Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chuck Bowie @BowieChuck Author of Steal It All A Donovan for Hire Mystery #Contemporary #Suspense #Thriller

I’d like to welcome Chuck Bowie to my blog today. And if you’re interested, check out my reviews of Three Wrongs, AMACAT, and Steal It All at Roses & Thorns.

RW:      Tell us about yourself, your family, where you live, etc.

CB:     Hello, Everyone. I’m a writer with Muse It Up Publishing, but before that I was a consultant with the Canadian Federal Government. I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada. Both of my sons are musicians, with one also being a librarian and the other also being a technical analyst. I also play guitar, and mentioned the sons only to emphasize my love of music.

RW:       How many hours a day do you spend writing?

CB:        With books one and two, I wrote six hours a day, six days a week. Now (by book four), half of this is spent on social media and doing research. You think that being a writer is merely to write. But an author has the responsibility of ensuring whichever readers want to find them can. Thus the need for a social media presence. So…three to four hours a day, six days a week.

RW:       Who are your favorite authors? Who influenced your writing?

CB:      I count Rex Stout, Ernest Hemingway, and Bill Bryson among my favourite and most influential writers. Stout wrote clever, smart detective novels in the fifties and sixties. He showed me how to weave back story, colourful anecdotes and crisp dialogue into my work. Hemingway said to “write the truest sentence, using the truest words” to tell your story. Bill Bryson is hilarious, and his work is so well-researched. While I adore his travel literature—In A Sunburned Country and A Walk in the Woods are especially good—he also wrote A Brief History of Nearly Everything. I swear I felt smarter after having read this funny, brilliant piece of non-fiction. Everyone should read it. At this moment, I’m reading the Florida novelist Carl Hiaasen. He’s also a hoot.

RW:       Who are your favorite characters among the books you’ve written?

CB:      Of course I like Donovan, my anti-hero. He gets involved in murders and theft, but remains a credible, human person. I think he’s relatable. In Three Wrongs, Donovan visits the Canadian Embassy in London to get some information, and spends no more than a page or two chatting with this witty, feisty Communications Officer, Beth. Although she disappears for the rest of the novel, I had to bring her back for escapades in Book 2: AMACAT. She’s among my favourite characters. In Steal It All, I introduce a British Detective Inspector, named Gemma, who’s just back from leave after having been shot. She’s what I’d call “broken,” in that she doesn’t much care about her flat (apartment), she can’t sustain a relationship, and she has lost her confidence as a cop. But once I throw her into the weeds, she shows she’s just the toughest thing going! I’d love to do a complete series featuring her, but that may not be for a while. Please read Steal It All, and see if you agree with my assessment!

RW:       How much does reader feedback matter to you? Do your fans’ comments and letters influence you in any way? Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?

CB:      I think of the book-reader relationship as cake ingredients and cake; I have the ingredients, and I can bake a cake (I actually do a fabulous lemon drizzle cheesecake, but I digress), but the process isn’t completed until someone tastes the cake. It’s neither a good, nor a bad cake until someone has tried it and formed an opinion.

My favourite question from a reader was this: “I love all the ways you kill your characters…how did you learn to do that?” I was…flattered.

RW:       How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

CB:       I am not Donovan. And my characters are just people I’ve met in dreams. But my first book was conceived while I was in Bucharest, Romania, in the second nicest hotel in the country. Being there certainly caused the idea for a novel to germinate. Certain experiences, like being searched in an airport, or walking the giant red dunes of Prince Edward Island, or studying the back rooms of wineries are all experiences I’ve lived. I believe if I can “borrow” a live experience and perhaps manipulate it—just a bit—to add verisimilitude to a scene, it enriches the book. Readers tell me it brings the scenes to life, because they ring true. And yes, I talk guns with a close friend.

RW:       How do you come up with story ideas? What kind of research do you do for a book?

CB:       I find that the best research I can do to create or enrich an international suspense thriller is to travel. I love to travel; for me it’s the journey as much as the destination. I recall travelling through Florida and I picked a restaurant in Ocala, Florida to have lunch. This out-of-control woman threatened the manager, causing a massive scene. She was carrying a teacup dog in one arm and shaking her other arm at the poor manager. The police arrived and defused the situation, and all the while, I’m making notes, studying body language…it was great. I couldn’t take notes fast enough!

