Interview: Bruce Fottler

Posted: November 30, 2014 in Interviews, Sci-Fi
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Paladin's Odyssey

Bruce Fottler is the author of Paladin’s Odyssey (buy it here on Amazon)a sci-fi pandemic thriller that I have not read; however, that kick-ass cover art is calling my name.  Look at it, it’s begging to be read.  Oh, if my list weren’t so long I could get to it sooner.  In the meantime, Bruce agreed to answer my questions about his book (among other things).  True to form, I also asked him unrelated but important questions.  We talked about equity valuations, how to skate internal controls and defraud multi-national corporations, and the art of toilet paper roll replacement.  Here’s how it went down:

Will: Tell me about yourself.  Something that’s not in your bio.  Where did you grow up?  What types of things do you enjoy outside of writing?

Bruce:  First, I want to thank you for this interview opportunity, and I appreciate your willingness to do this for us indie authors. I can imagine that it takes a lot of time and effort on your part.

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago called Glen Ellyn. When I was 14, my family moved to the Boston area because my father got a new job there. I remember looking forward to the move because I was getting bored of where I had been living. So in 1979 we headed to our new home in Lexington – the birthplace of American liberty. It was a suburb similar to Glen Ellyn, but it turned out to be a tough transition for me. The culture was different and the kids were pretty rough on anyone new. It took me a couple of years to settle in and things eventually got better.

Oh, and despite living in such a historically rich town that people from all over the world visit, I never once took a tour. In fact, I never woke up early on a Patriots Day to watch the battle green reenactment, but I played a lot of Ultimate Frisbee on that battle green.

My days of playing Ultimate are long over and it’s been many years since I’ve lived in Lexington. However, I try to stay active. I think I put a couple of thousand miles on my bike this year.

Will:  Paladin’s Odyssey…looks interesting.  Where’d you get the idea for it?  Tell me why my readers should read it instead of another book in the same genre.

Bruce:  I suppose (in part) I consider it my anti-zombie treatise. I don’t necessarily hate the zombie genera, but I think it’s been way overdone. It’s the same as vampires, wizards, and dragons. Ugh, enough already!

But it’s mostly inspired by something I’d often think about after watching whatever end-of-the-world movie over the past couple of decades. I’d always wonder what would really do us in? What would bring the system down? What would it be like in the aftermath?

Out of all the scenarios I’ve seen or thought about, it’s a global pandemic that seemed most plausible. In particular, the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 fascinated me. They call it the forgotten pandemic and it killed over 50 million people worldwide. That’s a staggering number of deaths for that era, and it amazed me that something that quick and devastating didn’t unravel the civilized world. Keep in mind that many countries were already in the thick of World War One, so there was already death and destruction on a scale never seen before – and yet the world seemed to shrug off the pandemic like it was a speed-bump in history.

This got me wondering if today’s world would be able to handle a similar outbreak. We live in a time when a well-timed bad earnings report could tank the New York Stock Market, or worse, a few terrorists could hijack an airplane and bring the world to a standstill. Recently, a couple of U.S. Ebola cases touched off a media frenzy that had our country in a tizzy. Can the world really handle something on a much larger scale when we all seem primed to panic over something relatively smaller?

I suppose I’m pessimistic about the current state of our culture. I’m afraid I’d have to conclude that we’ve become too infected by narcissism, which I think will be the underlying condition that tips the scales against us in the face of calamity.

But don’t despair. While I think It’ll do a lot of damage, I don’t think it’s necessary fatal. “Paladin’s Odyssey” reflects this. It has a good, optimistic conclusion.

Will:  I read in your bio that you’re a finance guy.  What’s your favorite equity valuation method?  You’re a discounted cash flow guy aren’t you?  It’s ok, you can admit it here. (I should have warned him I’m a tax accountant by day before asking the finance questions, but it wouldn’t be as much fun)

Bruce:  (Laughs) Sorry, I wasn’t doing that kind of finance. I managed treasury and credit – which means I handled and kept track of every penny that came in and out of the company, totaling millions of dollars on a daily basis.  I also evaluated potential customers and suppliers to make sure they could pay their bills (or wouldn’t go out of business next week).

