Happy Holidays
December 22, 2013

Dearest Old Bolds, Friends, and Family,

I can hardly believe I've been back in the States for two weeks, and so remiss in writing you. Around the holidays time takes on that truly hectic quality. I hope only that you are all enjoying yourselves.

At the same time many are madly shopping, sitting in traffic, and attending parties and events, I am slowly digging my way out from under hundreds of books, archival records, dvd's and copies of research which were thrown into boxes during my year of homelessness, and subsequently delivered to my new address. Each item has its true home on a shelf, or in a binder or file, and it's my (seemingly neverending) job to get it there.

This aspect of writing - the "pre-writing" phase, which follows the tail end of the "research" phase (does that ever really end?) - is the most perplexing. Now that I have all these tons of research (literally!), how on earth do I organize them, read them thoroughly, and condense them into palatable, exciting form? How to deal fairly and justly with conflicting accounts and records? How to answer the questions and mysteries which may never be solved, the eyewitnesses all dead and the records destroyed, lost or hoarded by persons known or unknown?

In movies, tv shows, and novels mysteries are solved in a discreet - usually very short - time period. How clean and neat and so unlike real life! No bestselling thriller includes characters seeking records that take 18 or 24 months to obtain from recalcitrant government agencies.

But every time I find that record, read that report, or meet that person who gives me a small piece of the enormously complex puzzle of January 7, 1944, my heart races, adrenaline surges, and I am filled with indescribable joy. And I am reminded what an enormous privilege it is to write the stories of the men and women whose fate was tied to this day.

After only four years in the WW2 field, it's painfully apparent to me how often some authors don't let facts get in the way of a good story. Time and time again I see mistakes reported by one author get copied and repeated by subsequent authors, even Pulitzer-prize winning ones, too rushed to do their own primary research. These authors are then feted and celebrated and showered with fame and riches.

Come what may, however, I simply cannot rush the process.

And as the ripe fruit on the bottom branches has already been plucked, I find myself climbing into ever-more precarious positions to get the informational nectar that will determine the true heart of the story.

After interviewing all the German WW2 fighter pilots we could find and persuade to meet us in November and December, we drove through a freaky quasi-hurricane at the very end of our trip to the current home of the Richthofen squadron. There a more-recently retired fighter pilot who has written a book on Egon Mayer generously shared the ace's personal records and photos. I will very gratefully use these in the book.

Alas, he had none of Mayer's flight logs.

So the mystery will continue, and my search for some core facts will continue. But, after Christmas!

I'm wishing you everything wonderful for the holidays and hope to see you in the New Year.

I'll be in San Diego from January 5 to 23 and can't wait to see you, my beloved Old Bolds, then!

Much love,



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