Bob Doerr – Air Force Veteran – Award Winning Author

Thank you, George, for having me on today. I’ve been writing now for twelve years and have to admit it; I enjoy writing. I guess it’s the storyteller in me. My background has helped me come up with ideas, as I spent nearly thirty years in the Air Force in a career field with a mission very similar to the FBI. I spent another eight years as a financial advisor before becoming a full-time writer. Both jobs gave me a lot of insight into people’s behavior.

In all, I’ve had sixteen books published, two more that I’ve self-published, and one that I co-authored with three other writers. I’ve also had a few short stories published in anthologies. Most of my work has been in the mystery or thriller genres. However, I have four fantasy, adventure books published in the juvenile fiction series.

I have never found writing in different genres difficult. It might be because for years, I wrote short stories for my three daughters as they were learning to read and then for my grandchildren.

In the Air Force, I wrote or reviewed hundreds if not thousands of criminal and counterintelligence investigative reports. While none of my books are based on true crime or actual intelligence reports, my experience gave me thousands of ideas and plots.
I have a fairly strict writing process that includes leaving home before eight each morning, finding a spot inside or outside a coffee house, and writing for about an hour and a half. If I can keep this pace, I find that I can produce a 70,000-word book in around nine months. My first book took longer as I lacked discipline and confidence. My advice to any beginning author is to stay with it, despite any initial disappointments. My first book is admittedly my worst edited. I’ve learned since.

Writing at home has always been difficult for me as I find myself too easily distracted by the refrigerator, the television, or some other project that comes to mind. The noise around me at a Starbucks, for example, I can ignore. In fact, I sometimes describe a character after a customer that catches my eye. I sometimes wonder if a lot of authors aren’t people watchers, too.

I never start with an outline, although I often find myself reading what I’ve written after about sixty or seventy pages and taking notes to ensure I haven’t changed names or descriptions of characters or gone too astray in my plot. After that, I try to remember to add to my character list as I go, but I still find myself mixing up who did what or names. When I finish the entire manuscript, I read the entire story and make a number of changes. About the third or fourth time, I feel the story is good enough to have other people read it to identify mistakes or recommend improvements.

My protagonist in my Jim West mystery series, my first series, is a retired Special Agent from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. While I am too, that is where the similarities between Jim and me (or any other person) ends. Giving Jim a background I could relate to, and have him living in a state where I also lived for years, made the stories easier to write. After writing five books about Jim, I started my second series: the Clint Smith thriller series. I alternate now between the two series.

The Treasure, my newest book, is the fourth book in the Clint Smith series and is set to be released in April. Clint is a “hunter,” the nice word given to him as a job description that more accurately should be government assassin. The small office to which he belongs is so buried under layers of classified cover mission descriptions that only a few in the government know what they really do.

In The Treasure, Clint heads to Las Vegas on vacation after a successful mission in South America to dig up a stagecoach strongbox he had found in the desert earlier but had left unopened. Upon inspection, he finds several well-preserved old documents. He gives the contents of the strongbox to a lawyer to find buyers. One of the documents, unfortunately, creates a maelstrom of violence and murder, and puts Clint squarely in the crosshairs of some Chinese assassins. Clint leaves Las Vegas to keep out of the spotlight, only to find himself going to Alaska in an attempt to rescue a female police officer assigned to protect him in Las Vegas.

I have always been a big reader and have really enjoyed the works of many authors. Some like Ian Fleming, Rex Stout, John D. MacDonald, Robert Ludlum, I grew up reading. Their work still influences me, while I have since moved on to more contemporary authors.

I will continue to write until my eyes, or my fingers go. I do enjoy it, and if your followers choose to read one of my books, I’d love to receive any feedback or comments they may have. My website is www.bobdoerr.com, and I have an author page on Facebook (20+) Bob Doerr – Author | Facebook
Thank again – Bob Doerr

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    I’ve known Bob Doerr for years and he’s one of the nicest guys in the writing business. I’ve read some of his books and he’s an excellent writer, too. His military background gives him a perspective that few have, and he’s a natural born storyteller who knows how to spin a good yarn. If you’re unfamiliar with Jim West or Clint Smith, do yourself a favor and check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

    Reply

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Terese Mailhot – Best Selling Author of Heart Berries: A Memoir

Terese Marie Mailhot – A New York Times bestseller

Selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick for March/April 2018
A PBS Newshour/New York Times Now Read This Book Club Pick
New York Times Editor’s Choice
Winner of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature
Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English–Language Nonfiction
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
An NPR Best Book of the Year

“There are so many sentences I had to read again because they were so true and beautiful. It’s a memoir of pure poetry and courage and invention. Whenever I think about it, my heart clenches with love.” —Cheryl Strayed, The New York Times Book Review.

“A sledgehammer . . . Her experiments with structure and language . . . are in the service of trying to find new ways to think about the past, trauma, repetition, and reconciliation, which might be a way of saying a new model for the memoir . . . If Heart Berries is any indication, the work to come will not just surface suppressed stories; it might give birth to new forms.” —The New York Times.

Do you write in more than one genre? Yes! I have a novel coming out soon! It’s untitled.

What brought you to writing? I loved my mother’s writing very much. She was the first person who really taught me about writing. I would watch her work nightly on poetry or essay, and I always thought it was honorable work.

Where do you write and do allow any distractions? I write in my bedroom, because it’s the only room in the house I could set up an office. I invite distractions. I’m very lucky in my life. This pandemic has taught me to value family time and I’ve also learned how to enjoy being sidetracked. Those moments of distraction can be inspiring and energizing.

Tell us about your writing process: I write every day until I make my wordcount goal. Then I take a few months off and revise. If it’s for something more urgent, I work relentlessly, nonstop, until it’s as good as it gets for that deadline.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Time. Work life getting in the way.

What are you currently working on? The novel. I’m giving it time. I finished the first draft, so it’s about time to revise.

Who’s currently your favorite author? Kiese Laymon or Jesmyn Ward or James Baldwin … it’s too hard to choose!

How long did it take you to write your first book and published? It about 6 years to write. It sold two weeks from the time I sent it out and was published a year after.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave, or do they run the show? I like the outsiders. I like writing from the perspective of black sheep types, because their interiority is electric and perceptive, willful, and neglected.

Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? Yes.

Do you try to make the antagonist into a more human character? I think flawed characters are my favorite. I like people written off or disregarded, or people who are misunderstood.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I think there are underpinned themes in all the work I do. I think, in my current novel, there’s an underpinned theme of joy and collectivity, and I think of it like taste. Like, there should be many dimensions to a good dish. There should be a lot to savor or value in good food. Maybe I’m hungry. It shouldn’t be overbearing the main course.

Do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? I like work with little plot. I just throw wrenches at my characters until something strikes me.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Both.

What kind of research do you do? A lot. As much as humanly possible from all kinds of sources.

What is the best book you ever read? Giovanni’s Room.

Do you have any advice for new writers? You can do it. It’s harder for some, but nothing is impossible.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? I write for the women I love. I write for my mother.

How do our readers contact you? Teresemailhot.com

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Elisabeth Tuck

    I’m always interested in books from a different perspective. Thanks, George, for the heads up.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Interesting interview– You sound like a very disciplined person, which is a great attribute for a writer. I wish you much success.

    Reply

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