By Harley Nefe
Having previously self-published nine novels and two collections of short stories, local author Glenn A. Bruce now has two new novels out with traditional publishers.
Being a longtime Writers Guild of America and International Thriller Writers member, Bruce is now the author of his first western novel, “He Rode,” published by Dusty Saddle Publications in December 2020, with a contract for 1 to 4 more books in two years, and political thriller “Last Blast,” scheduled for release on Feb. 15, by World Castle Publishing. He recently completed a prequel novel to “He Rode” titled “Three Rode” and is currently editing a third in the series, “Three Rode On.”
Bruce has had over 50 short stories, essays and poems published in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and India, and has won awards for writing, screenwriting and directing. He began his career in Hollywood where he wrote the hit movie “Kickboxer,” episodes of “Walker: Texas Ranger,” “Baywatch,” the original “G.L.O.W. Show,” and sketches for Cinemax’s “Assaulted Nuts.”
However, his roots come back to the High Country.
Growing up as a kid, Bruce would often visit Blowing Rock with his family in Walter Horton’s cabin on Winkler’s Creek. Then in 1959, his parents bought property on Shulls Mill Road, so he has been around the area for the past 60 years.
From 1979-2000, Bruce lived in Los Angeles and would come back and visit the High Country occasionally for R&R before moving back to Blowing Rock officially in 2000.
Bruce then taught 12.5 years or 25 semesters at Appalachian State University until 2017. His classes included Screenwriting, Acting for the Camera and Video Production.
He has been living locally up until the past two years when he bought a house in Florida to escape the winters.
When asked about how his writing journey began, Bruce said he learned to write in the third grade.
“I was a good reader, fast reader, and I learned basic little things in third grade, but it really set in in sixth grade when I learned how to paraphrase,” Bruce joked. “So, the importance of going to the encyclopedia and only reading one article and making it sound like you’ve read a lot more than you had. That’s where I really started to write.”
Bruce later took some English courses throughout college; however, he didn’t do much writing then. It wasn’t until he had a professor who encouraged him to write.
“I was writing for the little newspaper that we had, and I had done some stuff like that, but my professor said, ‘Try writing a short story,’” Bruce said. “So, I tried it, and I wrote a truly awful story about a talking cello, and it was just dreadful, and I said, ‘I can’t do this.’”
However, eventually Bruce found himself moving to L.A. and that same professor who encouraged him to write also helped him with a connection.
“My professor said, ‘Well, you’re going to L.A. I have a friend who is a sitcom writer. I’ll set up a meeting, and you can talk to him, and maybe he can get you a job or get you started somehow,’” Bruce said.
Bruce was able to meet with the person, but that contact ended up being someone who didn’t want anything to do with the business anymore as he had just successfully sued Universal for a million dollars and planned to quit.
At the time, Bruce was working in the industry as a driver, and he came upon another driver who had a screenplay that he was able to take a glance at.
“I looked at the page and something struck me about it,” Bruce said.
He eventually learned the driver was taking a screenwriting course at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College with famed screenwriting guru Syd Fields, so Bruce went and signed up for the course in 1979.
“It just seemed right,” Bruce said. “I had finally found something in my life that made complete sense that I felt really comfortable with. By the end of that semester, I wrote my first screenplay longhand on a yellow pad and transferred it, typed it up. I actually got an agent in January of 1980 right away. They were interested in the script, but it didn’t sell. It took another 10 years to actually sell something or something of note.”
Bruce’s background is in screenwriting, but in 2008, he started adapting his screenplays into novels.
“It was just a curiosity, and I thought it was something I might like to do. Fortunately, I had people who encouraged me,” Bruce said.
Since 2008, he has been writing one or two novels a year. In addition, he continues to write at least one screenplay per year.
Bruce also earned an MFA from Lindenwood University in 2014, and he said that put things into better focus for him.
“I felt better about what I was doing, and my writing got better for it,” Bruce explained.
Bruce has also done work with another local author, Jim Hamilton, who is also the director of the Watauga County Cooperative Extension, which helps landowners and farmers manage crops, timber stands and livestock.
They met through Bruce’s interest in growing ginseng. Hamilton stopped by to see if Bruce’s property was habitable for the plant. As the two chatted and walked the property, Hamilton mentioned he had never seen ginseng on the big screen and was curious how to go about writing a story centered on the plant.
Hamilton pitched the idea to write a local story about ginseng poachers, and Bruce agreed and wrote it as a screenplay as Hamilton contributed to the story.
“Jim and I ended up being really good friends,” Bruce said.
A little while later, Hamilton called Bruce and said that he wanted to novelize the screenplay, and Bruce said OK.
“I sort of mentored him, helped him along, and it started a little rough,” Bruce said. “He has done a lot of writing but has not written fiction. I told him, ‘The great thing about a screenplay is the story is already laid out; it’s basically a map. It’s a blueprint for your novel.’”
Hamilton would then write pages and send them to Bruce who would mark them up in red and send them back using the review process on Microsoft Word.
