Jonathan Charles Bruce
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: February 22, 2016
Number of pages: 334
Word Count: 107,360
Cover Artist: Ashley Ruggirello
Abigail Wren’s new life fresh out of college is dull, even with her (almost) dream job at the local newspaper. The only real excitement she can get is found between the pages of an endless stream of paranormal romance novels she can’t help but love.
Then, on a snowy night in December, Abigail catches a glimpse of what could only be described as a werewolf. Enamored with the possibility, her investigation leads her to discover a paranormal population—improbables—harmoniously living in the midst of humanity. Between making eyes at a perpetually grumpy werewolf and hanging out with a vampire with a lust for life (and liquor), Abigail’s life takes a shaky step out of the ordinary and into the fantastic.
Just outside of the sleepy town of Whitewater, however, a force of rage is building. Born of hate and delusion, a living cataclysm threatens to devour everyone in its path—human or improbable.
Excerpt from Chapter Three:
The trip back to the office was short and uneventful. Parking her car was also characteristically nondescript. On her way to the front doors, Abigail realized that the entire car ride had been on autopilot. Along with that realization came the panic associated with losing a chunk of one’s precious life to monotony. And along with that came a sudden worry that she might have flattened a child without realizing it.
No. Surely that would have been memorable—right?
Right in the middle of a panicked mental recap of the events from picking up her book to arriving in the parking lot, she slammed face-first into a surprisingly warm wall of a person. She rebounded, only now taking in the red-and-black flannel shirt she had plowed into. Her hands shot out in an attempt to keep balance. A moment later, she felt someone’s hands on her forearms.
“Easy there,” came a gruff voice. Pulling herself out of her daze, Abigail looked up at the person she had run into, who was now also, kindly enough, keeping her upright. He was scruffy, a mop of brown hair bleeding into a full (if short) beard worried with the occasional silver strands. His eyes were an intense green, which, coupled with the red in his shirt, gave his appearance an unintentionally festive look. He was pale, but that was nothing out of the ordinary, considering Abigail had forgotten what the sun looked like in the weeks she’d been calling the Pacific Northwest home.
He was cute. In a ruggedly handsome way. Like a grizzled lumberjack.
Perhaps cute was not the word for it.
Abigail giggled, suddenly overtaken with the silliness of what just happened. “Thank you,” she said, certain she was coming across like an idiot. “You can let go now.” She smiled. The man obliged, returning a tight-lipped smile that seemed to err on the side of suffering-the-eccentric.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to…” he began before clearing his throat, “exist where you wanted to exist at the same time.” He looked every bit as awkward as she felt, which made her own discomfort slightly less overbearing.
She swallowed sheepishly. “It happens.” She suddenly felt the need to clarify what she meant, so she gestured back and forth between the two of them. “Existing at the same time and all.” She realized that the gesture didn’t seem to quite work in the situation, so she let her hand fall at her side as she averted her gaze.
About the Author:
Jonathan Bruce began writing what amounted to terrible Star Trek: The Next Generation fan fiction when he was four… provided that you accept that “forcing other people to write what he said” is the same thing as “writing”. Although the original manuscripts are lost (or perhaps destroyed), we can rest assured that his prose has improved significantly since then. After high school, he began writing and directing plays which gradually improved depending on whom you ask. He discovered his love of a good fight scene after writing a Dracula knock-off which took a 19th century classic and made it less about Victorian yearning and 300% more about stabbing things in the jugular.
He has a Master’s Degree in History, thanks largely to his thesis focusing on MUSIC, a Milwaukee-based school desegregation campaign during the 1960’s. He also enjoys discussing/making fun of pop culture of the 20th century and reading books of a non-historical nature. In his off moments, you can catch him writing for fun or making inane movies about nothing in particular.
Where are you from?
I am from Wisconsin, which is part of the United States where sarcasm and self-deprecation are the most commonly spoken languages.
Tell us your latest news?
