© 2013 Clive Eaton
I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and lived in Alabama and North Carolina until I left home at 22 to join the United States Air Force. While in the Air Force, I served as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer, supervising aircraft mechanics, commanding technical training and maintenance units, and serving as part of acquisition teams procuring and introducing new weapons systems into the Air Force. I retired after 27 years of service and then embarked on a career preparing proposals and consulting to help companies get business with US and international governments.
After 23 years into this career, I am still helping these companies while pursuing my writing.
Harry Miles, a hotshot fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, while patrolling the Iraq-Iran border, finds himself engaged in a fierce air battle against eight Iranian fighters. Later, finding he has lost all he deemed worthwhile, he finds that the real war he faces is within. How will Harry deal with that loss? Will Harry give up and lose that war or will he exemplify the endurance of the human spirit?
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
To relax, I read, watch television, and go to movies.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
When I was a 12 year old youth in Alabama, I got a job helping the editor/publisher of a weekly county newspaper. One of my tasks was taking the full sheet newsprint as they came off the press, collating them and then folding them for the vending machine and delivery. One day the editor commented on the black ink which had rubbed off on my hands. The said: “Edmund, you now have the black ink in your veins and it will never come out. You are cursed to becoming a writer.”
I really did not get interested in writing until college. As a freshman, a classmate and I wrote a chapbook about the artists whose portraits were displayed in the Administration Building hallway. I also wrote a column called “Like” patterned after the style of Jack Kerouac and served as the Literary Editor of the school newspaper for a year. As a senior I wrote the copy for the annual narrative and published articles in the school newspaper. During my 27 year Air Force career I dabbled with a short story here and there but never published. After my retirement, while working as a proposal writer, I have authored two books and one novella, published some articles in local and national publications, and had a couple of short stories published.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I wanted to begin a story about a person who had risen above his lower middle-class environment to achieve success as a United States Air Force fighter pilot (who in his mind he equated with becoming a “warrior-prince”). Then due to circumstances, he lost that life and then, although devastated, had to face a decision to begin again. Would the lessons he learned on his initial rise to success reassert themselves and allow him to regain his spirit as a “warrior-prince”?
So I started writing, however, the main focus was Harry’s reaction to the aftermath of his air battle, his feeling of hopelessness (a carryover from his youth), and his ability to once again overcome his situation.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) The economic sanctions against Iran, as currently exists, could be concluded by some policy analysts as an act of war against their national interests.
2) The United States does not need to respond to attacks by declaring war.
3) The United States Air Force does not currently possess, to my knowledge, data-link capabilities (as depicted in the novella) to increase the effectiveness of its air-to-air missiles.
What research did you need to do for this book?
First, since I have never flown an airplane, I researched the actions of fighter pilots and pilots flying fast high-performance fighter aircraft. Then, in particular, I researched “flat spins”, which are the death of any pilot flying high performance aircraft. I learned all flight manuals state the response to a “flat spin” is to eject immediately. Then, I investigated forces which could release an aircraft from a “flat spin” but I must admit the solution postulated in this story is pure speculation on my part.
Next, I discovered that in the twenty plus years since I retired, the Air Force has improved research and development on its air-to-air missiles so I had to learn about the latest and greatest capabilities of air-to-air missiles and their announced capabilities, as expressed in the unclassified public media.
Then, I had learned from writing proposals that both the US Army and the Italian Army have used data-link capability to fire missiles from its rotary wing aircraft to relieve the missile tracking tasks from the pilot. I did some more research on that capability. I found out it is now days fairly typical in high performing rotary wing aircraft.
I researched the capabilities and duties of the enlisted crew members of the Air Force AWACS aircraft so I could give them a combat role (which, to my knowledge, does not exist today) to data-link air-to-air missiles.
I reviewed the incidents which had occurred between Iran and the United States in the Strait of Hormuz and elsewhere and the opinions of political science pundits about Iran’s reactions to sanctions. Some have speculated that the sanctions could be felt as an act of war by factions within Iran.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
The opportunity to go to college and my service as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force enabled me to improve my life. I suppose that this has influenced me to write about Harry entering the Air Force as an enlisted member and then rising through the ranks to become a fighter pilot, the epitome of his dreams. Also, there is the American tradition of the “rags to riches” story which has always influenced me.
