Today we sit down with Author Bruce Dodson to talk about his book Lost in Seattle. Bruce is an American expat living in Sweden. He is going to tell us a little bit about his work and influences.
DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?
BD: Lost In Seattle is mainstream fiction, more accurately, very creative non-fiction.
DM: Can you summarize your book?
BD: A fifty-three year old gets downsized—loses everything white middle class has given, and relocates to a floating world of ethnicities, and lifestyles previously unknown.
DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
BD: Any adult reader might enjoy this book. Lost might resonate most strongly with adults of fifty years or older.
DM: How did you come up with the title?
BD: I moved to Seattle after being downsized from my job in San Francisco. For several years I felt extremely lost, in more ways than one.
DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
BD: I took the photo of Seattle and freeways myself, and used Photoshop for cropping and text. The tangle of freeways gives a good impression of the protagonist’s feelings.
DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)
BD: Oh boy, that’s a hard one. I’m a voracious reader. I like Charles Buckowski, Celine, Somerset Maugham, Barbara Kingsolver . . . so many others. I think every book I’ve ever read has contributed something, even the bad ones. I’ve been influenced by all of the above, and many, more.
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
BD: Willie, the protagonist. a middle age, white male, victim of the 1980’s
DM: How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
BD: There are no ‘bad’ guys in my novel, other that a serial killer on the periphery. My characters are artists, immigrants, and blue collar workers, desperately trying to survive. Temp job bosses would be the least favorable characters.
DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
BD: I wish I was better at anatomical descriptions. For example this by David Szalay in the December Paris Review: “His toes freed themselves from a flip flop, have taken hold of a metal strut under the table . . .” I tend to ignore details like this. I suspect it may have to do with my introversion, and lack of ‘small talk’ ability. I tend to get to the point without a lot of elaboration on the way.
DM: Give me a fun fact about your book:
BD: It illuminates a time when things were starting to go wrong for middle class, white America, described with insight, lust and humor. The novel is 50% personal experience. I was downsized from a job in San Francisco. After a year of unemployment I left California to work for a small consulting company contracted to Boeing in Seattle. I was promised a year or more of employment there, but Boeing dismissed the firm after two months. I was out of work again, in a strange town, low on cash, and without friends or contacts. For the next two years I was, ‘lost in Seattle’.
DM: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
BD: I think Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, would be close, but is more of an expose, without a sense of humor. Her book takes place almost a decade after mine, one might say the aftermath of the time I describe.
DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
BD: More than is practical, I think. I write poetry and practice photography, have had moderate success with both. I create sculptures, and love to travel – India, Sri Lanka, Africa, Nepal, Brazil. I live in Sweden now, my expeditions mostly European.
DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?
BD: I have a blog. http://brucelouisdodson.wordpress.com. There are reviews of Lost In Seattle at Amazon.com.
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
BD: I’ve just finished a novella, Dearie. A coming of age memoir which is with my editor as I write this. Dearie is my first non-fiction, a novella. College boy from small town in Southern Illinois spends summer vacation with a lovable, alcoholic aunt in Chicago.
DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
BD: Reviews are always helpful.
DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
BD: Don’t give up.
DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book?
CHAPTER 1— GEORGE & ME
It’s almost 4 a.m. Three hours of clean-up left to go. Lunch time’s about to end, but I can’t eat. I’m totally exhausted, covered with white flour dust and stink of lard that we’ve been wiping off the ovens, ductwork, and conveyors. It was a mistake to take this temp job—an act of desperation, but who knew? It’s hard to find a decent job at my age. I turned fifty-three last April and regaining my once middle-class existence won’t be easy, but I will. I’ve got to. I slug down another cup of weak machine-made coffee.
Roger pokes his head into the bleak, white-latex lunchroom flooded with fluorescent light. “Yo! George Hampton, Mister Brenner! Time for blow-down. Fun, fun, fun!” Roger’s the senior baker here at Grannies’’ Cookies. Grannies’’ is a part of the much larger Endorf Corporation. I once held some Endorf stock. Life is ironic.
I suspect Roger isn’t happy that I’m so much older than the other temporary workers. Probably worried I won’t work as hard or fast as they. He’s probably right. I’ve got a masters
—engineering. Roger might have graduated high school . . . might have.
Now the temp I’ve been paired with, George, is struggling to his feet. We get along okay. He’s an old hand at this—a big dude, taller than my own six-feet, an African American, well-muscled, and quite possibly on drugs. He won’t stop talking. I suspect he’s using uppers of some kind. Working with him’s like having a transistor radio beside me. There’s no way to turn George off, but I don’t mind. We follow Roger to another section of the building, passing by a white board listing lost-time accident reports: one fractured arm, a broken toe. George sees me looking.
“Got to watch your ass in here,” he warns. “Shit happens.”
About Bruce Dodson
Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat living in Borlänge, Sweden, where he practices photography and writes fiction and poetry. Some of his most recent work has appeared in: Breadline Press West Coast Poetry Anthology, Foreign & Far Away – Writers Abroad Kaleidoscope Anthology, Sleeping Cat Books – Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, The Crucible, Blue Collar Review, Barely South Review, 3rd Wednesday, Buffalo Almanac, The Path, Northern Liberties Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Sounds of Solace – Meditative Verse Anthology, Tic Toc, and Storm Cycle Anthologies – Kind of a Hurricane Press, Buffalo Almanac, Vine Leaves, and Cordite Poetry Review.
Where to find Bruce’s Books
You can find Lost in Seattle on amazon.com by clicking HERE