Home                Biography                 Books                  News                 Message Board

News update: November, 2007

I think I really owe a lot of apologies here.

I got an email a couple of days back from a reader who was more than a little "miffed" with me . . ."how come you never respond to any of our questions on Forstchen.com? Do you even care?"

I'll confess I sat there feeling like a complete and total bum. He was right . . . and I was most definitely wrong.

And thus this note to offer to all of you a heart felt "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa." (I'll let you former altar boys figure that one out!) No, actually it is "through my fault. . .my most grievous fault."

Yes, have not responded for the longest time. I was stunned to see when I did finally work up the nerve to go into the website (which is actually managed by a very close friend, Josh Warren) that it had been more than a year since I have visited.

What in hell can I say to that? I remembered how, when I was fourteen, I wrote a letter to the great one himself J.R.R. Tolkien and but two weeks later, back from England came a most gracious reply. How my hero, Jean Shepherd, would spend a wonderful afternoon on his porch, talking writing with this eager author "wanna-be," and had a major impact on my life and career.

So, yeah, I feel like a heel, this night. And please accept my apologies.

Explanation. Yeah, I could go into pages about just how crummy at times the last couple of years have been. I guess since many of you do care, I'll give you the Reader's Digest version. Several years back I lost both of my parents, which emotionally put me into a major tail spin. Then compounding it over the last year and a half has been a terrible divorce. The stuff of that is private, sure I can cast blame, get into all the angst about "what she did. . ." etc., and my own faults as well, sufficient to say some of it was pretty ugly. Those of you who have been through such things know that ultimately there are no winners in these things. My worst agony though was the heartbreak of seeing my beloved and wonderful daughter Meghan caught in the middle of the maelstrom.

I found that I just kind of tucked my head down, and forged through day by day. Thinking much beyond that was too much at times. Get my daughter safely to the next day, yes, and do not let a personal tragedy destroy twenty five years of hard work to build a writing career, so stay on track with that, and Lord willing survive.

I now find myself coming out of the nightmare time. If any of you know some of my closest friends, such as Josh, they will tell you that when all this hit, I kind of went into "bunker mode." I just did not communicate with anyone other than a couple of very close advisors and a wonderful Anglican priest, and so many calls, for the longest time were left unanswered.

But that is now receding into the past. I will not "trash" my ex on this forum, or in any forum or conversation. I truly do wish her well and that she finds peace and happiness. And if you believe in prayer, please keep my daughter Meghan in your thoughts; she is a great young lady who has been through a rough time, and truly helped her father get through it as well. I'll confess, when first confronting the reality that I would now be both "Daddy" and full time "Mommy," well it was daunting. Find now I love both roles, even the getting up at 6 AM after staying up to 2 AM writing, in order to feed the three dogs, get my girl up, and while she makes my coffee, I pack her lunch, and then I drive her to school.

This current situation has connected me at a far deeper level to both roles of parenting for my daughter and I count myself to be one lucky guy to have that in my life. (Except for when one of the dogs gets sick. Our elderly dog Sasha is, sadly, slipping away, and she is increasingly having "accidents.") Anyhow, I have the weakest stomach in the world, and when that happens, my savvy daughter can really negotiate some "deals" as compensation for cleaning up, otherwise she'll just sit back and watch me get sick as well. (She almost always wins out on those deals!) Also, shopping for shoes! I think all men dread being dragged along for shoe shopping. I'd rather get a root canal, but that goes with the territory and maybe deep down I do get a kick out of it, or at least have fun complaining as my daughter debates which of ten pairs she should buy. But anyhow I do treasure every minute of it now. These have become some of the most precious of moments I'd not trade for the world. . .even our "bartering" sessions over who cleans up after the dogs! I'm really lucky to have such a remarkable bond with such an incredible kid.

So perhaps it is time to move on to some news.

For those of you who are Lost Regiment fans . . . do not despair. Yeah, I've been remiss in continuing the story. The good news is that a major, a very major producer did buy option rights awhile back and that is going forward. Not to be mysterious but I can not say who, I'm asked to keep it confidential until it is announced by the studio. But I am optimistic.

Newt and I have been having a blast with our two series, the Civil War trilogy we completed two years ago and the alternate history Pearl Harbor series we launched this summer, with more books to follow. I only wish everyone could meet and know him the way I have come to know him across the years. He is, by far, the most brilliant intellectual I have ever known and beyond that a friend who ceaselessly demonstrated the deepest loyalty and love for his friends . . . and his country.

