Robert Reynolds is the mind behind Thunder Bay. He is one of those few authors who do not have a major web presence at this time so it is not easy to provide you with an author link. I did find a story from the Alpena News talking about the book. Just click the link here to take you to that article. Just a note it is possible that you may have to login/create an account to read but it’s worth a shot. As you read his answers to the questions you will find that he has a love for Michigan and the areas he talks about in the book. You will also get a sense that his writing can have an impact on his readers as he has other books that are available. Now here are those questions and Robert’s answers.
Question 1: What inspired you to write Thunder Bay?
The name Thunder Bay had intrigued me for many years. I researched the area a little and I was fascinated about the number of shipwrecks in the bay and across the Great Lakes. I kept Thunder Bay in the back of my mind knowing someday I wanted to use it as a title. I simply had to come up with a plot.
Question 2: Is there any significance to the name/names of your main characters?
I wanted simple, common names for my characters. I’ve never gotten into the “Daphne and Lance” types of names. I want my characters to be believable and their names to be believable also. As I’m writing, I picture certain characters in my mind and try to find a suitable name. I try to use names common to a particular area. For example, if I’m writing a Texas book I might use Mahan because it’s fairly common in Texas. I doubt if I’d use it in a Michigan story because it’s not common to Michigan. Polish names, are however. Beyond that, there’s no real significance.
Question 3: During the writing process did you find yourself thinking about any of your own memories?
Yes, quite often, but mostly in regard to the Michigan countryside and the Great Lakes, themselves. I want readers to “see” and experience these things as they read my books. In Thunder Bay there’s a scene where the main character drives up to the straits one evening. While they are dining they look out and see the lights on the Mackinac Bridge. I want the reader to experience the awe of this engineering masterpiece. Likewise, during the storm on Lake Huron, I want the reader to feel the fury of the lake. Other than a crossing the straits on a car ferry back in the 50s, I’ve not been in a storm on the lake, but my memory from that dark, rainy, rough night was certainly a part of what I put into the stormy lake in my book.
Question 4: What were some of your favorite books growing up?
The Yearling; Bambi: (as a small child)
Willard Price adventure books: Amazon Adventure; South Seas Adventure; Underwater Adventure and Hardy Boys mysteries (early school years)
Mila 18; Islands In the Stream; The Source; The Quiet American; various sports, music, and biographical works (adult)
Question 5: Do you hear from fans of the book, and if you do what do they say?
It depends on the book. For Thunder Bay, people tell me they enjoy recognizing places they know within the state of Michigan and around the Alpena area. Others liked the book’s theme of current events. About my other books (not published by Black Rose, however), veterans enjoy the military aspect and local color of my Vietnam books. On one of my earlier Michigan locale books, one reader told me a particularly touching scene caused him to cry. Still another (Vietnam locale with a romance angle) several have told me they were caught completely by surprise at the twist to the ending. I guess taking all this into consideration, readers seem to enjoy how I try to set the mood and describe the surroundings.
Question 6: What was the feeling like when you saw the very first printed version of your book?
I was very pleased! I had sent along a brief plot summary and my thoughts on a suggested cover. The cover designer nailed it on the first attempt and had added a few things to make it even better than I had imagined it. I was up home (central Michigan area) and drove up to Alpena to get a fresh look at Thunder Bay. When the cover design was sent to me for my review, I was truly amazed at how well he had captured it. Black Rose presents an excellent product.
Question 7: Do you continue to write?
Oh yes. I’m constantly writing. Since Thunder Bay’s release, Black Rose has published my latest. It’s an old time western called Sorrowful. I have other projects in various stages and recently, after meeting up with a coworker who I worked with in the Philippines at the time of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in ‘91, I’ve started writing about that event. I also have finished a manuscript for another Michigan locale book that has a western feel to it. This one takes place in the Upper Peninsula around the turn-of-the-century. I have far more ideas for books than I have time to write them.
Question 8: What is the message you want people to take away from the book?
I mostly want them to simply enjoy what they read. It’s like a movie a person goes to see just for the fun of it. Thunder Bay is not preachy, although it has a present day theme. I wrote it for entertainment. I suppose there is one more thing. Main characters often seem to be young, handsome, athletic and even wealthy. The main characters in Thunder Bay are older. I wanted a story that would allow for a romance to develop on an older level and where the career experience of the main character would allow the plot to develop. Basically it’s ordinary people being involved in less than ordinary circumstances. Why not have an “old hero” for a change?
Question 9: If you could envision a future for your main character, what would it be?
If there were to be a sequel, considering the main character’s age, the story would have to allow for his personal life and romantic involvement to develop. Thunder Bay implied there is more to it, but left that angle open. Any sequel must consider that and if there’s to be an exciting plot, it must be believable and recognize the main character’s limits for addressing the problems within the plot. This question has got me thinking about that….
Question 10: Who are those in the dedication of the book, and their importance to you?
To be honest, (I don’t have a copy of Thunder Bay in front of me…have given them out) and I don’t recall my dedication in this book. I’ve dedicated other books to family members, people I served with in the military, members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, etc. But with Thunder Bay, I’d have to see how I dedicated it to comment on that.
The + 1 Question: If you had any one place in the world you could travel to for a book tour, where would that place be, and why?
Tough question! Most logically for this book, the Thunder Bay area would probably be the place. However, for exposure, perhaps New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles in hope of the book being “discovered”. The words “Travel to”, Rio or Southeast Asia first come to mind, but I doubt it that would do much for book sales and exposure. Fun, yes! This book, no. Perhaps Detroit or Chicago because they are large cities within the Great Lakes area. Tough question….