The Devil & Pastor Gus by Roger Bruner

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 | 11 comments

The Devil & Pastor Gus by Roger Bruner

My guest this week is Roger Bruner, author of The Devil and Pastor Gus. I know you will enjoy meeting him and hearing about his writing. Enter to win a copy of The Devil and Pastor Gus via the Rafflecopter at the end of the interview! 

 

 

Fabulous Fridays

Welcome Roger! I always enjoy hearing how authors got their start. Please tell us something about yourself and how you started writing.

Fair enough, Norma. I always enjoy talking about how I got my start. Although I’ve written different kinds of things almost my whole life—songs, poetry, monologues and short plays, a few short stories—I didn’t start writing novels until I was downsized from the company I’d planned to stay at until retirement. I ended up on the register at Target to make ends meet, but that was only part-time. For the first time in my life I had time to write a novel—something I’d always wanted to do but thought I’d have to wait for retirement to do.

I wrote the first one and then I kept on going. I started attending Christian writers conferences and The Devil & Pastor Gusreading writing books by the dozen. One conference interview with Harvest House led to a friendship with one of their editors, a wonderful gal who loved my writing in spite of the fact that they couldn’t use any of my novels. When I sent her Found in Translation to sample, she ended up getting Mr. Terry Burns for me as an agent. That led to the first two contracts with Barbour Publishing. A definite God-thing, as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

You seem to have a unique mix of humor and inspiration. What inspired The Devil & Pastor Gus?

Many years ago—thirty or more—I wrote a short play called “B.L.Z.” (You can find it on the Read tab at <RogerBruner.com>.) At one point in my novel-writing years I realized that my little play could be grown into something much deeper and more involved, and that’s where The Devil and Pastor Gus originated. I might add that—just as Pastor Gus was obsessed with leaving a legacy—I consider this novel to be the most important one I’ve ever written, no matter what success (or lack thereof) it enjoys.

 

 

I understand you have written other books as well. Tell us a little about your range of subjects.

Oh, my. My first two books were Barbour’s experiment in publishing Young Adult books. They discontinued that line—and my series as well. Pastor Gus is a speculative satire. Of my eight unpublished novels, several are Young Adult, several are women’s/romance, and several are general fiction. Although it’s frustrating to have so many unpublished manuscripts, I don’t consider any of them to be unimportant. If nothing else, they were good writing exercises.

 

 

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

 In Pastor Gus’s case, quite a bit. I’m not a preacher, but I am a Preacher’s Kid, and that gave me a lot of insight. As I mentioned a few minutes ago, Gus and I are both obsessed—me less than him—with leaving a worthy legacy. And he and I both share a crazy sense of humor. I would say I write a fair amount of myself into the protagonists of my other books, but not always.

 

 

How did you weave a spiritual thread through The Devil & Pastor Gus without being preachy?

(laughing) Ah, thank you for assuming I didn’t get preachy. This book is highly spiritual, and it took a lot of effort to have a committed Christian like Pastor Gus become desperate enough to sell his soul to the Devil. Without giving anything away, suffice it to say Gus failed to rely heavily enough on God at a time when things looked hopeless, and he has to live with the consequences of his decision.

At one particular point near the end of the book, Pastor Gus is very pointedly preachy. Literally. His sermon is aimed at the Devil. I dare not reveal more.

 

 

How would you like to inspire your readers?

As I so often say in signing a book, “May this story both bless and entertain you.” If the story isn’t compelling, the inspiration may get stuck in neutral. My books are generally geared more towards Christians than to non-believers, and I want to help them grow in their walk as Christians. As often as not, I’m also preaching the same messages to myself.

 

 

What are three things that have had the most influence on your writing process?

Learning that contemporary novels are quite different from the ones I studied in college (graduated 1968) and realizing I needed to adjust.  Learning that self-publishing isn’t an option unless a writer can afford a good editor and a good cover designer. Learning that they aren’t kidding when they say authors are responsible for their marketing, not their publishers.

 

 

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

I’d like to believe that my sense of humor and my understanding of human nature (having lived 68 years has its advantages) work together to make my voice unique. I’m not consciously influenced by any other author, even though I have a number of favorites. I just enjoy being myself. Maybe that’s the one thing that by virtue of the definition of “unique” makes my style unique.

