FAQ - ABOUT ME
Where are you from?
I was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb outside of Detroit. I call St. Clair Shores, which borders Grosse Pointe, my “hometown” since I that’s where I pretty much grew into adulthood. It is also where I would have gone to high school had I not been expelled as a freshman. I bought my first house in Roseville, at age 24, and my second home in St. Clair Shores, when I was 28. That was where I lived when I was arrested and sent to prison.
Where do you live now?
I live a very quiet life on remote 20-acre homestead in northern Michigan. I live with with my wife, Maria, and our 4 cats, Nika, Gussy, Moggie, and Bing. I live out here in the middle of nowhere because I love the great outdoors. I also don’t like to be around people. Prison has that effect.
Is your name Gunner, Al, or Alan? Where did "Gunner" come from?
Gunner is actually my real middle name, oddly enough. So, you'll see both from time to time. Gunner A. Lindbloom is the pen name I use for my novels. But I go by either. My old friends from the neighborhood still call me Al. My mother and my grandmother used to call me “Alanzo,” or Alan for short. Maria calls me “Gunny” or “Guns.”
Why were you in prison and how long did you serve?
I was incarcerated for extortion, bank robbery, armed robbery, weapons violations, and about a dozen other capital crimes that all carried up to life n prison. I knew I couldn’t beat most of them so I plea bargained them down to 4-5 charges in exchange for a 13–50 year sentence. I served 13.3 years and was released in July 2016.
Why did you start writing in prison?
I started writing because I knew I had a natural gift for it. I think being a voracious reader was a big help. I hated my old life. I am ashamed to admit, I had always been a fraud of sorts, always behaving like I a violent brutal lunatic, all to gain the acceptance of the people around me. Bad people. Like any young person, I was impressionable and wanted acceptance. But I never liked being that guy. I’d always been a closet intellect. I read hundreds of books. I watched Discovery Channel and Nat Geo, not gangster movies. I loved to read all kinds of novels. I didn’t want to be another ex-con who wastes his time in prison and comes out even worse than when he went in. I was not going to let society stigmatize me, paint me out to be a worthless loser for having made some bad choices when I was young. I knew I had a very special talent, an ability to create incredibly complex stories, plots, and characters. It was only a matter of teaching myself how to put them on paper, which was a slow evolution, But I’m relentless when it comes to pursuing something I want. So I began to write, probably 12 hours a day, and never stopped for 13 years.
What is your connection to the Detroit Mafia?
My mother was a Tocco. Her father, Peter Paul Tocco Sr., was the cousin of Giacomo “Black Jack” Tocco, boss of the Detroit Mafia for 40 years. Though my grandfather was not in the mob per se, he grew up with the upper echelons of the mafia and was very involved with that community. He was a well-known, well-respected leader of that community his whole life. He founded and ran the local Young Man’s Club. My last name, Lindbloom, is my father's name. But I spent most of my childhood living with my Tocco grandparents, and even lived with them for a several years as an adult. I was always around mafiosi, but they were never of any real interest to me. Most were just fat old uncles. I never paid much attention to them until later in life. They all drove Cadillacs, wore pinky rings and fancy suits. They spoke almost exclusively Sicilian with my grandparents and mother. It was just like in the movies but normal for me. I had been around the mafia since birth. There were some younger guys, cousins and associates my age, and the guys my uncle Peter Paul Tocco Jr. hung around. I got to know them in my teens and twenties. I sold drugs, weed and steroids, and flipped stolen merch with them at a pawn shop they owned. In my early 20s, I began driving my grandpa around because his eyes were going bad. That’s when I really got to know some of the old mafiosi. They were his “goombadis,” men he had grown up with his entire life. I would drive him almost daily to their business headquarters or homes. We would play poker, bust balls, and exchange war stories. They liked hearing my fight stories. They saw me as a tough kid. A throwback to their heydays. There just wasn’t a lot of tough guys left. Most of the mob had become white collar racketeers. But I was kicked out of school, constantly getting arrested, fighting, catching felonies, and going to jail. The old men knew this from my grandpa. They always heard the stories or me tearing up mob owned nightclubs. My name rang bells for sure. I’d end up doing some jobs for my uncles, like security at poker games, or collecting for bookies and loansharks, but I was never in the mob or anyone of importance. Just a tough young hood with a few mobbed up uncles who used me as a tool. That’s it. My only real claim to fame was that Tony Giacolone liked me and used me on occasion for jobs that required a “physical” touch or intimidation. He gave me a nickname, “Pazzu Lupara.” Crazy Shotgun. A play on “Gunner.”
Is "TO BE A KING" about your family?
