Interview: Bruno Goncalves

Posted: November 27, 2014 in Interviews, Sci-Fi
Tags: , , , , ,

Descent Into Mayhem

I got an opportunity to talk to author Bruno Goncalves about a wide range of topics (you should expect nothing less) recently.  He just released a new book Descent Into Mayhem back in September with a sequel in the works.  You can find it on Amazon (click here).  I had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit about his family history in South Africa and Portugal.  Actually, I skimmed his words while dreaming about Charlize Theron, but he was none the wiser.  We covered everything from life experiences, to theories on sushi, to an epic historical calculus battle.  You can find his contact info and social networking pages at the bottom of the interview. 

Will:  Tell me a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Family? What kinds of things do you guys do together?

Bruno:  I come from a big family. When I mean big, I mean it begins in Whales and ends presently in Gauteng, Johannesburg, with a few stops in between. The reasons for this have to do with our family history. Not the History, mind you, since we can trace our roots back to the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal. More recently, though, there was a time we were all concentrated (sans me, of course, I was a project in my father’s “inventory” at the time) in Angola, working in artistic ceramics. Then war broke out and my father and uncles spent some time in uniform. And then civil war broke after the country’s independence and my parents had to get out of Dodge quick!

This is why I was born in Portugal and not the semi-desert of southern Angola. However, some of my family had settled in South Africa and that’s where we went next. (My clan’s always had a thing for Africa…).

Many years later I live in Portugal with my own family but we still have a habit of getting together on important occasions. We call it the gypsy gathering; that’s what keeps our family bonds neatly tied.

Will:  Tell me about one of your books. What’s it about? How’d you get the idea? What do you love about it?

Bruno:  I became a police officer seven years ago. Taking up the profession meant I was sentenced to five to fifteen years of hard labor in the capital, Lisbon, before I could ever hope of being transferred someplace else. I ended up in a small room two floors above my precinct with no television, no internet and no radio. But I did have my laptop! After a few months on the job, what had at first been an exciting new job had decayed into boredom (it happens with most jobs, I think). I’d get of duty, walk up two flights of stairs, take off my uniform and then… what? I was bored to a near-zombie state. I knew pretty much no-one there and I’m not the type to go looking for those odd things called friends. So I began to write after the fashion of Harry Potter (I know, I know, a cop liking Harry Potter? Eeeeew). To be fair it was a sort of post-apocalyptic fan-fiction, but it occupied my time. I quickly found that organizing a book was just as important as writing it. After a while I gave up.

But about a year later I gained an internet connection (yay!) and discovered anime. I also fell in love with the mecha/mobile suit genre and military sci-fi. I slowly gravitated towards a story, a simple story about a young colonist in search of adventure who, oddly enough, gets more than he bargained for. This seed of an idea eventually became “Descent into Mayhem”. The book has everything I love about military sci-fi: military lore, action, weaponry, intrigue, coming-of-age.

The thing I most love about it? There are parts of the book where I read passages and know where the words came from, but other parts are a mystery… The first part drags along somewhat, I couldn’t find a better way for the story to develop, but the second half is pure action. I impressed myself because I didn’t know I had it in me.

Will:  What’s your take on sushi? Personally, I think it’s ok, I mean I like it. But I think people get way too excited about it. What are your thoughts?

Bruno:  There are those who pretend to like sushi and there are those who love them! I belong to the second group. Only the Japanese would create meals in bite-sized chunks! (I’ll probably get some heat over this statement, I know…). The first time I ate sushi was when, after jiu-jutsu training with my army buddies and a few guests, we went over to a captain’s home (European jiu-justu under 64-kilo champion, 2004) to watch violent movies and eat sushi like real men. After all, we had a bonafide Japanese person with us! We put the poor guy to work but it was soon clear he didn’t know the first thing about sushi. We were shocked! Then the captain took over and I began to get my first bites. I wasn’t too impressed at the time. I think I was one of those “pretend to like sushi” kind of guys at the time. That’s since changed.

Will:  What genres do you like to write? Why? How would you describe your writing style?

Bruno:  Invariably I gravitate towards science-fiction. I like horror, though every time I get into writing in the genre I tend to veer off into gore. Probably has something to do with my personal experiences, I think.

