Thursday, September 20, 2012

Not Your Typical Aviation Book

>I am excited to have author Timothy Klein here today, talking about his new novel, The Saga of the Ellen Jane, Inventing a Legend, a romantic adventure of WWII. Tim is an engineer in Colorado. As his website says, this is not your typical aviation book or romance novel. Buckle your seat belts and prepare to be entertained.

About the book:
As WWII is heating up in Europe, so are things in the jungle of Brazil.
She came to Brazil on a mission: find the man who ruined her mother's life. Then kill him. Things were moving smoothly for Jeni, a French doll with a nice face, a nice body, and a not-so-nice reputation. That is, until she met Mark. And they both could see the storm clouds of Nazi Germany rolling toward the continent. 
Together, along with a prudish missionary girl and a German double-agent, they form a secret resistance organization. Their mission? Convince the Germans that starting an insurrection in Brazil won't be easy. It's a game of high stakes propaganda poker. Unfortunately, the only cards they have in their hand are an unwanted passenger plane, an airstrip hidden in the jungle, and a guy who makes really good pancakes.
So the team's eclectic engineer cobbles together a machine gun turret, adds some bomb racks, and the Ellen Jane is born. Soon her .30 caliber machine guns and small bomb load are all that stand between Hitler's minions and the coast of Brazil.
But Jeni quickly learns that fighting the Nazis won't be the only challenge.

Welcome to A Blue Million Books blog, Tim. How long have you been writing and how did you start?

About two years ago, while skimming the romance novel that my wife was reading, I proclaimed, "I can write better junk than this."  She told me, “Go ahead.” So I did.  
This wasn't completely out of character for me. My mother and grandmother were both English teachers, and so are both sisters.  I had written several short stories while in high school and was "published" in a Sci-Fi "fanzine" back in the '70s.  (I think it had around 400 Trekie subscribers.) I also started on some non-fiction several years ago.  I had been too busy to really think about writing until my wife issued the challenge.
Behind every great man is a woman telling him what to do… 
Yeah, but we usually succeed anyway. 
Anyway, my office is in an aircraft hangar. Hence, airplanes were going to play a major role in the story line. However, most aviation literature is ALL about airplanes. I wanted to come up with a story that both pilots and non-pilots would enjoy.  
I found that it was remarkably therapeutic. I started in Sept of 2010 and soon realized that the story was going to be at least three volumes long.  My wife also told me that Volume I had to be under the tree on Christmas Eve. It just barely made it.

I like a man who puts his money where his mouth is. And it sounds like you’re passionate about your subject matter. Passionate. Romance novel. Get it? Ahem. Anyway, what do you like best about writing?
What I like best is the freedom to create without limits! If I tell a character to design and build a machine gun turret in three weeks, he’ll get it done. I don’t have to worry about him slipping the schedule or going over budget. Another major plus: in my stories, the women do exactly what I want them to do! (Well, except for Jeni. She doesn’t always listen to me.)
Women. What are ya gonna do? Besides putting up with pushy characters, what’s your least favorite thing about writing?
My least favorite thing is spelling. I’m a terrible speller and will often misspell so badly that the spellchecker gives up. Then I waste time trying to guess at it. Who invented these stupid spelling rules anyway?
Uh…I think spelling’s been around since at least the 1440’s, Tim. Oh, You were being facetious. Sorry. Let’s see how you are at brevity. How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

All that stands between the Nazis and the coast of Brazil is a homemade bomber and a French Babe in a red skirt. And that’s only 112 characters!
Indeed it is. Good for you. What about imagination? How did you create the plot for this book?

