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Author Interview - Bob Holderbaum

This week's interview is with first-time Author Bob Holderbaum.

Bob's debut novel, Trestle of Death: Murder Unpunished was just released in February.

Thank you, Bob, for being my guest this week.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you - in what way and what was the name of that book?

I don’t remember specific books when I was a child. However, I’ve had a life-long penchant for true crime stories—and I know exactly where that started. Magazines. My dad was a barber. On the magazine rack in his little barber shop, he offered an array of reading material. It included several true crime magazines for his in-queue customers, e.g., True Detective and The Police Gazette.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I’ve enjoyed both writing and research since high school. I was on the debate team and loved doing research in the library. I never, ever aspired to be a “published author”. However, in 2017, the facts written in TRESTLE kind of fell into my possession—from a former wife, of all people. Those newspaper articles told me a story. The book relates the crime as it happened but also views that entire tale through the lens of the modern-day concept of hate crimes. That gave the 1985 story an extra twist using that twist. The moral of the story simply “screamed out” to me to be told.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

The late Ann Rule was far and away my favorite true crime writer. I also enjoy Edgar Allen Poe and Hemingway.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

As suggested, it combines my favorite area of literature (true crime) with my appreciation for—and enjoyment of—doing research. Having worked the traditional “9 to 5” job most of my life, writing requires intense self-discipline to concentrate on one subject for several hours at a time.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

I have many hundreds of facts in a true crime situation. The “idea part” comes in selecting which facts are most relevant and how do I present those facts so that the average reader will clearly understand what happened those years ago.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

That’s quite easy. I just put “on hiatus” a ten-year musical career. I am a singer; I accompany myself with 5-string banjo or 12-string guitar (having been unable to learn to play the two simultaneously). I began several decades ago as a “folk singer.” However, I have a fairly good vocal range (I love Roy Orbison’s songs, and I love singing them!) so I emulate Neil Diamond, “soft” Beatles music, etc. In 2012 I recorded a CD. So, publishing a book now, I’m proud that I kind of “happen-stanced” my way into having both a book and a CD!

7. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

Within about 72 hours of completing TRESTLE, I realized the great “fit” between Bob and writing. I had remembered a murder case from the late 1980s. I didn’t even know if the case had been solved or not. I learned it took 11 years for an arrest. The individual was tried, convicted and sentenced to life. However, 17 years after his conviction he has the Innocence Project actively involved in trying to exonerate him and gain his release.

A Little More Personal

8. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

I am NOT superstitious. However, I am always interested in (sometimes truly) bizarre coincidences. I also keep an open mind to issues for which humankind doesn’t know all the answers—things like some unexplained phenomena from many centuries ago, possible visits from other parts of the galaxy, demon possession… I said: I’m a curious person.

9. What makes you happy?

Simple things like family, continuity in my life schedule (translate: routine), and being able to satisfy my insatiable curiosity.

10. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

I love listening to many kinds of music. It’s often a temptation to listen-while-writing, a battle I have to wage internally.


Robert “Bob” Holderbaum. Home: Battle Creek, MI. Debuting as a published author. TRESTLE OF DEATH: MURDER UNPUNISHED—the 1985 gay-bashing murder and true to title, it occurred under a railroad. There are several parallels with the renown murder case of Matthew Shepard in 1998. (The book should be released by March 31.) Prior to writing professionally, I was CEO of a local branch of Goodwill Industries, a post I held 22 years. I’m married and I have two sons, one grandson, one daughter-in-law, and an 11-pound rescue dog who sometimes thinks she’s Cujo. I once served four years as a city commissioner in Battle Creek. For five years, many moons ago, I had a weekly, one-hour, LIVE call-in talk show on the local public cable station.

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