American author Bruce Harris joins DEMAIN with his Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! ‘Death In The Dugout’ (book 7 in the series; cover by Adrian Baldwin). The book is released on 21st August but is currently available for pre-sales. Prior to publication Dean and Bruce sat down and chatted.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Bruce! Loved your M!M!M! – for those that don’t know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself.
BRUCE HARRIS: Hey! Happy to be here. I live in New Jersey in the United States. After a 30-year career at UPS, I retired in 2018. I’ve been a baseball fan all of my life and like many others, dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. I played the game through high school, but my anaemic .220 batting average coupled with a weak throwing arm did not bode well for a major league career. Since 2014, I’ve been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). My wife is a psychologist. She still works. We have two grown, adult children.
DP: Nice. I spent some time in the States and whilst (US) football is my first love, I have soft spot for baseball…so what was your first introduction to the crime/thriller genre?
BH: In addition to baseball, I have always been fascinated with Sherlock Holmes. I was never much of a reader as a child, but way back in 1965, I read the short story, The Adventure of the Speckled Band and was hooked on Holmes. I still have the paperback I read so many decades ago. Sherlock Holmes became (and still is) an obsession. I devoured all 60 of the Holmes stories and became interested in the minutiae. It has been a lifelong love affair.
DP: That’s cool – as a kid I was really into Sherlock Holmes too but every now again I’ll grab a novel from the shelf and have a re-read. Great stuff. Your M!M!M! then…
BH: I followed the old adage, “write what you know.” I know baseball. I thought it would be fun to write a baseball murder mystery, and it was! Nine players on a team, nine suspects! Of course, there are other characters, but basically nine people could have murdered the team manager. Each had opportunity and a motive. The murder takes place in the dugout before the start of a game. A beat newspaper writer and a coach team up to solve the mystery. I’m hoping readers find it a worthy whodunnit.
DP: I’m sure they will. With your expertise in the subject I’m assuming this time around you didn’t have to do much research…
BH: No, not in this case. I’ve researched for other writings, but there was no need for me to research anything for this book.
DP: I’m also guessing you didn’t find it particularly difficult to write?
BH: All writing is difficult. This was no exception. The story went through a number of versions before it was finished to my satisfaction. A professional editor helped me delete a lot of extraneous material and the final version is the better for it.
DP: Cool, cool – what is Bruce Harris’ biggest success to date?
BH: I’ve written and published two books about Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: ABout Type (2006) and Anticipations in D. Martin Dakin’s ‘A Sherlock Holmes Commentary’ (2021). Both are research driven, “scholarly” works. I’m thrilled to be a part of Demain Publishing.
DP: And we’re thrilled to have you! Tell us about the kind of books / authors you read…
BH: There are many. In addition to Arthur Conan Doyle, there is Mickey Spillane, David Goodis, Cornell Woolrich, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and of course, Ellery Queen. I’m also a big fan of the old pulp crime/mystery magazines.
DP: Some great names there for sure! What does crime / mystery (or thriller) mean to you?
BH: In my opinion, there is a distinct difference between crime and mystery. I enjoy reading crime and noir fiction, but find it challenging to write. Mystery means “whodunnit.” I love a classic, locked-room whodunnit. One of the things I enjoy is thinking about what appears to be an impossible murder, and figuring out how to make it possible and believable. Thriller is its own genre.
DP: Great answer. What do you think draws readers to the mystery genre? What do readers look for?
BH: I think readers look for a fair mystery. Are enough clues planted so that the reader could solve the mystery along with the detective? I tried to make Death in the Dugout fair. I hope a careful reader could figure out who the murderer is.
DP: Creatively Bruce is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?
BH: I’d like to write a full-fledged mystery novel, somewhere in the 60,000 – 80,000-word range. It takes a lot of planning and discipline.
DP: My Lord it does doesn’t it? So writing is a long term career for you?
BH: Writing is not a career. It’s a hobby. I enjoy the challenges, and try to write something each day. I don’t feel right if a day goes by and I didn’t write.
DP: And I guess during the lockdown you were able to write every day!
BH: I was fortunate. The lockdown didn’t impact me too much. I was retired, so work was not an issue. I find it stimulating to write in coffee shops, so that wasn’t possible. I belong to a local writing group. The lockdown forced us to meet via Zoom. It was an adjustment. I’m happy to say we have begun meeting in person again. The change involved my wife. She worked from home. I had to tune out her work-related conversations and phone calls and concentrate on my writing.
DP: Finally Bruce, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
BH: I have a Ph.D. in Social Psychology.
Thank you Bruce for your time, all the best with Death In The Dugout.
If you would like to connect with Bruce direct: https://www.facebook.com/bruce.harris.5015