Bob Brill is an award winning journalist whose career has brought him to
spend time covering first hand some of the most important people of the 20th
and 21st centuries. In the 1980’s working for the UPI Radio Network as a National Correspondent
and later as LA based Bureau Chief, Bob covered the Reason White House in the
West for long stretches of time. Later he traveled with Pope John Paul II, Nelson
Mandela, Bill Clinton and many others. As an entertainment reporter, he
covered nine Academy Awards, five Grammys and several Emmys.
No stranger to covering disasters such as earthquakes, floods and small plane
crashes, his first major assignment at UPI was to cover the Aero Mexico plane
crash on approach to Los Angeles International Airport. The mid-air collision sent
the fuselage on top of a number of homes in a crowded neighborhood making it
one of the worst disasters in modern aviation history to that time.
His coverage of the mass shooting at a McDonalds Restaurant outside San Diego
brought him to national attention and getting beaten during the LA Riots at the
main intersection of the outbreak left him with some physical issues he still
suffers from today. Currently a newscaster and reporter at a major Los Angeles news station, Bob
has written nearly two dozen screen plays and pilots, airs his own podcast,
writes two blogs, has produced four Short Films and still finds time to author
books. His latest “Lancer; Hero of the West – The New Orleans Affair,” will be out
in April, 2019. Bob currently lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Paula. His daughter,
Julia, a graphic artist by trade, designs the covers for most of Bob’s books.
Marina Raydun: With your background in journalism and voiceover work, how natural was the
transition into fiction writing for you?
Bob Brill: Story telling was easy, organizing the story and staying focused on the story were
the more difficult parts. As a reporter I’ve covered just about every kind of story
imaginable from politics to entertainment from Presidents to Oscars, even
traveled with Nelson Mandela and the Pope on their US trips. So the stories were
there, fiction based in fact.
MR: How do your skills as a journalist influence your creative process now?
BB: That is a tough one. As a journalist you spend so much time making sure what
you write is not only correct and factual but vetted enough so you don’t
accidently slant the story. Going in you need to be even handed and unbiased
and when I’ve written non-fiction it’s taken me longer because of that. In writing
fiction, how shall I put it, another colleague of mine said “you can just make sh-t
up” which is true. However, in writing fiction based on fact (as with my Lancer;
Hero of the West series), you really do need to spend more time fact checking
about the period and what went on at THAT time. For instance, you don’t want a
character in 1881 riding on a certain river boat when that particular river boat
didn’t come into existence until 1884.
MR: Why do you write?
BB: In addition to my western novel series, “Lancer; Hero of the West” of which
there are now five novels with a total of 10 planned, I have written a terrorist
novel set 25 years past OBL, my childhood memoir, a book based on how the
Internet affected the business world, and a coffee table biography about a highly
paid burlesque queen who was married to a major league ball player. My
memoir “Tales of My Baseball Youth-a child of the 60’s” is probably one of my
best and closest to the hear books for obvious reasons. It is a relationship book
which just happens to involve growing up playing baseball.
MR: Have you read anything that made you feel differently about fiction?
BB: Only that it is easier it seems to get a main stream publisher interested in non-
fiction than it is in fiction. My former agent, who passed away, constantly tried
to get me to find a real life story to tell. We were planning to meet on one of
those when he died suddenly. I tried to pursue it on my own with no luck and
haven’t been able to find an agent since.
MR: What’s the best and worst book review you’ve ever received?
BB: The worst was someone who read Lancer and decided my story was based on
one TV show character in the 1950’s and it was rather accusatory. My Lancer
series, I state up front, is a compilation of several western TV characters from
the era as well as my own contributions. The best are always those who write
how much they liked the book (and cite it) and then add they can’t wait for the
next one to come out. I have gotten a few of those.
MR: If you had to do something differently as a child or a teenager to become a
better writer as an adult, what would you do?
BB: Take some college courses in creative writing and literature. I did not go to
college although I took some extension classes later mainly in film writing. I went
to work in my radio career right away and while I don’t regret that at all, I
probably should have gone to school for a number of reasons.
MR: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
BB: I have been a frequent visitor to museums around the world and probably the
closest thing to a literary pilgrimage would be a couple presidential libraries (my
favorite books are books about US presidents). Traveling through Italy many
times I’ve always sought out the great museums and cathedrals (San Croce in
Florence is my fav), and the Lyndon Johnson Library is probably one of the best
for research. Otherwise I can’t really say I’ve been one to search out the great
authors – although somewhere in my past it seems I did, but there has been
quite a bit of past to remember. LOL. My daughter and I are planning a
pilgrimage to Lubbock, TX to go to the Buddy Holly Museum – now that’s a
pilgrimage I AM working on.
MR: Who is your literary hero?
BB: You are going to laugh at this but believe it or not the closest person I have as a
literary hero is Nicoclo Machiavelli. His writings in The Prince and the Selected
Discourses fascinate me ONLY because of the logic of the man. Make no mistake
about it he was a cruel, calculating politician who was a terrible person.
However, as a lover of logic, his strict logic in dealing with any situation is
amazing. In the modern era, I’d have to say Bob Woodward. The access he gets
and the stories he blows up should be a lesson of life for any investigative
journalist to follow.
MR: Are there any books you’ve read over and over again?
BB: My own because of editing (LOL), but seriously, aside from the Bible, I can’t say
there are really any. Not having enough time to read is always a problem as
when I do have time, I’m creating. I love creating whether it’s film or the written
word, which go hand in hand by the way.
MR: What are you currently reading?
BB: I’m for the first time in my life reading three books. Woodward’s “Fear,”
“Jefferson’s Chance,” by my good friend and colleague Jim Christina and “Barking
in Nutwood,” which is written by another friend of mine; Dave Sturgis.
To keep in touch with Bob, please visit:
Amazon author page; https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Brill/e/B00411A3MY%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share