Author interview with Bud Bradshaw – author of RIVERWALKER
Please share about your background (where you were born, where you grew up, siblings/family dynamic, career background , where you live now, etc.)
After high school – where the only things that seemed important were football, baseball, and staying away from home – I tackled the Big Road at age 18, attended college for 2 ½ years as an art major, then enlisted in the Army during the height of the Vietnam war. After serving as a Special Agent with the 109th M.I. Group in Baltimore, Maryland, for almost three years (conducted field interviews for background investigations on Department of Defense personnel and wrote the accompanying S.A. reports), I returned to civilian life and resumed college, this time with a double major in music and pre-professional studies. The 1970s brought nights working as a musician while finishing school during the day; graduating in ’79 with B.S. and D.C. degrees, then working as a clinician in Glendale until 1985 while developing a parallel art business. Later, my writing consisted of med-legal reports and disability evaluations for the State of California. Not very often would the military writing or med-legal writing produce anything even approaching that which a reader might deem exciting. For the most part, it was pretty dreary stuff.
What inspired you to begin writing?
My inspiration for writing definitely has its roots in all the reading I did, beginning in my elementary school years. I was usually rated first or second in my class in reading, thanks in large part to my supplemental home reading, which consisted of children’s classics as well as the adult adventure/true-crime magazines. While most of the classroom reading focus was on “See Spot Run” and “Dick and Jane”, my nights were spent hours pouring over such stories as the Black Dahlia murder, tales of World War II, and hunting grizzlies in Alaska.
Later, in junior high, I completed a notebook on all the American presidents, including pen and ink portraits of each; my teacher showed it to the principal who gave me a congratulatory comment along with an A+; then, the same with a Civil War notebook. In high school we were exposed daily to the literary classics, poetry, Greek mythology. Though in those years I never took grades seriously, these courses were, to me, far more engaging than studying parts of speech or diagramming sentences; there was something else here; other considerations, such as form, structure, character development; it was writing with a purpose. In my early college days, I was to explore song writing and poetry, though nothing on a significant scale. After my Army experience, the 1970s to me were a blur of work and serious study: guitar, composition, orchestration, arranging, etc in the music department, while at the same time tackling anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, pathology, neurology, etc, in the pre-professional studies. By the time I finished my formal studies in 1979, the sight of a serious textbook was the last thing I wanted to see. My pleasure reading at that time was American history, which dovetailed perfectly with the art business; so, it became historical art. As the art activities increased, there surfaced a necessity to write historical blurbs to accompany my paintings and prints. At this point, history and art and writing had become equal partners in my mind.
For many years I had been haunted by a story which would not let me go: the “Newhall Incident” of 1970, in which four California Highway Patrolmen were murdered in a shootout. There seemed to be many questions which had not been answered and because I had met some people connected to the story, it pulled me in like a magnet. Having long been intrigued by true crime stories, especially Joseph Wambaugh’s “Onion Field” and Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” I kept waiting for the CHP story to be told, but nothing happened. No book. No movie. No TV special. Why? I decided to answer that question. After several years of research, including records reviews and interviews with family members of the fallen officers and people directly involved with the incident, I had my answers. My first book “BRANDISHING,” was the result. By the time it was published, in September 2011, I was emotionally exhausted. The next book, I knew, would have to be different. Fiction. That was the answer. Less demanding. No more gut-wrenching interviews; no more shattered lives; no more morgue photos.
Please share about your book.
A simple ghost story was what I originally intended, and always having liked ghost stories, I thought this should be a comparatively easy task. As a foil for the supernatural, I selected a beautiful setting familiar to me, the River Walk attraction in downtown San Antonio, Texas. The ghost of Jim Bowie of Alamo fame would prowl the river under cover of darkness, wielding his massive knife to mete out revenge for….…blah, blah, etc, etc. After having pursued this line for some time, however, there just didn’t seem to be enough meat on the bone; the story was predictable, a real yawner.
So, to step-up the intensity, the story’s ghost became a real-life monster, and his victims helpless children. What motivates the monster? What is at the core of his discontent? And what if the pursuing detective possessed a unique tool, something other detectives do not possess? All these things – and more – gradually came into play as “RIVERWALKER” began to take shape as a story.
There are depicted throughout “RIVERWALKER” episodes of physical abuse that have their historical foundation rooted in the history of the Aztecs as well as that of the ancient Norse. The killer, Karl Wolff Adler – whose father was a child-abusing Nazi, while his step-mother was a bruja, a practitioner of the ancient religious rites of Mexico – has been profoundly influenced by both parents, and expresses his inner rage through horrific ritualistic practices. To make these episodes convincing, I found much research was required; and though some sections seem particularly unreal, be assured that there is little that had to be imagined in terms of the abuse that has been heaped upon children down through the millennia. Sadly, this abuse is an ever-growing scar on the face of humankind.
The main characters: Gifford Holloway, San Antonio Police Detective in pursuit of Adler, utilizes the controversial practice of Remote Viewing, and is able to bring this special gift to bear on his target; Salma Veramendi, a news reporter who, herself, was abused as a child and has a peculiar affinity for the river, enters the mix and gives an impressive account of herself during confrontations with Adler; Brother Bob Khimera, yet another abuse victim, has a unique outlook on the world and a special relationship with the killer.
From the pages of “RIVERWALKER” the reader may extract a number of topics for discussion or debate, chief among them: 1) child abuse, its extent and severity within families, how it is passed from one generation to the next, the international ramifications, and what can be done about it 2) the art and science of remote viewing, its capabilities and limitations, its historical utilization by the U.S. government, its potential for the future 3) the merging of the traditional European catholic church with the old religion of ancient Mexico 4) the Intersex community, and its history 5) the history of San Antonio and its River Walk attraction. Any reader wishing to pursue any of these topics may find it helpful to refer to the Sources section at book’s end.
How did you decide to publish this book?
Once the story was complete, it was decided to publish it in e-book form. Why?
The e-book pathway to publishing had worked well with my previous work, “BRANDISHING”.
What is your advice to beginning writers?
Find the writing discipline that works best for you and use it; find a good editor/agent to help you work through the weeds; have the confidence to see your project through to the end, no matter how long it takes. Finally, remember: once the writing is done and your book is published, you’re not yet finished; you simply have a book to promote and sell. Of all the hats, that may be the hardest to wear.
What has been your greatest reward in writing this book?
A sense of completion; knowing that I have said what I needed to say.
Most writers are readers. What 3 books are on your “must-read” list?
I suppose it probably depends on the mood you seek: would you like to feel mad, sad, glad, or afraid (thanks, Dr. Toni)? Or do you simply seek to be informed…and, about what? How about something unpredictable? “Scouts’ Honor” (see the “Sources” section at the back of “RIVERWALKER”) can make you angry and sad simultaneously. Glad? Try Dr. David Viscott’s “Risking.” Afraid? Thomas Harris’s “Red Dragon.” To be amazed at what a human mind can do, pick up a copy of the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci; then read anything by Stephen Hawking.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book? (add in blog/website/social media links)
You can find me, my paintings, and my books on my website at budbradshaw.com, my blog at budbradshaw.com/blog, and on Twitter @budbradshaw1
Question for fun sake—what is your favorite color and why?
The color of Sedona at sunset; it reflects the color of the heart that holds me dear.