05-07-12

Interview Dennis Bradford

Today I welcome Dennis Bradford to the blog. He has written several non-fiction books, and A Dark Time is his first fiction novel. 


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Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Etymologically, a philosopher is a lover of wisdom. I’ve been a philosopher for nearly 50 years. I was a philosophy professor for 32 years and now I do information marketing online. I’m healthy and happy. I live alone in a cottage on the shore of Conesus Lake, which is the westernmost of New York’s Finger Lakes. In addition to regularly reading and writing, I practice zazen meditation daily. I also do regular strength training and, when I’m being good, high intensity interval training for cardio. (For more information, go to the “About Me” tab at the book’s website: http://adarktime.com/ )

Could you tell us in short what the book is about?
A student vanishes from SUNY Geneseo in upstate New York. Her worried grandfather asks one of her favorite professors, Max Stephansson, to solve the mystery of her disappearance. What Max discovers is tragic. The suspense surrounding her disappearance unfolds to yield insight, but at the cost of danger and death. I intended it to be more than a page-turner involving suicide, rape, incest, and death as well as a story of a love affair. I intended its themes to include such important ones as the nature of justice and the justification for our acts.


Which character was the easiest to write and which one was the hardest to write?
One of the chief reasons I wrote the story was to experience character possession, which I discuss at a
blog post at http://dennis-bradford.com/intellectual-well-being/character-possession . I’m very pleased to
report that I did. The characters I’d created finished the story for me! It took months for me to know each of the main characters so well that that could occur. It was hard work to get to that point with them, but, once I did, the writing flowed. There wasn’t one main character that was much easier or more difficult to write than another.

With which character do you identify the most?
I suppose the protagonist. There are certainly superficial similarities between what I was like 30 years ago and his nature (e.g., both played hockey, both rode a motorcycle, both were professors, both lived on Conesus Lake, etc.). However, there are also profound differences – partly due to the fact that nearly twenty years of almost daily meditation have changed me and Max was not even a beginning meditator.

Are your characters based on people you know?
No. All the characters are fictional. Of course, some of their characteristics are similar to those of people I know. Also, some of the physical locations and buildings were real in 1989, when the story unfolds.

Where did the inspiration for this series comes from? Where do you generally draw your inspiration from?
This is a single work that I don’t intend to be a series. I’m not sure what motivates us to do what we do. Partly it was wanting to experience character possession. Partly it was wanting to publish a book that wasn’t nonfiction. Partly it was a test to see if I could do it in a way that interested both me and a reader. It just felt when I wrote it that the time was ripe for me to do it.
Also, I had taught some humanities (as well as purely philosophy) courses. In them, I taught some classical literature, both ancient and modern. I wasn’t trying to write literature, but I did want to experience the process of telling a relatively long story in print. Doing so successfully wouldn’t just be a feather in my cap, it might make me a better literature teacher.
Furthermore, I’ve more than once been told that people enjoy hearing stories when I tell them orally in person, and I wondered if I could do that in a different format. Was that a strength worth developing?

What research did you do for this series?
Since I had no research budget and wanted to write about what I already knew, I really didn’t have to do much research for it. I’ve lived in the county where the story occurs for 35 years. I did, though, consult with a friend who was a deputy sheriff to make sure that I had the police procedures correct and I spent some time in the library studying criminal investigative and interview techniques. I already knew a little about them because I had once worked as a parole officer.

Are there any other projects you are working on at the moment?
Yes, but none are fiction. (My next book, of which I’ll be for the first time a co-author, is about losing stomach fat and keeping it off.)

Do you have any writing quirks?
For the months when I was writing it, I simply went into my office every morning after breakfast and wrote without interruption until I had spent myself writing for that day. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, it would take me two hours to write half a page, and sometimes I’d spend five hours typing furiously. Then I’d go home, eat something, and take a nap. I had that routine and simply forced myself to follow it until the story was finished.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m extremely grateful for what life has given me. I very much enjoy living where I do and having the freedom to live as I want to live. Sometimes I go north for a few days of camping and fishing in the Ontario woods and once or twice a year I go to a week long zen retreat.

Are you a reader? What are you reading at the moment?
Yes, I usually have a few books going. At the moment they include: ZEN SOURCEBOOK; THINKING, FAST AND SLOW; THE BLOOD SUGAR SOLUTION; TAMING THE MONKEY MIND; KEEP IT OFF; and THE GREAT DEPRESSION AHEAD.

Is there anything you would like to add.
Yes: I encourage anyone reading this to visit the book’s website at http://adarktime.com/ . There are two reasons. First, at the bottom of the page you’ll find a link to “Why Read Novels?” and I think you’ll enjoy it. Second, if you read the page, you’ll discover that, when you buy the book, it comes with a valuable bonus. Having never written a fictional work before, I wanted to ensure that I over-delivered. So, I suggest buying the book just to get the bonus! If you happen to like the book, fine, but, if you don’t, it doesn’t matter!

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A college student vanishes. Her worried grandfather asks one of her favorite professors, Max Stephansson, to solve the mystery. What Max discovers is tragic. The suspense surrounding her disappearance unfolds to yield insight, but at the cost of danger and death.

Buy the book: Book Depository | Amazon


For more info on A Dark Time you can visit A Dark Time.com
You can also find Dennis on Dennis Bradford.com

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