Blood Harvest by Bruce Cook/Brant Randall

About the Author:

Bruce Cook, who also writes under the pen name Brant Randall, has earned credits as writer, producer, or director on eleven independent feature films as well as commercials. He has written more than twenty screenplays, including the films Husbands, Wives, Money & Murder; Line of Fire; and Nightwish.

Since 1973 he has taught at a number of film schools, including USC, UCLA, and Los Angeles City College. Among his thousands of former students are Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), actor Laurence Fishburne, Paramount VP of Marketing Lucia Ludovico, numerous directors and producers, six Academy Award nominees and winners, and twelve Emmy nominees and winners.

In 1996 Dr. Cook was invited by ABS-CBN, the largest television network in the Philippines, to teach a series of seminars on improving the production techniques of the film and TV industry. While there, he addressed an assemblage of 2,000 Filipino film industry professionals.

He later returned to the Philippines to conduct a market study on Southeast Asian film production and helped design a motion picture soundstage. While on location, he researched the background for his novel Philippine Fever.Dr. Cook holds degrees in Physics, Mathematics, Film Education, and Communications. He worked as a laser physicist on the Apollo Project. He and his wife live in Castaic, California.After discovering that there were four other authors named Bruce Cook, he published his second novel, Blood Harvest, under the pseudonym Brant Randall. His third novel, Tommy Gun Tango, will be published in July 2009. Bruce and Brant will collaborate on that one.

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About the Book:

What drives a small town in New England in the late 1920's to lynch a man? Immigrant Nic DeCosta's skill as a wine grower makes him a fortune as a moonshiner and puts him at odds with the 'shine sales of the MacKay clan, even though he's wed to their wild youngest daughter. But is this the real reason he is killed? And who is the second corpse in the woods?

I had the opportunity to interview the author. This is what he had to say:

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

This novel, Blood Harvest, grew from an incident related to me by my grandmother when she was in her nineties. She was a Scotch-Irish girl from rural New England, one of twelve children, though two died in infancy.

I knew she had married young, perhaps at sixteen, though she sometimes claimed she had been eighteen. She said that after her wedding day she never returned to her home town. I assumed that she eloped or otherwise angered her parents. At one point I asked if her parents disliked my grandfather, who I remembered as personable and charming.

She claimed that they liked him very much. He was a perfect example of the immigrant success story. Came to America from Greece at sixteen, without any English. Started working the next day. Within five years he owned his own restaurant, and in another five he added a chain of candy shops and drug stores.

“So why didn’t you ever return to your home town?”

“It was those dumb clucks.” She used this expression only when quite angry. “My brother-in-law didn’t think it right for a white girl to marry a non-white European.”

This was new territory to me, but when I read my grandfather’s immigration papers I found that southern Europeans—the Greeks, Spanish, Italians, and Turks—were classified thus until 1912. But it was her next revelation that stunned me.

It wasn’t dumb “clucks.” It was dumb “klux.” It was the KKK that had driven my grandparents from the town. This was not consistent with what I had learned in my history classes (if only they had been so interesting!), and so I began to research.

What I learned about the KKK in New England in the 1920s astonished me. I hope it will intrigue you as well.

Who are your biggest supporters?

My wife, my son (author Troy Cook), and the members of my writer’s critique group.

Your biggest critic?

The voice in my head that says no one else will be interested in the stories I have to tell.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

Bringing new voices to American cinema. I teach film making at Los Angeles City College. 50% of my students are international, the majority of the rest are minorities who are generally underrepresented in American film. I believe hearing their stories of life in America will enrich the lives of all of us.

Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?

When I have finished I read the manuscript aloud. Whenever I stumble in the reading it is because there is something awkward about the sentence structure. I highlight those sentences for rewriting.

Who has influenced you throughout your career as a writer?

My biggest influences are:

PG Wodehouse for a sense of structure and the seemingly effortless use of dialect and manners;
Joe Lansdale for his ability to bring a new character to life in a single paragraph and his ability to keep the story moving forward even though it is full of asides;

Donald Westlake and Elmore Leonard for their ability to mix humor into situations that would be horrific if they actually happened to the reader;

Ken Bruen for his ability to immerse in another culture (Irish or British) and still have us recognize the similarities with our own, though the daily language and habits are quite different.

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

My grandchildren—Ian, 14; Sarah, 11; and McKellan, 9. We have travelled together to Ireland, Greece, and Turkey. Next summer it is Italy and Switzerland.

What are you currently working on?

My third book, Tommy Gun Tango, is due out in July 2009. It concerns the corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department in the early 1930s and the way they helped the movie studios cover up murders by stars.

What are some of your long term goals?

In the next ten years I want to have created a lasting body of work, crime novels that stand alone but are linked by recurring characters and themes.

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

Because I have written 30 movies and directed 6 features, I think my writing is quite visceral, appealing to many senses. The dialog is meant to ring true to real speech patterns. And the stories move forward relentlessly.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

This is my most crucial life/writer lesson—you are not your work, you are not your creation.

I had written nearly 30 screenplays and directed six movies before I attempted my first novel. Hollywood is a very competitive place so I had already experienced dozens of rejections before I sold my first script. It was painful and ego-shrinking the first time it happened. My “child,” the offspring of my imagination, had been critiqued and criticized and cut down to size.

In fact, the first script never sold at all and I “suffered,” developing my aura as an “artist.” The aura and a part time job put groceries on the table.

After half a dozen sales of scripts that were made I finally achieved a more balanced perspective. I consider this the most important thing I have learned as a writer. Here it is---
My scripts, books and movies are not my “children.” They are creations: some good, some bad, some better than others; some ahead of their time, some behind. But in every case they were not ME, they were not my “babies.” (I have real children who are now grown men. One of them is the author Troy Cook.)

These creations exist apart from me, just as Beethoven’s symphonies are not the man and Emily Dickenson’s poems are not the woman.

Publishers are much like film producers. They may like “art” but they keep their jobs by putting out projects that appeal to a larger public than just their own tastes.

Having adjusted my attitude, I then adjusted my working pattern. I joined a writer’s critique group. I cannot overstate the value of having other writers look at, respond to, critique, and make suggestions for improvement to my work.

What is your favorite past-time?

Like most writers I read widely, and frequently. I also read eclectically, trying to alternate non-fiction with fiction. I read in almost all genres.

And I go to the cinema at least once a week, renting another 2 DVDs per week.


BLOOD HARVEST VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 will officially begin on January 5 and end on January 30. You can visit Bruce's blog stops at in January to find out more about this great book and talented author!As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available.

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