Bruce Robert Coffin interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Sep 27, 2016 4:03:45 AM

Bruce Robert Coffin interview with David Alan Binder

Bio from his website: Bruce is a retired detective sergeant with more than 27 yrs. in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine's largest city. Bruce also spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, where he earned the Director's Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive.

Bruce is the author of the John Byron Mystery Series from HarperCollins Publishers. The debut novel in the series, Among The Shadows, is now available.

His short story Fool Proof, which appeared in Level Best Books anthology, Best New England Crime Stories 2016, Red Dawn, was recently named one of the twenty best mystery stories published in North America during 2015. Fool Proof will be included in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Best American Mystery Stories, 2016, to be released October 4th.

Bruce is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters In Crime New England, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. He is also a regular contributor to the Maine Crime Writers Blog.



1. Where are you currently?

I reside in the beautiful state of Maine.

2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

I'd have to say the most important thing is never quitting. If you love the craft of storytelling and writing in general, stick with it. If you want it bad enough, publication can happen.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

My cure for writer’s block. I go straight to the gym and spend a grueling hour on the elliptical. I don't know why this works but it does. The ideas usually come pouring out along with the sweat.

4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I've never self-published so I can't really speak to that. My goal was to stick to it until a found a publisher willing to take me on.

a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

HarperCollins in New York City.

5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Not really. I think all of the mediums are great if they get more people engaged. I still like a physical book, great for autographs, but e-book and audio are great, too! I generally purchase the e-book and audio together, that way if I have to stop reading to drive somewhere I can continue to listen to the book.

6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

There is no magic formula. Work hard. Write every day. Read a lot. And read up. Reading work that’s better than yours will only help you to improve as a writer.

7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

Start attending writing conferences in your genre. If your writing is good enough, one of the agents you’ll meet will want to represent you.

8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Maybe join a writing group with similar goals as your own. I never did that but I know many published authors who found it very helpful. Take your writing seriously. Carve out time every single day. If you don't take what you’re doing seriously, no one else will either.

9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I think I was most surprised to learn how much influence my characters have on the story. I remember hearing famous authors say that their characters spoke to them, often dictated the direction of the storyline. I thought that was just something cool to say, until it began happening to me.

10. How many books have you written?

Three complete novels. One unpublished (and never will be), one published, and another that I'm about to send to my editor.

11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? Find a comfortable place to write and remove all distractions. Writing a novel is hard work. Writing a good novel that someone will want to publish is even harder. Trust me, you don't want any distractions.

12. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

I kind of instinctually know where to put twists as I'm writing. But if you are struggling with that, try throwing a curve to your readers. When the story is about to move in a predictable direction, change it up. Have a character do something unpredictable. It has to make sense, but nothing says it has to be predictable.

13. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

I think it's really all about voice. I'm writing murder/mystery, a police procedural, and I bring to it twenty-eight years of police experience. There are many, many authors writing police procedurals, but very few with any police background.

14. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

Social media. That is the key. Build an audience and stay engaged. If you don't have an audience in social media, it will be much harder to build one after you're published.

15. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I certainly never imagined that I'd be fifty-two before I published my first novel. And I'd like to say that I wished I'd started writing sooner. But the truth is I wouldn't change a thing. Every failure, every rejection, every do over was a learning process. Without those negatives, nothing positive could have come.

16. What saying or mantra do you live by?

There is no greater motivator than having someone tell you that you can't do something. Prove them wrong. Do it!

17. Anything else you would like to say?

Happy writing!