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Interview: J.R. Hauptman, Author of The Target: Love, Death and Airline Deregulation

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J.R. Hauptman is represented by Pump Up Your Book Promotion, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.

More than a half-century ago, Ernie Gann authored Fate is the Hunter and The High and The Mighty. There has not been a bona fide blockbuster novel about the airline industry written by a genuine airline professional until now.

The Target: Love, Death and Airline Deregulation by J.R. Hauptman, a retired pilot, is set in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West, and tells the tale of the tumultuous first years of airline deregulation and the effects it had on that industry and the people who worked there. There are many people today who believe it was, in large part, the rush to overall deregulation back then that led directly to the economic chaos that threatens to overwhelm our entire economy today.

We interviewed J.R. to find out more about his new book and his life as a published author now that his flying days are behind him.

Thank you for this interview, J.R. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

J.R.:I am a retired professional pilot. I began as an Army Aviator and served two tours in the Viet Nam War. I left the Army after eight years and hired on with a major airline on the west coast. I flew as a line pilot and left that company during the early years of deregulation when a corporate raider took control and maneuvered the company into a sham bankruptcy and our union declared a strike in protest. In the ensuing years, I worked as a securities and insurance broker, travel agent and tax preparer. I returned to active flying after almost six years, flying jet charters, airfreight and corporate jets. I began writing in the early nineteen-seventies by writing mostly letters of political commentary to be published in the opinion pages of the Denver Post and Boulder Colorado Daily Camera. During periods of labor strife, I also wrote articles for union newsletters.

Do you write full-time?

J.R.: It has certainly evolved that I have become a full-time writer. It took a long time to write my first novel because I was working full time as a pilot and that was the most productive way to support my family. In the intense environment where a professional pilot dwells, it is often difficult to summon the energy to write during ones days off. It took a great deal of determination to make the commitment to finish my novel. In doing so, it became apparent that I could be most productive by concentrating on writing during my winter vacations. Two years ago, I encountered medical problems which were not life-threatening, but precluded me from holding a pilot’s medical certificate. I decided that it was time to “fish or cut bait.” I took this gift of time, finished my novel and set out to have it published and marketed. These latter tasks require me to polish my writing skills in order to sell my ideas to the reading public. Blogging has become my main outlet for the more creative side of my writing because my ultimate goal is to become a political writer and to contribute to that discourse.

You’ve met an old friend from high school and you want to pitch your book to him/her in five minutes or less. What would you say?

J.R.: “Dave, it’s good to see you here at our fiftieth reunion. Am I keeping busy? I certainly am. I have been involved in promoting a novel I wrote based on my years in the airline business. Currently, I am conducting a virtual tour of the internet, posting interviews and guest blogs on the book review websites. This also entails posting articles on authors’ websites where we share ideas about writing and how we go about marketing our work.

“What is my book about? It’s based on my experiences in the airlines back in the early days of deregulation and it’s a murder mystery called The Target; Love, Death and Airline Deregulation. If you are interested, you should check out my marketing website, Caddis Publishing. Here is my card. It has my website, contact information and email address. You can order it there or at Amazon and most of the internet sites. In fact, Amazon has some fairly good reviews on The Target at their site.

“Ooops! I’m being paged by that young lady over in the corner; see you on the dance floor!”

Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?

J.R.: I first marketed the book to active and retired airline pilots and the response was good, but the interest among other former airline employees, flight attendants, mechanics and ground service personnel has been even better. With the virtual tour, I intend to reach the general reading public. I believe the interest will be there since the airline industry is so important to our transportation infrastructure and deregulation has brought so much turmoil and degradation of service and safety to the flying public. Furthermore, Americans should be concerned about the economic chaos brought on by complete lack of regulation and enforcement in the securities and banking industries.

Why did you choose your particular genre?

J.R.: Along with many other airline professionals, I experienced firsthand many of the events of the book. As the book progressed, so too did many of the dire predictions regarding deregulation; the airline industry became more concentrated resulting in the few mega-carriers of today. Flight safety has become progressively eroded as more often than we like to admit, fatigued crews are flying poorly maintained and questionably certified aircraft. The murder plot of my book pales in comparison to the larger question of the great social and economic costs of laissez faire deregulation across the entire economy.

Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?

J.R.: A first time and self-published author must constantly critique the professional quality of his or her work through constant self criticism and by seeking the objective criticism of dedicated readers. You can begin with friends and family, but you must choose only those who are willing to bluntly provide you their most candid assessment. Choose only professional editing for typos and grammar.Ultimately, I read everything aloud to satisfy myself as to my choice of words, tone and tempo. I want to sound like a story teller, rather than a tech writer or English major, not to be critical of either.

Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?

J.R.: I have a dedicated writing space in both our town home in Colorado and in our Florida condo. Both are equipped with my standard tools of the trade: laptop or desktop computer, spacious desk or writing table, cable internet or TV for commercial — free non-distracting music and most importantly, the best ergonomically designed office chairs I can afford, along with exercise weights to keep this tired mind and body functioning.

What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?

J.R.: Most of the writing of The Target was based on my own personal experience and that of other airline employees during those turbulent times that continue to this day. For the larger political and economic issues, my best source has been has been the record of Congressional action taken by our government to correct the problems faced during the Great Depression. A classical example is the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that was intended to separate the functions of commercial and investment banking. The low quality corporate bonds that facilitated hostile takeovers in the early years of airline deregulation were typical of the exotic securities that had been outlawed following the Great Depression and which turned our present economy into a shambles.

Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?

J.R.: As a first time unknown author, I found it necessary to self-publish through Xlibris. Even though most of their service personnel are out-of-country, those I have worked with are most helpful and eager to please. All the services you need are there, but as a first-timer it is hard to figure out just what you need. I was lucky to have a mentor I could trust, like Jerry Hunsinger, author of the Axe of Iron series, telling the history of the Vikings or Norse, in America. Xlibras marketing has evolved into to a system that takes advantage of the potential of internet blogging.

How are you promoting your book thus far?

J.R.: My initial marketing was through direct emails to active and retired airline employees. I did market through a literary publicist and through print media advertising, but neither has proven to be as cost-effective as this virtual internet tour.

If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?

J.R.: You can’t go into this business just for the money, but sales are important if you want to continue as an author. Sales are a numbers game and the internet has the ultimate potential of literally billions of readers! The virtual internet tour is your best venue to access this wonderful market!

What’s next for you?

J.R.: Romancing the Grey Lady: Surfing the Atlantic and Greeting Life’s Certainty is a social commentary built around the concept of living our lives to their fullest in our days remaining.

Thank you for this interview, J.R.. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

J.R.: It is my pleasure. My marketing website is www.caddispublishing.com and my blogsite and facebook page are under development. The Target and its reviews can also be found on Amazon and the usual internet outlets.

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About Dorothy Thompson

  • http://www.vinlandpublishing.com J. A. Hunsinger

    Another great interview, J. R. I am posting today, Wednesday, as I am not available tomorrow, the official day for your interview.
    To all of your readers and fans, let me say that I have read your book, The Target, and enjoyed the story immensely. A big well-done from here J. R.
    I recommend The Target to all who might enjoy a mystery that will engage you from the first page. All the elements of a good read are present in abundance: mystery, intrigue, sex, love, and all the other elements which engage us humans. Highly recommended–see my review on Amazon.

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