Dale Brown for Ethan Jones Blog
To celebrate the US Air Force (USAF) 68th Birthday, Mr. Dale Brown has made a special stop on my blog for an exclusive interview. Scroll down to enjoy it and tell me what you think for a chance to win one of five complimentary e-book copies of FATAL TERRAIN.
1. Mr. Brown, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Tell us a bit more about your thriller FATAL TERRAIN.
Thanks for inviting me to your blog!
I started “Fatal Terrain” in the midst of a pretty serious confrontation that looked like it was going to turn into a shooting war: in 1995, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was disturbed by rhetoric by the president of Taiwan about opposing a “One China” policy, and began a series of “missile tests” in the Taiwan Strait and mobilizing amphibious forces. Pres. Clinton responded by sending two aircraft carriers into the region and sailing one carrier battle group down the Taiwan Strait. It was the largest assemblage of U.S. naval power in 20 years. The PRC responded by holding amphibious landing drills and sending warships, submarines, and attack planes into the region.
No one wanted war, but no one was going to back down either. One itchy trigger finger could have led to an unintended attack on a warship, which would have been returned, then more return fire, then…who knows?
It was also my opportunity to re-introduce my readers to the new and improved EB-52 Megafortress super-bomber, which had taken a back seat in some prior novels to the B-1B Lancer and B-2A Spirit bombers.
2. How likely is in reality for a large scale conflict to take place like the one you describe in FATAL TERRAIN between the US and China?
The PRC is in the midst of a large-scale buildup and modernization of its navy and air force for one purpose only: to challenge America’s domination of the world’s oceans, especially around China. The PRC needs easy access to the world’s oceans for trade, and although the U.S. is not threatening to close down any sea lanes, the fact that it could do so rankles the PRC and other countries, such as Russia.
The PRC sees weakness in the U.S. which could possibly be exploited: China holds a trillion dollars of U.S. debt; U.S. defense spending is being cut; and the American people are tired of war. The PRC sees Russia challenging the U.S. with no response, and may think this is a good time to stage some challenges of its own.
I don’t see a large-scale conflict breaking out, but the PRC is definitely getting ready for one. The U.S. announced its “pivot to the Pacific,” but has done very little to strengthen its forces in the region. A shooting war between the PRC and the U.S. in China’s own front yard would be quite difficult for the U.S.
3. How is this novel different from other thrillers in this genre?
My novels are different from other techno-thrillers because the main character in my stories is the technology. Also, although my novels deal with current events and conflicts, I set my stories in the near future, not the present.
4. How did the transition happen from your role as a U.S. Air Force captain to a thriller fiction writer?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to do two thing in my lifetime: fly and write. I started writing in high school, and then I received a flying scholarship to college and knew I had the flying thing taken care of.
When I started serving in the Air Force I realized that very few people–even other military folks on base–had no idea what we did. Of course, during the Cold War, we never spoke about our missions, but I thought we at least should tell about the B-52 bomber, about our training, what our routine was like, where we went when all of the bombers left in the middle of the night and were gone for almost an entire day. So I started writing in the base and local newspapers about what we did, and the stories were pretty well received.
In 1982 when Pres. Reagan gave his famous “Star Wars” speech, we crewdogs discussed if it would be possible for a lone B-52 bomber to penetrate Soviet air defenses to take out a large ground-based anti-satellite laser. That’s where the idea for my first novel, “Flight of the Old Dog,” came from. It’s a fantasy autobiography, of course: the quiet, lonely, lowly navigator–who happens to be the best in the country in what he does–launches on a secret mission, fights his way to the target, destroys the target, takes control of the high-tech B-52, saves the crew, saves the plane, and gets the girl.
I met with an agent just before I Ieft the Air Force, and he sold the book a few months after I got out. It’s been almost one book a year since then.
5. What is your writing process? Outline or not?
Writing is a 9-5 job for me—every day I’m working, I’m in the office at the computer. I may not always be cranking out pages, but at least I know that if I’m in the office and I’m ready to work, I’m at the right place. I have more distractions these days, mostly volunteer jobs, but I still love writing, even after all these years.
I tell new writers to outline, but I don’t always follow my own advice. My problem is, I get so excited when I think of an idea for a novel and start the outline, and I get even more excited about it and put the outline away. I don’t want authors to spend a ton of time on an outline, but you have to know where you’re going before you start a journey.
6. What was the hardest struggle when starting off and how did you overcome it?
The hardest struggle for me was finding time to write. I was fortunate because in the Air Force we pulled 14 days of alert duties a month, which was standing by in case World War Three was going to start, so we were confined to the base with no flying, and oftentimes confined to the alert facility or even in the planes! So I had lots of opportunities to write. My problem was, instead of doing the career enhancement stuff I was supposed to be doing–getting a Master’s degree, doing professional development, etc.–I was writing. So I wasn’t long for the Air Force.
Trying to write when you have a full-time job is just plain tough. My first novel took 3 years to finish. Write whenever you can, and keep your eyes on the prize. Think about it: if you write just 1 page a day for a year you’ll have a novel-length manuscript.