One of my rules for writing is don't follow the same formula everyone else does.  The typical romance goes something like: girl meets a boy she hates but has to marry because her dad owes his dad money and he drags her off and they kiss once and then she's kidnapped but realizes that she loves him and he rescues her while wearing just a kilt and they discover she's pregnant.  (That sentence didn't deserve any commas.)
Well..that’s not quite what all of them are like, but I take your point. Continue, please.
A lot of readers, my wife included, enjoy that plot, but I’m too eclectic to follow the pattern. So I decided to feature an airplane as one of the characters. Not in the paranormal sense but more as a focal point.
First, I had to choose the airplane. I wanted something different and discovered the AT-11 Kansan. A modified Beech 18 that was used as an Advanced Trainer for bombardiers and navigators. It was perfect. It was unique but not weird and could easily fulfill the propaganda mission that I had in mind.
One minor issue, the premise of the story is only plausible from 1939, just after German and England declare war, and ends when the U.S. enters the conflict in 1941. Unfortunately, Beech Aircraft didn’t produce the AT-11 until 1942.
Just a teeninesy issue. So what did you do to get around that tiny problem?
I had the team “invent” the AT-11. The tricky part was balancing the technical details that the pilots want included, while keeping the story moving. You’ll have to decide how well I did.
It was soon obvious that I needed a detailed timeline, and I ended up outlining the entire series.  I won’t go into details, but the German invasion of France and other historical events had to be accounted for.
The strangest thing to me was how Jeni took over the entire plot. Frankly, I had planned on Mark being the main character, but she just pushed him out of the way!
Dang those pushy girls. But I have to admit I think that’s the best kind of story—one the characters write. What about your cover art? Did you have any say in it? Or was Jeni in charge of that too?
One major advantage of working with an indie-press is control over such details.  On the other hand, it might be nice to blame the cover on someone else.
Anyway, we did an extensive marketing survey and hosted a focus group. (That’s a fancy way of saying that my wife and I went to a major retailer, looked at all the romance covers and then went out for dinner.) 
I love your idea of a focus group. I volunteer my services any time.
Our research determined that, apparently, the cover of a romance novel must have at least one of the following:
1.    A buff guy, who can’t afford a shirt.
2.    A woman whose dress doesn't fit very well.
3.    Some part of the female anatomy, often a pair of legs.
Yes, that pretty much covers it. Pun intended. Ba-dum-dum.
We went with the woman's legs since the heroine, Jeni, in the book is known for wearing a red skirt. So I guess Jeni was in charge of that too.
Excellent choice. I love your cover. And I’ve seen the cover for Volume II, and I have to say it’s just as good, if not better. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

Of course, and I usually get some of them right!

(Laughing) I know what you mean. Tell me which character you most enjoyed writing.

Absolutely no question about it: Jeni!  She is smart, cunning, and sexy, everything that’s scary to men.  She’s always surprising me, and I invented her!

She’s great. With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Trick question! You’re expecting me to pick one of the babes! Either Jeni with her wild French hussy reputation or Sarah with her girl next-door look. (Haven’t thought of it before, but it reminds me of Ginger and Mary Ann. There aren’t going to be five other people on this island, are there?)

Nope, totally deserted.

Anyway, you’re just trying to get me in trouble with my wife!

I do what I can. But Jeni told me to do it.

Being pragmatic, and wanting to keep the peace—


--I’d choose Sven, the engineering genius who designed the Ellen Jane. With our combined talents, we’d have indoor plumbing, hot/cold running water, a hydroelectric generator, and micro brew pub going in less than a month.

Hey! You do have the Professor on that island. No fair!

Then we’d build a signal tower, hail a passing ship, and have them send for my wife. Who, by the way, is a perfect blend of Jeni and Sarah (and no, I won’t elaborate on that.)

Well clearly now you’re just sucking up. Did Jeni get you into a bit of trouble with your wife?

Actually, probably the opposite. She really enjoyed Jeni’s character.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I can’t, it would spoil the surprise, but I’ll bet you’ll figure it out when you get to it.
Tease. Okay, last question. Probably. Maybe. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying. 
When we got married, I promised my wife a trip to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary, and now our 19th is fast approaching. However, I'd rather go to Brazil and see the locale where the story takes place and do more research. She'd probably accept that in lieu of Hawaii as long as there's a warm beach and the kids stay home. Which, at the rate we're going, they'll soon be old enough to do!

I’ll tell your publisher to get on that. What are you working on now? 
I am supposed to be re-editing Volume II of the Saga. I gave my wife the unedited draft last Christmas. We want to publish it by Thanksgiving and need to get a polished copy to our editors.

However, the CEO of Stearman Press has informed me that Volume III must be under the tree by Christmas of this year. 
Why do I have the feeling the CEO is your wife?
Unfortunately, I've gotten re-interested in the sci-fi series that I started years ago and have been playing with that when she isn't looking. 
I won’t say a word. Provided you’ll come back when Volume II is published. But you’d better put a gag on Jeni. That girl can cause trouble.
And that’s it, Tim. The end of the interview. You survived! Congratulations. And congrats on your book. May it be wildly popular, and may Jeni continue to get you in trouble. Thanks for being here. Please return your seats to their upright positions, and thank you for being with A Blue Million Books.

About the author:
Timothy Klein was blessed, (though he didn't always see it that way at the time), with a mother and a grandmother that were English teachers (and two sisters who taught English.)
Even though literature was a major component of his early life, he rebelled against the Grammar Police and pursued aviation, earning his pilot's license while in high school.
(Skip forward several decades that included a bachelors degree, a stint in the USAF, Grad school, working for several major companies, a Citabria, getting married, a Cessna Cardinal, a son, moving to Colorado, two daughters, another Citabria, starting his own business and other mundane details.)
Anyway, several years ago, while skimming the romance novel his wife was reading, he remarked, "I can write better stuff than this!" "Well," she replied, "go do it."
So he did. That simple dare rekindled a long simmering passion. The result is a series of action/adventure/romance novels.