Best-selling author and Sarasota resident Don Bruns writes incredibly fast-paced thrillers full of twists and turns. But even he was taken by the speed and timing of his new mystery anthology collection, “Hotel California.”
He got the idea for the book, which contains eight short stories written by some of the biggest names and most talented mystery writers working today, while he was on the phone with his agent. It was late 2020, and the two were talking about Bruns’ contribution to an upcoming mystery novel anthology that gleaned its story titles from the names of Jimmy Buffet’s albums.
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With 35 years in the advertising industry under his belt, Bruns recognizes a good idea when he hears it. “After telling him about the Buffet case, I said, ‘I wish we had thought about it. Then I suggested that there were other things we could do.
When his agent asked him for an example, the first thing that came out of his mouth was “Hotel California”, the title of a now classic Eagles album. Each story would be inspired by the title of one of the songs on the album. When she asked who he could go to to write the stories, he replied, “Give me a week.” It came together almost as quickly.
“I immediately contacted the writers I had in mind, told them about the concept, and within a week and a half, I had eight writers signed on. We got a commitment from Blackstone Publishing less than two weeks later,” he said.
reach the reacher
“I’ve been going to crime writers’ conferences for years, networking and hanging out with all these people. We know each other very well,” Bruns explained. His first call was British author Lee Child, best known for the Jack Reacher series of novels.
It turns out that Child was retiring, but his brother Andrew was taking over writing for the show. “I got my hands on Andrew, and he agreed to do ‘New Kid in Town.’ hidden away in a sleepy remote town.
Bruns’ excitement and disbelief showed when he explained that he had no idea an original Reacher TV series was already in the works at Amazon Prime. Launched in February, this version of “Reacher” was a resounding success – setting ratings records and renewed for a second season. Similarly, no one could have predicted that current band The Eagles would be launching a “Hotel California” tour in 2022.
After Childs, seven other award-winning authors have agreed to contribute, including New York Times bestselling authors John Gilstrap and Heather Graham. Gilstrap said “no problem” writing “Wasted Time,” and Graham put “Pretty Maids all in a Row” in a New Orleans cemetery.
Bruns’ contribution to the anthology is “Life in the Fast Lane”, which features a “stone killer”, a hitman who ultimately reveals an inner morality.
As someone who has written 16 novels, edited four other anthologies, and contributed stories to many more — all after age 50 — Bruns is eminently qualified to talk about the differences between them. He admitted that he likes the simplicity of the form of the short story.
“Most criticism of novels is that the middle sags, and that’s the hardest part to write. You can open in a snap, close in a snap, but it there’s a lot of pages in between,” Brun said. “The news has no sag. It’s all action and suspense and excitement.
Speaking about his experience as an anthology editor, Bruns noted that creating “Hotel California” went remarkably smoothly, both working with the contributors and the editor. For the former, “getting eight seasoned authors all to the deadline turned out to be a piece of cake. It’s great to work with professionals,” he said.
And about the latter, it’s important to know that “anthologies don’t really have a shorter or longer gestation period (than novels). Publishers have a schedule. They have committed projects and possible projects and room for new projects,” he explained.
Blackstone Publishing has made room for “Hotel California” and committed to at least two more in what it calls “The Music and Murder Mystery Series.”
Bruns explained that shortly after Blackstone turned on “Hotel California,” “They turned around and said, ‘So what?
A man of ideas at heart, Bruns did not hesitate. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is next. Then it’s AC/DC. When Bruns told Andrew Childs he could have any of the classic heavy metal band’s tracks he wanted, he didn’t hesitate. So, down the line, Reacher fans can look forward to another exclusive Reacher story titled “You Shook Me All Night Long.”