7. How do your help in promoting literacy and reading?
My main support for literacy and reading is supporting libraries. Libraries always seem to be the first ones to suffer when there are budget cuts. I hold book signings in libraries to try to get people in the door; I speak to library clubs; if I hear of or know a good guest speaker I’ll set up a phone conversation between them and the head librarian; if they are asking for donated books to sell I’m happy to donate cash, some of my novels and audiobooks, and research books.
8. What are your favorite pastimes?
My favorite pastime is flying. I fly to as many research visits and book signing events as I can, depending on weather and my schedule; I volunteer for Angel Flight West (www.angelflightwest.org), in which I fly medical patients to and from home at no cost to receive treatment; and I am a mission pilot and squadron commander for the Civil Air Patrol (www.gocivilairpatrol.com), the civilian volunteer arm of the U.S. Air Force, which does a variety of missions for the Air Force and other agencies; and I also fly just for fun.
Other than flying, I’m a kids’ soccer referee and referee instructor. On top of being a Dad and a husband, that’s about all I have time for!
9. What is your greatest satisfaction as a writer? What is your greatest disappointment?
The greatest satisfaction and greatest disappointment as a writer is the same: finishing the book. I’m happy and relieved when I put “The End” at the very end. I know there’s more work to do—chapterizing, cast of characters, terminology, acknowledgements, dedication, editing, etc.–but when the story is done, I’m really happy.
But even though I know I have lots of ideas for novels, I always have this nagging little voice in the back of my head asking, “Do you have another one in you?” and I fret about that. I can’t get rid of that voice.
I’ll take a little time off, leaf through my notes or re-read the plot holes I usually leave in previous novels, and keep on reading technical magazines and watching the news, and as long as I don’t try to force it, before long a new story line emerges. It might just be one word—”Arctic;” “Ukraine;” “hypersonics”—or it might be reading about some new technology. Before I know it, I’m back at it.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
All I can say about the next book is: artificial intelligence. We have aircraft, sea vehicles, and ground vehicles that are not just unmanned, but they can make decisions about hundreds of things and can even work together to do a job. It’s pretty exciting stuff.
Who is Dale Brown?
Former U.S. Air Force captain Dale Brown is the superstar author of 24 best-selling action-adventure “techno-thriller” novels: FLIGHT OF THE OLD DOG (1987), SILVER TOWER (1988), DAY OF THE CHEETAH (1989), HAMMERHEADS (1990), SKY MASTERS (1991), NIGHT OF THE HAWK (1992), CHAINS OF COMMAND (1993), STORMING HEAVEN (1994), SHADOWS OF STEEL (1996), FATAL TERRAIN (1997), THE TIN MAN (1998), BATTLE BORN, (1999), WARRIOR CLASS (2001), WINGS OF FIRE (2002), AIR BATTLE FORCE (2003), PLAN OF ATTACK (2004), ACT OF WAR (2005), EDGE OF BATTLE (2006), STRIKE FORCE (2007), SHADOW COMMAND (2008), ROGUE FORCES (2009), EXECUTIVE INTENT (2010), A TIME FOR PATRIOTS (2011), and TIGER’S CLAW (2012). His 25th novel, entitled STARFIRE, is scheduled for release in early 2014. He is also the co-author of the best-selling DREAMLAND techno-thriller series and writer and technical consultant of the Act of War PC real-time strategy game published by Atari Interactive, and the Megafortress PC flight simulator by Three-Sixty Pacific. Dale’s novels are published in 11 languages and distributed to over 70 countries. Worldwide sales of his novels, audiobooks, e-books, and computer games exceed 15 million copies.
Dale was born in Buffalo, New York on November 2, 1956. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Western European History and received an Air Force commission in 1978. He was a member of the first class of Air Force ROTC cadets to qualify for and complete the grueling three-week U.S. Army Airborne Infantry paratrooper training course at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1977.
Dale was a navigator-bombardier in the B-52G Stratofortress heavy bomber and the FB-111A supersonic medium bomber, and an instructor on aircrew life support and combat survival, evasion, resistance, and escape. He is the recipient of several military decorations and awards including the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Combat Crew Award, and the Marksmanship ribbon.
Dale is a command pilot in Angel Flight West, a group that volunteer their time, skills, and aircraft to fly needy medical patients free of charge to receive medical treatment. Dale is also a mission pilot and deputy squadron commander in the Civil Air Patrol, which performs search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, surveillance, and many other missions in support of the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies. He supports a number of organizations to promote law enforcement, education, literacy, and support for military veterans and their families.
Dale Brown is a Life Member of the Air Force Association, U.S. Naval Institute, and National Rifle Association. He is a multi-engine and instrument-rated private pilot and can often be found in the skies all across the United States, at the controls of his Cessna P210 Centurion. On the ground, Dale is a youth soccer referee and referee instructor and enjoys tennis and scuba diving. Dale, his wife Diane, and son Hunter live near Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Connect With Dale Brown
- Website: http://dalebrown.info/index02.htm
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDaleBrown
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorDaleBrown?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2989.Dale_Brown