Bob Brill - Westerns Featuring a Straight Shooting, Honest Gun-for-Hire
Bob Brill is an award-winning journalist with over 40 years in radio, media and as a writer. He has written several books including the novel; "Al Kabul; Home Grown Terrorist." "Lancer; Hero of the West" is his first in the Lancer series which details the adventures of an 1880's gun-for-hire. Brill has covered every kind of story from U-S Presidents to Hollywood entertainment and sports. As a National Correspondent with the UPI Radio Network to local radio stations, including the Los Angeles market, he has pretty much done it all. However, as he says, there is always another adventure around the corner. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Lancer; Hero of the West: The Broken Bow Affair.
Please give us a short introduction to what Lancer; Hero of the West is about.
Lancer is a mysterious man of wealth, who came from the East from a merchant family. He’s traveled the world from his youth, is highly educated, yet went into the Army at the start of the Civil War and immediately established himself at Bull Run where he was one of the youngest battlefield promotions of the day. He works out of Tombstone during the heyday and finds his purpose in helping others in distant places from New Orleans to the West Coast. He is basically a good guy gun-for-hire, a respecter of women of whom he has had many and a respecter of kids.
What inspired you to write about a good guy gun for hire who works with the law?
I’ve always been a fan of the Westerns, especially TV westerns from the 1950’s & 60’s, which I grew up on. When I decided to tackle a western I wanted it to be more than just a “one of.” So a series seemed most to my likings and I wanted him to be a good guy but somewhat mysterious and sort of superhero but real at the same time. The kind of guy I’d like to be coming from the 20th century to the 19th century.
Tell us more about Lancer. What makes him tick?
He isn’t in it for the money, he has plenty of that. He does charge a large fee but only so others don’t waste his time. He may even work for free as it turns out. The law makes him tick and justice. He is a good man with a good heart and a love for Turkish Delight which is a good opener with the ladies. He uses his brains first, his brawn second and if he has to go to the gun it doesn’t matter because you are dead. Lancer is a quick draw and a deadly shot. He was with Custer until a few days before The Little Big Horn. He didn’t trust Custer and left the Army at that point.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m a broadcaster (radio 50 years in 2022), a newscaster/reporter, screenwriter, columnist and pod and video caster. I love baseball, the NFL and fantasy football and am a huge Steelers, Pirates and Penguins fan as I am a native of the great city of Pittsburgh. I’m also an amateur genealogist.
Why a Western? What drew you to the genre?
As I said above, I’ve always been a fan of the American West inspired by the TV shows of the early days which I watched with my father. The Rebel, Wanted Dead or Alive, Have Gun Will Travel, Tales of Wells Fargo, The Lawman, The Rifleman and of course The Lone Ranger. Lancer is a compilation of all of these to some degree with my own added twists. Cowboys were heroes and anti-heroes and Lancer is a mix of that.
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
The women. There are at least two ladies in Lancer’s life in each book. None he is ready to settle down with. One is always a love affair albeit short, while the other is usually a challenge to him in some way or another. Trying to be respectful as Lancer is, while trying to be politically correct at the same time is tricky. A lot of time and effort goes into the women as well as rewriting.
Why did you title this one "The Broken Bow Affair"?
Each title is “Lancer; Hero of the West – the (city name here) Affair.” The Broken Bow Affair takes place in Broken Bow, Nebraska.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
I can’t say never but rarely. I create a number of characters in advance but there always seems to pop up a need for a new but smaller character. A chef, a store owner, a school teacher. Minor characters to be sure, but important enough to usually have a name and provide something to the story if only a transition.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
I think the most fun I have in writing all the Lancer books are the legendary characters. Lancer always deals with his friends somehow in the opening; Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Doc Holliday and their nemesis, Johnny Ringo and Ike Clanton as well as others. He also always runs into legendary characters along the way to his destination on the trail. In Broken Bow he runs into Jesse James who is thinking about moving to Nebraska and is scouting out the area. In New Orleans he ran into Geronimo. The fun thing about these characters is while you have some basis in fact in history, many of the stories about these people were told by “them.” Tall tales to be sure, so whatever conversations I write may have, or, may not have happened.
Lancer; Hero of The West - The Broken Bow Affair is part of a series of Lancer books. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the books tie in with one another?
All the Lancer books can stand alone but some endings may lead to another beginning book. Not all but some of the early ones.
You worked in radio all over the western US. How has this influenced your writing?
My first paying job in radio was in Prescott, AZ, which is why I chose the “Prescott Affair” as my first Lancer novel. I knew the history and the town was a major stop for legendary characters in the Old West. It has a great tradition which is still in view. I also worked in El Paso where I placed one book and had a lot of love for New Orleans, and of course, I spent much of my youth and adult life in Los Angeles. All were Lancer books.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
When I write a book I sit down to write. There is a brief outline, some historical checking for times and years and then I imagine how the book should start in Tombstone one day. I go from there. I will sometimes write for several hours straight in a day, break to eat and to go to the mailbox, run an errand and sit right back down to writing. If life gets in the way as it often does, I put the writing down, take care of life and then force myself to sit down and write again often with a fresh perspective. The process begins again.
What are you working on right now?
I have planned out the Virgina City Affair and it’s laid out in my head, some on paper, but I’m having a difficult time getting back to it. “Life” has gotten in the way. My regular job as a news anchor, a documentary I just completed and is in the hands of the distributors, my podcast, column as well as I’m brokering a couple of trading card collections. The market is going crazy lately for sports cards and I’ve been in the field for decades, so you have to strike while the iron is hot. The pandemic was not a good time for authors of books, so you pick up one pile and lay another down.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
They can always find my work at my book site www.bobbrillbooks.com, and if you Google me you will find me all over the place and ways to contact me. Of course, my books are on Amazon and most are available as ebooks. If you are a football enthusiast you can also find my pod and video casts by going to my site www.kramerandbrill.com. My baseball column is www.baseballinthe1960s.com. I’m around. About everything I do is at www.bobbrill.com, but it’s hard to keep that updated…lol.