My fascination with aviation continues unabated. That P-51 I mentioned a year ago. Sigh, she is certainly trouble, but my partner and I are slowly getting things straightened out with her. There was some more "surgery" required that we didn't quite anticipate, a major rewiring job we are currently working on, but with luck, she'll take wing in the spring. My partner and I also acquired an original WWII warbird . . . yes a real one. A light recon aircraft an L-3, the type of plane that was used for training and in combat as a spotter plane. I've been flying her since the spring, soloed in June and having a blast. My daughter is hooked on flying now as well as a result and sharing it with her has been great fun. So those of you in the Western Carolina region, if you should see a low flying bird, with D-Day stripes on her wings . . . that's yours truly. If you want some laughs, check out the website my partner has set up 352nd Fighter Squadron LLC. Just google it and in particular look up 4th of July video and my favorite "Luffwaffe Red Balloons." Give the tough times alluded to earlier, those moments are a real solace.

My daughter. I can't stop boasting about her. Top grades in her class, a dry wit that leaves me doubled with laughter at times. This summer we had an incredible travel experience when the publisher sent us to Hawaii for the launch of the Pearl Harbor book with Newt. A great time, a true father-daughter bond we'll always cherish. Next year she'll be going with me on research trips to Asia for the next book Newt and I are working on, including one to Mongolia (my second homeland!) to see a total eclipse of the sun and maybe I can finally convince her to break her veggie diet to try some boiled goat. I have discovered with her that wonderful rare miracle, not just a daughter, but a most remarkable person as well who at times I can barely speak about, without tears of pride.

I just went through my 57th birthday last week. I'll confess I approached it as something of a melancholic time, given the previous year . . . but then. When my daughter got home from school she ordered me to lock myself in my office and not come out. I could hear her working away in the kitchen for hours. A friend, well I guess I should say a new "special friend" came over to lend a hand. Finally they released me from the dungeon-like confines of my office . . . and there was my birthday cake. The "theme" SWEENEY TODD! My favorite musical. They had the soundtrack playing in the background. The cake had an "action figure" of Sweeney on it, his latest victim laying in the middle of the cake, with red frosting pouring down the sides of the cake from Sweeney's latest "customer." They expressed regret they couldn't find a Mrs. Lovett figure to put in there as well. I mean what more could I ask for? And the present they had for me. I was stunned. The complete, two volume, bound edition of ALL of Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons. We sat there for hours afterwards, watching a tape of Sweeney, and going through the books, the most I've laughed in years.

Next month my daughter Meghan and I are going to an annual Role Playing Game in Fort Myers, hosted by my buddy John Mina. Yes, for you hard core fan types, there really is a John Mina and the joke question has always been, how many of my books has he died in. This year's RPG game is The Godfather, and guess who gets to play the role of a lifetime. . .me as Don Corleone! I'm practicing my mumbling lines, will dye my hair, the whole routine and my daughter will be playing in her first RPG as well. So, I'll be making everyone an offer they can't refuse.

I am blessed after all.

And blessed to know that so many of you cared as well, even as I remained silent.

Life is coming back to balance again. Enjoying the fall weather, my favorite time of year, up here in the mountains of beautiful western NC, I think just about the most beautiful place in the world. I'm getting out again, redeveloping a social life with old friends and new acquaintances, coming out of my shell, and yes, promise to try and keep closer track on staying in touch with those of you who really do care about what I do (hell, don't want to sound like Sally Fields there!)

My deepest thanks to all of you,

Bill Forstchen

Meghan and me, several months back (date on photo is wrong) in our L-3 WWII recon plane. Photo credit: Don Barber

Meghan and me flying to Hawaii for book signing. Photo credit: Callista Gingrich

Newt and me signing books at Nixon Library California. Photo credit: Callista Gingrich

