Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Starting Point

A few days ago I did one of my favorite things about being a writer -- research.  In the middle of the week and the middle of the day, I hopped on my scooter, riding through downtown Seattle to the Museum of Flight.  My goal: tour the interior of a B-17.  This aircraft had a special appeal because of the level of restoration.  It looked like its crew of ten had just returned from a mission, headsets at the ready, oxygen bottles in place, even two Stanley thermos bottles behind the cockpit.  
I could easily get carried away about what I saw, but for this blog, I think I’ll focus more on why I’d take time to look at this plane.  Am I planning on setting my next novel in a WWII bomber? No, but, I never know when an idea for a story might pop up or a B-17 will come in handy.  Think of the possibilities:
A skeleton crew ferries this aircraft across the Pacific to Hickam Field on Oahu, only to be intercepted by a raging storm, a squadron of Zeros, a jet fighter from the future, an alien spacecraft taking the aircraft and crew for further study, a fold in time which puts them in the present or flying over Gettysburg in the 19th century.
A young man leaves the farm, college, a wealthy Senator father, a pregnant girlfriend, a trail of serial killings (take your pick) to be a waist gunner in a B-17 over Germany.  He bails out over Berlin fighting his way back to safety or he's captured and imprisoned, or he finds an underground resistance, or he falls in love with a farmer’s daughter who is in a relationship with a German officer....
You get the idea.
So, given a B-17 as your starting point, where would you go?  Have some fun.  I’d love to hear your ideas.

Richard Hacker's novel TOXIC RELATIONSHIP, a finalist in the 2011 Writers League of Texas Literary Contest, due to be release by Champagne Books, August 2012. Visit Richard at his blog and Facebook at


Anonymous said...

Amazing where ideas come from. I was on vacation with my wife in the outer banks, got wrapped in the wonder of the area and up popped the backdrop to my latest romantic suspense RIGHTEOUS FURY (Oct).

BTW - not many realize the severity of losses in the B17. In one two day raid early in the war before the P51s were available for escort, we lost 600 B17s with 6000 young men on board. It got so made Eisenhower was solicited by the president to cease daylight bombing. A little trivia for your next book (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

January Bain said...

Richard, I totally get the excitement of getting to do such fabulous research!

I was in seventh heaven when I needed to read 10 physics books to get a handle on the concept of time travel. Imagine if I could have gone and seen an actual time machine!!!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

You have a fertile mind and don't need much help from me. But, one thing that facinated me being a child in those times was the news reports. (And Movietone News) Did you know pilots were getting musical signals at high altitudes? And some people could tun into radio stations on their recently filled molars.

Truth is stranger than fiction, even yours.

Linda LaRoque said...

Interesting, Richard. I like all your plot ideas but my favorite would be flying over Gettysburg! I love time travel.

Richard Hacker said...

Mike, yeah, some of the utter carnage of that war is hard to imagine. I think we can all agree. War sucks.

Richard Hacker said...

Julie, I learned to fly late enough for GPS and VOR, but I've talked to older pilots who recall homing in on AM radio stations for navigation. I do believe the Japanese fighters used Honolulu radio broadcast to help them navigate to the island.