All writers need day jobs. We have to write what we know, and if we’ve never had a job we don’t know anything. So, policemen and reporters write crime stories, lawyers write legal thrillers, soldiers write war stories, and everyone tries to write political drama. What about Tom Clancy? He was an insurance salesman with a passion for all things naval, but no first hand experience. He read naval documents and studies meant for career naval officers. He took that dull factual knowledge and created a genre; the techno-thriller. Clancy dominated that market for twenty years.
Research becomes the day job. Graham Greene started writing about his experiences in Africa during World War II, but after he told that story he traveled to Haiti and lived in that corrupt society to write The Comedians. It was written in the fifties, and it’s amazing how true it remains today. That’s a real writer doing his job.
Bookman arose from my days selling books in college. The Other Pilot is a thriller that began with my Air National Guard fascination with all things flying, while The Devil on Chardonnay draws from my Pentagon job as an action officer creating the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System, and the two years I spent in the Azores. Next week I’ll
travel to Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia by way of Istanbul, Turkey to research The Mingrelian. That thriller began with a military exchange trip to Central Asia in 1998, and my tour at Strategic Command in Omaha writing nuclear war plans 2000-2003. Like Tom Clancy and Graham Greene, I’m getting better at writing. I’ll have this one finished before the end of the year (I hope).