Monday, June 2, 2014

Chuck Bowie, Three Wrongs

AUTHOR: Chuck Bowie
BOOK TITLE: Three Wrongs

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’ve recently become a full-time writer, having retired as an operations consultant with the Canadian government. As for organizing my writing time, I ease into the day—coffee and the daily news—and I’m at my desk around eleven. It’s all about social media for two hours, and then I’m writing by one o’clock. I generally stop, reluctantly, around five thirty. And I try to steal three hours sometime over the weekend. All of this goes out the window if I’m working on a house reno with one of my sons.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Over the years I’d tried to write novels, but the only things I seemed to finish (and sell) were essays and short stories. One day, government business sent me to Bucharest for a month. I woke up at five AM in a fancy hotel, with dogs and orphans playing in the street outside my window. I said to myself: This would be a perfect opening for a book about a guy who was a world-class thief for hire. I started writing it that day.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
Sadly, I vividly recall my two harshest criticisms. In Grade 8, I wrote what I absolutely knew was a killer essay. It had humour, a moral, it was formatted properly and it…sang. My teacher gave me a B. As shy as I was, I asked her why it wasn’t worthy of an A. She replied that she didn’t give As. I guess that was more motivation than criticism. In my second sortie into Humbletown, this time as a young adult, I knocked out a hundred pages of a World War One novel. I gave it to a buddy who teaches writing at Concordia University. He advised that it was ‘worth fixing.’ Never having ‘fixed’ anything up to that point, I was very offended. Once I calmed down, I saw that I just wasn’t mature enough to write something like that, at that age.

The biggest compliment, by a mile, was receiving a contract for Three Wrongs, from MIU. A life-changer.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Surprisingly, I don’t get writer’s block. I do, however, get writer’s hesitation. By that, I mean, I always have ideas to work on, but there are times when the plot needs to be laid out, the setting needs to be set. The details need to be detailed. At times like these, crawling through the pages makes for tough slogging. What I do is fall back about ten pages and read the manuscript like a reader. When I get to the tough, slow, grindey part, I’m now warmed up and just write exposition. Oh, I’ll go back later and add some humour, or pump it up, but the thing is to keep moving. If all else fails, I’ll edit a different chapter.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I learned tons from writing my first published novel. At the macro level, I learned never to share an unfinished manuscript with someone who is not adept and reading/editing novels. Only pain and aggravation can come from that. I learned that it is perfectly acceptable in real life to carry on a conversation consisting of great numbers of run-on sentences. But don’t do that in a novel. I learned to edit my script. One. Word. At. A time.

What are your current projects?
I’m entering a very exciting time in my career. I’m writing Book Three: Steal It All. I’m editing Book 2: AMACAT. And I’m promoting Book One: Three Wrongs, all in the series Donovan: Thief For Hire. A vague idea is already forming for the fourth novel in the series, but I’m developing a new character for a new suspense-thriller series. Exciting times for me.

What do you plan for the future?
I’d love to finish this series and begin a second one, but I must confess I have a pet project lurking in the background. In my youth, I wrote a science fiction manuscript, right down to The End. My wife, an excellent reader, observed that it would have been a book she would have sought out, if it was written in present day, instead of in the future. Less Sci-Fi, more speculative fiction. I’ll re-do it; it’s just a matter of when.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I Googled myself a few years ago and found one obscure reference to my government work. These days, I’m a little more accessible. I’m on Twitter: @BowieChuck and I’m on FaceBook. My website is and I guest blog every second month.

What genre do you write in and why?
I write suspense-thrillers. In fact, the genre chose me. I was out of the country on business and found myself in a strange land, with (really) little to no control of my surroundings. I asked myself: what if I was the kind of person who could take advantage of things being disorganized? I immediately thought of a character who had his own set of morals and who took advantage of people, mostly criminals.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
In my first novel, Three Wrongs, my character, Donovan is a contract thief who makes a great deal of money stealing things for a living. But he meets someone, he gets beaten up and his previously uncomplicated conscience chooses now to attack him. A thought occurs. What if he was to get out of the business, beginning with the undoing of his previous three thefts? But complications ensue, along with romance and red wine, great music and food, and wonderful travel to four countries. 

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
There seem to be two kinds of writers: plotters and pantsers, I think they’re called. I’m a pantser, and the particular kind I am is the ‘free ride’ pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants, and the sub-plots just arrive in my head, unannounced. Complicating this is my tendency to work with multiple storyline arcs. So, I begin with an idea, I plot out the (usually) three narrative arcs, and I just write. I keep the chapter summaries at the end of my manuscript all the while I’m writing, and refer to them every day. This seems to be when the muse visits with the details. The ideas arrive then, as well as during REM sleep, just before I wake up!