I’m not a criminal, nor do I have a background in law, so I have to do a considerable amount of research on the various ways to harm people. Google is good, but specialists are better. There’s nothing like sitting in the “more secured” soundproof interview room of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment office to put you inside of the head of the criminal (and the police officer as well).

The story ideas themselves arrive in my dreams, or as I’m writing scenes. It’s always a surprise—the ideas that show up unannounced.

RW:      Would you like to write a different genre or sub-genre than you do now?

CB:        Funny you should ask that! I’ve just submitted Book 4 in my Donovan: Thief 4 Hire series. It’s called The Body on The Underwater Road. I know how Book 5 will go, but a new idea has popped into my head, and it won’t let go. I’ve decided to take a year off from Donovan to start this new series. It’s bad luck—for me, anyway—to talk about a work in progress, so I can’t say much. Let’s just say it’ll be a cozy murder mystery, warm, funny in places, and the town is actually a character, in a sense.

RW:       That sounds like fun. I can think of a rom com series by a MuseItUp colleague where the town is sort of a character, and I love it. I look forward to yours, as well as more of Donovan!

RW:       Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from? What genre is it? Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?

CB:        My latest book, as I’ve said, is a suspense-thriller, The Body on The Underwater Road. It’s set in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, in Canada. There is, in fact, an underwater road that appears there at low tide. It leads out to this beautiful tiny island, just off the coast of this charming resort town. I wanted to include scenes from my home province, so I wrote it into the plot. Soon, however, this locale became a huge chunk of the story.

The plot itself is about secrets…family secrets. Balzac said “Behind every family treasure is a crime.” Ever since I heard it, I’ve wanted to write about it.

RW:       What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

CB:      To date, I’ve had three books published, and am waiting for the contract to the fourth. The first book was the most challenging to write, because I had a day job and I was learning how to write. And even as I was writing Three Wrongs I waded through numerous drafts that weren’t as necessary in future books. My books still have almost twenty revisions made for each, but that first novel put me through the wringer, even as I did the same to it!

AMACAT, the second book, was the easiest. It wrote itself. I’d come down from the office and exclaim to my wife: “Sweetie, you’ll never guess what happened today. It was the damndest thing.” Ha!

Book Three: Steal It All was the most fun, even though it was certainly the darkest in the series. I extended the character development, some of the exposition, and really focused on causing grief for my major characters. It was so fun.

RW:      Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?

CB:      My ego wants me to say I’m in control of my characters, but…no. To explain a bit, I’ll begin by saying if I cease writing for a day or two, let’s say I’m travelling, for instance, I’ll begin to dream about them. While I’m in REM sleep, scenes will begin to unfold, the characters will discuss things (create dialogue), and at times, my plot outline will actually morph into something I hadn’t thought about. I consider this beyond my control, and I cannot explain it well, because I don’t fully understand the process.

That said, I’ll take it. This process never leaves me with writer’s block, and the changes almost always seem to be for the better. One example I can share is in Three Wrongs, Donovan explains he has always been, and remains a loner, a contract thief. By the time we get to Steal It All, he’s working on a case with the RCMP and Scotland Yard. It wasn’t my idea! So, no. I am not in control of my characters. This (process) does make for an interesting series, though.

RW:      Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.

CB:       This was fun! I love writing, and I love my characters, but it’s special to be able to chat about writing.

RW:       I appreciate it. But maybe next time we can meet pin down Donovan. Not that I don’t like you, Chuck, but I’m kinda sweet on Donovan. If only I were about twenty or thirty years younger…

Steal It All

The Plot

Steal It All begins with the brutal daylight murder of an English citizen in the Canadian Embassy in London. The ambassador calls in the RCMP and Scotland Yard to get to the bottom of it, but also engages Donovan as a security consultant. Even as Donovan inches away from a life on the wrong side of crime, an art collector calls on him to perform the tiniest of thefts, this time a “legal” one.

