Hello, and welcome to an all new series of author interviews. The long anticipated anthology "We Were Heroes" will be coming out in 2016, and in preparation for this release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.
MTI: Today I'm interviewing Bruno Lombardi, who contributed a story called "Mr. Cuddles" to the anthology. Thank you for being here for another great interview, Bruno.
Starting off, let's pretend I haven't interviewed you before, and tell our new readers a little bit about yourself.
Bruno Lombardi: Well I’m 47 years old and have been currently employed as a civil servant for the Canadian government for over fourteen years now. While I’ve been writing for my own pleasure since university, it’s only been a few years since I’ve been writing professionally. It’s a great feeling having something that you saw as just a great way to relax after work and impress a few friends now being seen outside my circle of friends – and even better, making a few bucks out of it. Not making enough to quit my day job, alas, but it’s still a great feeling being acknowledged for it nevertheless.
My writing tends to be quite eclectic in nature; I’ve written –and published! – everything from horror to science fiction to alternate history to genre-blending stuff that is difficult to categorize with just one term. The fiancée is quite impressed – and more than a bit concerned! – about how my brain works sometimes!
MTI: "Mr. Cuddles" appears in We Were Heroes, an anthology devoted to the theme of aging, retired, or out of their element superheroes and villains. Tell us a little bit about your contribution to this collection. In a nutshell, what's it about?
BL: It focuses on the ‘dark side’ of being a superhero. While most of the superheroes in many stories do it for noble reasons, the protagonist in my story is motivated to do it as a result of some rather unpleasant traumatic events – and, more to the point, by a talking teddy bear giving him advice. I had more than one reader impressed with the sudden shift from comedy to horror.
MTI: Who's your favorite superhero (or villain)?
My favorite hero, oddly enough given the nature of my story, has always been Superman.
MTI: If you, yourself, could have any superpower, what would it be?
BL: Just one? That’s a tough one but I’ll go with flying. The freedom to fly in the air like a bird, that moment where you’re floating high above the ground – quite exhilarating.
MTI: Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
BL: I have a few things on the go right now: a dieselpunk version of the Rapunzel fairy tale, a unicorn story that’s a comedic mash-up of The Seven Samurai and a story about a haunted subway train.
MTI: Other than , appearing in We Were Heroes, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?
BL: I’m co-writer on several stories that will be published in upcoming Martinus anthologies.
MTI: You're pretty active in the promotion of your published works. Tell us a little bit about the last convention you attended.
BL: So after a very long day at the convention I take off and stop by a pub in the area to grab a sandwich and beer. While I’m waiting for the food, I notice one of the servers staring at me. After a moment or two, he comes over to me.
“Sorry to bother you,” he says, “But weren’t you sitting at a table at the sci-fi con with a bunch of your books?”
“Why, yes, yes I was.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have a few copies of some of the books with you now, would you?”
“Well, as a matter of fact…”
“Awesome! Tell you what; if you give me two of the books – signed, of course – I’ll pick up your bill! Sound good?”
And that’s how I ended up exchanging books for food, truly the sign of a great writer, yes?
MTI: Wow, that's something I'd love to have happen, for sure. Moving on, when it comes to television, are you watching anything new these days?
BL: Nothing new at the moment but I’m eagerly awaiting the new season of Person of Interest. For those who aren’t aware of the show, it’s a science fiction action-thriller TV series that began as a twist on the police procedural concept and over the course of the last four seasons it’s smoothly developed into a post-cyberpunk spy drama with dueling Artificial Intelligences.
MTI: Readers love samples. Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?
BL: Well, this is the opening paragraphs to Mr. Cuddles:
"We need to talk."
I blinked in shock and surprise at that line. Not just the fact that it was being spoken to me, but also simply the fact that it was being spoken at all.
The sentence had just been uttered by my stuffed teddy bear.
“What?” was my astoundingly intelligent response.
“We need to talk,” repeated Mr. Cuddles.
I looked around the room. It had been fourteen years since I had last been in my bedroom, having moved away—well, run away, let’s be honest—from home two weeks after mom died and three weeks since dad got… got away with what he did. The room had not been touched since then—grandma had made sure of that—and the place looked exactly like what you would expect a 14 year old boy’s bedroom would look like; Superman bed sheets, a few posters of (now forgettable) 90’s bands, supermodels and TV show characters, and the obligatory piles of toys, comic books and sci-fi books.
And, of course, my stuffed teddy bear, Mr. Cuddles—the only friend I'd had when I was a kid.
“We really need to talk,” said Mr. Cuddles patiently.
I looked at Mr. Cuddles. Yup, he was a teddy bear. Brown. Fuzzy. A bit threadbare. One eye missing.
“Shit. I’m losing my mind,” I said, out loud.
“No, you’re not,” replied Mr. Cuddles.
Yeah–that alleviated my concerns…
“Don’t know, Brian. It just is,” said Mr. Cuddles. “Now, take a seat. We have something to discuss.”
“You’re a freaking teddy bear!” I yelled.
“Yeah, I know that, Brian. Yeesh! You always were a bit slow. Now would you please take a seat?”
I think I babbled something incoherent but I sat down nevertheless. On the floor, as it turned out. No chairs my size in the room.
“What…?” I croaked.
“By the way, remember that time you pulled my eye out? That stung, you know."
“That’s okay. All water under the bridge, man. But now the important part. Now pay attention; this part is a bit crazy.”
“Now comes the crazy part?” I asked cynically.
Mr. Cuddles either missed or ignored the sarcasm in my voice.
“You have a mission in life now, Brian. A very important one.”
MTI: Excellent. Thanks for another fantastic interview, Bruno. For those who'd like to read more of "Mr. Cuddles" and other off-beat hero stories, We Were Heroes will be released On February 29!