Meet Nathan Carriker. Airline Pilot, Flight Instructor, Author. Oh, and I forgot: Life aficionado. I’ve met Nathan via Twitter, and quickly discovered a passionate man. He gives himself 100% in everything, and his new book is no different. But I’ll let him do the talking…
I tell people, “I’m a pilot: you could say I eat, drink, breathe, sleep, and dream aviation, but that doesn’t quite cover it. If you could gather enough of it up into a pile, I’d actually jump in, roll around a while, and then walk around making people smell me.” I fly for a major American airline, and I’m both a former and future light airplane owner and still-certified instructor who really enjoys teaching people to fly. They can take my CFI when they can pry my cold, dead hands from it. I literally would fly every day if I possibly could – it never gets old.
I’ve been this way as long as I can remember, ever since my dad told me about an uncle I never met who was a B-24 flight engineer killed in action in 1944. I became obsessed with his story earlier than I can remember, and you can’t imagine the profound influence it’s had on my life. I think it’s more than a little creepy, actually. It made me become a pilot, and it made me write A Silver Ring.
Sometime in the late 1990’s (when I was still single) I had a nightmare I’ll never forget: I was riding in a bus on a narrow, twisting road cut into the side of a mountain, and the bus careened off the road and began falling about a thousand feet or so off a cliff. Falling, weightless inside, I saw the canyon floor coming up in the windshield, and I knew I was about to die. No one told me anything, but a certainty came over me that there is no true death, nor any real afterlife, but that what we experience as our life is just a single turn in a very long game in which our family – or our bloodline, more specifically – is a player. It’s up to us to do the best we can with our little turn, just as our forebears did and our progeny will do, but that the only real eternity is our creation of and contribution the lives of our children, so the bloodline gets to keep playing. Rather Zen, eh? I don’t know if I’m ready to believe that, but it was a life-changing experience that made me want kids. When my son was born years later, I couldn’t help but wonder about whether he would inherit the flying bug my uncle, my father, and I share, and all that was the beginning of the story.
For their own advertising, Kristin Schaik at EAA came up with a fantastic, simple subtitle that perfectly describes it: “an aviation love story.” I’m an absolute drooling fool for a good double entendre like that. Is it an aviation story about love, or a story about a love for aviation? Well, it’s both. My ads say, “A family estranged by war discovers its legacy and the secrets that bind them forever.” It’s a binary story – two settings and two parallel plots forty years apart develop and resolve together, as if there really isn’t any such thing as time, age, or life – only Existence. [here is the back matter:]
Every soul has a Mission-but every life has its Fate. If the Army had just let Wes Hutchinson be a pilot, maybe things would have been different. He’d get to marry his English love, Melody. They might have had a son he could teach to fly. Perhaps after the war Wes could have even squared things up with his sister’s suitor, small town miscreant Frank Lawton. Their children could have been playmates; it would have been so perfect.
But the day after Melody gives him a special gift and tries to tell him she’s pregnant, combat gives Wes his life’s wish. Left at the controls of his crew’s ravaged bomber – with enemy fighters diving in for the kill – for his last harrowing minutes on Earth, he’s a pilot. Mired in a fog of shame and heartbreak, Melody carries Wes’ photo, his child, and the gift he left behind to his family in America. But by the time she reaches them, grief – and now-hometown-hero Frank Lawton – have taken their toll. We can only fight so hard, so long. Forty years later, war orphan Justin Prator can’t explain the talent for flying he and his son Paulshare, until he’s contacted by his birth mother, a kindly old woman with a stubborn English accent. The same day, Paul falls in love with an oddly familiar firebrand. Before they wed, Paul’s “new” grandmother presents him with their family’s lost icon – a silver ring – and pulls a smoldering tinderbox from the emotional rubble of World War Two.
I’m still putting my promotion plans into action, and it’s slow going because we’ve had an opportunity to move to the DFW area, where I’ll be able to spend a lot more time at home and much less time trying to get to my base. Bryan Rivera (@Windtee on Twitter) of Windtee Aviation T-Shirt Art and I are going to be doing some cross-promotion: he’s going to be giving away signed copies of A Silver Ring with orders of a certain size, and I’m going to put together some way for people to get Windtee-designed A Silver Ring T-shirts with orders on my website, www.asilverring.com. Other than that, I’m still very early in the going with this, so I’m still looking for ways to get the word out that A Silver Ring‘s not just for pilots, but anyone who’s ever wondered – or marveled -about their true destiny. Signed copies are available at www.asilverring.com, unsigned copies are available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and a Kindle version’s now available, with Smashwords and Nook versions coming very soon.
I also have a blog to which I try hard to post at least once per month, www.writingtakesflight.com, which is really all the content I think any but the most dedicated readers really want to have to keep up with. We all have too much to do as it is! Occasionally I can get Dan Pimentel to put some of my stuff into an issue of his fantastic Airplanista e-zine, too, (www.airplanista.com) and I’m always looking for other venues to get my name out there, so if you have one and would like to see me contribute, don’t be shy!
Where you can find Nathan: