A former reporter and editor of the Bronx Times-Reporter is now a published author.
On Saturday, April 18, author John Roche released his first novel, ‘Bronx Bound’ – a fiction book based on fact that reflects parts of Roche’s life as a reporter in the crime-stricken Bronx in the late 1980s.
Bronx Bound, which was published by Black Opal Books, takes place in 1988, when the book’s main character, Matt Brady, who writes for the local weekly, the Bronx Ledger.
Through his journalistic efforts Brady has aspirations and hopes to get out of both the borough and the dead-end job he finds himself stuck in.
However, when he is sent by his editor to cover a murder story, he discovers that not only does he know the deceased, but also that the story itself is sinking him deeper and deeper into his home town, and jeopardizing his own life in the process.
“I wanted to write a story about the Bronx – where I was born and raised,” said Roche. “Given the fact that I worked for the Bronx Times Reporter and other newspapers in the borough for almost 20 years, I guess it was natural for me to have the main character be a reporter for a weekly newspaper.”
Roche, who has also written for daily newspapers in the past, claims, however, that he ate, breathed and slept community newspapers.
While working under publisher John Collazzi, he recalled that John always told him that a community newspaper’s job is to hold a mirror up for the community so they can reflect on it.
With his new book, Roche hopes to give readers a gripping story, but ultimately something they can reflect on.
“There were a few things I wanted to get across in the book – one, it’s always bothered me that in a fictionalized story about a reporter, whether it’s a book, movie or TV show, when the reporter gets involved in a major story, the editor always gives the reporter all the time he needs to work on that one story,” said Roche.
“In real life, that couldn’t be further from the case. You might be trying to track down a major crime story, but you still have to cover the school spelling bee, some civic meeting or the local guy who invented something. I tried to capture that challenge of juggling ten stories at once, all the time.”
Roche worked three stints at the Bronx Times Reporter between the late 1980s and early 2000s as a copy editor, reporter and eventually editor, as well as associate publisher.
He also wrote articles in the Bronx Times-Reporter’s weekly side edition, 911: The Bronx Bulletin, in the early 1990s, which likely contributed to the topic of Roche’s first novel.
However, he also sees the book, which he wrote in spurts over a two-year period, as a positive dedication to his hometown borough.
“Although there’s crime and other problems in it, the book in my eyes is also a love letter to the Bronx,” said Roche. “It’s a special place, and no matter what changes the borough goes through, the Bronx retains its unique character because of the people. I tried to get that out there, maybe to replace some of the stereotypical ideas often portrayed about the borough. I wrote a crime novel because, as a reporter, I’m always attracted to putting the pieces of a puzzle together – but it’s more than a mystery – it’s a homage to the Bronx.”
Roche held a book launch and signing at Brewski’s new literary deck, located at 3718 East Tremont Avenue, on Monday, May 4, where he personally signed copies of his book for all in attendance. Donations to the Throggs Neck Benevolent Association were also made.