EP: Come on in and sit a spell. We're sharing some lemonade with Eternal Press author, Bruce Cooke. It's time to grill him on his new historical romance from Eternal Press called Journey to Tobruk. Hi Bruce. Thanks for hanging out with us for a while today.
Bruce: Itís a pleasure Kim. We donít have summer heat here at the moment. Only winter cold but I donít mind the cold weather after 100 degree plus in our summer
EP: Can you set up the story for us? Where and when does it take place?
Bruce: A Captain has to get to Tobruk during World War Two to join his unit. About to leave he is asked to take a passenger and is surprised to see a beautiful nurse who has to make a hospital ship leaving in three days. On the way they are attacked, first by a German fighter where their car is destroyed, then followed by a German half track. Their aim is to escape the Germans and get to Fortress Tobruk but things happen on the way that brings them closer together.
EP: I see Journey to Tobruk has a heat rating of three flames. How important to the story are the intimate scenes? Do you have a favorite?
Bruce: Romance is always important in a good story. When faced with death it seems to bring people closer together. Two scenes come to mind. One where they realise their love for each other and fulfil that love in an ancient cave and the other where they have a reunion at the completion of the war. This one is more about their hunger for each other when they believed all had been lost.
EP: Tell us a bit about Jane and Tom. I hear they spend the night with a corpse!
Bruce: The idea of Tom and Jane came to mind after observing a few married couples. Marriage to me seems to be in three categories. One where the husband is the master and the dutiful wife does what she is told. The next is the reverse where the wife is boss and the husband quiet and shy and the third where both have a love for each other mixed with respect.
I had a marriage on the third example where we would swap banter throughout a long marriage until my wife passed away last year. She was quick witted and always had a reply that I found difficult to match. When I would think up a witty reply it was too late but it brought both love and fun to the marriage. It was a long and happy time so I try to make my characters behave in a similar manner. In this case Jane gives way to Tomís experience but not until she questions his decisions. She returns banter to him which makes him smile. When she asks what his mother was like he tells her she was blonde and beautiful. Janeís retort is that so you think Iím dark and ugly. The banter continues from there.
They temporarily escape the Germans and take refuge in a cave where they find an ancient tomb. On opening the coffin they find a mummy, his wife and his dog. They had company for the night.
EP: Is Journey to Tobruk part of a longer work or do you have any plans to expand it to novel length?
Bruce: No. When I had my first book with Eternal Press, Jungle Heat accepted by Julie Darcy, Julie must have liked the genre and asked me to write some short stories in the same vein. I had to think about different wars and came up with the idea that the Second World War to some readers not born during those times might seem like the battle of Waterloo is to me. My first short story was titled Vietnam Holiday. A story of two lovers who meet in Vietnam during the 1970ís war. My second short story was titled Top Secret and was about the invasion of Europe just before D Day. Journey to Tobruk is in a different area of the war where Australian troops gained the name The Ratís of Trobuk which they wore with pride.
EP: Are you a military buff? Where does your interest in WWII come from?
Bruce: I wouldnít call myself a Military Buff, I have great respect for the men and women who fought in those times, and not just Australians. They were the real heroes of Australia and made huge sacrifices.
I first gained interest in the genre when we made a visit to Singapore and went to the Changi war cemetery. I have to confess it brought tears to my eyes to see the graves of young soldiers, not much more than eighteen years of age. I felt some of their stories should be told and it was criminal that these young people lost their lives in such a terrible time. Most were ordinary people who fought bravely and those that survived went home to try and live a normal life, never to be heard of again.
My secret of preventing further wars? Send the politicians in the first wave with the option of calling it off if they can stay at home.
EP: Although I suspect it's not true, men are often thought not likely to write romantic works, yet this piece is historical romance. Did you have input from any women on that aspect of it or is it all you?
Bruce: I was a member of Romance Writers of American Australian chapter before it disbanded but some of the women on line are terrific writers like Julie. If I had a question then there was no problem in getting an answer. These ladies are wonderful. I was a small child when the war was on and I can still remember American troops in Australia. Some even tried to teach us how to play baseball without success.
History is important as is romance so I try to combine both. My wife was my biggest critic and as she like to read I would get some serious crits from her ranging from-this is crap- to hey I really like this. Of course she would tell me why she thought it crap and although I didnít always agree, I respect and listened to her opinion.
EP: Tell us about your writing life. Are you a cat person or a dog person? Do you have your own little space to write in?
Bruce: I started writing when I was forced to take an early retirement because of a hearing problem in my teaching profession. I always had an interest in Colonial Australia and wrote a book titled The Baringup Dynasty which was the story of the parents in Friendly Enemies. It was an outback Australian story and Iím trying to tidy it up now.
My brother is a stage producer and wanted to put on a show of the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I did the script and it was accepted enthusiastically by the C.S. Lewis foundation, the caretakers of the estate. The show ran successfully in all the Australian capital Cities.
I got my interest in Colonial Australia from a book titled The Fatal Shore. Itís the story of Australia from the arrival of the first fleet in 1786 until 1948. Suddenly all the names that we are familiar with are revealed. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Parks, Macquarie and lots of other cities and towns. In this case, fact is much better than fiction and the book should be compulsory reading for all secondary students in our schools.
Iím definitely a dog person but I like all animals. My daughter has two cats and although I donít particularly have a love for cats they jump on my lap whenever I visit. Iíve recently become the proud parent of a four year old Golden Labrador that I got from theĒ give a dog a home program.Ē His name is Bailey and he wonít let me go anywhere unless heís alongside me. He certainly helps fill in the lonely nights since my wife has gone. I filter into my office to work on the computer and he comes in and places his head on my lap. I guess weíre the best of friends now.
EP: Is there anything you'd like to add?
Bruce: Only that my passion for writing helps pass the lonely moments. I love a good story and although some donít turn out very good, its fun writing them. I work on the motto, if you think you can then you can. I have seven book contracts-four with Eternal Press and three with other publishers. I also have three short stories with Eternal Press.
EP: Awesome. Before you head back out into the trenches, give us an idea where we can find you and your books online. Webpage? Book trailer? Blogs? My space? Goodreads?
Bruce: My website is www.freewebs.com/brucecooke where all my books-both contracted and others are listed.
My email is email@example.com
Iím listed with Goodreads but as yet donít have a blog. My Eternal Press books can be found under my name in their website. Still trying to work out the marvels of the internet.
You can find Bruce at Eternal Press here: http://www.eternalpress.ca/cookenew.html