My writing style’s what worries me most at this time. I’m confident in my ability to come up with good, exciting stories and direct action and narrative in them, but it’s my style that’s lacking. I’ve been living in Portugal for twenty years now, and the way I articulate words in my head has suffered influence from the Portuguese language. This happens to the point where my sentence structures can be Portuguese-style without me noticing! I’m probably one of those writers who need a good writing coach or editor (of course, I can’t afford either…).

I can only hope that my continued efforts to improve will bring me back to the level of English I enjoyed before coming over here.

Will:  I saw on your Amazon bio that you studied physics engineering. Impressive. Who would win in a fight, Newton or Leibniz? Winner takes the calculus title.

Bruno:  I should tell you I never finished the course… That’s one of my greatest regrets. But the dispute between Newton and Leibniz over who developed calculus first had reached my attention. History seems to have leaned on Newton’s side in the dispute, but Leibniz’s method of notation, which I used in varsity to the point of hating that cursed ∫, dominates calculus today.

Who won? Whenever someone today is having trouble with their calculus studies, who do they curse? Newton or Leibniz? There’s your answer for you…

Will:  I’m an American who has never been off the continent. What are Portugal and South Africa like? Have you traveled many other places? Do you think it shows in your writing?

Bruno:  I fell in love with South Africa as I grew up there. I lived on a farm about ten kilometers outside Rustenburg. The land is known as the Highveld (savanna-type region) and that’s what I considered normal. After that we moved a lot. I’ve lived in Cape Town (more temperate) and Durban (verging on the sub-tropical). I’ve visited the highlands of Lesotho (Cold!) and the Kalahari and Namib desert in Namibia when it was still called South-West Africa (the land of burning sand). I even spent about three months living in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) when my father was working there in an import-export company. We had a driver/bodyguard, two pistols and three gas-guns (similar to today’s pepper-spray), but even that didn’t stop us from getting the hell out of there when revolution broke out.

Portugal is Warm Europe, and an excellent place for holidays. There are no bullets to dodge, no robbers to chop off your fingers to get to the rings, and comparatively little hate (although if you’re not careful pickpockets will lift your wallet in our Lisbon metro in the blink of an eye. Then you will know hate!)

Do my experiences show in my writing? Not directly, I think. But the direction my current story has taken and the politics involved (escalating in nature) are perhaps a result of my notion that beneath the mask of peace there’s always turmoil. That is Africa.

Will:  Do you have any books you’re currently working on? Can you give us a sneak peek at what they’re about?

Bruno:  I’m currently into chapter sixteen of my sequel to Descent into Mayhem. It’s called Tears of Gliese, and there’s plenty more action and intrigue to be found there. I’ve found that this one’s pretty much writing itself. I’ve been pretty ambitious with the book and tried to have it ready for publishing by the beginning of December. I now know I was kidding myself; I can’t see it hitting Amazon anytime before mid-December.

Big thanks to Bruno for taking the time to talk and he’s always welcome back.

Bio:  I was born in Portugal but have twelve years of growing up in South Africa under my belt.
I studied physics engineering in the university of Coimbra.
I then did what any sane person would do: I joined the army.
I spent five years in the Portuguese armed forces. In retrospective, it probably did more good to me than three years at varsity. Like a mule’s kick to the head, sometimes one gets some sense knocked into him.
I work as a Police officer by day now, but at night I write and read.
My greatest enemy: Television. And Youtube. Especially the funny cat videos. That’ll distract me from my writing in an instant.
On the other hand, Youtube also has some serious epic music for inspiration!

If you want to connect with Bruno online you can do so here:

Twitter: click here

Facebook: click here

 

Comments
  1. Ian D. Moore says:

    Interesting interview, great to see ordinary writers being given the chance to get both their work, and a little about their lives out there. We all know about the high profile authors and yet, there are so many brilliant writers out there who remain unknown and unheard of. Well done Will!!

    Like

  2. alfgon@sapo.pt says:

    Will, I know I said this before but thanks a bunch for this. If you ever need anything give me a shout!

    Bruno.

    Citando WILL MARCK :

    > Will Marck posted: ” I got an opportunity to talk to author Bruno > Goncalves about a wide range of topics (you should expect nothing less) > recently.  He just released a new book Descent Into Mayhem back in > September with a sequel in the works.  You can find it on Amazon (c” > >

    Liked by 1 person

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