Official Interview: Steve Snyder

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ALynnPowers
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Official Interview: Steve Snyder

Post by ALynnPowers » 01 Feb 2016, 09:34

Who’s ready for the April 2016 Book of the Month? Author Steve Snyder and I had a wonderful Q&A session, and he has graciously provided us with lots of great information about himself and his book, SHOT DOWN.


Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

A: Born in Pasadena, California, I was raised in the neighboring community of San Marino, whose first mayor was George S. Patton, father of the famous World War II General George S. Patton Jr. who grew up in San Marino.

I attended UCLA and was in the same class as Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), graduating with a B.A. in Economics. During the Vietnam War years, I served six years in the California Army National Guard. In 1972, I moved to Seal Beach, California where I still live today. My wife, Glenda, and I also have a second home in Sedona, Arizona. We raised three sons and are now empty-nesters.

After working at a couple different jobs following college, I enjoyed a 36 year career in sales and sales management working for Vision Service Plan (VSP) which is the largest vision insurance company in the U.S.; retiring in 2009.


Q: What all have you written?

A: SHOT DOWN is my first book.


Q: What is SHOT DOWN about?

A: Set within the framework of World War II in Europe, SHOT DOWN recounts the dramatic experiences of each member of a ten-man B-17 bomber crew after their plane, piloted by my father, was knocked out of the sky by German fighters over the French/Belgium border in 1944. The first half the book leads up to the day the plane was shot down and second half is about what happened after the plane was shot down; not only what happened to each of the crew members but also about all the courageous Belgian people who risked their lives to help them. The hardcover book has more than 200 time-period photographs of the people who were involved and the places where the events took place.


Q: Where did you get all of those photographs?

A: From family pictures my parents or I had; from Belgian people who helped my father and who sent pictures to him after the war; from relatives of Susan Ruth crew members; from Paul Delahaye and Jacques Lalot, local Belgian historians; from the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association Archives; from the U.S. National Archives; from numerous other sources.


Q: What inspired you to tell this story?

A: After I retired from VSP in 2009, I finally had the time to go through all the material my parents had kept from the war years, with the most significant being the many letters that my father had written to my mother while he was stationed at Thurleigh, England with the 306th Bomb Group. Reading them was absolutely fascinating, and the story of my dad and his B-17 “Susan Ruth” crew became my passion.

I read book after book about the air war in Europe, spent countless hours doing research on the internet and downloading declassified military documents, and started attending reunions of various WW II organizations where I listened to veterans tell their stories. I am now president of the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association.

Initially, I had no intention of writing a book, and it wasn’t until December 2012 that I actually decided to do so. Based on all I had learned over the previous three years, I felt that the story of my father and his crew was so unique and so compelling that it just had to be told, and people needed to know about it.


Q: What was the most fascinating thing, in your opinion, you discovered while doing your research?

A: Finding Hans Berger, the German Luftwaffe pilot who shot down my dad's plane. Hans was shot down too but was able to bail out and made it through the war. Fortunately for me, Hans became a translator after the war so he speaks English very well, and we were able to communicate by email and telephone. He gave me some wonderful insights about what it was like to go up against the U.S. Eighth Air Force.  Hans is a very nice gentleman, now 92 years old and living in Munich, Germany.


Q: How long did it take you to write this book?

A: From the time I began my research to the time the book was published was 4 1/2 years. It took me 12 months to actually write the manuscript and 8 months to publish it. I independently published SHOT DOWN by forming a one person limited liability company and then contracting with independent professionals for all the associated services such as editing, cover design, interior layout, printing, and fulfillment.


Q: Who did you write this book for?

A: While I definitely wanted SHOT DOWN to appeal to WW II buffs and historians, I did not want it to be just a war book for guys. I also wanted it to appeal the general public; to people who knew very little or cared very little about the war. I wanted it to be a personal story about people and the human spirit that would appeal to women as well. Readers have said that is has the detailed information of a history book but reads like a novel.


Q: Tell us about the cover and how it came about.

A: The photographs on the covers were my idea, but I contracted with Nick Zelinger (NZ Graphics) to design the covers and do the interior layout. Nick designed everything else (font, background, colors, etc.) for the covers, and my book consultant, Judith Briles (The Book Shepherd) and I came up with the wording for the covers. It was a challenge to fit in over 200 time-period photographs into the text, but Nick did an excellent job.