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
When I began, I assumed that I could write the whole thing without referencing anything. But, as I alluded earlier, I don’t seem to be in total control of my characters. So my lead characters, Donovan and Nadia, for example, will chat about Buddhism. In the middle of their conversation, one will mention ‘Buddhism is kindness.’ But the accurate citation refers to ‘loving kindness.’ You stare at the screen and, reluctantly, you check the reference for accuracy. At another point, I needed accurate names and references for weapons. You can imagine that if I don’t use weapons in real life, I may need a helping hand to get them straight. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
By far the most challenging part of writing my first novel was finding the time. Our two sons were staying at home and finishing university, I had a full-time job that was challenging, I had hobbies and projects and lots of distractions that prevented me from focusing on my writing. At first, it was a couple of hours of writing on the weekend, but as the manuscript got heftier, my motivation increased to the point where all I thought about was stealing time from my family so I could write. Having a partner who believed in me helped.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
Three Wrongs is out now, and AMACAT comes out this fall. AMACAT is an acronym for the three plotlines of the story: A Mask, A Cask and A Task. It’s trouble in triplicate when my man Donovan gets hauled back into the theft business, this time to save his sister, save an acquaintance and save his life. All this, plus a riverboat cruise through the South of France!

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I began working when I was thirteen. I worked through school and university and taught music as a fun job while I worked full-time. So now that I’m at an age where I don’t have to work so hard, writing is my number one passion, with music a close second. I just received an insanely beautiful work of art, cleverly disguised as a Gibson guitar. I’m learning how to play guitar all over again, just for me! So fun

What books have most influenced your life?
The first book to influence me was Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea. Simple prose, emotions hidden within the exposition, attainable construction. Less is more.

The second book that influenced me at this level was Bill Bryson’s A Brief History of Nearly Everything. I felt smarter, after having read it. The third—actually, it was an entire series—was Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe detective stories. Beautifully and intricately constructed, full of facts and humour, yet sticking to the sub-genre of the tough detective, Archie, acting as the grunt man for the brilliant armchair genius detective, Nero Wolfe.

GENRE: Suspense-Thriller
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Excerpt: Three Wrongs
Chuck Bowie