 

 

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

Playing my guitar, taking pictures, and playing Words with Friends with my wife, Kathleen. We sit at opposite ends of the sofa with our individual Kindles to do that. Of course, church activities play a major role in both of our lives, but I’m careful—even in retirement—not to over commit my time, no matter how worthwhile a project might look.

 

 

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

 Hmm. Good one. I was born in Miami, while my father was in his first pastorate in Hollywood, FL. I used to own a ferret; boy, do they stink if not bathed regularly. I programmed the original “pop clock” at the International Mission Board website.

 

 

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

James Scott Bell looked at the first page of Found in Translation and said, “Roger, you didn’t even start with a scene.” That resulted in my cutting the first fifty pages and writing a new beginning. The original never would have sold or had a chance to impact other lives.

 

 

Please give us the book blurb.

B.L.ZeBubb became the laughingstock of Heaven when he failed to win Pastor Gus Gospello’s soul years earlier. He’s determined to succeed this time.

Gus is obsessed with leaving a legacy—a satire making fun of B.L.ZeBubb’s foolish pride. He feigns friendship with the Devil to learn back story for his novel.

When B.L.ZeBubb discovers that he’s being used, he starts wrecking Gus’s life in every imaginable way and ultimately tricks him into willingly signing a contract for his soul.

Gus has some tricks up his sleeve, though. But the Devil is still the Devil, and Gus has no guarantee of success. Who knows where he’ll go when he dies?

 

 

Please share the beginning of your novel with us.

 Prologue

“Good day, my man.” The stranger might have been addressing the doorman at the finest of five-star hotels back on earth and not Heaven’s renowned gatekeeper, who leaned closer to the bars of Heaven’s outer gate to get a better look. “I have an appointment with God.”

Simon Peter grabbed the golden clipboard from a nearby stool and glanced over the names on the top sheet. Then he flipped to the second sheet. And the third.

Just as I thought. No new arrivals expected for another eight earth minutes. Nobody shows up here before his appointed time. Ever.

The stranger swaggered to a prominent spot several feet from the outer gate. Peter narrowed his eyes in shock. New arrivals didn’t do that. They stood back a respectful distance, bowed their heads as if they were already in God’s presence, and waited for Peter to call their names.

What was with this guy?

After giving him a discreet once-over, Peter mentally clicked through each of the pictures he’d viewed moments earlier-the next several groups of arrivals. He shook his head. None of them resembled the stranger.

He rubbed his chin and looked at the man. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know who-”

“Call me B.L.ZeBubb,” the stranger said before spelling his surname-twice. “The accent is on the L. Bee-EL-zuh-buhb. Sometimes people misspell it as B-e-e-l-z-e-b-u-b.” He crossed his arms and looked into Peter’s face. “And as I just told you, I have an appointment with God.”

“Bee-EL-zuh-buhb,” Peter said to himself as he wandered over to the computer at the check-in station and typed the name into The Lamb’s Book of Life search field. He double-checked his spelling before clicking Go. If the correct spelling didn’t work, he would try the misspelling.

A blood-red “No matches found. Be on the alert!” exploded across the screen. Peter narrowed his eyes. He’d never seen anything like that.

A message from God popped up on the screen before Peter could finish wondering what to do. “Not a problem, my child. Here’s how I want you to handle this…”

#

Twenty yards into his stroll towards his appointed meeting place with God, B.L.ZeBubb looked back over his shoulder. Peter was still watching. And laughing his fool head off.

“This is what I think of you, Simon Peter.” His eyes glowed red as he spit, and the saliva sizzled as soon as it hit the mud and burned straight through to…wherever.

Even though God had long been his worst enemy, B.L.ZeBubb deserved better treatment than this. The very thought of His refusing to grant a visitor’s pass or to speak to him in person. Unwarranted.

But making him walk halfway around Heaven’s outer wall to talk with God on an intercom? Preposterous. He almost turned around to leave. But this mission was too crucial to his well-being to give up on.

He walked only a few yards further before one foot slid out from under him. He barely caught himself in time to keep from landing in…mud. Conditions ahead appeared worse. He looked this way and that for a way around the bog only to discover that Heaven’s foundation extended a mere five or six feet outside the wall, and that part was completely mud-covered now.

An immediate drop—probably bottomless—surrounded the foundation’s outer perimeter.

