Author Name: Thomas “Buddy” Bardenwerper
Genre: Commercial fiction
Books: Mona Passage: A Novel
Brief bio: After college, I served as a Coast Guard officer aboard cutters homeported in Maine and Puerto Rico. In 2018, I was medically retired for Type 1 diabetes but was fortunate to transition to Harvard Law School on the GI Bill. My wife, one-year-old daughter, and I will be moving to Miami after I graduate this spring.
What got you started as a writer? The diabetes diagnosis, actually. Suddenly I had all of this free time because the Coast Guard wouldn’t let me go to sea. I started writing as a way to process these changes in my life, and before I knew it this story about Galán, Gabriela, and Pat came to me, a story that needed to be told.
What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? Participating in the Coast Guard’s migrant repatriation mission. This is difficult, complicated, and emotionally fraught work. I was determined to finish Mona Passage – and find it a home with a publisher – because readers needed to know about the human drama that unfolds on the Caribbean Sea every day.
Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? No, and I had never heard of it until now! Very cool – but 50,000 words in one month is no joke!
What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? Don’t get wrapped around the axle trying to get an agent. Getting an agent is an arbitrary gatekeeping mechanism, and without a traditional writing pedigree, it’s almost impossible. Instead, look for smaller independent publishers, including those associated with universities like my beloved Syracuse University Press!
What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? Seeing my ten nieces and nephews miss out on so much of what makes childhood special.
What are you reading right now? Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. I love the dialogue and South Florida setting.
Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? Preferably both. But if I had to choose, I’d rather laugh. Too much sentimentality can throw me for a loop!
Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? I can’t say I have! But I did a lot of reading on my rooftop in San Juan.
Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? No, but I’ve done a lot of reading at sea. Before heading out for a sixty-day patrol, I would stuff my sea bag with as many books as possible and see if I could finish the whole lot before coming home.
Could you live in a tiny house? If it has a yard, absolutely! I love getting outside to play with my daughter and workout, bookended by coffee in the mornings and cold beers in the evenings.
What are the small things that make you happy? Watching my daughter learn new words and animal noises.
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