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A Chat with Mr. & Mrs. Charles Randolph Bruce

Authors of Rebel King, Book Two, The Har’ships

Q:  You two are now halfway through your four-book series on Robert the Bruce. When can we look for Book Three of Rebel King to be published? What will be the titles of your last two books?

A:  It will be at least early 2006 before the third book, Rebel King, Bannock Burn, is published.  The fourth volume is as yet untitled, but we suspect it will be 2008 before the last of our chronicles reaches our readers.

Q:  I keep hearing that there will be a movie about your first book. Are you currently working on a script? Bring us up to date on this exciting possibility. 

A:  Yes, we received a movie treatment of our first book, Rebel King, Hammer of the Scots, at the end of August and are currently reading it before getting back to the author with suggestions or corrections.  Did you know that the movie industry uses the rule of thumb that one page in the film script equals on minute on the screen?  If that holds true and the script that we have remains unchanged, our movie will be three hours long!  This is after we worked with the scriptwriter to cut out several battles and some lesser important characters.  The scriptwriter, by the way, is our younger son, Ian Alexander Bruce.

      As for progress toward a movie being made, we have a letter of intent from a movie corporation called Point White Horn Studio, currently being organized which, we are told, has a budgeted amount of $100 million set aside for shooting Rebel King, Episode One, The Hammer of the Scots.  This letter, of course, is merely step one in which could be a long journey, but it is progress.

Q:  You must have a very extensive library of books on Robert the Bruce. Tell us, if you will, your main sources of research for writing a series of four books.

A:  We have shelves and stacks of books from John Barbour, who wrote his poem The Bruce within fifty years of the Bruce’s death, to Barrow, Barron, Crowe, Scott, etc., and books on everything from medieval armor to horses to feasts of the period.  Also, we have found the Internet to be a wonderful resource, putting Scotland at the writer’s fingertips.  Maps, photographs, seasonal weather conditions, and even data about salmon runs were all found via the Net.  Carolyn found a photograph of Brander Pass as a resource and liked it well enough that she how uses it as wallpaper on her menu screen.

Q:  In The Har’ships, you have 42 models for your characters. Did you obtain a “release” or get permission to use them as models?

A:  Absolutely.  Everyone is signed and tucked away.  However, those models we’ve talked with seem to enjoy having their likenesses in the books, even when their images are used to depict less than savory characters.  Sometimes we get the idea they like them most.

Q:  It is mentioned in The Har’ships that “many people have contributed knowledge in their respective fields of expertise…” but I found no such statement in Book One of Rebel King. Why the change in Book Two? Why was this approach necessary, and will you continue this it in the final two books?

A:  We did not put such a statement in the first volume simply because we were thoughtless.  A number of individuals aided us with details in both books, and we realized by the second that we owed them a “thank you” for all their help.  They made both books better than they otherwise would have been, and if they are willing, we would like to continue utilizing their skills.

Q:  Tell us about Ahead of the Hangman Press. Why did you form your own publishing company? Why this particular name for a publishing company?

A:  We formed our own publishing house, which is Bruce & Bruce, Inc., because we were dissatisfied with the responses we received from others.  We sent our first book out to a number of agents and publishers, actually making agreements with two agents, with whom we eventually parted company, and a publisher with offices in NYC and the UK.  That was early in 2001.  After September 11, however, the publisher’s schedule was necessarily pushed well into the future due to the return of a number of their employees to the United Kingdom that left the New York office very shorthanded.  We asked for and were given our contract back without penalty, which we thought was very accommodating of them.

      The name of our imprint, Ahead of the Hangman Press, comes from Randy’s childhood.  His grandfather told him that their Bruce ancestors left Scotland “one step ahead of the hangman”.  We assume that circumstance was because they were on the wrong side in one of the Scots’ battles with the English rather than because they had pinched some earl’s sheep.  Whichever, we thought there were a whole lot of Scots whose ancestors made the same hasty exit to cheat the hangman of his pay, and thus we named our imprint.

Q:  I’ve enjoyed reviewing your first two books, and I appreciate your candor and courtesy regarding both book reviews and the “Chat” articles. Any words you want to leave with our readers?

A:  We would like to thank you, Frank, and all the Scots who have been so supportive of our works, and who have given us such heartwarming emails, letters and even notations on their orders to say they enjoyed and learned from our books.  It means a lot to us that so many people who have read our novels have taken the time and trouble to come to the Games where we have been to say hello and talk to them.  One elderly lady from down South, whom we’ve never met in person, even sent us several gifts, including a haggis plate, when she ordered multiple copies of the second book with the intention of sending the extras to her cousins in Scotland.  She had sent them copies of the first book, too.  Thanks to you all, and think “MOVIE!”

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