Why hasn’t God installed warning signs and guardrails? Especially to protect someone as important as I am?

The closer the path came to the edge, the more often B.L.ZeBubb lost his footing.

He glared at the mud and sensed that it was glaring back at him. Scuffing his custom calf-high boots through the shallow mire and leaving little toe troughs in his wake, he mumbled a string of the most profane curses he knew. And he knew a lot of them.

He would’ve preferred to shout them at the top of his lungs, but his mission was too important to chance offending God. And these aggravations wouldn’t mean anything once he got what he’d come for.

“I won’t be satisfied until I have Gus Gospello’s soul,” he muttered. “And every bit of my lost respect.”

He snorted like an unbroken colt and clenched his fists. He wanted to shake them in God’s face, but that would cost him his case before he could present it. It would also mean losing his balance and falling down in the mud—and possibly sliding over the edge.

Ugh. He shook his head.

After rolling his pant legs up just above his hairy knees, he slipped off one boot and-balancing awkwardly on the other leg-peeled off a sock that matched his flames-and-pitchforks necktie. He almost fell backward into the mire before he could get the second boot and sock off and leave them standing Satan-less near the edge. As he worked his way closer to the wall, the mud oozed and squished between his toes.

It was cold. Oh, so cold. After thousands of years in a much warmer climate, he couldn’t stand anything that wasn’t superhot.

His movements slowed. The mud had grown deep enough to bog his steps down with a distinctive, suck-sounding thlurp each time he lifted a bare foot to move forward. He proceeded that way for several minutes, each an eternity longer than the one before, before he spotted a waterfall washing—no, flooding—the way ahead.

The outlet from Heaven’s central heating and air conditioning system. He’d once gotten into big trouble by turning the heat up all the way as a practical joke. Maybe that’s where God got the idea for Hell.

Sounded like a God-thing.

Grrr. Something small, silvery, and cylindrical sat on the mud at the base of the wall, where his chances of avoiding an ongoing drenching ranged from nil to zero. That must be the place.

After thlurpping closer, B.L.ZeBubb grabbed the empty can, pulled the handwritten note out, and held it up to the light that spilled over Heaven’s wall.

 

About the author:

Roger BrunerRoger Bruner worked as a teacher, job counselor, and programmer analyst before retiring to pursue his dream of writing Christian fiction full-time. He sings in the church choir, plays bass guitar on the praise team, and participates in the weekly nursing home ministry. He enjoys reading, writing songs and playing his guitar, web design, mission trips, photography, and spending time with his wonderful wife, Kathleen. Roger’s new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, has just released. Two Young Adult novels, Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams, came out in 2011. He’s also published a small book of his short older works, Yesterday’s Blossoms. Eight completed novel manuscripts are waiting to be discovered by some discriminating acquisitions editor.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Website: RogerBruner.com

Facebook Author Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roger-Bruner-author/251304258214743?ref=bookmarks

Pinterest: rogerbruner

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101208883289803245154/posts

Goodreads: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101208883289803245154/posts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RogerBruner

Other: OnAgingGracelessly.com (blog)

             AsIComeSinging.wordpress.com (blog)

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11 Comments

  1. The battle between good and evil/right versus wrong is a constant, I am curious to see if and how Pastor Gus prevails.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Felicia! The Raffkecopter seems to be up and running now too!

  2. Fighting with the devil. What an intriguing idea for a book. Would love a copy of my own to read. Thank you for this wonderful interview.

    • Thanks for stopping by Robin! You are such a faithful reader! I appreciate you!

  3. Felicia and Robin, thanks for those wonderful comments. I can’t tell you anymore without giving away the rest of the story, but (yes, I know I’m prejudiced) I think it’s a compelling read. You might be interested in reading the reviews at RogerBruner.com/Reviews.shtml. Those will probably whet your appetites even more. *big grin* The best to both of you.

  4. Sounds like an interesting plot.

    • Thanks, drpuzzle. I’ve been told people really like some of those unexpected twists and turns.

    • Thanks for commenting!

  5. How fun! I can see how your stories would do well on stage too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Nan!

    • Thank you, Nan. I can easily see Pastor Gus as a movie. This book is fun, but it has a number of serious moments. I can almost promise that it will make a reader both laugh and cry.

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