find the fun while you are doing the hard work.

Why do you write about military veterans in need?
I served in the Canadian army for twenty-nine years in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The 8th Hussars), so my experience with soldiering and soldiers is one of my major touchstones when it comes down what I have learned about life and the memories that I have gained along the way. It is a sad reality that many of our veterans are living rough in shelters and on the streets. It is not my intent to point the finger at the bureaucracies that are charged with the responsibility of caring for vets. That sort of generalizing is unproductive and unfair. But some vets have fallen through the governmental administrative cracks and we cannot turn out attention away from them.  They took it upon themselves to serve our country in some difficult and challenging situations and now they need help. There are two reasons why I write novels … I enjoy writing stories about interesting characters, and, I hope to generate some financial support for veterans in need.  

Besides homelessness and veterans in need, what other themes interest you?
As I indicated earlier, I like to take a stab at knocking the stuffing out of people’s attitudes towards stereotypes.  These days, people talk in terms of memes and tropes. Back in the seventies it was “what you see is what you get”.  But I’ve never subscribed to that form of thinking. If you care to listen to and observe others with interest, you are going to discover that a lot of people didn’t come out of the box that you thought they were in.  No matter what they look like and no matter what your preconceived notions of them are, you are going to be surprised by their courage, their wit, their intellect, their values and their strength of character. I learned that in the army. Often, what looked like an average, undistinguished soldier in garrison became a resilient, resourceful and dependable trooper in the field. So you have to keep your mind open to that possibility; otherwise you’re going to let a lot of wonderful people pass through your life without giving them a chance to surprise you. 

Will there be a sequel or a prequel to this story?
When I first started writing this story, I saw it as a stand alone … one and done. But as I continued to write it and wrote notes to myself, I began to wonder if there was more. So, I’m going to see if I get feedback on this through my website. If the interest is there … 

In the meantime, I have also started a series that will likely be a trilogy. The series is called Grace and Redemption and the setting and characters are very different from The Brickbox.  Book One (Grace and Redemption – Referendum) is finished and is available as an eBook. I am currently working on Book Two and have written an outline and notes for Book Three.  

How can readers get in touch with or follow you (website, personal blog, social media handle, Goodreads)?
Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo.                                

Any additional comments?
Support our vets and smile at a homeless person.

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WL (Bud) Gorman is a retired Canadian army officer who has lived in many interesting places and faced some interesting challenges.  He and his wife live outside of Ottawa where a small-town lifestyle suits them best.  Bud’s longstanding passion is writing.  He has completed several stage plays and screenplays, but his main focus is on writing novels.  He is also a self-taught drummer who loves rock and roll and the blues. Through his published books, Bud hopes to generate financial support for veterans in need. Website: budgorman.com 

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