1. Tell us about yourself: I believe in family, friends, country, enjoying work, decent values, and God. I like discovering the story through its characters, but getting the words right is a grind. As an electrical engineer, formerly with Bell Laboratories and Raytheon, I developed control systems and communication protocols for computer networks. While a captain in the U.S. Air Force Electronics Systems Division, I helped develop and test a mobile, side-looking prototype radar designed to penetrate foliage, eliminating the need for Agent Orange. Lived in Hampstead, New Hampshire (and loved it there) until moving closer to my parents.
a. Where do you live? Brandon, MS
b. How long have you lived there? 18 years
c. Are you married? Yes
d. Kids? Two grown daughters
e. Full time job? Self-employed, but I had to work my day job for a long time to afford it.
f. Education? MSEE
2. Who is your favorite author and book? Fail-Safe (because of its Sacrifice of Abraham angle) Eugene Burdick & Harvey Wheeler
3. What is your preferred genre? Techno-thrillers
4. How did you start this journey to become a writer? The hard way. Had something to say, but didn’t know how. Compelled to write because it seemed the only thing I could do that might make a difference… writing cautionary tales in the hope they never come true.
5. What have you written so far? Virus, ClearWater, Pure-Fusion, Technology Wars, My Little Girl’s Gift
6. Tell us about your current book. Entitled Implosion, it’s written with the spirit, attention to detail, and motivation of Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. Like State of Fear, it’s written to debunk a belief.
7. What is the inspiration for your current book? Ben Rich’s book entitled Skunk Works.
8. Who was your favorite character to write and why? Admiral Buck Harrison. I started Pure-Fusion not liking this bull in a china shop, but when he saved a little girl in a New York subway following an attack on the city, he changed.
9. Is there anything of you in that character? We share a childhood place to play called the junk room.
10. What sets your book apart? It’s credible. Written by a defense industry insider, it shows a situation so far outside most people’s experience that no one will believe it. And the story’s characters know this too. The strength of story problem comes from the fact that almost no one believes it.
11. What’s your favorite part in the book? A scene named Call to Darkness.
12. What was the most difficult part to write? Its ending… Discovering an ending which rings true but leaves hope.
13. What was your favorite book to write? Pure-Fusion.
14. How do you write?
Edit work from the previous day then pick up where I left off. Do you have a set time or place? Yes. Write in my office, morning works best. Start time depends on tasks for the day. How many hours a day? 1 to 6 hours either writing, editing, or debugging my website: www.BillBuchananBooks.com
15. Why did you want to be a writer? I didn’t really. In retrospect, my motivation seems naïve, but I hoped my stories would make a difference.
16. How do you get your ideas? From technology flaws. Fear, fascination, rage, and passion create the story problem then motivate its resolution.
17. What do you have planned next? The second part of Implosion is entitled Making Waves
18. What advice would you give new writers? If you enjoy your day job, keep it and learn to write. The best advice anyone gave me came attached to a rejected manuscript; a handwritten note from Judy-Lynn del Rey, a Hugo Award winning New York editor and founder of Del Rey Books. She nailed it saying, “I like your ideas, but you should learn to write.”
19. How can readers get in touch with you? firstname.lastname@example.org
20. Any regrets? After reviewing Dan Brown’s first manuscript, Digital Fortress, I declined to provide endorsing comments because I didn’t like the pointless vulgarity demonstrated by his educated, sometime brilliant, story characters. They weren’t believable. I worked with these people every day and they don’t behave the way he first portrayed them. I couldn’t say anything good without lying and didn’t want to hurt his chances. Unbeknownst to me, his editor felt the same way. They cleaned it up before publication, then he wrote The DaVinci Code. You can’t make this stuff up…
21. What do like most about writing? For me, the heart of the matter is the story experience. It’s magic, a great adventure of discovery full of wonder—like a roam through the woods, looking under every rock. It’s the best of times and worst. Involvement with the characters can be debilitating. Capturing the story experience on paper for the first time, then reading it back is always disappointing. What’s on paper seems a filtered, watered down version of what actually happened—a black and white still shot from an action packed color film.
22. Would you tell us about your road to publication? It started with Mark Gatlin, acquisitions editor for the Naval Institute Press, aka Tom Clancy’s editor on The Hunt For Red October. Mark’s “I think you’re on to something” encouragement gave me the confidence to forge ahead and never look back. After two years with Mark, Virus became a better novel thanks to his guidance. His three reviewers checked my numbers, offered suggestions for improving the story and establishing technical credibility up front. And to my surprise, one offered suggestions which would convert Virus into Red Storm Rising. I included suggestions which improved the story and moved on to New York. My happiest time was finding the right agent, one who loved my work! Following over eighty rejections, George Wieser read my manuscript in less than thirty-six hours and absorbed it like a sponge. We met face-to-face in his NYC office on day later. There he asked more story questions than you’d believe or I could answer. And he sold Virus to Putnam Berkley the following day. More than this, he sponsored me, introducing me to the York City’s publishing community. After working with Putnam Berkley, Virus became a better people story. Their editor illuminated story holes and gave me the confidence to include gut wrenching, character development scenes I would not have included otherwise. Finally, he provided suggestions considering Tom Clancy’s audience. All total, 4 single-spaced pages of suggestions and I adopted two-thirds of them.