Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Conversation with Mystery Author BJ Bourg

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with BJ Bourg

We are delighted to welcome author BJ Bourg to Omnimystery News today.

The first novel BJ ever wrote — though not his first published book — is Hollow Crib (Five Star; May 2016 hardcover) and we recently had the chance to catch up with him to talk more about it.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to the series characters for the Magnolia Parish mysteries.

BJ Bourg
Photo provided courtesy of
BJ Bourg

BJ Bourg: Detective Brandon Berger works for the Magnolia Parish Sheriff's Office, which is located deep in the south, and he loves his job. His wife is Debbie and they have a daughter named Samantha. He loves his family more than he loves his job, but Debbie doesn't always think so, because his family often comes second when duty calls.

Dawn Luke, who is single, intelligent, and beautiful, is the crime scene investigator for the sheriff's office and she's Brandon's partner. Brandon spends more time with Dawn than he does with his wife, but it's all business between the two detectives. Together, they're investigating a mysterious death in their parish that might have ties to a local church.

OMN: How do you expect them to develop over the course of a series?

BJB: Hollow Crib is the first in a planned series and I absolutely expect my characters to change from book to book. I also expect their situations to change. As a reader, there's nothing more frustrating than reading a series where the main character endures the same struggle and faces the same question book after book, never resolving any of the issues.

OMN: When starting a new project, how do you decide whether it will be a stand-alone or part of a series?

BJB: Hollow Crib began as a stand-alone until an ex-agent, Elise Proulx, told me I'd killed off the character who could take it to a series. I brought the character back to life and began rethinking the project with a series in mind.

As for my other series, The Clint Wolf Mysteries, when I first came up with the idea, I automatically had three stories in mind. Whether or not it goes beyond three books remains to be seen, but with one book out and the second in the works, I can already tell he doesn't like me.

OMN: Suppose Brandon Berger were to interview you. What would be his first question? And how would you answer it?

BJB: Brandon would ask, "BJ, I'm having a problem balancing family life with work responsibilities. I know you're in the same line of work and you've probably faced similar challenges. How do you do it?"

My answer: "Well, Brandon, it hasn't always been easy. There'll be times when your family will have to take a back seat to your job, and that's just the nature of the beast. However, this should be the exception and not the norm. If work takes you away from your family so much that they start feeling neglected by you, then it's probably time to think about transferring to a different position — something more family-friendly. There are two things you can do to prevent things from getting to that point. First, take at least two family vacations per year, and leave your work phone behind when you do. Don't talk about work and don't think about work while you're on vacation. Your family needs to know they are all that matters during that time. Second, when you get home at the end of the day, leave your work at the door. Turn off the voices in your head and concentrate on your family. Don't talk about your job and don't think about your cases; they'll still be there in the morning when you go back. And always remember that your job will end someday. If you're good to your family, they'll still be there when you're done. If not, you'll be all alone."

OMN: Tell us something about Hollow Crib that isn't mentioned in the publisher's synopsis.

BJB: When I began writing Hollow Crib in 2004 or 2005 (it took me over a year to complete it), I was excited because I felt it was an original idea that had never been done before. In 2015, about six months after I signed the publishing contract with Five Star, Nancy Grace covered a story that had some eerie similarities to Hollow Crib. When my wife and I heard about the Nancy Grace story we were both stunned.

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?

BJB: With the exception of the army veteran in the woods, none of the characters in Hollow Crib are based on real people. When I was a kid, we took a trip to the Kisatchie National Forest and there was what appeared to be a military veteran in the woods who would talk to his pit bull named Satan. The images of the man talking to his dog about blowing things up fascinated me, and I included a scene that was similar to what really happened.

OMN: Have any specific authors influenced how and what you write today?

BJB: I didn't have a dad growing up, and I'll tell anyone who'll listen that Louis L'Amour raised me to be the man I am today. In the impressionable years of my youth, I learned more about real life and being a man from his Westerns than I did from any living person. Those lessons had a positive impact on every aspect of my life and it helped me to become the writer I am today.

OMN: Suppose Hollow Crib were to be adapted for television or film. Would do you see playing the lead roles?

BJB: I can't think of an actor who would fit Brandon Berger's character, but I would definitely want Katee Sackhoff playing the part of Dawn Luke (she'd have to dye her hair brown, though). Sackhoff does an amazing job playing Vic Moretti on Longmire.

OMN: What's next for you?

BJB: I've recently finished the second book in the Magnolia Parish Mystery series and I'm now working on the second book in my Clint Wolf Mystery series. Other than that, I'm getting ready to watch my son graduate from college and head off to law school, while my daughter will be heading into her senior year of high school. I'm proud of them both and look forward to watching them grow into adults.

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BJ Bourg is a Louisiana mystery writer and the author of four published novels. His debut novel, JAMES 516, won the 2016 EPIC eBook Award for Best Mystery, and nearly 200 of his articles and short stories have been published in many places, including national magazines such as Woman's World, Boys' Life, Writer's Digest, and Tactical Response. He is a twenty-five-year veteran of law enforcement, a former professional boxer, and a former sniper leader. Most importantly, he is a father and husband and the highlight of his life is spending time with his family.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hollow Crib by BJ Bourg

Hollow Crib by BJ Bourg

A Magnolia Parish Mystery

Publisher: Five Star Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)

It's November in southeast Louisiana and the only thing Detective Brandon Berger wants is to keep his anniversary promise to his wife. As luck would have it, a mysterious death derails his plans. He begins to investigate the case along with his partner, Dawn Luke, and the trail leads them to the Magnolia Faith Church and its controlling pastor, Father Isaac Stewart. Suspecting the pastor has knowledge about the suspicious death, but unable to prove anything because of the tight-lipped parishioners, the case turns cold.

Further north, William Chandler takes his wife, Claire, and their infant daughter, Gracie, on a camping trip to the Skybald National Forest. The last time he was there? Twenty-two years earlier when he watched his father die in a violent accident. He's returning to quietly sort through some personal demons, but when they arrive and find a peculiar stranger talking to his Pit Bull about blowing things up, he questions the logic behind returning to the scene of his youthful tragedy. After a series of strange events, William finds himself arrested for murder. He swears he's innocent, but the evidence against him is so damning, even Claire thinks he's guilty. The Magnolia Faith Church might be the key to helping William prove his innocence, but making the 251-mile connection could be deadly.

Hollow Crib by BJ Bourg


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