Bonnie McCune lives in Denver, Colorado and has been a writer since the fifth grade. In her writing, she avoids clichés about superhuman achievements, extravagant wealth. Her stories are about ordinary people and their unique lives, their highs and lows, and their extraordinary lives.
- When did you start writing?
At the same time, I became involved in civic and grass-roots organizations, political campaigns, writers' and art's groups, and children's literacy. For years, I entered recipe contest and was a finalist once to the Pillsbury Cook Off. A special love of mine is live theater. If I had been nine inches taller and thirty pounds lighter, I might have been an actress.
For reasons unknown (an unacknowledged optimism?), I believe I can make a difference in this world.
2. Where do you live today? What are your favorite activities when not writing?
I primarily grew up in Colorado where I continue to live. My stories take place in Colorado. When not writing, I read. Jogging, weight lifting (light ones) biking with my husband are frequent activities. Doing them with another person makes them more fun. We live near superb outdoor trails in natural areas. We've even seen deer and a wild coyote!
3. Tell us about your family. Did you have an occupation outside of writing.
My family lives in Colorado, too, two kids and three grands. I've worked my whole life in public relations and communications for nonprofits. I took official retirement a few years ago to concentrate more on writing.
4. Why and when did you start writing and in what genres?
I decided to be a writer at age 10 and have never completely stopped. I write contemporary women's fiction along with literary.
5. Who is your publisher or do you indie publish?
I've been published by several small publishers, but when the last one closed shop, I contacted others and have just signed a contract for a reprint from the Totally Entwined Group in Britain. It should come out this fall.
6. Do you write series or single title books? Where do your ideas come from? How do you create characters, decide on conflict and time period and do research?
I write single-title fiction about women. Characters are a conglomeration of people I know, read about, meet, see in the media - contemporary for now. Lots of research. On of the reasons I write is because I love to research.
I've been at this activity for years. I'm always looking, and failing to find, shortcuts. Not of the actual writing, for marketing and promotion primarily. I once had a brilliant idea to create a pseudonym using the last name of a famous author. I thought a publisher or agent might think I was his illegitimate daughter. If I remember correctly, I chose William Faulkner or William Burrows. Not a soul was fooled.
I don't believe in writer's block. Only the wealthy can pamper themselves with that excuse. I spent years doing freelancing, mostly news and features in small publications. I learned to sit down and crank out the work because upon occasion, part of my family's groceries came from that source.
On the other hand, I do view writing as a kind of spiritual practice. Maybe not "spiritual" so much as cerebral exploration and learning. Writing's given me new subjects to research. Even more important to my mental well-being, writing enables me to figure out people and interpersonal relations. Maybe you can tell I majored in psychology in college, although a friend accused me of doing so because the case studies fascinate me.
So what characteristics does a fiction writer demonstrate? An insatiable curiosity, a need to know. Another is a what-if mind.
A big ego is possibly the least desirable attribute. A writer needs to be an observer, not a braggart. She should be a spectator, not a leader in the writing world where she lives most of the time. A writer certainly might be an egoist, i.e. self-centered, but not an egotist, a conceited, boastful person.
7. How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing schedule and a special place set aside for writing? Do you keep notes on what you're writing and do you make outlines?
I try to write every day for 1 to 2 hours, but I don't always succeed, in a spare bedroom I've made into an office. I start with jotted notes, start inserting times and sequences, keep adding notes and ideas, clean up an outline, go back and rewrite, then do it again and again. I have thousands of scraps of paper, computer files, and filled tablets and don't always remember what a scribbled note means. No wonder it takes me years to write a book.
8. Do you instill some of your own life experiences into your characters?
The foundation of a writer's work is experience, but readers may not realize which parts are from her life. A fund exercise for your imagination is to try to figure this out. In Never Retreat all the sections dealing with a flash flood are NOT based on anything I've experienced. However, I lived through the media coverage of the 1976 Big Thompson River flood. I tapped that information and my second-hand emotions watching the tragedy as it was revealed. On the other hand, the parts in which Raye twirls a lariat, are based on childhood adventures with my gig sister as we played cowboys. The singing scenes had their beginnings in one college job as a singing waitress.
I often use major catastrophes in writing, replete with floods, fires, blizzards and disasters. Everyday life can sound boring and people often read fiction to escape. My work avoids rich or famous characters to favor everyday people. Calamities show there's no such thing as a "normal" human. Everyone as different strengths, weaknesses, loves, interests. A crisis allows me to parade the character in her strengths.
9. What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
This is new fiction for you" unafraid to debate contemporary concerns. . .pulls no punches. . .provides a fresh look at age-old issues. This is your kind of writing if you think. . .People are smarter than an phone. . .Feminism is just starting to come alive. . .You'll always take a human over the most advanced app. . .You can laugh at yourself. . .Women use four-letter words, including love.
"I won!" Raye's handful of lottery scratch tickets, fanned out on the staff room table in front of her, glowed in a multitude of bright colors. She plucked the one nearest her. "Forty dollars!"
Julia failed to respond. "He's gorgeous. Just gorgeous." Her unfocused eyes and neglect of the bear claw pastry in one limp hand showed how absorbed she was in telling Raye Soto about the new man striding around corporate headquarters in Denver.
"Didn't you hear me? My winning ticket must be an omen I'll get a big prize. You know how much I need to cover Andy's college. No student loans! Whoo-ee."
