Read on to find out the personal back story behind Jim Proebstle's new book Fatal Incident. Jim took his uncle's story and wrote an entertaining book about what might have happened. Jim also offers good advice to writers.
· 1. Why did you decide to write this Fatal Incident?
Growing up in Massillon, Ohio, I always remembered the picture of Roy Proebstle, Uncle Curly, on my dad’s chest of drawers in the bedroom. He was a handsome man in his Captain’s dress uniform flashing a warm smile that reached out to me every time I entered the room. The story about Curly’s death, however, was always buried deep in my father’s heart. Occasionally, I would hear comments between him and my mom, but they were always shrouded in the sad tone invoked in the loss of a best friend. Part of my experience in writing Fatal Incident was the thrill of vicariously participating in that period of my dad’s and Curly’s (Bud and Nick Morgan in the book) life, prior to World War II, when aviation shaped their future paths.
It was after my father’s death when I started digging deeper that I realized the story we
were told didn’t hold water. My cousins, Bob and Jack, agreed. Since no one knew what
really happened I wanted to write about what could have happened. All accounts of why
the crash took place in Fatal Incident are fictional, to be sure, but several possibilities
could exist. I wanted to present one of them in order to establish a credible alternative.
2. Do you have any secret writing tips you'd like to share?
Utilizing personality profile instruments, like the Myers-Briggs or Temperament, isn’t new but is very helpful in developing characters that are diverse. I find that if I spend time developing the character with their individual profile, before I start writing the story, my ability to place them into a scene with better dialogue is enriched.
3. Tell us a quirky or funny story about you!
I didn’t know what to expect at my first book signing, a small B. Dalton bookstore in Bemidji, MN. I noticed that people were hesitant to approach the table. It seemed like they didn’t know what to say or how to initiate the introduction. I’m pretty outgoing, so I get out of my chair and greet people with a solid handshake and warm smile, and asked about their interests in reading. Things took off and books started to sell.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a very attractive lady in her forties approaching. She was very direct and initiated the introduction completely under her own control, and with a handshake that was unbelievable. “Unbelievable,” like “all is right with the world unbelievable.” Her eye contact was clear, smile friendly…I was caught in the headlights. I managed to acknowledge her remarkable handshake, as she had yet to release her grip, by asking what kind of work she did. She responded, “Well, I’m a dairy farmer.” There was a twinkle in her eye.
4. Have you ever battled writer's block? How do you deal with it?
Since Fatal Incident is based on true events experienced by my family, I do have a lot of original pictures, letters, newspaper articles, etc. that can quickly get you into the setting of what happened. My Aunt Millie, Uncle Curly’s wife at the time of the crash is still living and had saved all of the postcards he had sent as a normal part of their correspondence. Following Uncle Curly’s thoughts gave me the feeling of being there as each postcard identified the various writing locations from Bethel, Alaska to Edmonton, Alberta. This allowed me to construct a flight map to follow his assignments. These first-hand resources of the players involved were like listening through a wall with your ear to a glass.
5. What's your favorite quote?
“If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.” Benjamin Franklin
6. Who writer inspires you the most?
As a writer, Larry McMurtry inspires me most. I never tire of the incredible characters he creates and develops. His unique talent of bringing characters to life happens with an interconnecting chapter structure that approaches one scene many times from multiple character perspectives. The collision is very exciting.
If you would like to win a copy of Jim's book, please enter this contest by clicking the link.