Interview with Bill Fortin
Bill Fortin served in the United States Army, 3rd Armor Division, from April 1968 to the first part of 1970. In 2012 while transporting Redhawk, a Quarter horse, to a medical facility in Pennsylvania I had a flashback to 1970.
The cause was the turnpike signage that pointed to the VA Hospital at Perryville. I knew at that moment that the exploits of Cold Warriors of 40 plus years passed had waited long enough to be told. The result was a novel entitled Redeye Fulda Cold by Bill Fortin.
I had retired from Bell Labs in 2001, I’m currently the CEO of IBS, Inc., specializing in systems engineering. I have a Master’s in Management Sciences from the University of Baltimore.
My wife Judy, a gaggle of Border Collies, and other 4 legged and featured companions reside in the rolling hills of Westminster, Maryland.
What got you into writing, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Research on team members I served with in the US Army, 1968 started my interest. The writing is second nature and very enjoyable… it is also the easy part… the marketing is not for the faint of heart.
Which writer influenced you the most?
That’s easy. William Edmund Butterworth III (November 10, 1929 – February 12, 2019), better known by his pen name W.E.B. Griffin, was a writer of military and detective fiction with 38 novels in six series published under that name.
What turns a good story into a great one?
I really don’t know… it has only happened twice for me… I’m just starting my 3rd novel!
How do you balance your schedules and artistic goals with everyday life?
When Ringling Brothers closed last year I purchased 3 of their used high wire balance beams… seriously though, I try to reserve 2 hours each day, preferably in the morning, to do research and write. I am at that point in my life that making time for this is affordable.
What do you aim to evoke in the readers of your books?
My writing of historical fiction attempts to provide today’s readership an awareness and an understanding of how the Cold War with Russia has affected everyone living on this planet today.
Please tell us about your latest work, what inspired you to write it, and the research involved.
Book2, Stinger: Operation Cyclone has a storyline described, some reviewers say, in extreme detail… others come away questioning, if in fact, that what they just read was indeed fiction… well, that is exactly the effect I was looking for…
“Stinger” is a Cold War adventure that peers inside the exploits of Congressman Charlie Wilson [Charlie Wilson’s War] and CIA’s Task Force Chief, Gust Avrakotos. Strange bedfellows they were…. Their alliance proved to be one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the CIA. “Stinger: Operation Cyclone” centers on the results of their efforts.
Can you give us a story outline of your book?
The adventure begins with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1979. This was the same year that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Early in 1982 POTUS called for a plan of action to arm and finance the Afghan Freedom Fighters known as the Mujahideen.
Operation Cyclone was the code name assigned to this project. CIA Officer Mike Vickers, not a participant in this story, was solicited by Avrakotos to help design and roll out the blueprint to equip the Mujahideen. Included in this Covert Action program was the Stinger guided missile.
What was the most challenging part of writing this particular book?
The most challenging phase of any self-published book is the injection process into the ‘TRADITIONAL’ published markets. I have labeled this body of contention the ‘SPC’, [the sales prevention center].
Can you tell us about how you had your book edited, published, and its cover art created?
You know what they say about judging a book by its cover, right? They also say you only get one chance to make a 1st impression…
Getting a manuscript edited, formatted, published in 3 to 4 different flavors [epub/mobi, soft/hard paperbound, and because Tom Selleck hasn’t called me back, I have not yet pursued an audio rendition.
A proper edit of your manuscript can cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000. A professional format adds another $1K, and another $600 for contracting each selected publishing group. Anyone who tells you that you can edit your own manuscript is delusional… Of course, once you have a finished product the marketing expense may bring tears to your eyes… STINGER’s marketing expense has exceeded $7K since the 1st of the year.
Some of the editing expenses can be absorbed into the format expense. This is especially true if you use graphics and photos in your internal galley design. I plan all my cover designs and have them professionally produced by a graphic artist.
What made you ultimately decide between self-publishing and conventional publishing? And will you use the same procedure for your next publication?
As I described above, self-publishing services are our only real choice at this point in time. The majority of us will never be asked to sit at the TRADITIONAL table. For this, you need an agent… I have selected IngramSpark as a publisher. Their catalogue directory services allow Indie Bound, “A Community of Independent Local Bookstores” and other private-sector corporations’ access to all of your published novels.
They also offer hardbound paper versions of your novel, whereas, CreateSpace does not. Amazon’s KDP seems to control the majority share of the digital marketplace. And… until you can get your book on the proverbial shelf, MOBI may be your only source of significant revenue.