Fundraiser ends in character assignation
Bruns' rock 'n' roll heart, and a few game Rotarians, figure in his recent book.
Author Don Bruns, who’s won accolades for his string of whodunits, has taken a page from the sponsorship world to raise money for his Rotary Club of Lima, Ohio, USA – and put fellow Rotarians in the script.
Turning the publisher’s disclaimer “any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental” on its head, Bruns sold “naming rights” to four figures in his mystery St. Barts Breakdown, released last March. The novel concept raised $2,000 for the club and allowed some of the sponsoring Rotarians to show a devilish side of their characters.
“David Steiner, a renowned doctor in our area, wanted to do this for his wife, whom I have known for 30-plus years and who is probably the sweetest lady in Lima, Ohio,” says Bruns. “I turned her into an evil secretary. She was shocked at how evil she was.”
“That was part of the deal – you could describe the character you wanted to be,” says Steiner, who bought the naming rights as a Christmas gift for his wife, Nancy. “We thought it was a great idea and a great fundraiser.”
“I made sure that [the four namesakes] all read the manuscript,” Bruns says, “and they all loved it. At the launch party, people were asking them for their autographs in the book.”
Others who found their way onto the pages of Bruns’ book are Rotarian Bill Timmermeister and his wife, Susan, and Jennifer Koenig, wife of Rotarian Scott Koenig. Bill Timmermeister’s gun collection figures prominently in the story, while Koenig has become a soap opera star hiding from a killer.
“They became real,” Bruns says of the characters. “I decided to give them more than a passing reference. They are integral.”
St. Barts Breakdown is the fourth in Bruns’ series of Caribbean mysteries, whose protagonist is a rock ’n’ roll journalist with a penchant for finding trouble. In his younger days, Bruns was half of a guitar duo that “warmed up a lot of acts,” including Ray Charles, Ricky Nelson, and the Platters. “That was where I got the background [about] the music industry. We had firsthand knowledge of the traveling band,” he says, but notes that the people he met in the industry “weren’t dastardly characters.”
Among Bruns’ other mysteries, Stuff to Die For won the Indy Excellence Award for best mystery of 2008 put out by an independent publishing house and was chosen as Forward magazine’s mystery of the year, Stuff Dreams Are Made Of was released in September, and Bahama Burnout is due out this year.
That prolific streak has created one particular need, Bruns says. “I’m always looking for names. We eat up a lot of names in a book.”