"Not necessarily. You'll have better odds at happiness if you notice a male hunk in front of your face. You haven't even had a date in years."
"Wouldn't start with a good-looking guy. He'd be the most dangerous type. Anyway, you've never won awards for our taste in men," Raye teased back. Her quick survey of the modest dining area showed no other people on break, so she geared up her joking. "Wasn't your last crush the barista over at Java Hut? The one who drew your initial with cream on the top of your cappuccino, then pocketed the change you were due? And the one before rode a motorcycle and crashed at least once a month?"
"You're one to talk!" Julia returned to consciousness, leaning back in her chair and tapping her index finger, this week manicured in turquoise blue with tiny spangles, on the veneer-topped table. "Your ex-, who hardly qualifies as an ex since he was only around for a few months, partied so hard and so often, he forgot to come home at night."
"Let's not get into odious comparisons. I got Andy from the experience, and that's enough for me." Raye pushed back her chrome-wire chair, stood, and began wrapping the remains of her meal.
"This guy, his name's Des Emmett, would be perfect for you. If you'd drop the attitude."
"How old do you figure he is?" I can't possibly be considering Julia's suggestion, can I? Raye thought.
"I'd say thirty-six, thirty-eight. He mentioned eight years in the service, and I know from his resume, which passed through my grubby paws when he transferred here, that he has a solid ten years in the corporate world. Most recently, at the highest levels."
"And he's not married?" With her free hand, Raye stuffed the winning lottery ticket in her pocket, then grabbed the remainder in a fistful jumble.
"Why not? What's wrong with him? Is he gay? Abusive?"
"Wait a minute," Julia said. "You're thirty-four and not married."
"But I have been" She considered the super-sized fruit yogurt she now balanced. The treat wasn't finished yet, so she covered the container to tote to the staff refrigerator. "I admit he's good-looking. Those ice-blue eyes, the casual dark curls." In fact, he's too good-looking. I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him, she thought.
"Those molded lips, the bottom one a little fuller than the upper. The brooding brow." Julia gathered her snack leavings, then walked to the refrigerator and leaned against the open door next to Raye to continue. "I think you're ticked off because he treats you like an employee, not a woman. He shouldn't be snubbed for that."
"Absolutely wrong! I learned long ago not to trust charm and good looks. Anyway why are you pushing him on me? Don't you want to try your luck?"
Julia looked up at the ceiling tiles. "I haven't told you, but things are getting serious between me and Eric. We've been talking about marriage."
"Eeek!" Raye's shriek echoed from inside the refrigerator. She pulled her head out. "That's wonderful."
"Nothing is definite yet, so don't mention it. I'm entertaining the idea because I hate to see a guy as nice as Eric go to waste. Or get picked off by a sneaky man-eater like Krystle."
"I remember two years ago when Krystle got tipsy at the holiday party. She kept rubbing her hands all over Eric, then tried to pull him into the hall for a necking session."
Julia sniggered. "Fortunately he refused to surrender. That's when I first guessed I could trust him."
"Yeah, and he's been hanging around you ever since," said Raye. "That's going somewhere permanent?"
"I sure hope so. The huuuge barrier right now to any kind of development is that car loan my folks took out and now can't pay. Can't get married, can't even move in together because I have to help the family out. Anyway, a more cheerful subject. I first saw the new director of security this morning before he even got in the office. I was walking down the sidewalk past the entrance to the parking garage when he buzzed by on a motorcycle. tall and solid as a soldier. . ."
"A motorcycle!" Raye slammed the refrigerator door closed. "You know how much I hate those. You're not building a case for my becoming besties with Mr. Desmond Emmett with that bit of information. Smelly, noisy, dangerous machines."
A stricken look passed over Julia's face. "I'm so sorry. I totally spaced on what happened to your brother." Wrapping both arms around her friend, Julia hugged hard, and Raye let her. "You still miss him, don't you?" Julia whispered.
"Like the devil. Every day. Even though it's been years. Damn his infatuation with motorcycles! I hear about the Broncos winning, and I think 'boy, that'll make Carlos happy,' then I remember he's not here. Or the first snow, I want to run in and wake him up so we can walk in the park, until I remember there'll be no more times like that. He'll never know his nephew graduated at the top of his class, or that Dad and Mom both have new romances going." Raye stepped back after a final squeeze. "Thanks for not hesitating to mention him. That helps." She wiped the dampness from her eyes. "Many people act like he never existed."
"They're afraid of doing or saying something wrong or upsetting you."
"Julia," Raye said, giving the name the Spanish pronunciation of whool-ya as she customarily did when they were alone. "I'm more upset to think he might be forgotten."
"Not by me."
"Let's change the subject," Raye said, as she blinked her eyes rapidly. "What's all this nonsense in today's bulletin about a new approach to the corporate retreat and that it has nothing to do with layoffs? Makes me panicky. You know as soon as management starts denying a rumor, you can be sure it's true."
"Um, I'm not part of the gossip grapevine." Julia's busy fingers rewrapped her leftovers.
Bonnie is a member of the Denver Art Museum, Park Hill Community Bookstore, Stapleton Women's Book Group, Denver Woman's Press Club, History Colorado and the 2020 Women's Suffrage Centennial, Mansion Homes Homeowners' Association, etc. Interested in visual arts, writing, community activism.
Contact Bonnie at:
Books by Bonnie