Name Buck Stienke
Where are you from? Born in Houston, Texas
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I was the second of four children, with one older sister and two younger brothers. My dad loved flying and owned a series of small single engine aircraft. He put me in the right seat of an Eroupe, and would let me fly it from the right seat at age 5. I loved buzzing the beaches of Galveston.
We lived in Houston until I was 10, and moved to Lake Buchanan, Tx (in the hills of central Texas) My father worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone company as a PBX (private branch exchange or switchboard) installer and commuted over sixty miles to work. When Lyndon Johnson was elected, two years later, my father was appointed as the Communications Manager at the LBJ Ranch. He would often have to drive to Austin switch to a company car and then drive to the LBJ Ranch, another 60 miles. That didn’t work out well, therefore, in 1962, we moved to Austin.
In November of 1963, Lyndon became President following the Kennedy assassination. My father was required to work every day at the ranch and remain there overnight when Lyndon was at home there. (Dad was in charge of the radio, television, telephone and military secured lines (AUTOVON) and their 24/7 maintenance.) We moved into a house on 450 acre plot of ground inside the LBJ Ranch, a couple of miles from the LBJ ranch house during Christmas break my senior year in high school.
Following graduation, I attended the University of Texas as Austin for one year and was involved in the US Air Force Reserve Officer Training (ROTC) program. I flew my first military aircraft, a C-47 Gooney Bird, the week after I turned 18.
While in high school, I had applied for the USAF Academy (comparable to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell) and was accepted the next year. I was a member of both the Rifle Team and Rubgy Team until a severe neck injury force me to retire from that sport. I graduated from there on the Dean’s List with a degree in Engineering Management and subsequently attended Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training.
I served 8 years in a variety of flying and staff jobs, ending my career at the 12th Air Force HQ as an Air Operations Staff Officer in the Tactical Air Command (Now called Strike Command.) I had to opportunity to fly ground attack, air to air and photo recce missions as well as Electronic Counter Measure missions training the air defense radar controllers.
As an interesting side note, I play professional football for the Austin Texans for two seasons, while I was still in the USAF.
Many of my friends left the Air Force and went to work for Delta Air Lines, I followed suite. My pay had been frozen in a misguided federal Whip Inflation Now campaign when inflation was running over 21%. I flew a succession of air carrier aircraft including the Boeing 727, 757, 767, Lockheed L-1011, and Douglas MD-88, MD-90. In both domestic and international service.
I met my wife Carolyn while working there. We’ve been married for 33 years.
I began writing screen plays, acting and producing movies 8 years ago. Presently, I’m the owner of Lone Star Shooting Supply, a full service gun store, and am CEO of our publishing company Timber Creek Press.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Ken Farmer and I are finishing the last three chapters of our latest military action book Black Eagle Force : ISIS. It’s the latest in the BEF series. We have another two or three books in the works: Bass and the Lady – a western with Bass Reeves, and Pterodactyls in the Desert a follow-up to Marshall Lefavors and my Marine Fighter pilot saga, and as usual a few more sci-fi stories for Darrell Bone, our detective in the Legend of Aurora series..
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote short stories in high school and military Standard Operation Procedures, and plans for Search and Rescue in the Tactical Air Command. I began writing screen plays and producing movies 8 years ago. Ken Farmer’s friend asked us to write a screen play for his HUGE novel “Verdict: In Search of a Crime”. We knocked it out in a few weeks and got rave reviews from a script supervisor at Disney. He told us it usually take s Hollywood types a year to do the same thing. I replied, “Could have done it in half the time if I could only type faster.” Ken and I looked at each other after that exerience and came to the same conclusion simultaneously: “Hell, we could write a novel!” We wrote over a dozen novels together and each has written a individual book.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Good question. When we wrote our first novel and submitted it, neither of us knew that 99% of all submissions were rejected. We knew nothing of ebooks. Two publishers agreed to take our first book , therefore we selected one and went with them, not knowing it would take them a YEAR to get it into print.
In the meantime, we wrote two additional books. We decided to start out own publishing company instead. We had studied the business, got ourselves an education in marketing and distribution and found a way to get them to the market faster.