Sometime after eleven, he left the bar and headed back toward West Thirty-fifth. The chill autumn weather had moderated, so he walked the few blocks back to the hotel.
Donovan was within sight of his hotel when an ash-grey limousine pulled up right
beside him. The passenger side rear window rolled down, and a voice invited him to
step in. The very large man who appeared at his left elbow encouraged him into the
vehicle with a firm hand on his shoulder and a slight push that seemed difficult to
resist. Next thing, he was in the car, sitting beside Galen Attanasio, famous Greek
multimillionaire playboy. The limo pulled away from the curb and accelerated in the
direction away from the Wingate.
“Mr. Koulos. You are a hard man to get hold of.” It didn’t sound like a question,
so Donovan didn’t reply. Gaia continued, “Koulos. Sounds Greek to me.” He stared at
the back of the driver’s seat. “You don’t look Greek. Perhaps you were adopted?” His
English was effortless, with a trace of an accent.
Gaia leaned over toward him, close enough to enfold him in cloying, vanilla
cologne. Gaia was a large man, six feet tall, and well over two hundred and forty
pounds. It seemed obvious he had been very handsome years earlier, but his eyes were
now sunk in fleshy softness. They carried a perpetual weariness. Everything else from
cheek to gut had also softened—everything but his intentions. Gaia spoke again, his
voice audible, but just so. “So are you, Mr. Koulos? Are you a hard man to get hold
“Really? I wouldn’t have thought that of me. It was easy enough for you to find
me in a crowded airport and later on a busy New York sidewalk.” Donovan faced
Gaia. “I would have thought folks like you had armies of staff to do that kind of
surveillance.” He noted the direction in which they were travelling and realized he
wasn’t being blindfolded. That could be a good thing or a very bad thing.
Gaia smiled without warmth. “Right, right. You’re the kind of man who nobody
sees, even though you are out in the open. The Invisible Man. You pick up things
lying around, and nobody sees you because you have arranged for them not to be
looking for you. It’s your, your ‘shtick.’” He mouthed the word as if he had never
used it before. It sounded distasteful, coming from him. The lines on his forehead
deepened. “As for the airport, well, I like to take care of all of the business personally
affecting me. If I have an unpleasant task to perform in, say, Montreal or Budapest,
I’ll go there myself. If my hands get dirty, I can always wash them.”
The big man settled deep into the leather seat. “Do you have your passport? No?
Then we will have to go back to the hotel to fetch it. Donald, please return to the
Wingate. We have to fetch Mr. Koulos’s passport. How inconsiderate of him, Donald,
not to have anticipated our desire to leave the country.” The driver made a series of
left turns, and once again, Donovan was headed in the direction of the Wingate.
On the way to the hotel, he ventured a question or two about their destination and
what it was Gaia sought, but the Greek ignored him, instead using his smartphone to
text. Donovan sat back on the soft black leather, studying everything around him.
The bodyguard who had encouraged him into the limo accompanied Donovan up
to his room. Just before they left the limo, the bodyguard made a point of opening his
jacket to reveal a lethal-looking semi-automatic Turkish Akdal Ghost. Donovan’s
inquiry as to whether he should check out of his room received no response, so he
didn’t bother to pack. He grabbed his Devin Koulos passport—his real one was
already in his jacket—and picked up his cell phone. The bodyguard shook his head no
and then took the cell phone from him, powered it down, and laid it on the windowsill
of the hotel room, just behind the drapes. He then gave Donovan a cursory pat down,
and a few moments later, they were back in the limo and off to JFK.
But they weren’t.
Instead, the limo headed north and drove for an hour without Gaia uttering a
word. He spoke once to Donald the driver, requesting classical music. Once the
suburbs began to open up a bit, the limo eased onto a secondary highway, and soon
after they approached the general aviation area of an upstate airport. An executive jet
waited on the tarmac. Once they were in the air, Gaia became chatty once again. They
were powering along in a Dassault Easy Falcon, a comfortable executive ten-seater.
“It’s usually for business, but you can imagine I quite enjoy traveling this way.” He
swept his arm, as if to present the plane’s interior. “It beats going by train, that’s for
sure, and the air conditioning is always just right for me.” He laughed as if that was
the richest joke in the world.
“So, where are you taking me, Mr. Attanasio?”
Gaia paused. “Montreal, Mr. Koulos. We are going to visit your apartment. You
have something I want.” The look on his face revealed his curiosity. “You know, you
haven’t resisted in any manner. So you are not, at this stage being kidnapped, hey?
You are my guest! I wanted to point that out.” He gestured for a drink. “Some wine,
Mr. Koulos?” He raised his voice. “Nico. A glass of pinot noir for my guest. He
prefers Australian.”
He took a sideways glance at Donovan. Two drinks arrived, and Gaia took the one
that had been poured into a Glencairn whiskey glass with a couple of whiskey stones
resting on the bottom. Out of deference to the act of flying, Donovan supposed, his
Reidel crystal wine glass had no stem. It nestled in his hand as if custom designed for
As he studied the bottom of his glass, Donovan wasn’t feeling very optimistic
about this turn of events. He knew very well there would be few opportunities to
influence the outcome of the next two hours. Right now, the only possible way to gain
the advantage would be to overpower Gaia, Donald the chauffeur and the bodyguard,
Nico. His only weapon was a stem-less wineglass. He settled deeper into the creamy
leather seat, thinking about his attempt to draw Gaia’s attention. Be careful what you
ask for.
Having nothing by way of a weapon, he thought perhaps a better understanding of
the situation would be helpful. He looked over to his host. “So, Mr. Attanasio. What
do you want, really? It can’t be money. You have so much already.”
The big man looked annoyed. “Are you a child? Mr. Koulos, you can never have
too much money. That’s a naïve thought, and I don’t for a minute believe you to be
naïve, but that is incidental to your question. No, there is something else I want. I
want the golden bucchero chalice. My grandfather received it for his efforts in Italy in
1943. Afterward, it was stolen from him by some escaping Romanian prisoners of
war, and it seemed at the time to have left the face of the earth.
“Next thing you know, my people in Bucharest heard of the cup resurfacing in
Montreal. Some petty thief—you, as it turns out—found a way to steal it back from
the Romanians. How did you do that, by the way?
“And as you can imagine, I desired to get it back. It is a matter of pride. It’s
nothing against you. You’re just a pawn as even you must appreciate. I should thank
you, but I won’t, since in reality you weren’t acting on my behalf. But I am grateful
for the circumstances that have placed the cup within reach. I must say, it’s exciting to
think I am an hour or two away from retrieving it. Of course, I also want my passport
back. It is less important, but still...” he shrugged.
“Mr. Koulos, I’m telling you this to explain why under these circumstances you
should be in less danger than one might think. This is another reason why you should
just go along with me, compliantly, and let me have my way. Hell, I almost feel like
paying you a commission. Of course, I won’t, but it did cross my mind.” He bellowed
a roar of pleasure.


  1. Thanks for this opportunity, Penny. I loved having you as an editor, and now you've hosted me on this charming and informative blog. I hope I can do it again, sometime.

  2. Thanks, I enjoyed working with you, too. Keep me posted on your next release and we can arrange a return visit.

  3. Very intersting. Thanks author.