The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Bruno Lombardi
Stacey – Hi Bruno, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?
Bruno – Thanks for having me!
I was born and raised in Montreal but currently living in Ottawa.
As for a bit about myself – remember that guy in university who everyone agreed was really bright but was also really, really unfocused? The guy who could get straight B’s in courses by writing a 15 page paper the night before it was due but couldn’t get an A no matter how hard he tried? The guy who switched his major more often than most people switch jobs? The perennial ‘professional student’?
Yeah—that was pretty much me during most of the 90’s.
It wasn’t a complete loss, mind you; I ended up with a double major in psychology and anthropology, with a certificate in addiction studies thrown in for good measure. I also ended up with an amazing collection of friends, as well as an equally amazing collection of stories and adventures.
After bouncing around in the ‘real world’ for a while, I ended up by pure dumb luck getting a job working as a civil servant for the Canadian government in September 2001. Been working in various positions in the civil service since then.
Stacey – When did you start writing?
Bruno – I’ve been writing fictional short stories for seemingly forever – I recently rediscovered an absolutely unreadable science-fiction story I wrote almost thirty-five years ago back in high school – and I’ve been regaling friends and family since my university days with my many misadventures that often sounds comically fictional. They even came up with a term to describe them – “Bruno-esque” stories.
It was weird having your name become an adjective in your twenties.
But it’s only been since 2012 or so that I’ve actually become published. My writing career seems to have taken off quite a bit since then, with one published novel and almost two dozen published short stories since then.
Stacey – What genres do you write in and what drew you to them?
Bruno – When I was a kid, my sister had a large collection of Amazing Stories, Analog, Fantastic Stories and other magazines of that nature, as well as a collection of Ray Bradbury anthologies. When she moved away to university in the late 70’s, I inherited all her stuff. That was pretty much my mainstay reading material for most of the 1980’s. Thirty plus years later, I still have some of those magazines on a shelf on my bookcase.
I suppose, as a result of that eclectic upbringing, I have an eclectic collection of genres I like to write in. Most of my stories are science-fiction, but I’ve done urban fantasy, horror and even a bit of alternate history.
Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?
Bruno – That moment when a vague idea that has been bouncing around your head finally catches fire and the story that you didn’t know you had in you comes out.
Stacey – What scares you?
Bruno – Believe it or not, people. Or more precisely, interacting with them. I love people-watching and it’s one of my favorite activities while eating out. Interacting with them, however? Scares the crap out of me.
Oddly enough, despite being very shy and introvert, I tend to attract the oddest collection of people towards me.
Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?
Bruno – Everywhere, to be honest. Inspiration for some of my stories have come from nightmares, but a few others have come from watching my cat’s behavior or just people-watching. Some were inspired by an oddly worded sentence or observation that someone pointed out to me. It happens so often to me that when people ask me ‘What inspires you?’, I feel the need to respond ‘What doesn’t inspire me?’.
Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?
Bruno – Aside from Ray Bradbury as mentioned earlier, two major influences are Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. If the 1980’s consisted of me devouring of all those old magazines, the 90’s consisted of me plowing through everything they wrote.
Stacey – What’s your writing process like?
Bruno – When I sit down, I usually have a vague idea of what the story is going to be like. Not in crystal clear details, like some writers, but more like broad overall strokes. Then I just keep at it. More often than not, I get surprised by how the story develops, with a scene or even the ending being completely different from how I initially imagined them.
Stacey – What was the first story you had published?
Bruno – ‘A Thursday Night in Doctor What’s Time and Relative Dimensional Space Bar and Grill’ in The Temporal Element anthology in 2013. Believe it or not, it missed out at being the story with the longest title by just one word. The premise of the story revolves a bar filled with time-travelers – who end up complaining about all the unsuccessful times they tried to kill Hitler.
Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?
Bruno – Quite a few! I think quite a few writers end up treating some of their characters like old friends. They deserve a good revisit. There are a few characters in some of my published works that I think deserve to be revisited as well – if only I could come up with a suitable story for them.
Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?
