Interview with Bart J. Gilbertson

Posted on September 14, 2013


Today I am bringing you the talented Bart J. Gilbertson!

  Bart J. Gilbertson

Do you write under any other names? 

Not currently, though a pseudonym may be in my future.

What are you currently working on?

A collection of 4 short stories in a soon-to-be-released for kindle only book titled “Wax Hypnotic …and Other Tales From Beyond”.  This will border on the paranormal, not what readers of “Deathbed & Breakfast” might expect.  But a great read nonetheless!

Also, the 2nd in the Pookotz Mystery Series is underway!

I have ideas for other, standalone novels as well.

How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles?

I currently have one book published through Cozy Cat Press titled “Deathbed & Breakfast“, released in July of this year.
Deathbed and Breakfast

What inspired you to write your first book?

Well, to be fair, my first book was not “Deathbed & Breakfast” though it was my first published book.  The first book I actually wrote was an epic fantasy novel titled “The Diadems of Wanoka”.  It was done in the vein of your classic fantasy story complete with elves, dwarves and humans.  It was handwritten into a spiral notebook.  It was inspired by the writings of authors I was reading at the time such as Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony and Lloyd Alexander.  More specifically, it was Lloyd Alexander and his Prydain Chronicles which lit the fire under me to want to become a writer myself.  Those were the first books that really fueled my imagination as a reader.  I began to write story after story … and I’ve never looked back.

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?

I write in streaks.  Sometimes, I can hit a zone and be at my keyboard for hours at a time.  Other times, a few sentences, and that’s it.  I also start off spontaneously.  I really don’t know “whodunit” until I am usually about halfway into the manuscript.  Then it just clicks and BOOM!…there it is.  At that point, I being to plot to bring it all together from opening page to closing paragraph.  Yes, I rewrite and edit quite a bit along the way, not including the final edit with my publisher.  I want it to be just right.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?

With “Deathbed & Breakfast”, it was simple really.  I wanted a title that indicated the setting of a Bed & Breakfast.  Done.  I also wanted to imply that going to this particular B&B could be hazardous to your health.  Done.  I wanted it to be kinda catchy and light as well, not too serious.  Done.  But the most important thing to me was, I wanted a title that wasn’t already being used.  Done.  I threw around some titles with my sister, who has been a huge inspiration and motivation to me during the whole process, and after about an hour we came up with this title.

Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?

Not so much a message as a “feeling”.  To me, it is more important to enhance a feeling or emotion through your writing than it is to getting a message out there.  In my books, I want to tickle your funny bone, generate a feeling of warmth and belonging…but at the same time get you caught up in the mystery and maybe even drop your jaw a couple of times.  I want to get you in the end with that one big final “I didn’t see that coming!” twist.  When you close the book for the last time, I want you to have the feeling of wanting to go back again.  To revisit your new friends.  Overall, to make you smile.

How much of the book is realistic/true?

None of it is based in truth.  It is just a figment of my imagination.  The town of Pleasant Lake is fictitious, however, it is based on the real Oregon mountain town of Sisters.  I fell in love with that town and thought to myself “wouldn’t it be great to base a series of cozy mysteries in a town just like this”.  Some of the characters are based on people I’ve known or do know.  As far as realistic, could something like this happen?  I think so.  Research is important, especially if you are going to claim something will happen that doesn’t normally happen in your book.  So yes…I believe that however unlikely it may seem, it is based in reality and could happen.  But then again, this is fiction.

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not in this particular book, no.  I did use the name of a real tavern I used to live next to that had the BEST cheeseburgers…haha!  It was called “Slurp N’ Burp” and I remember loving the name of that place.  So I put it in my book.

What books have most influenced your life most?

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander.  It is a 5 book series that follows the adventures of a young man named Taran and his friends in a classic good vs evil fantasy backdrop.  It was more than that though.  It was also the story of how Taran grew from a boy to man, learning the value of true friendship, honor and self worth along the way.  It came to me at the most perfect time of my life when things like that are crucial to a young person growing up.  It truly inspired me and I will still get those books out and read them at this point in my life.  I have also always been partial to the writings of Wilson Rawls, “Where The Red Fern Grows” and “Summer Of The Monkeys”.  Love those books.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?

I have only really spent personal time with one published author who really helped me when I was first starting to get serious with my own book.  We used to work together on the same shift at a previous job I had.  His name is Matthew John Bailey (or Matt as I used to call him).  His book Don’t Pet The Dingo is a twisted crime noir novel.  He used to help me with a lot of my questions.  How do I do this?  Why should I do that?  When do I try this?  He was very patient with me and helped me considerably.  He was my mentor, I guess you could say.  Other aspiring authors (now published authors) also provided tons of encouragement to me as well.  Tara Majuta (author of The Fascinating Files of Claudia Broadstad) and Karissa King (author of Waking Up).

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading “Sherlock’s Home – The Adventure of the Contentious Crone” by Pamela Rose and thoroughly enjoying it!  She is a natural storyteller.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I’ve received incredible support from George Holm and his outstanding crew down at the O’Neill, NE Dairy Queen.  In fact, I had my Book Release Party and Signing down there and it was a big success!  “Come down and get your favorite blizzard or fruit smoothie and meet local mystery writer, Bart J. Gilbertson to receive your own signed copy of his book, Deathbed & Breakfast.  Now, there is MORE than one reason to visit your favorite Dairy Queen!”  I went in with 40 books and walked out with 1.  I sold 39 of them that day and made some terrific new friends.  Sometimes, it is good to think out of the box and have fun with it!