That is a common misconception. No, my books are fiction novels that have nothing to do with my family. But naturally some of the characters and happenstances were inspired by people and experiences from my youth. I created the entire story while staring at the ceiling in the hole (solitary confinement) for 17 months. To Be A King is far more romantic, dramatic, and grandiose than my life ever was. That said, of course there are characters based on men I knew. For example, Don Falcone, the main character’s beloved grandfather, was inspired by an amalgamation of my grandfather, Peter Tocco, and his cousin, Giacomo “Black Jack” Tocco. I did not know Jack Tocco well. He was an old man and just another of my grandfather’s “goombadis.” But I met him enough times to glean his general disposition. He carried himself a certain way, one that projected power and pedigree. He never “acted” like a mob don. He was one. A real-life Don Corleone. I always got the impression that he didn’t like me. Not surprising. I was just a punk kid and a total screw up. His kids were all doctors and professionals. His grandkids were all straight shooters,
I often get asked if any of the "TO BE A KING" is based on my own experiences. Yes, a few minor events in the books do mirror events that happened in my own life. Only the people closest to me will ever know which ones, but people have guessed them correctly. There is a scene in the book, when Omnio (King) is only a young child. He is playing in front of his house when the FBI park and start taking pictures of him. When his grandfather, Don Falcone, sees this, he flies into a rage and smashes a brick off the FBI’s car. He yells, “Not my fuckin’ home!” And the car peels off. When my wife first read the book, she said, “That little boy was you, wasn’t it?” Indeed it was. It happened exactly like the book.
How many books did you write in prison?
I wrote 9 novels in prison and recently famished a new political thriller. But only two are published, TO BE A KING, Volumes 1 & 2. The last novel I wrote in prison, THE SNOWMAN CHRONICLES, which is about two huge cocaine kingpins from Detroit, will be the next book I publish. It;s not a Mafia novel but does have elements of the mafia in it. Though the mob does not play a major role, in the story there are two very industrious young drug dealers who act as conduits between a Colombian cocaine cartel (supply) and the mafia (distribution). The subsequent results are astronomical. It's a great novel. I’m sure my readers will love it.
Where did you meet your wife?
I get asked this a lot. Maria and I went to the same middle school lived only a few blocks apart, but never knew each other as kids. Very different social circles. Many years later, in 2009, she was scrolling through Facebook, bored, when she saw my profile and remembered my name. My friend Joe had started a Facebook page to connect me with some old friends from the neighborhood. Maria noticed on my profile that I was in prison writing books, which piqued her interest since she was a huge fan of books and worked for a publisher in New York City. She also saw that I was a Christian. Being a newly-converted Cristian herself, this also piqued her interest. So, she wrote me a letter and asked to read one of my books. When she did, she was blown away and called me “a once in a lifetime unicorn.” She was so impressed that she offered to help me publish my books. We began writing as pen-pals and over 6-8 months we peeled back the layers and really got to know each other. Oddly enough, we had everything in common. We both loved the outdoors, animals, wilderness adventure, books, writing, food, history, geography, and obscure trivia nobody but nerds like us would ever know. We also both shared the same dream of someday living on a wilderness homestead in Northern Michigan. We just clicked and fell in love through thousands of pages of letters, never speaking once on the phone. Eventually, she did come visit and I began to call her at least once a day. Usually, 2-3 calls a day, which was extremely expensive. Ultimately, she waited 6.5 years like a true soldier, faithfully. She supported me in prison and prepared a home for me to come home to. We got married and baptized the day after my release on July 27th, 2016. Maria is my angel. I couldn't do what I do without her. I couldn’t do anything without her. She is my all-spark. I’d never known love like this even existed until I met her. It is absolute, unabashed devotion. We both work from home and are rarely, if ever, apart. We get along great, never fight or even have little disagreements. Sounds corny but it is true. That’s what happens when you get to know someone for 7 years before you ever lay a finger on them. When people here our love story, they say it’s like a fairytale that needs to be made into a movie or TV series. Perhaps one day.
Do you still have ties to your family? And would you ever go back to a life of crime?
Most of the people I was involved with are long dead. Some died before I even went to prison. I occasionally talk to a few cousins that could be involved, but I don’t ask them about their personal business. Not over the phone or Facebook messenger. We might bring up some old stories, have a laugh, and make plans for coffee if I’m ever in town. But I don’t care enough to look them up when I’m in town. I have real friends I’d rather go see. Most of my cousins only liked me around because I would break a guy’s jaw in the club for them if the guy got out of line. That was all I was to them. Muscle. A heavy-handed thug. I was never considered part of the “family.” They acted like they liked me but never cared about me. Not even one sent me a single letter in prison. That is how things work in that life. The people you are around are selfish scumbags who only care about themselves. All that matters is what you can do for them.