This case is about big fish eating smaller fish, and bigger fish eating them in turn. Can Donovan swim away from the trouble around him?

An Excerpt:

She dropped her briefcase by the door and headed for the microscopic kitchen, a piece of cheese in one hand.

“Yes, the meal will be fantastic, judging by the aromas, but the fact that I don’t have to decide what to prepare or cook it makes it ten times better. Thanks, honey.” She stood on tiptoes to nuzzle his throat.

He smiled down at her forehead. “I came back in a bad mood, and cooking almost always brings me out of it. Well, cooking and the sight of you.”

“Bad day at the office? Gemma or Jack giving you a hard time? I can’t imagine it was Jack.”

She took a step back, the better to read his face. “Nah. Work’s going well. I just had a reminder of my childhood, some shit I thought I was done with. And I got a text from Canada. A project I’m working on is falling into place, but the timing could be better.”

“Is that bottle of French wine in there going to help things? Should we go to bed and relieve a little, um, tension before eating? I’m flexible, if you’ll pardon the play on words.”

“Oh, I’m already in a better mood now. Other than the fact that I’m going away for a few days.”


“Tomorrow. I have a couple of leads, and bad guys aren’t going to catch themselves.”

He added another quarter cup of chicken broth to loosen the sauce. “Let me guess. Manchester?”

“Yeah. And a nearby town as well. There’s a lawyer in the Lake District I have to have a conversation with.”

“Lawyer, eh? Who has the legal problem?”

“It’s more of an illegal problem, and that would be said barrister. I did a little research on him—a guy named Rigg—and he’s a perfect shitstorm. He’s a combination of victim, crook, patsy, conniver if that’s even a word, and I’ll throw in asshole at no extra charge. I’m completely surprised somebody hasn’t killed him yet.”

“Why don’t I pour us some of that yummy red in the other room and you tell me his story? That’s a bottle of 2005.”

She nodded in appreciation. “Respect.”

“Sounds good. These flavors have to marry up in the frying pan, and I just dropped some fresh penne into the water. You pour and I’ll be right there.”

A moment later, they were seated on the chesterfield, comparing notes on each other’s day.

Chuck Bowie


Chuck Bowie graduated from the University of New Brunswick in Canada with a Bachelor Degree in Science. He still lives in on the East Coast of Canada, just east of Maine. Growing up as an Air Force brat, his writing is influenced by the study of human nature and how people behave, habits he picked up as he moved nineteen times in his first twenty one years. Chuck loves food, wine, music, and travel—and all play a role in his writing. His writing will often draw upon elements of these experiences to round out his characters and plotlines. Chuck is involved in the world of music, supporting local musicians, occasionally playing with them, and always celebrating their successes. Because he enjoys venting as much as the next fellow, Chuck will at times share his thoughts with a brief essay, some of which can be found on his website.
Chuck is married with two adult musician sons. He and his wife Lois live in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Contact Chuck Bowie At:

Twitter:  @BowieChuck

Book Links:

Key Words/Labels:

Art, Bucharest, Canada, Chuck Bowie, Donovan: Thief For Hire, Embassy, England, Gangsters, Murder, MuseItUp Publishing, Inc. New York City, RCMP, Scotland Yard, Suspense, Thriller, Travel, Winery


  1. Thanks for letting me come visit, Rochelle! It's always nice to chat about writing, reading, and visiting each other! Cheers! - Chuck

  2. Fascinating interview, Chuck and Rochelle. My husband and I enjoy Chuck's mysteries. I love that real life experiences are written into his pages. I also can't wait to read Chuck's cozy he is writing.

    Chuck is one dedicated writer/author. Best wishes to both of you.

    1. Thank you, Susan. One of your novels is coming with me to a conference in Vancouver in June. I can't wait to read you!

  3. Thank you both. I'm sure you could tell by my final comment that I, too, am a fan of Chuck's writing and of Donovan. Have fun in Vancouver. I trust you're flying across country. I love to fly!

  4. I enjoyed the interview Chuck! It was a fun way to get to know you better and your writing process. Have safe travels and I hope you run into some interesting people...