Tuesday, October 25, 2011

WWI Aviation and True Crime Research - Hitting on all Cylinders!

I have often contended that the researching for a non-fiction book is as enjoyable as writing it.  This is the case with a few projects that I have going right now. 

My evenings are spent corresponding with archives all over the planet, looking for precious little tid-bits to add color and detail to my books.  I meet a lot of neat people (virtually) and find the experiences to be very rewarding.  If nothing else it is a great diversion from the mental toils of my day job. 

First – my Bert Hall book project.  Bert Hall was the bad boy of the Lafayette Escadrille.  He was, essentially, kicked out of this illustrious unit, despite being one of the founding members.  Bert went on to serve in Romania and then later in China, heading up Nanking’s air force.  Bert was a mercenary of the highest order, selling arms (unsuccessfully) and brokering the sales of military aircraft.  I like Bert because he exemplifies the aerial mercenary image of Sky Captain in real-life. 

My work on my Bert Hall book has been a passion with me because he was such a braggart and liar – his autobiographies are riddled with Bert-isms; half truths or outright fabrications.  That means resorting to going to primary sources to get to the truth.  It is painstaking work but worth it – especially lately. 

In the last two weeks I have had two substantial breakthroughs in terms of research on this project.  Not only have I successful tracked down a copy of one of Bert’s on film but I have also managed to locate an audio recording of one of his many radio interviews.  I’m trying to see what I can do to get the rights for these so I can provide them to the WWI history community.  I realize that if you are not a WWI or aviation history buff, this sounds pretty boring, but trust me – this is substantial.  The film footage may very well show Bert flying a WWI aircraft – at least that is my hope. 

My new true crime book on the murder of Daisy Zick also scored some new information  that will give me a lot of new research material.  Daisy was brutally stabbed and beaten in 1963 and her death remains one of Michigan’s great unsolved crimes…if only because of the savage nature of her death.  I’ve been bounced around from one source to another but now I’ve hit a pile of material that even the original investigators in the crime have not looked at.  While it won’t break the case, so to speak, it will make this book much better.

In the meantime, I’m expecting to see the cover art on my book Secret Witness about the Nola Puyear bombing murder in Marshall Michigan in 1967.  The copy edit is under way too which will be fun to go through.  Once a book is in production, there are bursts of activity then long periods of simply waiting. 

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