Mystery, Intrigue and Paranormal Elements Surround the Plot of RIVERWALKER

Author Bud Bradshaw 

Bud Bradshaw’s paranormal thriller, Riverwalker, is his second work, the first being Brandishing, the true-crime story of the Newhall Incident, the California Highway Patrol’s greatest tragedy and one of the worst officer shootings in the annals of law enforcement.  Both books are available on  Bradshaw’s formal writing experience dates back to 1969-71, when he began writing Intelligence reports while serving as a Special Agent with the Army’s 109th MI Group in Baltimore; later, he wrote med-legal reports, chiefly as a Qualified Medical Evaluator and Disability Evaluator for the state of California.  An artist since childhood, Bradshaw also developed a parallel career as a painter, that work focusing on the subjects of military history and the American West.  A member of the Western Artists of America, many of his paintings, prints, and giclees are housed in museums and private collections throughout the world. You may view his web site and blog at, or contact him via Facebook, or on Twitter @budbradshaw1.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Bud.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: The first creative writing I managed to produce was in college, a few poems and songs.  It was the era of folk music-meets-the-Beatles, and everyone was suddenly a poet/songwriter, including me. If you could carry a guitar, you qualified; and I could, so I did.  It was a time of cafeteria coffee and pensive expressions, deep discussions over French-fries and 19-cent chiliburgers, love-ins and campus protests; all the while, like fingernails scraping across a classroom blackboard, the headlines screeched relentlessly of Vietnam while the politicians smiled and handed us our 1-A draft classification.  Eventually, I decided to enlist in the Army and, by January of ’69, was off to Fort Ord for basic training, and thereafter to the Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Maryland for their Special Agent course.  We were to be tasked primarily with conducting background investigations on Department of Defense personnel who required security clearances, and so were well-trained in interviewing techniques and well-structured report writing.  Operating from our field offices, we dressed in suits and ties, carried a badge and credentials.  During the course of conducting our investigations, our focus was on the subject’s loyalty, integrity, discretion, morals, and character – lidmac, as we referred to it; this constituted the main body of our reports, many of which proved to be, in fact, quite routine.  However, on occasion, some strange bird would lay an egg filled with derogatory information requiring us to follow up with highly-detailed reports.  These proved fascinating as they raised the curtain on a subject’s private life, often revealing a variety of trespasses including acts of sexual promiscuity, gambling, breaches of security, blackmail, questionable loyalty; there were cases involving prisoners of war, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse; all this ultimately generated narratives of incredible depth and drama.  Not only was it an intriguing writing experience, it imposed a daily discipline and provided much grist for the writing mill in the years to follow.   

For more than three decades thereafter, I worked in health care where the bulk of my writing consisted of med-legal and disability reports.  While doing this, I also began a parallel art business, selling my history paintings, prints, and giclees; to enhance the presentation of the art, I wrote accompanying articles explaining the images.  Gradually, I began developing a plan to write a book based on a true event which had captivated me for many years, the event being the Newhall Incident of 1970, the book being Brandishing.  Following that first published work, I needed a change of pace, and so turned to fiction.  The result was, and is, my current work: Riverwalker.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A:  Riverwalker is what might be described as a fictional work in the paranormal/ thriller/horror genre.  Hmmm.  Mixed genre, anyone?  Regardless of any label we might impose on the mongrel, we must more importantly determine if the story is good and serves a purpose.  Does it entertain? Inform?  Suggest colorful topics for discussion?  In my opinion, Riverwalker accomplishes all these things, but people may label it as they see fit.
     In Riverwalker, we meet Gifford Holloway, a San Antonio Police detective with a special gift: the art of Remote Viewing, which he uses to his advantage as he tracks down a child murderer, Karl Wolff Adler, a psychotic serial killer who operates in and around San Antonio’s beautiful Riverwalk attraction.   As the reader journeys through the pages, there are encounters with brujas (witches), Nazis, Ouija-like boards called Tablets, remote viewers, figures from the ancient Aztec and Norse pantheons, pagan calendars, intersex individuals, a mysterious diary, an even more mysterious old river (el Mujer Grande), and a few pinches of local Texas history.
     Originally, Riverwalker was to be a ghost story played out on San Antonio’s beautiful and famous River Walk attraction, a perfect foil for the horrific crimes.  There followed a natural linkage to the Alamo and the Bowie Knife, strongly suggesting the possibility of a slasher-type villain as the focus of evil.  This all provided the fictional change-of-pace I had sought in this new work, but beyond a certain point the story seemed to lack intensity.  The emotional component needed to be ramped up. A very difficult decision followed, one involving the most vulnerable of all victims: children.  Child abuse became a central theme and, in turn, quickly became one of the principal reasons – certainly the most emotional - for my writing Riverwalker.  
     In my past, I had witnessed much child abuse. While in high school, the butcher knife held to my throat and the beatings I incurred paled by comparison to what was suffered by my three half-sisters and step-brother, who were all literally brutalized over a period of many years.  They were all, at one time or another, either cut, burned, raped, or beaten.
     From my earliest years I was always a good reader, usually out-performing most-if not all-of my classmates in many of my classes from elementary school through high school, but this was not due to any advanced classroom reading technique or over-indulgent, doting teacher. Not at all. On any given evening, at “home” – the word still makes me cringe - I was expected to read out loud from whatever material was handed me, be it a newspaper, magazine, or – God help me – a handwritten letter.  Try this: hand your second or third grade child a letter handwritten by an adult; have them read it out loud; grade their performance.  How did they do?  In my case, I was expected to be no less than perfect. If I stumbled, I was slapped on the side of my head or struck across the back of my neck and shoulders with a leather belt.  You might say I was a fast learner.  I do not, however, recommend the technique for use in civilized classrooms.
     At some point, I had to explore the issues surrounding child abuse and ultimately, deal with my own demons.  Riverwalker became, among other things, the vehicle of that expression.  Perhaps that’s why it required so many years to complete.

