Steve Taylor was raised on a farm in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. He is a 1960 graduate of The Citadel with a degree in civil engineering, and he served six years as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force with service in Vietnam. Following a long flying career, he retired as an international airline captain. Taylor has been a solo ocean sailor and holds a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license. He has owned and operated a commercial construction company and is a Coastal Master Naturalist. In addition to flying over most of the world, Taylor has lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Okinawa. He has five grown children. With his wife, Nancy, he currently splits his time between Atlanta and Charleston.
His book is called “Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age”
The stories in “Wheels Up” are not made up. They are the real deal, true antics of a jet age pilot in the high-octane environment of the cockpit. Some will give you pause and make you think, some will knock the wind out of you, and some will make you throw your head back and laugh. No one is spared his (or her) just deserts, least of all the self-deprecating author in this tale of high jinks in the air, on land and at sea, complete with high tension and low humor, near collisions and happy landings.
From Citadel cadet to Delta captain, Taylor takes readers into a world few have seen. It’s both humorous and heartfelt – fast, fun and true.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I have always been a storyteller, but I soon learned that there was a difference between telling and writing. My challenge was to achieve the same humor and entertainment from reading my work as listening to me.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
It was a thrill to capture the true essence of the tale on paper for all eternity.
Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.
The book is loosely connected with flying airplanes. My previous editor smoothed many aviation terms that the general public would not understand. This can also be said about sailing, and military terms. An example of this was in my description of the braid on a senior officers hat. I referred to it as scrambled eggs and insisted that this was a common understanding. My editor did not buy it and had to qualify the scrambled eggs. So yes, there are some references here that may be new to some readers.
Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
There is no mention of Native Americans, feminists or hemophiliacs.
Really, I don’t understand the question.
Are there misconceptions that people have about your book?
I had a book giveaway on good reads. The first two reviews were five stars and then a woman from Hawaii wrote in that she thought I was mean. I was shocked–me! Fun-loving, full of energy, perhaps a little immature at times, but not mean. She said she always had misgivings about those who played practical jokes.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject, that isn’t so?
There are some people that still think flying is dangerous. It actually is safer on an airplane than not on an airplane. It is common to hear, “have a safe flight.” How many people say have a safe car ride or safe layover, but they are more dangerous.
What inspires you?
Every since I was a boy I needed a project. Building and inventing, making a knife, learning to fly, designing a house, creating a company, single-handed sailing, writing a book; I am not happy unless I have a project.
How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
Counting my military service, I have had 35 years of professional flying. I have owned and operated and commercial construction company. I have been a farmer, and I have been a single-handed oceangoing sailor with a US Coast Guard captains license. But my most significant endeavor was raising four teenage children as a single parent for seven years. Today, I am healthy, still busy and do pretty much whatever l like. Compared, to many, it’s a nice place to be. To be honest, a great deal of my present situation is pure luck. I have always pushed close to the edge and was never afraid of risk. Having said that, I do have a circuit breaker that stops me from going over the edge.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
My background is in engineering. Most of my life I considered myself strong in this area and weak in verbal aptitude. I have been an avid reader all my life, however, I felt unqualified when I began this book. I went back and reread James Harriot (all creatures great and small) because I felt his style was similar to what I was trying to do. The other authors that I remember fondly: Victor Hugo, Mark Twain and Winston Churchhill. I am currently reading a Jack Higgins book. I also enjoy reading books by Brad Taylor, my son. What all of these authors have in common is accuracy. I am a stickler for accuracy.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Probably the most useful is my wife. She is a verbal person and has guided me constantly. I read a couple of books about writing. I found them boring and uninspiring. I actually learned more by doing then by instruction.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
At my age, with reduced stamina and energy, anything I do would falls into the category of part time–sometimes naps are more important.
How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
My book is printed in both hardcover and trade paperback. In October it will come out as an e-book. All forms have their place. Airline pilots now have an e-reader with them all the time, so the e-book was necessary.
What do you think is the future of reading and writing?
Reading and writing will be with us forever. Although technology and gadgets of the modern day are useful, they will never replace reading and writing. Reading stretches the mind, it is soothing and by far more satisfying than other forms of media. An experiment to prove this point would be how well you sleep after reading as compared to watching TV.
What process did you go through to get your book published?
I did not go through the painful process of looking for an agent. I formed a relationship with a small local publisher that had a good reputation. Unfortunately this publisher fell into some misfortune and I was forced to leave.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
My book is about true stories that have been told for years because of their entertainment value. They show a unique inside view of the airline crew-member.
How do you find or make time to write?
Like I said earlier, at this time of my life I do pretty much what I want. This writing became a project and so I focused on it.
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?
I am not sure about this logic or intuition thing, but I do believe that writing should either convey a thought or an emotion, or it should not be done. I have little understanding about writing for the sake of writing. My process is to have a story that I wish to put on paper in such a way as to entertain to the same degree as telling the story.
What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
I have created a website, Facebook, and a blog. I have had a book giveaway on Goodreads. I sent ARCs to independent bookstores and I have written many places for reviews. All of this has taken so much time that I have not finished editing my new book. I do not believe that I am good at this marketing and at times I find it frustrating. I had difficulty with Amazon’s vendor website and still cannot navigate through the Goodreads website. I am not very good about keeping up my Facebook or blog.
What projects are you working on at the present?
My new book is finished but needs some more editing. It too is a book of true stories albeit different stories from a different time. These are stories about growing up as a sometimes troubled and hyperactive kid, but the jokes are still there.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I have a certain expertise in construction, flying, sailing and as a South Carolina Lowcountry naturalist. Believing it is best to write about what you know, I have a fiction story in mind that uses my knowledge in these areas.
The story involves a struggling commercial contractor that is conflicted because of the ample opportunity for dishonesty in the business. A twin-engine Beach crashes on a small Hummock out in the vast expanse of Saltwater marsh. It contains a dead gangster, $12 million in cash, and 20 pounds of cocaine. It remains undiscovered until our contractor, who is also a Marsh Hen hunter, stumbles across it on a seven foot new moon tide. The saga eventually involves killer drug dealers, the IRS, The FBI, and the contractors wife and children.
Where can you get this book… You ask… I don’t blame you for wanting it after that interview…
“Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age” is available now from Amazon