About Barrett Tillman
Q. Previous occupations
A. Rancher, freelance author, book editor/publisher, magazine editor.
Q. Favorite job
Q. High school and/or college
A. Athena, Oregon, and OSU/U of O
Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?
A. Too many and varied to describe.
Q. Favorite movie
A. The Wind and the Lion
Q. Favorite television show
A. Currently: "Castle"
Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
A. My life in only eight words is Satisfying.
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. "Persistence counts."
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. I would not even attempt to describe it anymore because frequently when we achieve a goal that appears to offer perfect happiness, something is lacking. I would rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. Besides, if you bat 1.000 where's the challenge and the elation of a surprise grand-slam homer?
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Same as everyone else: failure. But that's no reason for avoiding the risk of failure.
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Hey, it's December: it's mighty hard to beat Arizona! Which is where I am.
Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. Not a world-historic figure, but my maternal great-great grandmother was downright inspirational. She crossed the Oregon Trail as an 18-year-old bride headed for a place she had never been, uncertain what she would find upon arrival. Deep inside me I have a novel about her.
Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. My wife, who proves that persistence and determination can overcome years of illness.
Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. "We are ruled by idiots. But you knew that." It has ended many of my emails since about 1990.
Q. What do you regret most?
A. My vision went bad in grade school and prevented me from becoming a military aviator.
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. The ability to look like Tom Selleck and sound like Sam Elliott.
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Earning a living as a free-lance author for so much of my life. Others who've done it will tell you that it's extremely rare--and satisfying.
Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. I do not look like Tom Selleck or sound like Sam Elliott.
Q. What’s your best quality?
Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. A Dauntless dive-bomber pilot aboard USS Enterprise in 1942. (Watch for my upcoming book on The Big E in February 2012.)
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. "Tillman is really bright with a bad habit of stating unpleasant facts." --A US Navy officer, circa 1991.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Possibly Bob Lee Swagger because of the consistently original, intriguing scenarios he inspires.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Mick in Steve Hunter's "Dead Zero." He had it all but tossed it away--a wasted life, probably the greatest tragedy of all.
Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Hannibal, for unrelated reasons.First, I grew up around exotic animals and would really like to know how got any of those elephant(s) over the Alps.Secondly, he's an intriguing figure: extremely smart, one of the great captains, and a man who pursued his life's goal with single-minded zealotry, came within reach of that goal--and narrowly missed it.
Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Hard to say, as I have few minor pet peeves. Disloyalty/treachery is a major peeve. Among the minors, people who wear caps backwards--not just because it looks dumb but because it indicates mindless imitation.
Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. I enjoy working as a commentator on TV documentaries.
Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Mercenary aviator rated in tactical jets and helicopters with a hangar full of copilots, mechanics, and armorers straight out of the Victoria's Secret's catalogue.
Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Honesty, intelligence, and coping ability.
Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Supreme pizza because you can add veggies for nutrition among all the toppings that taste good.
Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Hooboy. "Shenandoah" by Sissel or Hayley Westenra; "American Patrol" by Glenn Miller; "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins; "Victory at Sea suite" by Rodgers; and for the Christmas season, "Deck the Halls" by Mannheim.
On Books and Writing
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. SOME of my favorites include Richard Frank (military history), Jim Hornfischer (naval history), Stephen Hunter (fiction and commentary), Louis Lamour (westerns), P.J. O'Rourke (commentary), Samuel Eliot Morison (naval history), and Col. John Thomason ("reality fiction").
Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. It's impossible to choose five as definitive. Even fifteen would be difficult.Anyway, no particular order:"The Acts of King Arthur & His Noble Knights" by Steinbeck."Guadalcanal" by Richard B. Frank."Red Pants" by John W. Thomason."The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara."Bugles and a Tiger" by John Masters.
Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
A. I've read several books three times each. Shaara's "The Killer Angels" is one.
Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
A. Be persistent, and keep learning.
Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
A. "When are we going to see the third installment in the Dauntless series?" I would love to finish the Rogers-Sakaida trilogy but have not found a publisher for the Korean War conclusion.