Today I interview Bruce Lee Bond. Bruce grew up in Studio City California at the foot of Laurel Canyon, hitchhiked around the west coast at seventeen and fled the San Fernando Valley at eighteen. He attended San Francisco State’s creative writing department when it was headed by Kay Boyle, the only undergrad in her graduate writing course at the age of twenty-one where he won national awards. He aided in the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Alcatraz Island, and left for South Dakota on an invite from a Lakota medicine man to study the rituals of the Native American Church. He soon found he was a great medicine man but had issues with alcohol and women, and Bruce ran off with the medicine man’s abused girlfriend for the Black Hills.
He came down with double pneumonia due to a ceremony performed by the shaman, had a temperature of 106.7 and almost died, spent time with the Hopi tribe on Black Mesa, helped set-up the first Rainbow Gathering in Colorado, and ended up on an old homestead in Oregon with a tall young lady who ran away at the age of twelve and was sixteen when they met.
He lived in Alaska and met a Nordic goddess on his return, was active in the largest worker owned coop in the Northwest, attended the University of Oregon’s journalism department and with his partner moved to a homestead of an old man in Alaska who wrote the state’s constitution and whose family now has a TV show. He built log homes, raised three kids and owned businesses.
He has written nine novels in the last few years, published five and was a founder and on the board of directors of the Alaska Writers’ Guild. He has won several writing contests including stories in the University of Alaska’s Cold Flashes, has published stories in US and Britain in anthologies and was involved in a plethora of other legal and illegal endeavors in his youth that spawned many characters in his work. He also does a great deal of historical research with novels in the Klondike gold rush in 1899, the Barbary Coast of San Francisco in the days before the earthquake of 1906, and early Hollywood in 1919. His last two published novels are in the underworld of modern day Alaska, and in the underground counterculture of the early 1970s in the Pacific Northwest about things the larger culture was never meant to know.
For this interview, he’s talking about Hippie Hill Or How I Spent My Vacation. It is 321 pages and was published by Montag Press on April 18, 2018.
Why did you write this book?
I waited for years to write this book about the outlaw counterculture of the 1970’s that few know of and few believe happened. I sat down with the survivor of the gunfight near the end of the novel between the only two blacks in the novel twenty years later over beers to get it right. Hope I’ve kept my promise.
What genre is the book?
This novel is at the top and in the middle of the genre bookshelf of Hippie Outlaw Fiction which is empty otherwise, although most of the events actually happened.
Is it character driven or plot driven?
Got it say it’s character driven since so many of the characters are a novel in themselves, but there is a PLOT.
What makes it unique?
Beginning with two seventeen year old runaways, there is no other book about the psychedelic outlaw culture of the time that uses characters who lived it with the events that happened.
Do you plot ahead of time?
Not with this one so much. The characters experience actual events and react according to their individual natures although I knew how it would end. I actually had to leave out 99% of the things I could have written about and pared it down to a small area of the Siskiyou Mountains in southern Oregon where the major events happened.
How did you develop the character names?
Most of the names were actual people. Who could come up with a better name for a girl living in the woods high on psychedelics wearing nothing but leather bikini briefs, knee-high moccasins, a great tan with long blond braids and a .45 Colt Peacemaker in a bullet filled gun belt than Fauna? Other names like Darla Argyle just popped up. Two of Charlie Manson’s fugitive girls have their real names, as did Black Michael, Abdullah, Rayella and Cindy the runaway Olympic gymnast.
How did you decide on the setting?
That’s easy. In this one the settings were real.
Do you have a writing mentor?
I had a writing mentor a long time ago. Kay Boyle who taught at San Francisco State. She ran away at sixteen and married an Austrian count, was a spy in WWII, spoke several languages, wrote eighty books and had six children by six men. I was the only undergrad in her graduate writing class and told her I would stay ahead of everybody on assignments but was leaving six weeks early to study the peyote church with a Lakota medicine man in South Dakota. She agreed. Kay lived to ninety-eight years old.
What is your writing schedule?
My writing schedule entails not working any other job when I have a novel project which can clash with making a living elsewhere as once you’ve published a novel that and four bucks will actually get you a latte. My favorite place to write is any space where I can park my laptop without distraction.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I would suggest to any aspiring writer who wants to make money to not be too imaginative or individual as that is what people only claim they want. Most desire the familiar and something that bonifies their own opinions and experience no matter what they say. My path has always been different.
How can readers get in touch with you?
I just finished Hippie Hill, which Sabina loaned me. It was really good! Good prose and it was a page turner, especially to me a resident of Takilma for 38 years. I enjoyed getting a clearer picture of the “dark side” of the 70’s here, which I only skimmed over in my book; Takilma Tales: The Hippie History of Takilma, Oregon. Thanks.
Thank you for stopping by and checking out the interview!