I released a book back in February, and I’m getting married in June. Right now, I’m teaching a course on gender, race, and ethnicity in Milwaukee. Is that news? I hope it’s news.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing at a very young age. I used to get adults to ghostwrite terrible Star Trek: The Next Generation fan fiction when I was 4 or so. The second I could piece together words I started to write. I think my first “book” was titled The Flower and the Manta Ray, about a flower that turned into a tree and a flying manta ray that didn’t want to kill anyone anymore because of how pretty it was.
I assure you that things have gotten better since then.
As to the why, I like telling stories. I like making people laugh. I like making people think. Writing was a way to preserve those ideas and give them to multiple people.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a good question. I entered a writing contest in 8th grade and totally forgot what happened as a result. Probably nothing good. I wrote quite a bit throughout my early education, and then during my college years I shifted to writing stage plays for another high school. So I suppose that transition into commissioned work cemented it for me.
What inspired you to write your first book?
If we’re talking Project Northwoods, then it was a desire to get back in the saddle and show I could still write. I had gone through a series of life-altering events (moving!; marriage!; getting fired!; divorce!; moving again) and wanted to feel like I was in control. I looked at one of my plays and thought “Sure, that’d make a good book.”
Do you have a specific writing style?
A colleague was very excited to tell me that my writing is very intertextual, which tickles me to no end. So I’m just going to say that from now until the day I die. I like writing situations with characters that are well-versed in their own world and its own storytelling. In Improbables, the main character loves paranormal romance and is well aware of how tropes and storytelling techniques are used in the genre. As such, both she and other characters will make routine references to the way things are “supposed to be” if the rules are followed.
Well, I think it’s neat, anyway.
How did you come up with the title?
The original title was I’m So Bad at Paranormal Romance You Guys (You Don’t Even Know), the reason being was that this was my first foray into the genre and I had to be honest with how I felt I could handle it. That is to say, I thought I was going to catastrophically fail. It changed to the possibly duller but much smoother Improbables because that is the blanket term for supernatural entities their community came up with. It seemed fitting.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh, sure. But I think the bigger thing is that people are entertained. I’m a really big believer in fiction to affect positive change in the world, but I’m also aware of my status as an entertainer. First and foremost, I want to make something people will enjoy. When the message gets in the way of the story, the story ultimately suffers. And while the people who agree with you will continue to agree with you and read the book from cover to cover, all the people who came for a story are going to leave early or finish purely out of spite. And who wins then?
Well, you, I guess. But it’s kind of a hollow victory.
How much of the book is realistic?
It takes place in the fictional town of Whitewater, Washington and deals with vampires and werewolves and stuff, so I guess as real as it can be until we start injecting the fantastical elements.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not really. I mean, emotional responses to things and the occasional quip are from real experiences. But even some of the more banal vignettes aren’t so much based on specific events as they are extrapolated from hypotheticals.
Wow, that sounded super self-important, didn’t it? Eech.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Harry Potter had a small part to play getting me back into writing. Other than that, my favorite book growing up was Tailchaser’s Song, because kitties. Most of the books I’ve read recently are sociology and history texts.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Anyone who would have me! It’s such a tough question to narrow down an answer to. Writing is a process that’s never really done, so I can’t in good conscience say one name. Or even three names. In a way, every time you read an author’s work, they mentor you, and asking someone to read just one person’s oeuvre feels just as limiting. So, the answer is read as much as you can to learn as much as you can. Right? Did I answer it okay?
What book are you reading now?
I’m re-reading Frank Aukofer’s City With a Chance because I am presently working with a student in independent study. The last fiction piece I read that I really liked was The King of Uruk, which was an interesting take on the Epic of Gilgamesh in that it was presented as a western. A bit of a steep price tag for a short story, but I liked it a lot.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Tim Worsham, author of The King of Uruk. I’m looking forward to seeing how this series develops.
What are your current projects?
I’m going to set work on a sequel to my second Booktrope release, Washed Hands.
What would you like my readers to know?
That I appreciate taking the time to read this interview and give me a chance. I’m much less self-important than I no doubt sound.
Also, read and love what you want. We only get so much time, so make yourself happy.