Baran-Unland: Tell us a bit about your writing background.
Brink: When I was a junior in high school, I was the second-fastest typist in a class of about 30.
I had no idea what I wanted to do for a vocation, and decided I should be a typist. In college, I had to take two years of a foreign language, and chose German, not an easy one to learn. But I got A’s, and figured I should teach it.
So, after graduating from college, I went to Germany to hone my skills in the language and become steeped in the culture. A semester in graduate school made me realize teaching was too sedentary for me. The psychology professor in my small undergraduate college told me I’d displayed a flair for writing in his class, and my personality seemed suited for journalism.
I spent a year in graduate journalism school at the University of Iowa, and embarked on my first newspaper job – with the Herald-News, a wonderful time in my life, as I loved the people in the newsroom.
That’s where I got my feet wet: writing obits, covering municipal government, writing features, and probably most important, doing the police beat, which affords invaluable insights into the nitty-gritty of human behavior.
After a year-and-a-half, I landed a spot with The Associated Press in Chicago, where, as a single guy, I’d been spending my weekend nights, anyway. I loved the AP, and the troubleshooter for the radio department wanted to put me on the New York desk, but that was too much like headline writing, so I headed for the Milwaukee Journal.
After two years, I left the frigid Midwest for sunny Florida and the Tampa Tribune. I did too well substituting for the education reporter at a board meeting, and the editors decided I should replace her. I balked, to no avail, and moved to the Palm Beach Post, where I spent almost 15 years.
Later, I spent nine years with Palm Beach Media Group, which puts out magazines celebrating the upscale lifestyle. I even edited and write for the annual Mar-a-Lago magazine, overseen by you-know-who. The guy imposed his totally uninformed and ridiculous ideas on writing styles, and we staffers were obligated to execute them.
At the flagship magazine, Palm Beach Illustrated, I wrote a story in 2002 for the 50th anniversary edition about a sensational murder in the town in 1976, relying on the discoveries by a former Post colleague about the killer and the person behind the deed.
But the editors then realized murder didn’t fit the luxury format, and never ran it. Shortly after I retired, I inadvertently ran into the hoodlum who supplied the reporter with the critical information.
He gave me names that the reporter had withheld, but was afraid to reveal certain mob figures. We abandoned plans to collaborate on a factual book, and I wrote the novel "Murder in Palm Beach," closely based on the real event.
But before that, I authored a coming-of-age novel about a troubled young man, titled "Breaking Out," and ghost-wrote a short memoir for a woman.