Talking Thrillers with Author Don Bruns: Hotel California

Don Bruns
Author biography: USA Today bestselling author Don Bruns is the author of three mystery series. His first novel, Jamaica Blue was championed by author Sue Grafton and became the cornerstone for his Caribbean series. His second series, the Stuff series, involves two twenty-four year old private detectives in Miami. The books have been praised for their humor, their compelling story lines and the characters. A starred review in Booklist compares the novels to Mark Twain's Huck Finn.


Bruns's newest series, the Quentin Archer mysteries, involves a New Orleans homicide detective and a voodoo practitioner who team up to solve crime in the Big Easy. And, Hotel Californiais a thrilling new anthology he spear headed as editor, bringing together some of the top names writing in the genre today.

Bruns is a musician, song writer, advertising guru, painter, cook, stand-up comic and novelist who has no idea what he wants to be when he grows up.

TFx: Where did you come up with the idea for this book, and what can you tell us about the theme of the collection?

Bruns: Several years ago I was asked to write a short story using a Jimmy Buffet song title, Cheeseburger in Paradise. The editor had authors do one song from every Buffet album, and last year The Great Filling Station Holdup was published. I used a hitman who is hired to kill the mayor in the small town of Munster, Iowa. The story opens as he sits in the Paradise Café, looking out the window at  cows in a small stockade. And of course, he’s eating a Cheeseburger. Talk about farm to table. My agent, Julie Gwinn asked “Why didn’t we think of that?” I suggested there were a lot of other ideas we could use.

TFx: How did you choose the stories to include?

Bruns: My idea was to use Hotel California, and assign a different author every song title on that album. The stipulation was, they couldn’t use the theme of the song,  just the title. The first person I contacted was Andrew Child who had taken over the Jack Reacher series from his brother, Lee Child. I asked him to write New Kid In Town, and he immediately said yes. It’s a great story. Then I contacted New York Times best selling authors Heather Graham, Reed Ferrel Coleman, John Gilstrap and three other fabulous authors. No one turned me down. I was amazed, because they all have major project they are working on at any given moment. (Reacher was the #1 show in March, April and May on Amazon prime.)

TFx: How does each story in the collection connect to the larger theme of the book?

Bruns: The stories are pretty much character driven. In the larger picture, hotels contain a collection of characters from every walk of life. I met almost all of these authors in hotel bars at conventions. It’s not that we drink that much (well…some more than others), but those bars in those hotels are a fabulous place to hear and tell stories. So, welcome to the Hotel California. (The Eagles are currently touring the Hotel California show, featuring every song on the album.)

TFx: How do you balance your role as both writer and editor?

Bruns: I personally know almost every author in the book. They are topnotch professionals who know how to create suspense and characters that are extremely memorable. There’s a lot of trust in this project. I trusted them, they trusted me. It’s like a musician’s jam session, playing with guys and girls you’ve known and admired for years. You instinctively know that the end result is going to be great.

TFx: What’s next for the series?

Bruns: Oh, wow. Thriller. Due next year. Jeffrey Deaver, William Kent Krueger, Heather Graham…the authors are all first class professionals and the stories have already been submitted. They are, again, fabulous. From Billy Jean, The Girl is Mine, Thriller to Wanna Be Startin’ Something and Beat It, they are powerful stories that twist, turn, and seriously entertain.

TFx: Had you always wanted to be a writer?

Bruns: 4th grade, my teacher said to the class, “We are going to write a book.” 26 weeks later, 25 classmates and I had each written a chapter, based loosely on The Hardy Boys. I thought to my self, “I could do this. I don’t need 25 other authors.” I owned an advertising agency for 35 years. Writing advertising copy was a great lesson in writing fiction.

TFx: What are you reading now, and what good books have you read lately?

Bruns: The Islander an autobiography by Chris Blackwell. He introduced Bob Marley to the world along with dozens of other musical acts. He owned a recording studio in the Bahamas, and I burned it down in Bahama Burnout. When it was rebuilt (at least in my book and imagination), there was a ghost-like presence. I’ve read the Jack Reacher book Better Off Dead, which I loved, and I’m also reading Shadows Reel by CJ Box, who turned me down on my next anthology. He used the lame excuse that he has a two book obligation plus two TV series about to launch (teasing!).

TFx: Do you believe you should never judge a book by its cover?

Bruns: Have you seen the cover for Hotel CaliforniaTake off the dust jacket…the very evocative dust jacket, and the hard cover is a 33 1/3rpm record. Amazing. Truly amazing. To understand this…you have to buy the book.

TFx: What was the last book you read that had a plot twist you totally didn't see coming?

Bruns: Don Winslow, City on Fire. But the Kirkus review for Hotel California raves about the eight plot twists that you never saw coming. They are truly eight strong stories and you will find a major twist in everyone of them.

TFx: Tell us something fun about you that readers might be surprised to know?

Bruns: I have 18 published novels. I was a road musician and comic with a buddy from college and I have warmed up acts like the Platters, Ricky Nelson, Ray Charles and the Four Seasons. But my claim to fame may be that I sang, solo, the McDonald’s chili commercial…on a nationwide rollout. To this day, McDonald’s does not sell chili. I always thought it might be that the jingle was a little shaky.

Get Don Brun’s latest release, Hotel California, out now on Amazon

Hotel California

Featuring a new Jack Reacher story by Andrew Child!


A dangerous drifter, a hired gun, a grisly corpse—you never know who you’ll run into at the Hotel California.


Eight deliciously talented mystery authors have lent their skills of crafting murder and suspense to this collection of gripping short stories. Each of these eight provocative tales is designed to entertain and mystify—and maybe even chill you to your core.


Get lost in the wild imaginations of such New York Times bestselling writers as Andrew Child, Heather Graham, Reed Farrel Coleman, and John Gilstrap, plus authors Rick Bleiweiss, Jennifer Dornbush, Amanda Flower, and Don Bruns. From the titular tale “Hotel California” to a new, original Jack Reacher adventure, these stories have a little something for every mystery lover.


Go ahead. Check in, enjoy some room service, and stay until the very last tantalizing page. Just don’t forget to search the closet or behind the curtains.

Thrillerfix was created by a group of bestselling thriller authors who wanted to build a community around their favorite genre to write—and read. Get recommendations for new releases and discounted ebooks from our expert editorial team, from bestsellers to hidden gems.

Read More ThrillerPicks

Talking Thrillers with Author Brian Freeman: The Ursulina
Talking Thrillers with Author Rex Pickett: The Archivist