I served on the Air Force acquisition team established the requirements and monitored the procurement of the F-15 fighter plane for the United States Air Force. Later, in Germany for a four year period, I supervised aircraft mechanics who maintained the plane.
My son flew F-15 fighter planes for over half of his 20 year Air Force career, including a 90 day assignment in the 1990s where he flew Combat Air Patrol over the “no-fly” zone in northern Iraq.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
I am researching and mapping it out in my mind a story in which Harry Miles continues to work as a Private Investigator and stumbles into a search for a serial killer with some diversions along the way. There is a twist to modality in which the serial killer selects his victims which I do not want to reveal at this time.
Along the way, Harry continues to face the feelings of insecurity within and of course, life events occur which intensify these feelings and with which Harry must deal.
I am allowing Harry’s situation and future germinate in my mind. Harry will face much adversity in the outside world. I have also realized that, personally, Harry will face some real challenges and severe heartbreak and disappointment in the future and he will need many personal resources to overcome his situation. I am sad about these events as I had previously wanted Harry to be just an action adventure type character who participates in many adventures. I am now realizing that Harry is complex and if I can portray his complexity then it will be up to the readers to judge if I have done a good job.
My thinking has devolved to the point that I must be true to my character and let him take me where he will take me.
I hope Harry’s story, as it evolves, will reflect the hope and endurance of the human spirit and, inadequate as I feel, I only hope I am worthy of the task. But if it turns out to be another action/adventure thriller that people read, I can live with that.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
Actually, this novella started with a dream sequence for a chapter in another book I considered writing. Once I had written the dream sequence while on a proposal writing trip, I began thinking about the character and what brought him to that point. Since the scenario involved the air combat scenario, I spent several months researching various aspects of the air battle. I wanted to portray the scene so a fighter pilot could accept it.
Then, I had fleshed out the rest of the narrative for the novella depicting the events prior to and following the air combat scenario. That was when I realized the story was not strictly about action but about Harry and his struggle with life . . . I hope a resonating story about the endurance of the human spirit.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
Silence and my imagination.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
In 2009, I wrote a nonfiction book to help companies get business with the government. I discovered that if a publisher were interested, it would take 18-24 months to release the book. I had some time-sensitive information in the book, so I decided to self-publish and was able to release in two and one-half months. The book did moderately well.
The other reason is the fact that I can control the rights to the book and if I want to modify the story or use the story or parts of the story in future works, I can. This work, Harry’s War”, is a novella and, if I so desire, I could expand it into a full length book.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Time. I work full time as a freelance proposal consultant and writer. If I am not actively writing a proposal, then I am spending time looking for work. I am looking at relaxing my schedule for additional proposal work so I can spend more time writing.
2) Being true to my character. I am not sure I did a great job with Harry in this novella but it did give me a way forward and serve to point the way in which I hope his character will evolve.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
Well, I don’t worry about it anymore. It used to worry me but I have a very full personal and professional life and if I think I am blocked, I just go on and let the characters tell me when they are ready to come out. My proposal writing has helped me with dealing with writer’s block. When you are preparing a proposal, you are faced with a deadline and you just have to plough your way through the material even though you may not feel the inspiration at the moment.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
What genre does your book fall into?
I would say action adventure and/or thriller.
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I like to read books where the good guys win out over great odds.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) William Faulkner – wrote about the endurance of the human spirit.
2) Ernest Hemingway – characters viewpoints encompassed major human themes.
3) Thomas Wolfe – because you really can’t go home again.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
I’ve read over 75 books in the last 12 months. It is hard to pick the best, but the following books have stood out in my mind.
The Winter of the World by Ken Follett contains the best personal stories of the historical times before and after World War II.
The Pyramid Legacy by Clive Eaton brews an excellent blended synthesis of fact, fiction, action, and metaphysics.
Mad River by John Sanford is the latest in the series of tightly written, hard-nosed detective fiction. All of Sanford’s books, to me, are models of tight writing.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Winter of the World (Century of Giants Trilogy 2) by Ken Follett.
Mr. Follett does an excellent job of encapsulating the major events of the 20th century in the personal lives of his characters.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
Jeremy Renner – he has the fighter pilot physique.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
Drink – Pomegranate Italian soda mixed 50/50 with Red Zinger (hibiscus) tea.
Meal – Rib Eye steak with Baked Potatoes.
Holiday destination – someplace exotic around the world
TV programme – Law and Order
Film – So many good ones.
Method of travel – Air
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your book?
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