What kind of research was involved in writing Riverwalker?

A:  Most of it was pre-Google and, at times, seemed endless.  Any given avenue of research would quickly lead to another and another, etc.  For example, the history of the Riverwalk led to the region’s early German settlers; Texas history led to Mexico which led to the history of the Catholic church in North America, brujeria, the ancient Aztecs and their gods; witchcraft led to Ouija-like boards called Tablets, accessing spirits; remote viewing led to the history of its use by the military during the Cold War; Nazis led to the ancient Norse and their gods, as well as to the P.O.W. camps here in America during WWII; drug abuse led to chemical abuse in bodybuilding, while investigating anatomical variation led to the Intersex Society of America.  I have two large cardboard boxes of research materials related to researching this book.  I also constructed the Riverwalker mask and the Ouija-like Tablet seen in the book.


Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A:  Nothing smooth here, but I never expected it to be so.  With few exceptions, dealing with rejection goes with the territory for most writers.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

A:  Riverwalker was never under contract, but work on it began sometime in the mid-1990s.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A:  My literary agent’s name is Luise Healey, who is also an Attorney-at-Law; she resides in Irvine, California and, in addition to handling my work, she has been a good friend and confidante through the years.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  Certainly.  It could be described as the further adventures of Gifford Holloway, but that won’t be the title. 

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A:  For me, the quietest place – no distractions, especially annoying telephones - is usually the best.  Atmosphere is key, but it can vary, maybe a kitchen table or a sofa; perhaps an old public library with unending shelves of books.  A yellow legal tablet, pens, perhaps a few colored pencils or markers are sufficient tools with which to begin; later, the PC and keyboard take over. 

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A:  If money were truly no object, a book trailer of movie trailer proportions would certainly be dramatic.  Schedule some prime time television exposure; show it in theatres; follow up with some strategic sound bites on radio.  In the case of Riverwalker, I would also hire actors to patrol the banks of San Antonio’s River Walk dressed in the Riverwalker mask and costume as described in the book, especially during the Halloween swell in October.
      All you need is the money. 

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A:  Here is the thing about self-publishing:  since there is no publisher promoting your book, the gig’s entirely on you.  In my case, I began with the usual word-of-mouth, including business cards and mailings, blogging from my website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  In September, Riverwalker began its virtual tour, which will run through October, with Pump Up Your Book. 

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A:  The most common reason is probably lack of self-confidence in one’s own writing.  Fortunately, I never suffered from that; I was persistent in my pursuit and always confident that somehow, someday, the work would find a way.  Today, with the advent of the e-book and independent publishing, there are few reasons, if any, to give up on such a dream.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

A:  If you genuinely feel you have something to say through your work, don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from saying it.  Above all, never ever listen to any one who says you can’t do it.  In fact, if you ever hear those words, turn them to your advantage by using the old “I’ll show you” script in your subconscious.   First: do it. Then show them you’ve done it.  Then make sure they see you’ve done it.  Then smile a big smile.  After all, that’s half the pleasure.  Right?
     There.  You’ve done it.

Thank you for your interview, Bud.  I wish you much success!

A:  My thanks to you for this interview opportunity.  I enjoyed it.

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