Jen: Our guest today is military romance novelist, M.L. Buchman. M.L., please tell us about I Own the Dawn and where the idea came from.
MB: The series came from discovering the U.S. Army’s real life Night Stalkers, a secret helicopter regiment for Special Forces. The “what if?” question for the series came from, “All their fliers are men. Huh. What if they weren’t anymore?” I’ve had a great time placing these women in a man’s world, these amazing women. I Own the Dawn came about from a single image. A tough woman. A force of nature. Someone who can win a bar fight or drink you under the table. And she can definitely out shoot you. What happens when she’s faced by the perfect match? Especially when she doesn’t see it that way. I loaded the dice by choosing a hero for her who comes from another world. One of manners and education. Watching them interact was so much fun, and I always like to have fun with my writing.
I also wanted to get into the Afghanistan setting a bit more. It had only been the opener and closer of book 1 and I felt there was a world there I wanted to learn more about. Also fun! (Did I mention that I like to have fun with my writing?)
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book/series?
MB: I read everything I could find about the Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). I studied their helicopters and read maintenance manuals and hand-to-hand combat training guides. I was going for my Taekwondo black belt with my kid at the time, so I made the characters very physical in both their snuggling agreements and their much less snuggly disagreements. I interviewed a Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot, a female Black Hawk crew chief who flew in Iraq. I went online to a sniper rifle forum and asked dumb questions about just what a $10,000 sniper rifle can do (lots of ridicule and some really great suggestions). But I mostly read memoirs by military Special Forces retirees to try to understand them. What motivated them, how they thought, felt, and spoke. I wanted my characters to be as authentic as I could make them.
Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
MB: Hearing someone laugh or sigh when they read a book, any book. The second or third novel I ever read was Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. I wept. That it would take me another 20 or more years to start writing myself is an oversight I still fail to understand. I love being able to champion the human spirit and make my readers (especially my first reader, the wonderful lady I married) sigh or laugh or sniffle. That is the best part of writing. The readers.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine? Are you a plotter or a panster?
MB: I’ve tried almost everything from detailed outlines to complex whiteboard charts and detailed character interviews. My best successes, and the most fun for me: a) get an idea, title, scene, cool opening line, b) play with the idea a while in my head, often while riding my bike, mowing the lawn, taking a walk with my wife, c) get a pretty good idea of the first sentence or two and the last scene, and then d) I sit down and start writing at page 1. I used to write the last scene next and then aim for it, now it’s just pretty clear in my head and I go for it. I write anytime that I have 10-15 minutes, but I love the long blitzes. I can write for 20 hours on the weekend of a 60 hour work week and feel refreshed at the end of it. Writing brings me energy.
Jen: What’s next for you?
MB: More Night Stalkers. A Night Stalkers Christmas story coming this fall, books 3&4 of the series to follow. I have a contemporary romance series that is waiting for book 2 and a fantasy series where I have book 2, but it’s waiting for book 1 (weird, I know, but true). And my wife and I were doing our favorite thing the other day, walking along and holding hands and just talking. We came up with another romance series. It’s gonna be wonderful! I can’t wait to write it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M. L. Buchman has worked in fast food, theater, computers, publishing, and light manufacturing. It’s amazing what you can do with a degree in geophysics. At one point he sold everything and spent 18-months riding a bicycle around the world. In 11,000 miles, he touched 15 countries and hundreds of amazing people. Since then, he has acquired a loving lady, the coolest kid on the planet, and lives in Portland, Oregon. For more information, please visit http://www.