Today, I have zero ties to organized crime, or any kind of crime for that matter. I’ll definitely never go back to that kind of life. It was a horrible way to live, always looking over my shoulder. Always one step away from the grave or prison. Or worse. I paid my debt to society. I’m a devout Christian and a good, honest man. I live a peaceful and productive life in my version of paradise. I spend my free time camping, fishing, exploring, hunting, riding my dirt bike, quads, and snowmobiles, or just hiking in the woods with my wife. I hope to do some more traveling soon. When people meet me in person, they're often surprised by what a nice, friendly, jocular guy I am. I do really enjoy meeting and talking to new people. You’d be surprised. Everyone has a story. You just have to pry it out of them. And I’m good at that. If I may quote Yoda from Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, "In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way." Thankfully, I've completely turned from the dark side. All glory to God. It was a long, horrible battle I fought for more than half my life and could have cost me my life a 100 times. I recently spent the weekend at the home of Emmy Award winning actor Armand Assante. After sharing some of my life with him, he said, and I quote, “Gunner, you are the most remarkable person I have ever met. It is a miracle you are even alive.” I kissed my cross, smiled, and replied, “That it is, my friend. That it is.”
How did "OUR THING" Apparel come to be?
Well, the term “Cosa Nostra” is what the Mafia use to describe itself. In English it means “Our Thing.” So, while promoting my book, I had some hoodies made with the cover of my book on the front, and “OUR THING” Detroit on the back. Then I posted pictures of the hoodies on some of the Facebook Mafia fan groups and pages. I started getting dozens of messages from people wanting a hoody of their own. I remember saying to my business partner, “Bro, we might be onto something here.” And thus, a brand was born. We trademarked the name, started a company, and bult an e-commerce website. We have sold merch all over the world, to thousands of customers, and customize each item to the customer’s city/state.
What's next for Gunner?
Well, I’m incredibly busy. Currently, I am the lead writer for a new Television project that involves Armand Assante. I can’t say more about that. Wish I could share the story, but we must protect it from being stolen or sabotaged. Armand and the producers warned me to remain tight-lipped, as there are so many scammers, slime balls, and saboteurs in the TV business. I will say this, writing the script has been an exciting endeavor for me. Thus far, they love what I have written. But making a TV series is a very long, arduous, labor intensive process. So many moving parts. So much talent aggregation. And of course it takes a LOT of money. Producing a TV series can take, 2, even 3 years or more. So, it is a long game. Currently we are ahead of schedule. I’m just enjoying the process.
Hoping to get an audiobook version of TO BE A KING, Volume 2, out this year. I know I am losing a lot of money without one. A lot of people only have time for audiobooks. Also, I'm working on getting Volume 1 made into a movie, which is quite a process. Both books have recently been optioned for feature films by a producer but are still in the pre-production phase. The producer has 24 months to make or begin making a film. I refuse to have the story made into anything less than an A-list film, which will require a budget of at least $50 million. But it will happen. I'm also hoping to begin the final editing process of THE SNOWMAN CHRONICLES sometime this year. Between now and then I'll probably write several more Lindbloom Chronicles, which is a series of short stories about my life before prison. Regarding "OUR THING" Apparel, we're expanding the line to include men's suits, leather jackets, belts, ties, cologne, toiletries, cigars, bourbon, glassware, sunglasses, and various other accessories. Our plan is to branch into a high-end line of men’s suits and business wear. Ultimately, we intend to create an “OUR THING” chain of high-end Italian restaurants with a throwback, 1920’s mafia theme.
Along with hosting my radio show, I also plan to do some public speaking, which I am very passionate about. I love helping to motivate and inspire people to set their goals high and chase their dreams. I also plan to speak at some prisons, churches, colleges, jails, high schools, and rehabilitation centers. My goal is to use my story to make a positive impact on as many lives as possible. If I can, anyone can.
You seem crazy busy. How do you stay focused and not get stressed out?
I am crazy, but never stressed out. LOL Balance is key. Work hard, play hard. I go fishing, hunting, ride my toys, hike with Maria, poke around in my woods. I am always up to something. I never allow life to stress me out. Why would I? I spent 13 years in a cell. Now I live an amazing life. I have an amazing wife. I love my cats. I love my home. I love my career. One key is, I only allow positive people into my life. I have no room for negative people. I don’t do drama. So, in a nutshell, if I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I jump on my enduro, drive 50 miles into the wilderness, and fish for brook trout all day. That’s how I recharge and reset. Just be alone in the wilderness with God. There is no better feeling for me. This sort of freedom is the antithesis of prison.
How can fans contact you?
I always interact with my supporters, and of course I’m always open to new business opportunities and networking. So if you would like to speak to me direct, click CONTACT ME and I will respond within 24 hours, unless I’m off the grid camping. In which case, it may be a few days. If you have any more questions, by all means shoot me an email.