Featured Author Interview—April 11, 2022, Koehler Books
Q: Your book, The Able Archers, came out in March. Why do you feel it’s an important story to tell?
A: I’ve always felt more people ought to be aware of the nuclear war crisis of 1983—as aware as they are of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Although the events were different, both brought the world to the brink of a major nuclear war. Unfortunately, the terrible events unfolding today in Ukraine and the attendant Kremlin threats to use nuclear weapons against NATO make The Able Archers a cautionary tale for our own time.
Q: All writers approach their stories differently. What’s your process?
A: My books are historical fiction, so I always start with research—a lot of reading—about the actual events I will be dramatizing. I think through how I want to develop the characters and how I can make their experience of actual or contrived events exciting to the reader. I try to make the dialogue move the action and keep the reader engaged and inspired. And my wife helps me a great deal with story arc. She also has a great BS filter.
Q: Where and when do you feel most inspired?
A: I’m almost always inspired when I write. I have a busy life outside of writing, therefore the opportunity and the time to sit down and write are precious things. I tend to dream up scenes at night when I’m half-sleeping, as well.
Q: What is the most enjoyable aspect of writing?
A: I love discovering what the characters are going to do next.
Q: If you were to give advice to young writers looking to become successful authors, what guidance would you offer?
A: Learn to write clearly. Read Stephen King’s book On Writing. Live an interesting life.
Q: What do you wish you had known prior to becoming an author yourself?
A: I think I wish I’d read more novels. I’ve read non-fiction books most of my life.
Q: How did you come up with the title of this book?
A: The Able Archers is a play on exercise Able Archer 83, which is the culminating event of the novel. It describes the small team of Americans and Russians that avert nuclear war in November 1983.
Q: Who are some of your favorite writers (or favorite films, creators, etc., any group you find most inspiring?
A: Honestly, Joni Mitchell—the songwriter and painter—has always been an inspiration for her amazing turn of phrase—memorable phrases blended with astonishingly good music. I’ve been a musician most of my life. I find musicians inspiring. I love great filmmaking, too.
Q: What is one skill you have (or aspire to have) that connects to both writing and life in general?
A: Synthesis. I can ingest a lot of information quickly and synthesize it into something new.