Get to Know…Pete Wurdock

BendingWaterCoverasJpegPlease welcome fiction author Pete Wurdock for today’s interview. He’s here to discuss his short story collection, Bending Water and Stories Nearby.

Welcome, Pete!

Tell us about your book, please. 

My new book is titled Bending Water and Stories Nearby. It is a Northern Michigan short story collection.

Do you have a favorite story in this collection? Which one and why?

I am a little partial to a story called “Buckshot.” It takes place sometime in the 1970’s and tells the story of two hunters (brothers) who find themselves far off the beaten path while hunting in the UP. One of them accidentally shoots himself and while the other is able to summon help on the CB radio, his greatest challenge is keeping his brother alive until help comes. In true to life fashion, their whole life flashes in front of them quickly during their conversation which leads up to the final moments before help arrives. But does it arrive on time?

Cue ominous music. How does the Northern Michigan setting factor into your stories?

All the stories in Bending Water and Stories Nearby take place in an area I know well, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. So many things are different in the UP in contrast to the rest of Michigan; such as the weather, pace of life, values and customs. But the universal conclusion is that none of us are exempt from human condition of facing our own mortality. There are the characters yearning, driven by sorrow and bliss. . .surviving, dying, living and sometimes at the end of their rope only holding on long enough to see what comes next.

How would you categorize the genre of these tales?

These stories are fiction, with some being based on real life events and people. Those who know me, know I am an upbeat, laugh a minute guy. But in these stories I address death and dying and remembering how to live, knowing that being happy takes effort. We all need to pay attention to what it is we leave behind.

What’s the book’s opening line? Why did you start there?

The opening line is, “I’d like to thank the following people. . .” OK, kidding.

Opening Line: “Joe stumbled around in the Lake Superior State Forest disoriented and looking for a way out of the lightless cedar swamp.”

That story, titled “Bending Water,” is the centerpiece of the book, a little longer than the rest of them, but sets up base camp for the book in the heart of the UP.

Please share a writing tip you’ve found helpful. 

Kill the adverbs!  I would whole heartedly recommend reading Stephen King’s book titled “On Writing” at least once a year.

Yes, that book is quite a horror story for adverbs. Let’s pretend you’re casting one of these stories as a movie. Who would you like to portray these characters?

I have a story titled “Ghost Ship Down.” In it, a retiree has finally fulfilled dream and lives on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior on the Keewinaw. He’s a radio enthusiast and during a terrible storm he encounters a sinking ship on Lake Superior, though the Coast Guard doesn’t believe him. It’s a paranormal historical story.

So I’d say. . .cast Kevin Costner as the retired guy and a bad ass like Russell Crowe to play the part of the Sheriff who comes to his house during the storm to confront him.

Superman’s dad vs…Superman’s other dad? Possibilities. What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

The best book I’ve read this year (though it is old) was Sherwood Andersen’s Winesberg, Ohio. I have no idea how I missed this masterpiece while growing up!

Who is your favorite fictional character? (Any medium)

It would have to be Superman, the old, serial Superman who was always saving that snoopy Lois Lane who loved to get into trouble. Though I also love  (in no particular order: Gilligan, Danny Zuko, Mr. Holland (who had the opus) and Jerry Seinfeld, while playing Jerry Seinfeld.

Seinfeld does play a good Seinfeld. If you could have one super-power, what would it be and why? 

I would love to have what I call “Super-brain-draft power.”  This is taking an idea that is in my head (and largely flushed out) and being able to have it appear on my computer as a first draft.

That would be incredibly useful. Now shifting gears…Please share a bit about your musical background.

I began playing drums in the fifth grade after listening to some of my Dad’s jazz records and my older brother and sister’s rock and roll records. Upon graduation I attended Albion College to pursue journalism, but music took me in another direction and the next year I was accepted into the renowned Berklee College of Music. After completing coursework I returned to Michigan where I played professionally in bands and in theater for a number of years.  Once I got tired of it I began working in promotion, distribution and management and later moved to Nashville where I worked with some of the biggest (and worst) country music stars of the 1990’s. I returned from Nashville to run a small record label and work closely with a terrific musician named Stewart Francke, who has had an incredible career, won a lot of awards and recorded with a guy named Bruce Springsteeen. Stewart and I still work together, though today I am more of a consultant rather than manager.

Sounds like quite a career there. What’s next for you?

After I take my dogs out and make them dinner, I am trying to finish a proposal I’ve been writing for a new book to pitch to an agent. If accepted it would be my second venture into the non-fiction arena. It is a book about how rock and roll music transformed the lives of students in a high school and the impact it had on a community at large.

Where can people learn more about your work?

Why, that would be the internet of course!  😉  It is a small imprint I founded to partner with other Michigan writers and writers of Michigan fiction and non-fiction. I have a retail distribution deal and have helped fund several independent projects and am always anxious to share what I know. In addition I also have a reinvigorated blog, which can be found at: P  Last, people can follow updates of my new book at:

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I am a laugh a minute guy who loves to cook and be creative. If you are a woman, every moment with me is guaranteed bliss or you’ll get a free Kit Kat bar.

This has been fun, thank you, Daniel!

Thank you, Pete!