#ShoutoutSaturday: Rolin Bruno
We're really excited to kick off our series of interviews with published authors with Rolin Bruno! Please let us know if you'd like to be interviewed here.
Tell us about yourself!
Twenty years ago I gave up on the cruel world and escaped into the desert, intending to dig a hole and pull it in after me. But something different happened when I began to read my Bible again.
God was calling me.
He was calling me out of the desert, out to where he could use me. But what could I do? I resolved to find a Rescue Mission and get a job cleaning toilets until they found something better for me to do. That didn’t happen either.
Instead I found a church that was on fire for Jesus. I signed myself into the Men’s Rehab home, wanting a piece of whatever it was that kept those people on fire. I took all the Bible and ministry classes they had on offer. I enrolled in college and gained a Bachelor’s in religion and ministry. But I still wanted more. I continued on to a Master’s in religion and Bible before God released me to go help the people in Mississippi stricken by Hurricane Katrina.
After two years they threw us out of the town of Gulfport for the high crime of feeding the homeless. I ended up in eastern Pennsylvania as a street evangelist to pre-teen street kids. That blew me away. What did God have for me next?
I returned to California to help my family, and began helping new church plants. After five years, I still don’t know how to do that. But I’m continuing, until God gives me some other task.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve always been writing, from poetry to scholarly treatises and finally my Master’s thesis on Jude, whose short epistle is the most neglected book in the Bible. Perhaps I picked that because of my unwavering dedication to the underdog and the ignored.
But I had this story inside me of a teenage apostle, the one who untied Jesus’ sandals and found a special place in His heart. Last year God put some space in my life and released me to begin writing in earnest.
What is the title of your most recent book? What's it about?
JOHN! Episode One – AD 27 (find it at http://rolinbruno.com). This is historical fiction of “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 13:23). Like any teen, John and his friends would get in trouble at times. After a particularly unwise stunt, He and his best friend Andrew ended up at the Jordan, listening to John the Baptist. You know the rest. They met with this Jesus character that the Baptist kept going on about, and got invited to a wedding. John wasn’t even 14 yet. But his life was changed, and he’d never be the same again.
Why did you write your book?
What was it like for this young man to meet Jesus? And why was he hanging around with the Baptist? He should have been home with his protective mother, and fishing with his thunderous father on the Sea of Galilee. These and other questions had rolled around in my head since I first read the Gospel at age ten. And more: Why was this Nathanael character such a skeptic? Did he instantly recognize the “Son of God,” or was he messing with Jesus over his improbable explanation, “I knew you because I saw you under the fig tree.” What about this Baptist? Was he an unruly student who got kicked out of Qumran, where they were teaching purity for priests? There are hints about this in the New Testament. It’s time to develop these hints into the stories that may have been the background for its life-changing message.
What challenges did you face when writing and publishing your book?
I had no clue on how to “get published.” What’s more, all my research on the internet led nowhere. Not only could I find no open door at any publisher, I found no way to latch on to a professional agent, which seemed to be the only path to a publisher.
So as second choice, I tried the “self-publishing” route. That soon became rewarding. I found a reputable firm specializing in books of my genre, well connected to the religious publishing scene. The down side, of course, was that every step had its financial costs. On June 24, 2015, my book was out. But who’s going to buy it? A big time marketing campaign takes big time money. But here I found help from the internet, and from a book on how to establish a “platform” on social media. It’s going slowly, but I believe in the end that those who would enjoy this book—especially teens—would have the chance to do so.
What has been the most rewarding part of writing and publishing your book?
Writing this book has been amazing. As one of my reviewers said, you can smell the Sea of Galilee, see the fishing nets, hear the voice of the Baptist, and understand the parables in their context. Plus out of nowhere, fascinating characters begin to leap from the pages. Who knew that the Chief Priest’s household manager had a special affection for John? Where’d this ten-year-old slum-dwelling kid come from that helps John and Andrew? These things were delightfully unexpected.
I’m still learning the marketing stuff I need, but I’ve got the publishing part figured out. I’m getting ready to announce Episode Two – AD 28 in the first week of November! It’s as good as the first one and ends with a skit featuring (as actors) Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker, Elmer Fudd, and Bugs Bunny.
What doors has being a published author open for you?
It’s all new to me, but now instead of hiding in a corner of the internet with my family and a few close friends, I have a thousand of my peers that I am sharing and reacting with on social media. This was the best cure available for my “loner” tendency, and I’m loving it.
What tip or piece of advice would you give to unpublished writers?
Self-publishing is a good place to start, but you’ll have to set aside some bucks to do it. Start now!
And don’t ever stop writing.