John Aubrey Anderson is back with his unique brand of thriller, this time set during the Vietnam War with a determined young fighter pilot ready to make his mark on the world.
Enjoy this insight into Bill Mann:~
Brief physical description
Lt. William P. Mann is a skosh over six feet when he stands straight, and weighs in at around one-seventy . . . he exhibits the moves and relaxed posture of an athlete. The man’s features are unremarkable . . . and you probably wouldn’t notice him in a crowd. That he’s black doesn’t seem to draw a person’s attention.
I stay away from trying to describe some of my characters; Bill Mann is one of those. In demeanor, I come up with men like Glenn Ford and Henry Fonda when I try to liken him to someone in Hollywood; add to that mix the self-assured effectiveness that marks a guy like Coach Tony Dungy and you come close to “seeing” him.
Strengths and weaknesses
First and foremost . . . Mann’s love for flying is exceeded only by his abilities in the cockpit . . . he can, without effort, make an airplane do things that astound his fellow pilots. Those same attributes are at the root of his most glaring weakness: all other elements of his life—even his marriage—are relegated to positions of minor importance behind his determination to excel as a fighter pilot . . . to make his mark.
He instills trust and loyalty in those who are paying attention . . . but he doesn’t make friends readily. He prefers to be at peace with others . . . or be left alone . . . or both. He doesn’t attract adversity and is smart enough to walk around most confrontations.
Quirk (if any)
That he can do physics-defying things with an airplane opens doors for Mann, but he’s a loner . . . and choosey about those to whom he offers his company or friendship.
Bill Mann is loosely based on a good friend from my Air Force days . . . one of the best men and most amazing pilots I’ve ever been around. Before I got very far into writing THE COOL WOMAN, I told that other Bill he needed to start hitting the gym regularly because I was going to work him pretty hard. And . . .
I said once that all my heroes were going to be patterned after John Wayne. They may not look like him or dress like him, but they’ll hold to his values . . . and they will always be the kind of person—man or woman, boy or girl—a good man would want for a friend.
Background to the story
Before THE COOL WOMAN: When he was eight years old, Bill Mann decided he was going to be an Air Force fighter pilot . . . just like his dad. When Bill was ten, his dad, one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, was taken from him by cancer. Short months later, on a muddy midnight in Mississippi, ten-year-old Bill shoots and kills two white men who are beating mother. When the sun comes up, his mother is dead, and Bill Mann is an orphan on the run.
In the intervening years, young Bill Mann appears to be growing into the kind of man most dads and moms would want for a son. And so begins THE COOL WOMAN . . .
Bill Mann is staid, single, and sober when he reports to his pilot training base . . . there to begin living his dream.
The men and women in THE COOL WOMAN live their lives against the horrendous backdrop of the Viet Nam War. Bill Mann does most of his flying in the Ho Chi Minh Trail area . . . said by experts to be the most hazardous region in the history of aerial warfare.
Six months into his combat tour finds Mann passed out on the floor of his hotel room. The gifted young fighter pilot is fighting wars within a war . . . he’s a borderline alcoholic, his wife of ten months is divorcing him, and he’s short days away from discovering . . .
There are worse things than dying.
The photo below is of an A-1E Douglas Skyraider, an aircraft like The Cool Woman. This one is being flown by Lt. Gen. Richard E. “Tex” Brown, USAF, Retired. Tex, who was awarded 3 Silver Stars during his tour, was a first lieutenant when the photo was taken. Photo courtesy of Byron E. “Hook” Hukee. Lt. Col., USAF, Retired.
Thanks for sharing, John. Bill is a fabulous character and hope there’s plenty more from where he came from!