If I ever went AWOL, the first thing people would check was the bank accounts, and then non-extradition countries. But seriously, despite this cliche, it would’ve been nearly impossible for me to do that. Not that I thought about it much (no, really), but there are too many processes and safeguards in place to prevent someone from easily looting a company. Trust me, even if I could, there’s NEVER near enough money to make it worth the attempt. Hey, maybe I’ll write a novel about that someday.

Will:  What’s your favorite book of all time?  If you were stranded on an island, what’s the one book you would take?

Bruce:  If I ever got stranded on an Island with only one book, I’d probably start swimming to avoid dying of boredom.

Will:  The most important question of this interview by far.  It could make or break things for you.  When you change the roll of toilet paper in your bathroom, do you go over the top or underneath with the end of the roll?

Bruce:  That’s easy – over the top. What can I say? My wife trained me well.

Will:  What other hobbies do you have?  In your Goodreads bio it says you used to direct, write, and produce short films.  What was/is that like?

Bruce:  Way back in high school, my buddy and I used to make films with his Super-8mm camera. We were nicknamed “Lucas and Spielberg.” I thought for sure we’d someday head to Hollywood to make the next summer blockbuster. But sadly, for every future Lucas and Spielberg, there are hundreds of hopefuls that never make it.

So I continued to dabble in film production by making film shorts. It’s a very involved process that takes careful planning. Sadly, a good deal of our effort was spent developing scripts based on what little we could actually do from budgetary, location, acting, and technological standpoints. I often found myself frustrated over the many limitations we faced. That’s why writing appeals to me. As a film director, I felt my storytelling potential was always constricted. As a writer, it’s like working with limitless resources to tell any story I want. I write stories as though they are films that I dream of directing.

Will:  In your opinion, what are your strongest and weakest points in your writing?  Prose, dialogue, pacing, etc.?

Bruce:  Prose has always been my strong point. Writing good dialog is tough. Nothing will kill a scene faster than stilted dialog.

So there you have it, with my tax and accounting expertise and Bruce’s advanced knowledge of corporate cash procedures and electronic banking, we are basically one computer hacker away from being able to send our mortal enemies into financial ruin, or at least materially damage their credit scores.

I can’t thank Bruce enough for answering my questions and I wish him the best of luck.  Be sure to pick up a copy of Paladin’s Odyssey and share his book on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media accounts.  Help get a fellow indie writer some exposure and hopefully some extra sales.  You can find Bruce’s bio and social networking links below to keep track of all of his past, current, and future projects.

Bio:  Since exiting a finance career in a world of cubicles, Bruce Fottler has been busy writing novels. His latest is the post-apocalyptic thriller: “Paladin’s Odyssey.”

Bruce grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved to the Boston area as a young teen. While seeking a career-track that mostly put him behind a desk, he dabbled in creative pursuits such as producing, writing, and directing film shorts. However, it was always writing novels that interested him the most because they aren’t limited by production budgets, technical capabilities, or tight shooting schedules.

Bruce has three other published novels: “Chasing Redemption” (Sci-fi thirller), “Dover Park” (Mystery), and “The Juncture” (Time-travel drama).

Facebook page for Paladin’s Odyssey: click here

Goodreads page for Paladin’s Odyssey: click here

Goodreads page for Bruce: click here


  1. JC Wardon says:

    I always enjoy knowing what goes on in the minds of other authors of fiction. And other than his disdain for the paranormal genre (which some of us strive to make totally different from what’s been done before), I thought it an excellent interview. Congrats and best wishes to you both.


  2. Bruce Fottler says:

    Thanks again for the interview, Wil. I really didn’t mean to give the impression that I have a disdain for the paranormal genre. I have a general liking for it, and I’m even a “Walking Dead” fan. I meant to say that it can get worn-out with the proliferation of all the novels/movies/TV shows over the past few years. But I suppose that can be true of any genre.


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