Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.
Mahlon (Dick) Palmer.
What is your age?
I’m in my 80s.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Grew up in upstate New York on a dairy farm.
Fiona: What is your education?
At the age of seventeen, immediately following graduation from high school, Dick Palmer joined the US Air Force where he served four years as an Air Weather Observer. Although Dick has no college education, he began working in the field of data processing when that world consisted of IBM punched cards in the early 1960’s.
Almost immediately, Dick became fascinated with the IBM 650 computer when he quickly decided he must learn how to program it, thus the beginning of a thirty plus year career in the field. He has programmed virtually every make of computer up through the early 21st century, using the same methodology Dick began designing computer systems in the Bahamas on a large Navy Contract named AUTEC (Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Center) when he built his first computer system for that contract. The design techniques that he developed and used on that system would become the blueprint that he used for the next twenty-five years while designing systems for the Air Force to include BMEWS and the DEW Line, NASA Apollo 11 and 12.
He then built the largest business system in Lockheed Martin Corporation that is still operational today after nearly thirty years of successful operation. Adding to his computer accomplishments, he has managed major portions of operations on the DEW Line and BMEWS contracts, stretching from Iceland, then across Greenland, Canada and throughout much of Alaska. All of the skills that were necessary to accomplish the above detailed tasks were self-taught. Those skills not only served him well throughout his professional career but also were invaluable in the pursuit of his many hobbies, adventures and ultimately retirement.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Well, I’ve finished my memoir and gotten it published, so now I’m taking it easy and enjoying my hobbies – woodworking, raising bees, dog training, and small engine repair. I love to learn about all sorts of new things.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
One day, while selling our family’s honey at the farmers’ market near our house, I suddenly collapsed. Later, I woke up in the hospital after having survived a near-fatal heart attack.
Nurses had to visit my room every half hour to do blood draws in order to monitor my health. I entertained them by telling stories from my life to pass the time. When I left the hospital, they all agreed that I should write a book – which eventually became Destiny.
I’ve never written anything before, and – not to brag – but a friend and fellow farmers’ market vendor, who’s also a lawyer, took a look at this book and asked, ‘wow, who’s your ghostwriter?’
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t consider myself a writer. I simply wanted to tell the story of my life.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I came up with the title for this book last, after reading my finished story over and realizing that destiny was the thread that pulled my life together.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
One of the quirks of my writing style is that I always tell stories, even my own story, in third person. Sounds more natural to me, and I find first person repetitious.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
This is my story, and I made it as accurate as possible, based on my memory. I got a map out so I could remember everywhere I’ve been and describe it to the readers.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’ve been everywhere that’s mentioned in the book, as it’s my own life. Thankfully, my memory was good enough so that I could tell the whole story just based on what I remembered.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I put up an ad on a bulletin board to hire someone to draw a picture of a dog I had and loved and whose picture I wanted to include in the book. When the artist I found sent me her work, I fell in love with the photo and put it on the book’s cover. Now, I’ve got some readers who think that Destiny is the story of a border collie!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That young people need life skills and hands on experience as well as book learning, that you can still succeed in life even if you didn’t have the chance to go to college.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I love to read nonfiction and learn about different sorts of topics that interest me: history, how things are built, etc.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My friends and family have been very supportive. Everyone to whom I’ve shown this book has enjoyed it!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Personally, I started writing after I’d already retired from another career. I never thought of creating books as something I would do for money, just something that I was inspired to do after recovering from a heart attack.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think so. I told the story of my life and made it as accurate as possible, and I’m happy with the way my life turned out.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I got a better and deeper understanding of my life, how one circumstance had led to another and how and why things happened the way they did.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Tom Hanks! I enjoy his acting – and he has the versatility to play the whole story of someone going through life.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I don’t know, I just told my story. I don’t really think of myself as a ‘writer’ or someone who can advise other writers.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Not to be afraid to go teach themselves or go look up or read about anything they’d like to know. Information is out there on so many topics, free for the public.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I like to read articles on different nonfiction topics that interest me so that’s what I’m reading.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really. I didn’t have much time for reading as a child. All of us on the farm had hours of work to do all day, no matter how old or young we were. So most of the reading I did was in school.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I enjoy my life, meeting people, coaching and encouraging people. And I’m very grateful to be alive, to have survived a heart attack!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Lewis and Clark. I find their journey and how they figured out where to go, to all be fascinating. I took a road trip years ago and followed in their footsteps.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes. Raising dogs and bees, harvesting honey and selling it at the farmers’ market near us, traveling, fixing things, woodworking and taking photos. I’ve got a collection of thousands of photos that date back to 1954.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Documentaries on a whole lot of topics, whatever catches my interest.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Well, pretty much what I’m doing now. I think I only have one book in me, and I’ve already written it.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Just three words: keep it simple!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, here’s the link to learn more about and order Destiny, on the publisher, Book Venture’s website: https://www.bookventure.com/bookstore/title/318/destiny.html
Amazon buying link USA https://www.amazon.com/Destiny-Mahlon-Palmer/dp/1640698817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530024602&sr=1-1&keywords=Mahlon+Palmer
Armen Pogharian said:
Cool interview with so many connections to my family. My father also learned computer skills after serving in the Army and using punch cards – my mother even made Christmas wreaths out of them. My wife worked in the USAF on the DEW replacement system, and finally, we live in upstate NY. Best of luck with your memoir.