Hello again to you! As promised, this week I’m featuring Michael Bushman, an accomplished author who has delivered entrancing as well as insightful stories for his readers. So, sit back and enjoy a special treat as I talk with Michael Bushman!
E.V: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
M.B: What matters most? Is it being a father, husband, brother, son, uncle, friend and mentor? Perhaps it’s being a philosopher, writer, reader and solution seeker? Or maybe it’s the hiker, nature lover, soccer fan and tennis player? Could it be the struggler who learned through trial-and-error to overcome mental health challenges that nearly ended my life description at 15? Or is it the resume lines? High school in Geneva, Illinois. College newspaper editor in chief at the University of Illinois. Masters in Business Administration, with honors, from the University of Chicago. A multi-year stint as Washington Director for a member of Congress. Twenty years of corporate public affairs work as a communicator to Wall Street, lobbyist and transformational change leader. It’s all part of who I am, but what matters most to me is how I treat others.
E.V.: Where do you get the ideas for your books?
M.B: I write on two tracks: 1) stories of what the future will look like if we leave our political system in its current state of disrepair, and 2) mental health. My first published book on mental health is a combination memoir/novella that draws on my teenage struggles with severe depression, and shares what I’ve learned since that would have made middle and high school more bearable. That idea simply came from wanting to help others identify coping techniques in the context of a compelling story. My dystopian stories of our potential future derive from my study of history, politics, behavioral psychology and a number of other areas of interest. I explore our current divides, project them forward and search for ways to avoid the most calamitous impacts. The stories I use crystallize as I envision how the characters in my stories will be affected by developing technology and global trends.
E.V.: Do you relate to any of your main characters?
M.B: In Suicide Escape, I am the character Mike to the extent I share anything that happened in Mike’s life prior to 2014. I set that book in the future because I thought it would be less creepy to have a 75-year-old Mike (rather than me in my 50s) interact with 15-year-old Clarissa as he works to convince her that life will get better from the time he meets her on a mountain hike. In the action/suspense stories that include Melting Point 2040, Secession 2041 and Doing Unto Others, a good deal of my insecurities, open-mindedness and appearance reside in the character of Professor Paul Stark. That he happens to teach at one of my alma maters is not coincidental.
E.V.: Were you inspired by real life experiences to write any of your books?
M.B: Even as a young kid, I was interested in politics and public policy, and my nearly six years of congressional work accelerated that interest. Since then, I’ve watched our political world deteriorate to a bitterness I couldn’t imagine when I worked in Washington, D.C. I began writing these books to expose the long-term consequences of our divides and, more importantly, to identify principles and policy changes that could help unite our nation and world. On the mental health side, I’ve never believed the phase that “everything happens for a reason,” but I do believe that we can find a purpose for every pain we endure if we use our experiences to help others.
E.V.: Do you have a favorite author?
M.B: I couldn’t pick just one author, because so many have influenced me for different reasons. But a few come to mind right now: Taylor Branch, Tom Clancy, Malcolm Gladwell, Ayn Rand, Jonathan Kozol, Dan Brown, Paulo Coehlo, David Broder, Jared Diamond and Stephen R. Covey.
E.V.: Do you have another project in the works? If so, what is it?
M.B: I’m working on two projects, one on each track. The mental health side is the story of a good friend who is a multiple suicide attempt survivor, focusing on how she has reached a point of contentment she often believed unachievable. On the political dystopia side, I’m writing a novel about what happens when a collection of unsavory elements conspire to ignite a global holy war (beyond the battles already engaged), including exploring how to stop them before they achieve their goals.
E.V.: You mention your philosophical side. What concept best captures your philosophy?
M.B: I’m a huge fan of the Golden Rule, the idea of treating others as we would want to be treated in similar circumstances. It’s the only principle shared in the scriptures and teachings of every faith (even if not always followed), and is also contained in the teachings of leading atheists, agnostics and secular humanists. Unfortunately, many of our laws clearly fail a Golden Rule standard.
E.V.: If you had one other concept you would want to share, what would it be?
M.B: Humanity comes in many colors and fabrics, each of us with our own strengths and elements of attraction. It is only when we weave gently together, though, that we create the most stunning of tapestries.
A HUGE thank you to Michael for taking the time and talking with me. If you’d like to read more about him or his novels, you can visit www.mbushman.com. And don’t forget, Christmas is just 2 weeks away, and books are the gifts that keep on giving, plus its a great way to support one of our very own local authors!
Thanks so much for visiting this week, and don’t miss next week as I recognize artists for you to meet! Maybe you’ll find some great last-minute gifts for family and friends!
Til next week…