News update: Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Where do I catch up? I will have to confess that it has been awhile since I have visited this site. Please don't think me rude, or that I'm a curmudgeon, it's just that site actually dedicated to what I do, well it is a bit humbling and embarrassing. I mean, I write books, and it is startling at times to realize how many people have actually gotten into them.
As usual, I know the screaming question is "Lost Regiment"! I have been horribly negligent. The story kinda went into a stone wall in my head several years back, maybe compare it to when Sherlock Holmes fell off that waterfall! But he did surface at last so please be patient.
The story is continuing to circulate around LA with varying degrees of interest. Some might recall several years back Tom Cruise purchased it, but then decided to do Last Samurai instead . . . no comment now on Cruise's career!
As to actual updates with writing. Newt and I finished up our Civil War trilogy last year, one of the most fun experiences of my writing career. Newt is a good friend and a great guy to work with. I have to reiterate that this is not the usual "celebrity and real writer" relationship. From start to finish he is entirely part of the concept design, research and writing. When it comes to research the guy is incredible. For awhile there, every two or three days a box would arrive with a couple of books
inside, and page after page of annotations and notes written in for me to think about. We've made a good team and all three of the books hit the NY Times best seller list.
We are currently contracted for two more books, working title, Pacific War, the first to be published next year. We are currently half way through the writing of the first book.
The other project is one that just kind of burst on me a couple of years back. Actually the genesis is ten years back when I came up with an idea of aliens using EMP to shut down the global power grid, and then just drove away. No invasion, no machines stomping around, just let us stew in our own technological collapse and after twenty years or so, come back to finish us off. It went no where. And then I had a conversation with Newt, about the current real threat of a terrorist or rogue state EMP strike on the continental United States. All it would take is one weapon:
Thus "One Second After" will be published later this year by St. Martin's Press. The story is personal, very personal. Some years back a writer who was a real role model and mentor, Jean Shepherd, (who actually was my neighbor up in Maine) told me to "write what I know, write what I love." So I set the story of a post EMP world in my home town, a sort of alter ego of
me, the main character, struggling to keep his family alive, while his small town and college up here in the mountains of western North Carolina, slowly disintegrates after the entire power grid and computer-based world we live in, is shut down. It was a very hard, grim tale to write and my intent is that it is a warning of a very real, and very present danger that needs to be
On other fronts, a book that Ray Feist and I co-authored five years ago, and was only published in England, was released this June here in the States, "Honored Enemy." It's set in Ray's Riftwar series, again a very narrowed down personal tale about two small military groups, Tsurani and Kingdom, that are forced to call a truce and band together in order to survive.
And yes, once the deck is cleared with Pacific War, it is back to Lost Regiment . . . promise.
Personal life? Well some rough times but won't get into details on that. On a positive side my role at Montreat College has changed. I've been promoted to full professor and designated as the first "Faculty Fellow," at the college: a fancy title for semi-retired! It means I'm relieved of all that fun paperwork that yours truly so enjoyed doing, and can concentrate instead on just teaching; my work load reduced to two classes a semester, plus I'll be helping out a bit in Development work. The bottom line--more time to write and catch up on things, and a little less pressure in life.
The most interesting event recently was a trip to Europe with a dear friend, Andy Andrews of Black Mountain, NC. Andy is a vet of the Big Red One, having fought all the way from Omaha Beach to the Rhine and wears four purple hearts. In May, a small group of us went over to follow Andy's campaign route, starting in London, to Portsmouth, across the Channel, and then all the way to Germany. Three real high points: First, on Omaha Beach I found the exact spot where my friend, General Bennett, came in, and the bunker complex described in the book I helped him to write. It was chilling to see where
five inch naval shells bounced off those bunkers like bbs. In the Hurtgen Forest we found the spot where my friend Andy endured a night of hell, his position overrun by elite German paratroopers. It was a grim moment standing there with him as he quietly described it all. And then at Bastogne, our guide and I found the exact position of Easy Company from "Band of Brothers." The fox holes and shell craters in the pine forest are clearly there, so intact that you could imagine those guys just having climbed out and gone forward only minutes before. For this "history guy" it was an incredible trip. By the way, if you want the best battlefield guide in the world, look up Malcolm Duff. He's on the internet; his tours of WWI and WWII sites are incredible.
And finally, I went into partnership to purchase a plane. It is a ¾ scale lightweight replica of a P-51 Mustang. My partner and I are slowly restoring it, and expect to have her up and flying in a couple more months.

So that's about it for the moment. I will try to provide more frequent updates and, as always, my humble thanks for your kindness and interest in the scratching I punch up on to the computer screen.
Bill Forstchen