Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dale Brown on Area 51

Dale Brown is the author of many bestsellers, including "Flight of the Old Dog" and "Air Battle Force" and "Warrior Class" (read by Avatar star Steven Lang, an experienced and controlled reader who sounds like a native Russian one moment, and a U.S. news correspondent the next.) His latest is "A Time for Patriots." A former Air Force bombardier, Brown is now a private pilot and lives near Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

AUDIOBOOKS TODAY:  How long you were in the military, and what did you fly?

DALE BROWN:  I spent eight years in the Air Force, and I flew B-52 Bombers, and the FB-111 Bomber.

AT:  What in your military background led you to become a writer?

DB:  Well, I wanted to be a writer first, actually.  I wrote a column for the Penn State University newspaper, and I did freelancing for many years.  So I think I've always wanted to be a writer and a flyer, and I was lucky enough to do both as a career.

AT:  Do you still fly?

DB:  Yes.  As a private pilot, I have a Cessna 421 that I fly on business and for personal things.

AT:  Now, you write about Dreamland a lot.  What is Dreamland, and how does it differ from the infamous Area 51?

DB:  Well, we never really called it Area 51.  Dreamland is our nickname.  There is a classified air base in south central Nevada, just north of Las Vegas.  It's a regular Air Force base, and about two thousand people work there.  Their main offices are actually out at Nellis Air Force base, and some of them commute on a 727 to this classified base from Nellis.  You can't find it on any map, but there are lots of satellite photos of the base.  It's small, but it has movie theaters, a bowling alley, and a commissary.  But if you're there it's because you're specially assigned, and they do research and development on new weapons systems.

AT:  Have you been there?

DB:  No, but I've talked to many folks who have been there, and I've done exercises out there at the Red Flag range.  The base is actually in the middle of a series of bombing ranges in the desert there.  The Red Flag exercises are meant to give pilots their first ten combat missions, with the theory being that if you survive your first ten missions, you're likely to survive your combat encounters.  The restricted area in the middle is where you can't fly, where it's restricted from the surface to infinity, and we're told that's where the base is, which from satellite photos looks just like any other Air Force base.

AT:  John Nance reads his own aviation mysteries for Brilliance Audio.  I'm wondering, do you get the chance to at least listen to your own audiobooks, and if so, what do you think of the medium?

DB:  I absolutely love the medium.  I listen to them all the time.  I usually get them on CD, or download them onto my PDA.  I think it's important for authors to find a good reader who's compatible with your material, and how you think they should perform it.

AT:  Who is your main audience, military men?  I take it you don't get many little old ladies at book signings.

DB:  No, I write male fantasy, and what appeals to anyone who who likes action and adventure.  Mostly retired military, both men and women.

AT:  Any movie deals in the works?

DB:  Not yet.  The creative side tends to bump into the budgeting side, so that's where the problem arises.  Producers really like my books, but they give it to the guys doing the budget, and eyebrows get raised.  Things move fast there, with a lot of creative people, although there's something of a herd mentality operating, where you have to be the first one to do something, and then everyone follows.

AT:  No risks, just sequels?

DB:  (laughs)  Right. 

AREA 51 by Annie Jacobsen

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