Interview with W.M. Bunche, author of “Mercy’s First Semester”

How important is research to you when writing a book?

Very important. I am a history buff so research is at the top of my writing process.  I consider myself a student who is constantly seeking knowledge.

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

Pen and computer combination. I always carry a notepad for new stories or mere observations of life.  I end up typing on the computer.  If I don’t have either, I text my information to my email and copy the information once I get back to my computer.

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

Probably around sixth grade.  My confidence that I could write solidified about 10 years ago.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I read daily whether its non-fiction or current events.  I have an eclectic taste for writers.  At the top of my list are James Baldwin, Gabriel García Márquez, Annie Proulx, Tobias Wolff, Junot Diaz, Joan Didion.

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

Mercy’s Firs Semester has been stewing for several years.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

How the author takes me the reader into his or her space.  If the author makes me feel for the characters and places me in their world, I am walking in the author’s world.  He/she now has my ear.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Depends on the character and how I connect with the character(s) in the situation of the story.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Yes. Typically, I ask myself what would I do in a certain circumstance.  I then step away and let the character respond.  Sometimes the character and I think alike.  Often, we have diverse reactions.  But rarely are the character’s motivations and mine the same.

Do you have a daily habit of writing?

No.  Some days I write.  Some days I research.  Some days I marinate on the story line and feel how the story will evolve before picking up the pen.

What do you do in your free time?

I love to watch movies with my family or travel.  I love new experiences.

Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?

Yes I try to record the experiences ASAP.  Whether its by pen, cell phone texting or emailing to myself until I’m able to sit at a computer, I do my best to capture the thought as it happens.

Have you ever written a character based on the real you in some part?

Yes.  In Mercy’s First Semester, Mercy is part me. So is Scott.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

I’m juggling a series and a collection of short stories about life in a law firm.

When can the readers expect your next book in print?

Hopefully, September.  But if the book is not ready, then I’ll re-set a date.

How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?

Once I had an instructor, who loved to listen to Elvis while he wrote. I had another instructor who listened to the blues.  I thought both were a bit crazy.  However, some characters I have written about seem to have earned their own theme music in my head.  So when I think about the characters, I may replay a song or two to place myself in the character’s head.

Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

No.  I write anywhere and anytime.  Subway, bathroom, restaurant, beach.  As long as I have an idea and a writing utensil, I write.

What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book?

Off the top of my head, I have a few:  Lord of the Rings; The Godfather; Heart of Darkness, No Country For Old Men.

Do you have a library at home?

Yes. I’m trying to downsize but its hard to decide which books can go.

If you could live anywhere in the world, which country would you choose and why?

USA because of its freedom.  But I also love Costa Rica and Ecuador because of their biodiversity, wildlife and multiple climates.  I also love the diverse cultures.

Often, we are stuck in situations that we are not able to find a way out of. Have you ever incorporated a real life situation from your own experience into the book and made the character find a way out of it the way you could not?

There is a recurring dream that I have never understood its significance.  In the dream, I am freefalling (semi-hang gliding) and not being able to control my direction or speed.  The wind is whistling in my ears and I can my shirt is flapping almost like a parachute.  However, I never ever land.  I have been working on this story for years.  I’m still deciding on how I’m going to land and where I will be.  Maybe the dream is a metaphor for my undetermined future.  We shall see.

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