Bruno – Quite a few. I don’t remember the names of most of them, to be honest, either the title or the author’s name. I suppose my brain decided that it’s too busy with so much other stuff that it doesn’t have the time to keep track of stuff like that. But I do remember the reason why I couldn’t finish them: the main characters were just too unreadable. Too annoying, too dumb, too Mary Sue-ish – the reasons were different, but the end result was the characters that the author wanted me to invest in ere characters I really didn’t care about. When you’re rooting for the villains rather than the heroes, you messed up somewhere.
Stacey – What’s the last Horror movie/tv show you watched?
Bruno – Despite the fact that I must have seen the movie at least a dozen times, I always watch The Thing whenever it comes across my tv screen. I did that a few weeks ago.
Probably a mistake to have watched it at one AM though…
Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?
Bruno – Just like every kid, I went through a big ‘dinosaur freak’ phase. Unlike most kids though, I never really outgrew that phase, so I would love to go back to that time period and just observe them—hopefully without ending up in someone’s stomach, of course!
Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?
Bruno – Neil Gaiman said it best and I’ll repeat his words here:
“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked… that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
Words to live by, indeed.
Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
Bruno – Currently working on one story tentatively titled ‘All Dreams; Reasonably Priced & No Refunds’:
Ten tons of raw, pure dreams and aspirations were in the shape of a perfect cube of white stone three feet to the side.
There were three such cubes in the railway freight car.
“Never seen one that colour before,” said the thin man in black.
“Oh?” replied Detective Yulia Zorya. She had been with Pinkerton for three years now and this was the longest sentence that the thin man had spoken in her presence in the last six months. And that last time was precisely seven words long – “Shame about Roosevelt getting assassinated by Zangara”.
A nod and a grunt was the thin man in black’s response. After a few seconds, he felt the need to modulate this response further, which he did with a shrug. It was a full minute before Zorya realized that nothing more was forthcoming, so, as usual, she took up the rest of the conversation.
“You made sure this delivery is totally off the books?” A nod. “Everything secured at the other end?” Another nod. “Just two of us agents?” A third nod. “This is going to be a pain in the ass.” A fourth and final nod.
“C’mon – let’s go. We gotta keep our cover.”
The Pioneer Zephyr had originally been designed as a promotional tool by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. In May of 1934 – about seven months after The Change – it made a ‘Dawn to Dusk’ dash from one end of the CB&Q railroad line to the other. The train had left Denver at just after seven in the morning and arrived in Chicago just after eight in the evening – a non-stop thousand mile ride done at an astounding average speed of 77 mph.
It was such a success – both from a promotional and financial aspect – that the public demanded that it be kept as a regular train. And since one of the members of the public was President Garner – well, what choice did they have?
CB&Q – having a better than average promotional department – quickly seized on the idea of naming their two trains after mythological gods and goddesses. One was called (naturally enough) “The Train of the Gods” and the passenger cars were named Apollo, Cupid, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, and Vulcan. The other trainset was known as “The Train of the Goddesses” and the cars were named Ceres, Diana, Juno, Minerva, Psyche, Venus and Vesta.
Today’s train was The Train of the Goddesses and Yulia’s seat was in the Psyche car, something that she took as an unnecessarily bad omen, under the circumstances.
Yulia took her seat, while the thin man in black walked to the next car. As she settled into her seat, she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye.
It was Alex Newsome (“Of the Beacon Hill Newsomes”), a moderately wealthy (and extremely annoying, in Yulia’s expert opinion) dandy from Boston. He was in Colorado for unspecified and vague reasons but he was happy to drone on and on about his hobbies, which included bird-watching, golf, theatre, opera and genealogy.
At the moment he had cornered a poor unfortunate elderly gentleman and going in great detail about Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. As he was doing so, he was filling his pipe with shredded dreamstone. Yulia barely suppressed a smirk; Newsome was using black dreamstone, the lowest quality imaginable. The pipe Newsome was using was worth more than the dreamstone he was currently stuffing into it. At best, all black dreamstone would do is give you a relaxing sleep with a few vaguely interesting dreams. Sure – a dream is a dream and even vaguely interesting dreams was, nevertheless, an important luxury – but black dreamstone? Apparently Mr. Newsome’s family fortune was not quite as large as he let on.
Thank you so much for your time Bruno!