“In the beginning, I would rewrite quite a bit and send it back,” Bruce said. “Then he started to get the idea of it. By the end, I had very few comments, and then when we went through the second time, I had almost nothing to say. He did a great job.”
Bruce’s screenplay inspired Hamilton to adapt it into a novel, which he got published. The title of the novel is “The Last Entry.”
“It was fun,” Bruce said. “Jim’s a great guy. We laughed and had great times. I’m happy it turned out the way it did.”
Though Bruce has not written a novel set in the High Country yet, he has some ideas percolating — one of them being a sequel to his screenplay and novel “Temptation Key” (set in the Florida Keys in 1966), which follows the two boys in the story on a wild trip to the mountains. Whether it is that idea or another, Bruce said he is certain that one day he will set a tale in the High Country.
As for Bruce’s latest novels that have been published, “He Rode” started as a short story titled “He Came from Natchez” that Bruce wrote for his MFA program.
“As with most short stories, it just fell out of me onto the page,” Bruce said. “Several years later, I decided to expand it into a screenplay, which turned out far better than I had anticipated. That went so well, I then decided to novelize the screenplay, which turned into ‘He Rode.’”
Bruce further said, “What I hope readers get out of ‘He Rode’ is a fast and thrilling read that is different from many western novels in that it has some good laughs along the way and an ironic twist that leads to a tragic turnaround in the end. Mainly, I always want my readers to be entertained. That is enough.”
Bruce’s other recent release, “Last Blast,” also popped out as a screenplay first.
“I had this very serious idea about gun control: a what-if series of scenarios around what might happen if the federal government actually did outlaw all guns and went about collecting them,” Bruce said. “But, as with Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Road to Gandolfo,’ I started finding humor in many of the situations. That led to ‘Last Blast’ becoming somewhat of a darkly comic take — still serious most of the time with the obvious complications from such a program — that puts a lot of the arguments in perspective, if sardonically at times.”
Bruce added, “While writing it, I also discovered a dark and twisty subplot involving opponents, opportunists,and a possible shadow government that broadened the story into a political spy thriller. So, it is not an argument one way or the other on gun control, but a look at how we Americans deal with big ideas. (Hint: not well!) So, I hope that readers engage with the mysterious lead, David Billows, as well as the POTUS who inherited the new law, and his main agent leading the charge. Again, I hope my readers have fun reading my books.”
Bruce’s newest novels are available in paper or eBook on Amazon and the other usual outlets along with his earlier works. A link to Bruce’s website can be found here: www.glennabruce.com.
Below are the cover blurbs from Bruce’s newest novels:
Lawrence Jefferson Taylor, a Wild West “fixer” known in west Colorado and northern New Mexico only as Honcho, has a past he is sure will catch up to him one day. In the meantime, to atone for his “sins,” Honcho helps those in need, but only when the stakes are highest — clearing out a saloon full of immoral gunslingers, transporting an Indian-murdering giant known as “The Monster,” or rescuing the lovely Ingrid from cattle rustlers who have enslaved her. When Ingrid and Honcho make a life together, his past does return to cause trouble. But in the end, it may be Ingrid’s dark past that will tax Honcho beyond his abilities to save himself.
Set in the Colorado and New Mexico high country of 1865-1880, “He Rode” is a wild, edge-of-your-saddle ride with an honest loner seeking to rid the territory of its worst bad men. Lawrence Jefferson Taylor’s exploits define danger, if occasionally with comical results, as he seeks to right wrongs, help the people who need it most, and make outlaws regret ever hearing the name “Honcho.”
Link to purchase: https://tinyurl.com/yygbb99b
In this somewhat dark, often comic look at how the federal government would function and Americans would react to a total ban on ownership/possession of any and all guns, author Glenn A. Bruce presents a “what if” of extreme behaviors — from relief to joy to panic to violence. Some gun owners are happy to turn over their weapons if it means a safer gun-free America; others will fight to the bitter end to maintain their “right to bear arms” — often with deadly results. Taking on the entirety of the United States government can be hazardous to one’s health!
Underlying the methodical sweeping up of every gun in America there emerges a shadowy plot to do … something. We are never sure exactly what that is until the tense and exciting climax when secretive dark forces converge on Washington to “finish what we started.” Is it a government-driven “false flag”? Is it an attempted coup? Who are the real players, and what is their intent? What is going on in the hidden basement of an abandoned Federal building in D.C., and what does a loner “idealist” from a compound in Idaho have to do with it? What about the well-meaning new President and his snarky female VP? Are they aware of what is happening? At all?
Everything, and everyone, is related in some way, whether they realize it or not. They will come together in the end to put a crushing halt to it all. Guns will be gathered, and lives will be lost. The Constitution will be tested, and truth will be moot. Will America survive? Only our hero, the mysterious ex-Marine David Billows knows — and he is not saying. He is clearly on a mission — and he will succeed. But at what cost?
Link to purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y4vep5sp