Once we go the book on Amazon, we entered Eye of the Storm in the North Texas Book Festival and won Best Adult Fiction category. The next two action adventure books took off and started selling in ebook. The fourth book Blood Ivory, hit the market and in two weeks became a Hot New Release in Amazon Kindle lists. We didn’t know it but the power of the digital marketplace took effect. Blood Ivory went to number 260 in all of Amazon Kindle sales and number two in War and Military. It brought all of our books into the top 100 in category and brought us a paycheck for five figures for that month’s sales. I suppose that’s when I could finally call myself a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Writing the screen play for John Eastman was an inspiration.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I like third person books. It gives me the freedom to help the reader feel that they are there inside the action. I want them to see, hear, feel ,taste and smell what the characters do.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles come somewhat from the subject matter. We want them short and hopefully ones that draw interest.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Our books are written from a particular point of view, but we want first and foremost to entertain the reader. The only overarching message would be good triumphs over evil.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Our novels are extremely realistic, save some facets of the science fiction. Even those aspects are based in known physics and medicine. In many cases we merely extrapolate what is to take it where what could be . Our historical fiction books often times use real places and events, with an insertion of the characters into what may have happened to one or more individuals. For example, our first book, Eye of the Storm, opens with a south Texas ranch being invaded by the forces of Santa Anna en route to the Alamo in March 1836. We know he had to cross somewhere as he left Mexico City and travelled to San Antonio de Bexar. We picked a likely spot and placed a family in his path. His actions thereafter were consistent with a campaign he made years before.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes. We try to use our own experiences in as many places as we can. The realism is tangible.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
As a child, such classics and Robinson Caruso, Moby Dick, and A Tale of Two Cities, engaged my fantasies.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m almost embarrassed to say I’m so busy writing and recording that I spend almost no time reading. I don’t even watch TV and cancelled most of my cable connections beyond basic.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Haven’t spent much time reading other people stuff.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Pterodactyls in the Desert is written, requires edit. Black Eagle Force: ISIS is in the final stages of initial writing and rewriting. Bass and the Lady is only in Chapter 2. My follow-on to Devil’s Canyon has around 30,000 words if memory serves me. I’m on Chapter 1 of the Audio Recording of Devil’s Canyon.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Facebook and Writer’s Roundup. We did receive support a couple of national organisations: Haunted Falls won 1st Place in the 2013 Laramie Awards competition for Chanticleer Book Reviews. Hell Hole and Across the Red are finalists in that category this year. Across the Red was a top 3 finalist in the Elmer Keaton Award.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It can be a career. A body of work requires time and dedication. Once your brand name in established, a steady income can be expected if you keep adding to the series. A writer must plan to help promote his or her works. In most cases, the books don’t sell themselves until the reading public had heard good things about your work. Word of mouth is great, social media is wonderful.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
In high school, I think it was an English class assignment that required me to produce a short story. Got an A+, must not have been too awful. My book Devil’s Canyon was inspired by a song that I wrote and perform. Forgot to mention, I’m a singer / songwriter and have been doing that for a long time.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Coming up in September, ISIS will be our next one.
One Hour Later
“Roland, what the hell do you mean, ransom?” President Carlos Benedict thundered.
The tall, slim chief executive with sleep still showing on his face, was on his feet at the announcement from Roland Perry, head of the National Security Council. Also in the underground crisis center were Secretary of Defense Jack ‘Burner’ Stewart, Director of the CIA William Weber, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs USMC General Clark Winston, Chief of Staff, Victoria Garnett and the others, both military and civilian that were present at the initial briefing—the rest of the NSC weren’t able to get there, this time of night.
“Mister President, the following conditions are demanded by the representatives from ISIS…First, the amount of fifty billion in gold.”
A low murmur went out from the assembled leaders.
“Second, the United States must permanently terminate all military and financial assistance to the state of Israel.”
“Not happening,” muttered SecDef Stewart, loud enough for the President to hear.
Benedict’s eyes narrowed as he shot a look at Burner. “Anything else?”
Perry nodded. “Lastly they demand all US military personnel be removed from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain…” he glanced back down at his list. “…Qutar, and the United Arab Emirates within forty-eight hours.”
The room erupted in a mishmash of cross-talk. The President raised his hands. “Hold it down…hold it down. Are you certain they mean only forty-eight hours?”
“Actually, the timetable is only forty-six hours and twelve minutes. They threaten to kill Secretary Kines if all their demands are not met.”
Benedict sank back down in his chair, overwhelmed at the demands. “I think we can negotiate this thing down. That’s always the best thing to do.”
Burner seethed as he unzipped a leather bound attaché folder and removed several pieces of paper. His eyes narrowed as the representative of the State Department, Assistant Secretary for Middle East Affairs Ibrahim Al Hassan offered his input. “Mister President, I believe your idea has great merit. As a gesture of our good will, I would like to make a suggestion.”
“Thank you, Ibrahim. Your background, originally being a native of Saudi Arabia becomes invaluable at a time like this. What is it you propose?”
“The move must be a bold one, something our counterparts in Syria will recognize as a significant stepping stone toward peace.”
Benedict nodded in agreement. “Go on.”
Al Hassan tugged at his closely cropped goatee. “I propose we withdraw the Fifth Fleet from the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean and return Carrier Strike Group Nine, led by USS Abraham Lincoln to its homeport. Nothing would telegraph our intentions anymore clear.”
