Award-winning author, Robert Capko, writes Action-Adventure Thrillers, including the popular John Paxton series. He is a veteran of the Unites States Air Force and currently lives in Florida, where he is a high school English teacher by day, but a terrific novelist by night. He has four wonderful sons and two beautiful grandsons and still found time to play five questions with me. Thanks, Robert.
1- Tell us about your Air Force career and what led you into writing fiction?
Well I certainly didn’t do anything as exciting or heroic as my protagonist John Paxton when I served in the Air Force. I served in the time period leading up to Desert Storm. It was then that I first learned of the Air Force Pararescue Jumpers (PJs) and their mission to rescue downed pilots behind enemy lines. I was fascinated by their ability to both fight and save lives. I knew immediately that I wanted to write novels about them. From there I spent years learning as much as I could about PJs and what they do. I have been privileged to meet many of them and to tour their training facilities. They are truly unsung heroes.
2- Would you be able to write "Say Goodbye," without your experiences in the Air Force?
I would have been able to write it, but I doubt it would have had the realism that I was after. My service helped me to understand and appreciate the way members of the military interact with one another and the atmosphere in which they operate. Keeping in mind I write fiction, not training manuals, I strive to capture the essence of military life.
I knew from experience that everything does not work flawlessly and the mission and leadership are sometimes less than logical. I strive for an accurate portrayal military life; while at that same time take license to stray from strict accuracy if it serves the plot.
3- Tell us about USAF Pararescue units and why John Paxton is different from your typical protagonist?
The United States Pararescue Jumpers (PJs) are the Special Forces operators that go pretty much anywhere in the world to rescue people. Their primary mission is to rescue downed airmen behind enemy lines, but they do much more than that. They are also on standby for all the manned space missions ready to rescue the astronauts should something go wrong. They are also involved in civilian rescues both on land and at sea in the most extreme circumstances. I find it intriguing that they combine skills as both warriors and first responder medical professionals.
4- You obviously have a knack for writing tense thrillers. Where did you develop your writing style?
Thank you. I learned the style from the masters. I read tons of action/adventure novels when I was growing up. I loved reading them so much that I wanted to start writing my own. So I would take them apart. If I would read some passage that was particularly exciting, I would stop and ask myself, “how did the author do that?” I still do that to this day (it takes me forever to read a book!).
5- How do you see digital technology changing the publishing landscape of the next 5 years?
Technology will continue to give authors, and, more importantly, readers, more choices. It brings the authors and their readers closer together, and the economics of it will foster experimentation. While I still love a printed book, I am excited about the opportunities that digital technology is creating.