Author from New Brighton heightens her stack of books with “Scream”

Though she’s lived in rural Wisconsin for years, Bradley traces her love for writing back to her days as a student at Irondale High School.

New Brighton native, author Laurel Bradley has just released her fifth novel, “Scream.”

Author Laurel Bradley may live in Wisconsin, but she traces her love of writing back to her days at Irondale High School.

Even now, at the age of 53, Bradley, née Johnson, says when she looks back, she sees that her high school teachers had a major influence on her, naming a Mr. Diffley and a Mr. Brown as literature and writing teachers who particularly helped set the wheels in motion for her.

Though not completely confident of their first names — as she only used their surnames as a student — Bradley says she owes her career in part to these former Irondale teachers.


Five kids, five books

Bradley grew up in New Brighton, and after attending Irondale, went to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she studied English. 

After graduating, she settled in Wisconsin, married and eventually had five children.

Her father-in-law was the late John Henry Bradley, who was awarded for extraordinary heroism in combat during World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima and was one of the soldiers who famously raised the American flag on a hilltop on Feb. 23, 1945. 

Laurel and her husband own and operate the funeral home that John Henry Bradley opened up. 

It wasn’t until her fifth child came along, however, that she began to “seriously write,” she says.

Now that all five of her kids are in their 20s, she has an equal number of published books.

The newest of the lot, “Scream,” was released April 20, by The Wild Rose Press, Inc. as her fifth stand-alone novel.


The new book

“Scream” chronicles the story of a Dr. Liam Frank as he’s thrown into a world of chaos in 1960s Africa. His attempt to reunite with his girlfriend, who teaches grade school at a Peace Corps camp in Uganda, results in his own abduction in the Belgian Congo where a warlord has far different plans for the CDC research scientist — he plans to have Frank isolate and control a horrific new disease called Scream. 

Bradley, who lives outside of Antigo, Wisconsin, takes her readers to a vastly different environment than the farmland that surrounds her rural home. Instead, “Scream,” she says, is a ride through political power struggles, uncertain agendas, and a horrifying and deadly disease.


Exploring Africa circa 1960s

Why Africa in the 1960s? Bradley says she loves researching places and times. 

“That was a very turbulent time both in the U.S. and abroad. I did a lot of research for this,” Bradley says. “I wanted to make sure the science and technology that Dr. Frank uses are realistic to that time period.”

She says among other research, she also talked to a geneticist to make sure the disease and subsequent experiments portrayed in the book are believable and accurate to the science of that decade.

The main challenge of writing “Scream,” she says, was not the research, but the editing and tightening of the story. 

“That’s always the challenge for any book, I think,” she says. “The writing is not the hard part; that’s fun. It’s the tightening that’s the challenge.” 

Though Minnesota doesn’t play a role in “Scream,” in some of Bradley’s other novels, such as “Trust No One,” scenes from the Twin Cities abound. 

“I guess you can take the girl out of New Brighton, but you can’t take New Brighton out of the girl,” Bradley says with a laugh. Before Irondale, she attended Pike Lake Elementary and High View Middle School. 


Learning to love to write

In addition to her high school teachers, Bradley credits her parents, Larry and Patricia Johnson, for reading to her. The two still live in New Brighton. 

“My parents read to me all the time and when they were too busy to read to me, I would make up my own stories,” Bradley says. “Reading to kids is so important. I read to my kids a lot, too.”

Though her children have not entered the writing field, she says they do have strong writing skills.  

“My oldest is a rocket scientist, the second is going to be ordained in the Catholic church, the next is going for his doctorate in applied behavioral analysis, the fourth one is married and has a little girl, she lives in Germany with her husband, and the fifth is in college,” she says. “They’re kind of diverse, just like my books.”


Not bound by genre

According to Bradley, she “runs the gamut” as far as genres go. 

She says she began her career writing a few romance novels, then a time travel story, suspense tale and now, she says, a thriller. 

She says she does this because she writes in the genre she’s reading at the time, and because it helps her write a new, different book each time.

“When you write a bunch of books in one genre it can be hard to make them all unique,” Bradley says. “By exploring different genres, it’s challenging but also easy to create something new.”

According to Bradley, jumping from style to style helps pick up new readers along the way. 

“But there are a lot of readers who, like me, read a variety of genres,” she says. “Conventional wisdom says you should pick one genre and stick with it, but, like I said, in a way I write what I read and I read a lot of different things.”


Where to find her

“Scream” can be purchased at or on The Wild Rose Press website. It can also be ordered through most local bookstores. 

The novel is also available as an electronic book, offered at half price for a limited time through the publisher. 

“It’s a page turner,” Bradley says. “I’ve been told by people who’ve read it that when you close the book, it sticks with you.”

In addition to writing, Bradley also volunteers at a pregnancy resource center and at an elementary school.

She is also the author of “A Wish in Time,” “Creme Brulee Upset,” “For the Love of David,” and “Trust No One.” More information on her and her five books can he found at

Her work doesn’t end with “Scream” — Bradley is currently working on her sixth book.


Jesse Poole can be reached at or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at @JPooleNews.

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