NefretitiM: Tonight on Literary Links we have Kelly Durham author of The Reluctant Copilot. So Kelly what inspired you to write this book?
As a boy, I remember watching the television series Twelve O’Clock High. I was fascinated then, and remain so today, at the perils encountered by the crews of the heavy bombers flying from bases in the bucolic English countryside, risking their lives for several hours and then returning to the relative peace of the airbase at the end of their missions. As I got older, I read histories of the air war in Europe as well as memoirs of pilots and crew members. I was struck by the extraordinary losses these men suffered and by their dogged determination to complete their missions. As an adult, I got to know a couple of men who flew in the bombers. They had amazing stories to tell–some of which are captured in The Reluctant Copilot. Nearly everyone in America was affected by World War II in some way. Many served, most knew someone, either a family member or friend, who served. Even if you were in that small majority without a direct contact with a service member, you were affected by rationing, travel restrictions and propaganda. The war spawned the GI Bill, offering college educations to those who had served in the armed forces. That spawned a tremendous increase in post-secondary education and helped change the American economy. Other changes influenced by the war included the Civil Rights movement, the space race and the Cold War.
The Reluctant Copilot is a tribute to those who served.
NefretitiM: How did you come up with the title?
Kelly Durham:The Reluctant Copilot describes the main character, Bob Foster, who in a public relations move is bumped from the left seat, that’s the pilot’s seat, of his B-17 bomber to make room for the son of a US Senator who the Army hopes to turn into a hero. Bob is demoted to the copilot’s position from which he is told to help the new pilot. Bob becomes the reluctant copilot, but also understands that his life, along with the lives of the other nine members of the crew, still depends on him doing his job to the best of his ability.
NefretitiM: What genre does this book to fit into?
Kelly Durham:This is historical fiction. The setting is historically accurate to the place and time. The book is accurate in its depiction of the conditions in which the bomber crews served and fought.
NefretitiM: What influenced your interest in writing?
Kelly Durham: My writing began with reading. I love to read good stories and my favorites are ones that help me learn about history in an entertaining way. I began to wonder if I had the ability to write such a story, so I gave it a shot. My first book, The War Widow, is set at the Nuremberg Trials which occurred just after World War II. In it, I tackle one of the mysteries of the aftermath of the war: how the highest-ranking survivor of Hitler’s regime, Hermann Goering, was able to cheat the hangman by committing suicide in his jail cell just hours before his scheduled execution.
NefretitiM: What is the writing process like for you?
Kelly Durham: I enjoy writing. Time simply melts away when I’m telling a story. I like to begin with the end in mind, that is I want to have a general idea of how the story ends. With that end in mind, I write episodes that advance the plot, stacking one after another like building blocks. After each episode, which might range from a couple of paragraphs to several pages, I’ll go back and read, edit, re-read and re-edit until the section has the right tone and feel. Once I build up some momentum, I stop only reluctantly. For me, writing is a pleasure.
NefretitiM: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Kelly Durham: I love to spend time with my family, to read, watch movies and travel. I also enjoy volunteer work.
NefretitiM: What tips or words of encouragement do you have for other writers?
Kelly Durham: Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can. Find authors whose writing you admire and see what you can learn from their work. There are many good writers out there and many good story tellers–and some who are great at both! Keep your eyes and ears open for characters and anecdotes in your life that you can adapt for your writing. And keep at it realizing that “overnight success” usually takes years of effort!
NefretitiM: Thank you for joining us. Get your copy of The Reluctant Copolio @