• Q&A With WriteByNight Coach David Bushman

     

    David Bushman (New York, NY) is the author of four books, including, most recently, Murder at Teal’s Pond: Hazel Drew and the Mystery That Inspired Twin Peaks (Thomas & Mercer, January 2022). He spent twenty-five years as a TV curator at The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio), two years as program director at TV Land, and four years as a television editor and critic at Variety. He next tackles true crime again in Forget It, Jake, It’s Schenectady, about police corruption in update New York (loosely the basis for the Bradley Cooper-Ryan Gosling film The Place Beyond the Pines), due out this spring from Fayetteville Mafia Press.

     

    Where are you from?

    Born and raised in New York, which is still home, though I have also lived abroad in Hong Kong and London and in multiple locations throughout the U.S.

     

    Where did you study?

    My master’s degree in journalism is from the University of Missouri, and my bachelor’s degree in English is from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

     

    How did you get your start as a writer?

    Professionally, as a journalist fresh out of J school, writing about politics and crime (or are they the same thing?) in coastal South Carolina, where I also covered my first (and only) KKK rally.

     

    Who are some of your influences?

    So many! I usually fall in love with craftsmanship, so books like The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and Snow Falling on Cedars have all been huge influences. I love genre books, so Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, early James Ellroy, Megan Abbott, and Douglas Adams. Every fan of true crime is in awe of In Cold Blood. Mark Z. Danielewki’s House of Leaves and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove are also among my all-time favorites. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is probably the most tragically funny book (or is it humorously tragic?) I have ever read. I’ve spent a lot of years studying TV, and hugely admire the nuanced writing of David Simon. I think graphic novelist Alan Moore is peerless.

     

    What is the hardest part of writing for you?

    Finding the exact right voice, rhythm, tempo for the particular piece I am writing.

     

    What is your strangest writing experience?

    Not sure about the strangest, but my most memorable writing experience was covering the University of Missouri’s Gay and Lesbian Club’s nighttime march to campus following a court ruling that the university was required to allow them to meet on school grounds. My first protest, and it was ugly.

     

    What is your favorite word and why?

    Can I pick two? Question Authority.

     

    Word association: Literature.

    Oh, to be an undergrad lit major again.

     

    What’s the last book you read and what did you think of it?

    The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier, and I loved every page.

     

    What’s the last movie you saw that was based on a book and how was it?

    Bullet Train. Thumbs up.

     

    Where do you see the world of writing and publishing heading?

    I worry about it. I teach college-level courses in writing and media, and every year students seem to be more and more focused on short-form media, both text and video – Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube.

     

    Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

    When I was scouting publishers for Murder at Teal’s Pond: Hazel Drew and the Mystery That Inspired Twin Peaks, about a 1908 unsolved murder, I ran into a couple who told me, “We don’t publish murder mysteries without a solution.” “Really?” I said. “Have you ever heard of Jack the Ripper? The Zodiac Killer? The Black Dahlia?” My advice is if you believe in what you are writing, don’t give up on it. Find another publisher – there are plenty of them out there.

     

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