I was born and raised in LeRoy, Kansas (pop. 500), a small farming community in the southeastern part of the state. Located on the Neosho River, I had a great childhood, with almost every day emulating the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I wrote a collection of short stories about my childhood twenty years ago and presented a copy to each of my children so they would know what “ol’ Dad did as a kid.” It was titled, “Why All the Elm Trees Died.”
And the “answer” contained within that title was… that as a mischievous child I got so many whippings with an elm switch, that the all the bark was stripped from the town’s trees and caused them to die. Actually, all the trees did die dues to a disease of some type, but my kids think it was from dad’s spankings.
Writing Controversial Topics – Good Or Bad Idea?
Personally, I think writing on controversial subjects are good for promoting sales. It’s like people discussing politics. People who agree with your ideas will likely recommend the book favorably, just like they do in voting for a certain elected official. And those who don’t agree with your writing will talk about or complain to their friends, which I think that inadvertently promotes your books to those who want to see for themselves. In either case, it gets people talking about your literary intrigue.
What Makes Your Book/Series Unique?
Like most memoirs, many “unknowns” were shared in my book. One aspect of writing this was that it served as a means of closure for the survivor’s guilt I experienced for thirty-six years.
Primarily though, following a training accident of one of their helicopter crashes that killed the trainee, I obtained a copy of the transcripts for the department’s accident investigation findings. With this document, writing my book exposed a city and/or department cover-up, supervisory betrayals, and botched techniques in the LAPD’s Board of Inquiry post-accident investigation. As an example, although the NTSB investigator on scene submitted a formal report of the accident. Yet as the instructor pilot and sole survivor of the accident, here it is forty years later and I am still waiting to be interviewed by the NTSB.
Written and published so long after the fact, it was also a way of explaining to my fellow pilots and observers of what really happened on that fateful day. Knowing that a lot of rumors and speculation as to what caused my helicopter crash circulated among the officers assigned to the air unit, I wanted a little vindication. Being thrown “under the bus” by the chief pilot without being able to defend myself, writing Beyond Recognition was a way to tell “my side of the story.” It also provided some truthful answers to the widow of my trainee who had been misled as to what happened.
Lastly, in my book I shared some details as to how I coped with the recovery of my burns, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Optimistically, I would like to think that it will provide some means of hope to other burn victims or trauma survivors; even though there is a long road to recovery, that life does have something left for them.
Your Favorite Promotion Strategy
With my burn scars plainly visible on my arms and face, this is to my advantage as it typically causes notice from all people that I come into contact with. Although few inquire as to my injuries, it gives me the opportunity to discuss my helicopter accident, which leads into the mentioning of my book. Then I can leave a business card promoting my book, or tell them where they can order it. This works at most of my daily activities; doctors’ and dentists’ offices, auto mechanics, grocery stores, etc.
Being from Las Vegas, I also had some personalized “casino chips” designed that displayed my book cover on one side, and the URL to my Website along with a photo of an LAPD helicopter on the other. I have passed-out these in lieu of business cards. And they seem to be a more favorable option in generating attention.
I have also provided, for people who buy my book, a raffle contest. The award being a chance to win one of my other book anthologies.
Beyond Recognition is a “fact-based account” of the memoirs of Ronald Corbin, a former Army combat helicopter pilot and Vietnam veteran who becomes a Los Angeles Policeman, and eventually a pilot for LAPD’s Air Support Division.
Compared to other pilots in the unit who had received their flight training from local airport operators, Ron’s’ military training and unique combat flying experience as a “Slick” Huey pilot, and his wide background as an instructor pilot in various helicopters, goes beyond recognition of some of the old timers at Air Support. He immediately becomes the target of jealousy by the unit’s chief pilot, Joe Claridge, whose animosity leads him to do everything he can to undermine Ron’s reputation, and ultimately “railroad” him out of the unit.
However, Ron’s flying ability is eventually recognized by the ASD Captain and Training Sergeant. He is selected to become an instructor pilot in the unit, much to the objection of Joe who feels that Ron hasn’t had enough experience in the unit. After becoming one of the unit’s instructor pilots under Joe’s supervision, Ron soon finds himself going head-to-head with Joe over differences of opinion in training objectives for new police pilots. Ron quickly grasps the fact that Joe is nearing the end of his career and is actually afraid to fly. To hide his fear, Joe bows-out of certain missions that may be a little more “hazardous.” The stress Ron goes through with Joe causes Ron to have flash backs of some of the fear and horror of his Vietnam flying.
After an aircraft accident that claims the life of Ron’s police pilot trainee, Jeffrey Lindenberg, and one which puts Ron in the hospital with 70% burns, the LAPD Chief of Police assembles a Board of Inquiry into the cause of the accident. Joe sees his opportunity to seek jealous revenge on Ron by feeding misleading statements to the Board investigators that suggest blame on Ron and Jeffrey. The investigation eventually evolves into a “kangaroo court” and seeks to place unjustified blame on Ron. But the Board’s exercise in “finger-pointing” quickly backfires as Ron exposes a “cover-up” that has corporate and City attorneys scrambling to make a settlement.