Strike Force Behind The Book: strikeforce.mp3
Writers Roundtable Interview With Dale Brown
Dale Brown Interview With: Peter Anthony Holder
When a former pilot turns his hand to thrillers you can take their authenticity
for granted. His writing is exceptional and the dialogue, plots and characters
are first-class... far too good to be missed.'
--Sunday Mirror

‘Dale Brown is a superb storyteller’

‘Dale Brown is the best military adventure writer in the country’

Dale Brown's Frequently Asked Questions

  • Sent: Monday, 17 March, 2003 21:35
  • To: Dale Brown
  • Subject: THANKS!


    Thanks for the immeasurably helpful reply--I greatly appreciate your time and advice. So far, I've sent query letters (similar to my initial email) to about 15 agents, whose addresses I found in a "Guide to Literary Agents" book. All have since replied with some variation of "Thanks but no thanks"--a little demotivating, but I realize that it will be part of the process.

    The manuscript is done (3 years!). I also emailed Stephen Coonts, and he suggested that I send a copy of it to his agent. Aside from that (I just mailed it), I haven't sent any other copies out.

    I've attached the book's intro and first chapter, along with my resume/vitae. An F/A-18 technical section is at the end of CH1 (normally at the end of the book, along with a glossary). I haven't written an outline yet, but will generate one and get it emailed as well.

    All I previously have had published is an article I wrote while a cadet at the Air Force Academy in 1991/2. Titled "Save the Gate Guards," it was an ill-fated effort I started to try and remove WWII fighters and bombers from outside/static display at our military bases, and restore them to airworthiness. The article was published by the Warbirds division of the Experimental Aircraft Association in their journal, and in a bi-monthly newstand periodical called "Warbirds International."

    If you ever have the chance to fly down to San Diego, please allow me to give you a tour of our squadron and flight simulators as meager thanks for your help.

    Thanks again,


  • Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 9:39 PM
  • Subject: Come To Fight


    I'll start with the good news: excellent stuff! Your action scenes are first-rate. You paint very good images of your main character. Well done.

    First the technical comments:

    Don't do the asterisk thing [ note: Chris had put asterisks after technical terms to tell the reader that the definition was in the Glossary. A no-no in fiction] . A glossary is OK in the very back, but you should describe a weapon or system within the narrative, being careful not to interrupt your story by talking too much about hardware.

    Don't do the technical data on the Hornet. Save it for the Web site. Your publisher may ask for it for the book, but it does not belong in the manuscript. Same with aircraft diagrams, unit patches, etc.

    Don't do the table of contents. This is a novel, not a tech order.

    Use twelve-point font, not 10. Some of us old guys don't see very well.

    Now for the style comments:

    My biggest negative is that you waited until page 14 to start the action. Military-action-adventure novels start the action on page 1. Even better, you should start the story in the MIDDLE of the action.

    The stuff with the Marine Corps hymn was way too drawn out. If you want to take the time in the first chapter to tell the reader that your main character loves being a Marine, pick a quicker, more dramatic way to paint that image. Same with talking about OCS. Is it important to tell us that your character graduated from OCS? I would think it would be important to tell us he graduated top of his class, or was sent back, or something else that showed a flaw or strength in your character. But just graduating tells me nothing about your character. Maybe it's important later, but in Chapter One, I don't think it is.

    You need to SHOW us, don't TELL us. Pick a way to SHOW us that your main character has been away from home a long time and he misses his family. Have him on the phone with his kids as they're getting ready for bed. Lots of opportunities to show emotion there.

    Describing your hero with "booze-flu" and then showing him out jogging at 0630 is a little confusing. Is the hero a partier or a jock? Where are the other guys in his unit? I may be getting too picky here--I know plenty of guys who can drink all night then do PT at daybreak--but I think it's important to paint a clear picture of your hero.

    Another picky comment: there is no dialogue in this chapter. Your character is alone through the entire scene, so it's understandable, but it irked me. Lots of guys that are alone talk to themselves. Just an observation.

    Once you get into the action, it's great. Get into the action quicker, and SHOW don't TELL. You want the reader to settle in and go for a ride the minute he opens the book. The OCS stuff, the Marine hymn, etc., might be OK later on, but in Chapter One, it's a no-no.

    Comments? Retorts? Disagreements? Questions?

    Do you have any problems with me posting some of these comments and correspondence on my Web site? Not your manuscript text, but our comments on writing. You never know--maybe some agent will write to ask to see the manuscript!

    GBA, Dale...

  • Sent: Thursday, 20 March, 2003 21:50
  • To: Dale Brown
  • Subject: Re: Come To Fight


    Just got your reply after a day of flying and watching war news. Once again, I want to thank you for the amazing amount of time you're putting into helping me. I appreciate it greatly!

    Thanks for the encouragement and all the great recommendations. I plan on getting after revisions ASAP this weekend, and I'm sure I'll be emailing with more questions regarding your comments and how to rearrange the flow and trim out the fluff.

    I've got no problem with you putting some of the comments on your website. Thanks again for all your time!


    Why are some characters that died in Day of the Cheetah alive again in subsequent books? How come you killed off some great characters (like Angelina Pereira) before we really got to know them?

    It's because of the disbelief and worry of a new author.

    Although I received a 3-book contract from my first publisher, Donald I. Fine, I never truly believed I'd ever write more than 3 books--in fact, I wasn't even sure Flight of the Old Dog was going to sell (the U.S. paperback is now in its 25th printing!). So Day of the Cheetah was going to be the Old Dog's "swan song." The timeline in the story was advanced 8 years so the new technology in the EB-52 Megafortress would seem old in comparison to DreamStar and Cheetah.

    Of course, I went on to write 7 more novels, and readers and publishers demanded I bring back the old characters. So I had to write "prequels." This is why you see characters that were killed in Day of the Cheetah, like John Ormack, alive again and playing major roles in Night of the Hawk.

    The Timeline gets straightened out again with Shadows of Steel.

    Why doesn't Silver Tower have any of the Old Dog characters, or why don't you use Ann Page or Jason Saint-Michael from Silver Tower in any of the other stories?

    Although Silver Tower was the second book published, in 1988, it was actually the first piece of fiction I wrote, before Flight of the Old Dog (originally titled The Flight of Old Dog Zero One). But military aviation techno-thrillers were hot in 1986-87 (The Hunt For Red October was out, and Flight of the Intruder and Red Storm Rising were on the way), so Old Dog went first.

    Since Silver Tower was ready and Day of the Cheetah was not when it came time to publish a new book, it went next.

    I might use Ann Page or Jason Saint-Michael in a new story--be sure to watch for them!

    What got you into writing? How did you start?

    I have been writing since I hammered out a story about a space trip to Jupiter at age 11. I just always wanted to write. I think being a good reader makes a good writer, and I was a bookworm from a very early age.

    I wrote for "The Graffiti," the high school newspaper back on Grand Island, NY, and I wrote a column for "The Daily Collegian," the Penn State University newspaper, for which I was paid a whopping $2 per column! I freelanced for computer magazines such as "Run" and "Compute's Gazette for Commodore," and I wrote for several military base newspapers. A byline is a byline is a byline, and it all counts as credit when it comes time to submit that first fiction manuscript to a prospective agent or publisher!

    Have any of your books been made into movies?

    Not yet! My job is to create exciting action-adventure novels. I've written screenplays based on my novels, and my agents and I meet with Hollywood folks quite often, but my readers expect me to write novels. That's where I put all my energy!

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