This is George Holm, the owner of the DQ. He is fantastic to work with, a real good guy…salt of the earth. Thank you George!


This was waiting for me when I arrived!

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?

Hopefully, a career someday!  But never a hobby.  More like a passion.  But I would most definitely LOVE to be a full time writer.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No.  Not one single thing.  I know that over time my skills as a writer will improve and that years from now I may read my first book and wince in parts.  But I wouldn’t trade the experience of it for the world.  It is what I needed to write at this point in my life.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Again, it goes back to my first imagining of the world behind the works of Lloyd Alexander and his Prydain Chronicles.  He truly inspired me to become a writer myself.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Sure!  Here is an excerpt from “Deathbed & Breakfast“.

    After leaving Richard Forester and his granddaughter Penny in their room, Alexis hurriedly made her way downstairs and out the back door.  She walked along the pathway to her quarters with purpose.  In fact, she was so intent on getting to her room that she almost didn’t see the two figures standing to her left down by the water.  She paused for a minute and looked over in their direction.  It was the insurance salesman and the photographer.  It wouldn’t have struck her as curious, except for the fact that they were very animated in their conversation, and it was obvious that they knew each other.  How curious indeed.  She silently moved on before they would see her.  As she approached the servant’s quarters, she could see the light in Felix’s room was turned on.  He was undoubtedly sitting in his recliner listening to rebroadcasts of his favorite shows from yesteryear on the local radio station.  As she passed by his door, she could hear an old episode of “The Shadow” blaring on the other side.
    Alexis opened the door to her room and hastily latched it shut behind her.  She turned on the corner lamp and strode quickly over to her closet.  Opening the door, she snagged a pull chain turning on the light overhead.  She stood on her toes as she reached up and started to sift through the papers and boxes piled up on the shelf above her.  Her hand came to rest on a cardboard shoe box and she hesitated for a brief moment.  Slowly, she pulled the shoe box down off the shelf and brought it over to her bed.  She sat down and removed the lid and taking a deep breath she extracted a folded newspaper and spread it open over her knees.
    “MicaTek CEO Suspected of Embezzling Thousands” read the headline.  Alexis peered at the picture on the front page.  It showed Richard Forester in a very nice suit, coming down some stone steps in front of a courthouse, reporters all around him.  Standing to his right were some MicaTek protesters holding up signs.  Alexis squinted and leaned in closer, looking at the faces under the picket signs.  She stopped with sudden recognition and her eyes grew wide.  It was him.  She knew she was not wrong.
    Standing closest to Richard in the photograph holding a sign that read “An Eye for an Eye” was a man she knew.  He was there at the dinner table tonight.  Alexis smiled and smacked her chewing gum.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Always it’s the very first sentence.  Getting started is the hardest part.  Once I get that first sentence down and get into the flow, I’m good.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Lloyd Alexander.  It’s his ability to reach the heart of his reader which makes him so endearing.  On the surface, it looks like a fantasy novel with swords and sorcery.  But that is just the veneer.  What his books are really about is friendship, growing and becoming a better person.

Who designed the covers of you books?

It was done by Cover Shot Creations through the suggestion of my publisher.  I loved their work so much on “Deathbed & Breakfast” that I also had them design the cover to “Wax Hypnotic”.

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?

The biggest challenge that I mentioned earlier is the first sentence.  But the hardest part of writing is the very last sentence.  I feel sad then.  Like I am saying goodbye to an old friend, because our journey together is done.  However, that is the benefit to writing in a series.  Because then you get to see them again on an all new adventure later on.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write.  Even if you don’t think it’s any good, write anyway.  Write, write, write.  Find your own voice, your own style.  Write for yourself.  And read.  Read other books.  Reading is just as important as writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To all those of you who have read “Deathbed & Breakfast”, I want to thank you!  I have made some great new friends because of the book, and the support has been outstanding.  So, thank you!

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life?

That’s easy.  Not enough time.  Haha!  I wish I had more time to devote to my writing.  Research these days is actually pretty easy with internet.  It’s not like it used to be where you had to travel somewhere, meet with somebody, or go buy or checkout a book on something.  These days, it is all pretty much at your fingertips.  So, yes…more time please.

What character from your writing is your favorite and why?

In “Deathbed & Breakfast” it is Felix Stiffman, the B&B cook.  Because with him, I get to be ornery, obnoxious and loud.  And believe me, I am! (through him) – There is no limits really with him, other than physically.  But I can pretty much spout off anything with Felix and have fun with it.

Additional Information you’d like to share:

Thank you Kristen for the wonderful interview.  I enjoyed it very much!  Please be sure to stop by my posted links, and if you would like to email me, you can do so through my website.  I am usually pretty good about responding.  Thank you to all of you for reading my story.

Stalker Links:

My Website:

Cozy Cat Website:

My FB Author Page:

Pookotz Sisters Mystery FB Page:

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My Goodreads Page:

Cozy Cat FB Page:

Cozy Cat Press

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