Burner’s jaw dropped. He glanced at General Winston who was shaking his head in disbelief as well. Benedict continued to nod as a semblance of a smile came to his lips.
“Hold it right there,” Burner Stewart interjected forcefully. He rose to his feet. “Mister President…With all due respect, this whole fiasco with the ISIS is your own fault.” His tone clearly showed there was no respect intended.
Other members of the council—except for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs—looked at him slightly aghast at his directness.
“Your administration has directly funded Islamic extremism for the past three years and destabilized a half dozen countries.” He flipped down a printout of the initial authorization for military assistance to an interim Islamic government in Egypt. “Five billion dollars, including F-16 fighter and Abram tanks for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt…Your so-called Arab Spring.”
The Director of the CIA glanced at Secretary Al Hassan whose eyes were shooting daggers at the retired four star general.
“Three hundred and sixty million dollars to the Libyan insurgency that took down Moamar Qaddaffi. Undoubtedly the exact same folks that killed Ambassador Stevens a few months later in Benghazi. By the way, there are still almost 4,000 Stinger missiles missing from that abortion of a deal.”
“That’s quite enough, Secretary Stewart,” the President said with an edge to his voice. It was crystal clear that even though he was out of his league as the Commander in Chief, the man hated being challenged or having his failures pointed out in any fashion.
“No it is not,” Burner continued. “What about the two hundred and seventy million dollar blank check Secretary Kines wrote to those guys back when they were the, quote, freedom fighters trying to overthrow Syrian President Assad? Those are the same guys who a year later captured Mosul, Iraq and now control over a third of that country, plus half of Syria and parts of Turkey.
“They call themselves ISIS…Islamic State of Iraq and Syria!” He pointed a finger at the president. “You can’t even exhibit the guts to call them Islamic…What the hell is that? They call themselves Islamic, but you can’t?” Burner’s anger caused the veins to pop out slightly on his temples as he glared at his boss.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The technical aspects of military hardware are quite different from those I flew in and against. I spend quite a bit of time researching those facets to incorporate them into the writing. The same goes for historical fiction ( our westerns) I want the fact to be as close as we can get them. (I have a pet peeve with Hollywood when then they show a lever action Winchester model 1892 in an Indian battle taking place in 1870!)
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I like Dale Brown for his competence in military and political science. Clive Cussler spins a great yarn and ties current events to things that took place thousands of years ago. Dan Brown writes extremely well, even though the theologians go crazy. Hey, chillax (new word) Folks it’s called FICTION!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Book signings and public appearances usually take less than 10 days per years. We also teach acting, writing and voice over work and that takes about another 10 days a year.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
We design our own covers. Hooray for Photoshop!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding time, Typing. I wish someone would invent telepathic typing! Voice activated systems can’t identify myriad of foreign names we use and punctuation and format is a whole different thing!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The power of visualisation, the ability to see the book unfold before your eyes is key. We teach the same thing to actors. If you as a writer don’t feel it, neither will the reader. I once sat down and knocked out 10,000 words in five hours. I didn’t even get up to go to the loo, as you Brits might say. I was not in Gainesville Texas. I had been, though some form of transcendental meditation, transferred to the Indian Ocean were I, as my four characters, was fighting Somali pirates aboard a cruise ship that had been captured. I blocked out all other inputs and focused on the story.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Find a niche where you want to write and dive in. Who are your readers? What do they like? Write series of books, not a single title. Learn the basics of format and the Chicago Manual of Style. Know when to ignore it! Write what you know and get it out for the public to decide if THEY like it. (Your mother and best friend might lie to you!) The more you write, the faster you’ll get better at it. Me merciless in your editing! We use a gauge when considering a passage (or chapter!) Does it further the story? If not lose it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy our books! Don’t start one late at night. You’ll probably be mad that you lost so much sleep. Seriously! Some people have a hard time putting them book down as they are fast paced.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Various thing as different times make me laugh. Human fail abilities and dumb stunts often crack me up. (What did you think would happen? Where did you think you’d land when (not if) your skateboard slipped of the railing?)
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Don’t want a headstone.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Music, song writing with guitar. Run a cat clinic for fostering stray kittens and making them adoptable pets. Designing and building custom rifles, and suppressors.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Watch very little TV ever.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m a gourmet cook with a professional stove. Love to make Texas style Barbecue (Beef Brisket, beef ribs, pork baby back ribs) as well as Tex-Mex cuisine. My wife and I been having fun making custom popsicle treats lately, as it’s been so hot in Texas this month. I like the primary colors, and listen mostly to country music.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I wish I would have started acting a lot earlier that I did. It’s fun when you are with a creative bunch of people.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it? No time for a blog.