Q: What have you done to get book reviews?

A: I always ask people who read SHOT DOWN to post a review on Amazon where it has a 4.9 reader review rating (92% 5 stars) based on over 200 reviews. I have submitted my book to any entity that reviews books; not only within the book industry but also to military print and online magazines. This has resulted in over 20 professional reviews including one in the September 2015 issue of The Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine.

Another thing I do for exposure is to enter SHOT DOWN in award competitions which has resulted in it receiving 16 national book awards.


Q: Do you have any other projects in the works?

A: No books, but I am working with some professionals to develop a treatment for a 6 hour mini-series to pitch to television. The icing on the cake would be for my youngest son, Clayton who is an actor, to appear in it. Also in the works is a book trailer in which Clayton appears as my father. Clayton is 28, the same age as his grandfather when the B-17 Susan Ruth was shot down.


Q: What kind of books do you like to read?

A: Historical Non-Fiction or Historical Fiction


Q: What kind of hobbies do you have?

A: Our yard in Seal Beach is a virtual tropical botanical garden with close to 100 palm trees planted in the ground, and I enjoy working to keep it looking pristine. I am also a die-hard UCLA sports fan.

Promoting my book has become both a hobby and a full-time job. I developed a PowerPoint presentation and do a great deal of speaking at all sorts of venues; book stores, libraries, veterans’ groups, senior living communities, corporations, museums, church groups, and service and fraternal organizations. In addition, I do book signings at air & war museums around the country that carry SHOT DOWN in their gift stores.


QUESTIONS FROM THE MEMBERS:

Q: (from @hsimone ) If you were to give advice to new writers, what would be it?
A: I am really not a writer. I had one story to tell and I told it.

Q: (from @Topcho ) If you would get any actor (including now deceased actors) to star in a movie made after your book, who would that be?
A: If not my son, Clayton, Tom Hanks or George Clooney

Q: (from @DATo ) On your road to becoming a published author, what would you do differently?
A: Nothing that I can think of.


Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell everyone?

A: I am just so appreciative and grateful for the overwhelmingly, positive response SHOT DOWN has received. I am very humbled by the wonderful comments on Facebook, in reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, in emails and letters sent to me, and even on telephone calls I have received. I feel very blessed that SHOT DOWN is resonating so well with it readers. It is wonderful that people realize and value the message it is meant to convey; to be aware of, and be thankful for, the heroic efforts of a special generation of men – The Greatest Generation.



----

The Books

SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth by Steve Snyder ~ View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon

Being Medusa: And Other Things That Suck by A. Lynn Powers (interviewer) ~View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon

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Post by gali » 01 Feb 2016, 11:34

Thank you both for the interesting interview. :tiphat:
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by hsimone » 01 Feb 2016, 14:11

Wonderful interview! I cannot wait to reread this amazing book! :techie-studyinggray:
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Post by ShotDown » 01 Feb 2016, 19:42

Thanks, gali and hsimone!

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Post by rssllue » 01 Feb 2016, 21:33

Now I am indeed primed to read this book! :D
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ALynnPowers
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Post by ALynnPowers » 05 Feb 2016, 07:14

I wish I had some interesting people in my family to write about.... :D

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Post by PashaRu » 05 Feb 2016, 15:22

How cool that he actually found the pilot that shot down his father's plane! What are the odds, and that he would still be alive 70+ years later?
[Insert quote here. Read. Raise an eyebrow. Be mildly amused. Rinse & repeat.]

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ALynnPowers
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Post by ALynnPowers » 06 Feb 2016, 22:23

PashaRu wrote:How cool that he actually found the pilot that shot down his father's plane! What are the odds, and that he would still be alive 70+ years later?
I think this book sounds like something you would like @PashaRu

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Post by hsimone » 07 Feb 2016, 23:25

I would absolutely recommend it! I had the privilege of reading and reviewing it here :)
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Post by chytach18- » 26 Feb 2016, 08:46

I'm also going to read it. Thank you for very interesting interview.

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Post by ChillFil » 22 Jun 2016, 22:18

cool, and very interesting

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Post by LivreAmour217 » 23 Jun 2016, 13:16

Very nice! I loved the book, and it was a real treat to read this interview with the author!
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Post by ilovechickens777 » 21 Apr 2017, 16:04

Thanks for the interview. Shot Down seems like quite the book.

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