An Interview with Joe Weber
Here are the questions most often asked by Joe Webers readers. If you have a question that isnt answered here, e-mail Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org
How did you get started in your writing career?
After leaving the Marine Corps in 1975, I resumed my career as a commercial pilot. I had always been interested in writing, so I started taking along a yellow legal pad and a few pencils in my flight bag. In 1987, I started my first novel - on a yellow legal pad - with a self-imposed deadline of one year to finish the project. It actually took me one year and two weeks. I was fortunate to find an agent, and Presidio Press published Defcon-One in 1989.
Are the characters in your books people you have actually known?
To some degree they are. Most of my characters are a composite of a number of people I have known. A few of them are totally fictitious.
You have used strong female characters in some of your books. That's surprising for a Marine. Can you explain?
Youre right, I have. In Defcon-One the vice president of the United States is female. In Honorable Enemies, Steve Wickham is teamed with a female FBI agent, and in Primary Target, I have a female captain of an aircraft carrier and a female F-16 fighter pilot. It just feels natural to me. I suppose it comes from being around strong women. My wife is a former executive of a Fortune 300 company, my agent is female, and my editors are female. I think women should play a strong role in military fiction just as they do in the real world.
Do you network with other techno-thriller authors?
Yes. When I was starting my writing career, Tom Clancy gave me some sage advice. Tom, as well as Stephen Coonts, W.E.B. Griffin and others have been kind enough to endorse my books.
Two of your books were about Vietnam. Isnt this a deviation from your usual genre?
Yes, it is. As a Naval Aviator, Rules of Engagement and Targets of Opportunity were my way of letting off steam about the politics of the Vietnam War.
How do you research your books?
I spend at least two hours a day reading research material from a number of sources. In addition, I network with people who are currently in the military or intelligence communities.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes about nine months to a year before I am ready for the publisher to look at the manuscript. Once the publisher gets involved, its another nine months to a year before the readers see it in the stores.
How can I get my copies of your books autographed?
There are two ways to get your books autographed. You can e-mail me at email@example.com and request an autograph. I will be happy to send you a bookplate to put in your book. Or, you can mail your books to the snail mail address at this site. I will autograph them and send them back to you. Either way, be sure to include your mailing address.
Do you answer your fan mail?
Absolutely! One of the most rewarding things about writing is getting feedback from my readers. I take the time to answer e-mail and letters personally.
What is your typical day like?
As I said earlier, I spend about two hours each morning on research and administrative responsibilities. I break for lunch, then spend about four to five hours writing.
What do you do to relax when youre not writing?
My wife and I love to travel, but sometimes my writing schedule wont allow us to take extended trips. When a long trip is out of the question, I throw on my favorite aloha shirt, grab my Jimmy Buffett CDs and head off in my boat.
How has your military background influenced your writing?
I dont think I could adequately bring the visceral feeling of flying off an aircraft carrier or air-to-air combat to the reader if I hadnt been trained to do it. If youve never yanked and banked in a high performance military jet, its hard to describe how it really feels. I hope my military background allows me to put my readers inside the cockpit with my characters.
Whats the scariest moment you ever had while flying?
There have been several "character building" incidents in my flying career. Most pilots will tell you that flying is many hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. Some of my most terrifying moments happened while flying from the decks of aircraft carriers. During my initial carrier qualification on the USS Lexington, my twin-engine T-2C Buckeye jet suffered an engine fire. A year later, while completing a touch-and-go landing aboard Lexington, my TA-4J Skyhawk blew a tire that twisted the lower section of the landing gear. As I added full power and rotated off the flight deck, the Air Boss in Pri-Fly (the control tower on a carrier) warned me not to raise my landing gear. If the damaged gear jammed in the up position, bad things could happen. I was instructed to return to Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. Flying lower than normal while dragging the landing gear in the breeze burned tons of fuel. I arrived over the air station with six to seven minutes of fuel left. Needless to say, I was happy that I didnt have to pull the "loud handle" and eject from the plane.
How do you react to critical reviews of your work?
I love all the good reviews! When I get a bad review, I try to learn something from it.