Gunner Alan Lindbloom was incarcerated for extortion, bank robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping, weapons violations, and several other crimes. Altogether, when he was arrested, he was facing 17 capital crimes, but luckily plea bargained them down to 4-5 charges in exchange for a 13-50 year sentence. He was released 14 months ago after serving 13.3 years, and is currently still on parole. While he was locked up he decided he wasn’t going to be another statistic. Another convict who wastes his time inside and comes out even worse than when he went in. Gunner wasn’t going to let society stigmatize him or paint him out to be a worthless loser for having made some bad choices when he was young. To that end he picked up a pen. It was only a matter of teaching himself how to put what was in his mind, onto paper. It took him many, many years to become a well-versed writer, but since he was locked up in a cell for 22 hours a day, he had plenty of time to practice, and he notes that his skills are still evolving today.
Gunner came home ready with dozens of novels written, including To Be A King, an epic series along the lines of Mario Puzo’s Godfather. On Amazon numerous reviewers have made the comparison. Gunner’s books are old world Mafia meets contemporary times. Like the Godfather, there are larger-than-life characters that are clearly criminals, and yet you find yourself rooting for them. There is a very romanticized plot, and the main character operates under the old rules of Omerta—loyalty, honor, respect, Family, and death before dishonor. Don Falcone is reminiscent of Don Corleone, wise and tenured, from the old country. Omnio “King” Falcone is the Michael Corleone of the book. Although the books very much differ from the Godfather in plot and storyline, there are some similarities that one could compare. I sat down with Gunner, here’s what he had to say.
You lived the life you write about, so how true are the stories that you’ve written in your book? Well, that is the million-dollar question that I also get asked in every interview. The answer is two-fold, because I do two types of writing. The first is a series of short stories from my previous life (pre-prison) called “The Lindbloom Chronicles,” which are published at a website called the National Crime Syndicate. Presently, there are a total of twelve, all 100% biographical. My novels, however, are a different story (nice pun). They are, in every sense of the word, fiction novels, driven by complex characters, plots, and sub-plots that I created in my mind, far more romantic and grandiose than anything I ever lived. That said, of course there are many characters based on characters from my previous life. For example, Don Falcone, the main character’s beloved grandfather, is based on my grandfather, Peter Tocco, who raised me. Vonni, the main character’s best friend and omnipresent sidekick, is based on my best friend who died many years ago. Also, many happenstances in the book mirror experiences from my previous life as a street enforcer for the Detroit Crime Family. Quite a few, in fact. But only the people closest to me will ever know which ones. I’ll leave it to my readers to try and figure it out. A bit of mystery, if you will.
Volume #1 of your two-part series is a HUGE book. What is your writing process? How did you create and fashion your book? I’m going to tell you a secret most of the world doesn’t know. Volumes 1 & 2 were originally one book, totaling over 1,000 pages. But it just wasn’t feasible to try and publish such a large book. Not from a monetary standpoint. I was very torn about the prospect of cutting the book in half, because doing so would take away any real resolution to Volume 1. But my agent and other advisers pressed for the book to be divided into two volumes. Thankfully, there was a definitive halfway point to the story. Ironically, it was almost exactly in the middle of the story, and allowed for a sort of cliff-hanger ending. Sure, there was no definitive conclusion in Volume 1, but by the time readers are that invested in the story and characters, they NEED to know what happens next. I have virtually a 100% turnover for Volume 2 if they read Volume 1.
My writing process is quite simple and often irritates other writers when I tell them about it. I never make an outline. I never work from notes. I never work from a character outlines. I simply sit down and start writing. In my mind, I have this sort of montage, a picture board of scenes: a beginning, middle, and an end. Once I start writing, I simply fill in the blanks. That’s what is so fun to me. Just creating on the fly, letting my mind run wherever the story takes me, but directed by that picture montage in my mind. I create and add characters as needed. I often work in layers of sup-plot as I go, spawned by the create juices as I write. That’s the cool thing about writing fiction. You’re only limited by your own imagination. If that makes any sense. LOL It might not.
From an enforcer in the mob to a novelist. Did you ever think life would lead you in this direction? SI know some people will never believe this, but the answer is yes. I have a few very close friends from my childhood that could confirm how I used to brag that I’d someday make movies. And though I have yet (operative word “yet”) to make a movie, I always had these crazy stories bouncing around in my head. I was a natural storyteller, and the creative process has always come very easy for me. One of my pickup lines back in high school was “Someday you are going to watch my movies.” And someday they will. It’s just taking a little longer than expected.
How has life been treating you now that you are out? I have to say, life as a free man has been amazing! I actually got married the day after I got out. Since then I have been busy to say the least. Not just with all the business stuff, the interviews, the traveling, the promoting, but my day to day life. I live in an extremely remote area of Northern Michigan, where it is very wild. I do a lot of camping and trout fishing with my wife. Lately, I’ve been fishing for river-run salmon almost every day in the streams by my house. To date, I think I’ve landed 35. I also have some cool toys—dirt bikes, snowmobiles, 4-wheelers—so I stay busy having fun when I’m not promoting my books or working on other elements of my businesses. People who follow me on Facebook love to live vicariously through me because I’m always on some new adventure. I don’t take a single day for granted. I’m truly grateful that God has blessed me with such a wonderful new life, and I make sure to never waste a moment of it.
What do you want your readers to take away from your books? Honestly, all I want my readers to take away from my book is a great read. I want them to feel so drawn into the story that they actually feel part of it, which is how many of my readers describe it. They say they feel like they are watching a movie in their head, which tells me I did my job. One woman reader recently told me that she cried several times throughout the book, and at other times had to set the book down, stand, and literally yell in frustration. But there were other times, she explained, that she was nearly cheering with anticipation for what was coming next. I have had so many readers, hundreds – even thousands, express similar experiences to me. It always makes my eyes well up with tears, and I have a hard time holding it together. I literally get choked up. Not because I’m some kind emotional mess, but because I pour my heart and soul into every one of my books. Thousands upon thousands of hours of work, pouring over every word, paragraph, and page, editing until it is as close to perfect as I can get it. So, it brings me great joy to be able to evoke such powerful emotional responses from my readers. It means I have done my job. And done it well.
What surprised you the most in the process of writing a book? Well, that’s easy. The whole process of editing, formatting, and marketing. The editing/proofing process is insanely tedious and requires thousands of hours of hard work. Not just from me, but from qualified proofers and beta readers. Then there is more editing. More proofing. Next comes the formatting for print. Then the e-formatting. If it was not for my wife, who has worked in the publishing industry for 15 years, I would have never been able to do it. Plain and simple. At least not as quickly as she did. She is the master of the aforementioned and did an incredible amount of work leading up to the release of Volumes 1 & 2 of my novels. And the whole marketing process is something else I was not prepared for. It is a constant daily grind to promote via social media, book clubs, TV, radio, blogs, podcasts, and interviews like this. No matter how great a book is, it doesn’t sell itself in the beginning. It has to first get exposure. It’s fun but can also be a grind. But what the hell, it sure beats a prison cell.