Saturday, January 08, 2011
Sometimes a lot more than I intend to; while I was writing America Under Attack, I had to guard against giving the protagonist too many of my characteristics, but I suppose that some of them inevitably showed up. Not surprisingly, he and I share a number of likes and dislikes; like me, he is an engineer; unlike me, he fearlessly pursues adventure.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
As a college student, I edited a science fiction magazine; sales weren’t so good, so I made a sandwich board advertizing it and toured a very conservative engineering campus wearing it and looking like a fool, but sales picked up briskly!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In Junior High school, where I had my first exposure to stories like Red Badge of Courage and Moby Dick. I began to write paragraphs describing scenes and soon expanded them to short stories. I have written in one form or another ever since.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love adventure stories, especially well written techno-thrillers, as well as science fiction. For non-fiction, I devour histories, especially those about WWII and the surrounding eras. For a change of pace, I like light poetry and biographies.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I am very active in my church, including being a co-leader in two Bible studies and singing in the choir. Being with my friends and fellow believers is a wonderful antidote to the crazy things going on in our world today. My three granddaughters are the best stress relievers God ever invented!
How do you choose your characters’ names?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I was able, by the Grace of God, to raise my two kids to become productive adults and mature Christians. Between them, my wife and I have been blessed with five grandchildren.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Interesting question! I suppose I would be a dog, because their faithful and protective natures appeal to me.
What is your favorite food?
Now I’m in trouble! My wife does a killer pot roast I always look forward to; pizza is a favorite and so is the occasional home cooked hamburger. Unfortunately for my waistline, I like a lot of different foods!
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
The fear of criticism and ridicule really held me back. I took writing classes I where everyone wrote something and then the whole class discussed it; I discovered I wasn’t much worse or any better than anyone else. Knowing that gave me the confidence to write more and encourage others to read it.
Tell us about the featured book.
America Under Attack is an alternative history of WWII based on the premise that Germany could have developed heavy long range bombers just like America and Great Britain. How Germany might have used such bombers is the crux of the story. New York City has long represented America to the world, and so becomes the initial target. The poor state of preparedness of the country and a nation still reeling from the aftermath of Pearl Harbor set the stage. The hero is an outstanding pilot who has been kept in the states as an instructor pilot despite his desire to fight in Europe; the villain in the piece is a vindictive pseudo-aristocrat Nazi out to destroy the hero specifically and America in general.
A real "What if" situation. Please give us the first page of the book.
13 June 1936
Templehof Airport, Berlin, Germany
Straight down; the gray-white runway rushing up at him. Heart pounding, stomach clenching. Bile in the throat. The deep roar of the engine now a banshee’s scream; the ground hurtling up at him. Time slowed.
Stick back. Careful. Watch altitude. Wings level.
The seat cushion pinched his leg as the G’s built.
Full throttle. Airspeed 350. Heat bumps from the runway. Level now, hold it, hold it; altitude 200 feet.
Spectators flashed by on the left, then the nose came up. More G’s.
Fifteen hundred feet, knife edge turn to the right. There!
Joel Knight took measured breaths, to slow down his heart. He grinned; this Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighter was a sweetheart. He completed the 180 degree turn.
Around now, roll to the left, runway in sight. Nose down, airspeed building.
“This has to be perfect,” he said out loud through gritted teeth, his gut a hard knot, eyes intensely focused, his left leg all but dancing with adrenalin, the control stick a live thing in his hand.
Airspeed – 170; good. Level wings.
He hurtled toward the grandstands from the opposite direction.
Careful; the aircraft was so low the propeller tips were clearing the runway by inches. Unseen by him, little tornados of dust blew back from the wings.
Right wing down – a great cascade of sparks arced into the air from the steel rod on the wing tip. Unheard by him, a ragged wave of gasps raced through the crowd.
Wings level. Left wing down, a second shower of sparks.
Kind of makes the reader breathless. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I have a blog at whataboutalternativehistory.com and a page on Facebook
Thank you, Jeff, for a peek inside your ming.
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