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Friends of the Pine Island Library ‘Meet the Author’ luncheon features Macomber

February 3, 2015
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Friends of the Pine Island Library held a "Meet the Author" luncheon for Pine Island author Robert Macomber. More than 100 people filled the Pine Island Elks hall to hear Macomber speak about "Getting into Character: researching & writing adventures around the world."

Macomber is the author of 11 books labeled the "Honor Series." Number 12 is due out this year. The books are considered historical fiction where a fictional character finds himself at historical events. Macomber's main character is Peter Wake. Both Wake and Macomber travel the world.

"First, I want to thank everyone for coming today and supporting our library," Macomber said. "This library is very important to me and I am a huge believer in the public library. I consider libraries to be one of the cornerstones of democracy. In order to have a functioning democracy the citizens have to be educated.

Article Photos

Pine Island author Robert Macomber addresses about 100 fans at the library.


"I thought today I would tell you about the process of how a book is made from the time it enters my mind until it is actually printed," Macomber said. "The entire process takes about four years to do a book but most of you know I try to have a book out every year. That means I will be working on five different books at any one time in different stages of development."

Macomber explained that he takes events from his life and incorporates them into his books. Peter Wake has had many of the same experiences Macomber has had.

The author said he does an immense amount of research to provide facts and "flavor" to his novels.

Macomber does about two years of academic research for each book. Then he incorporates "eyeball recon" - actually going to the locations where these events took place.

"I want my readers to smell the smoke, taste the food and hear the sounds," Macomber said. "I will travel by ship or by plane frequently doing lectures aboard ship. I'll do this for two or three months. During this period I already know the storyline and the point of 'eyeball recon' is to get the 'flavor' of the place.

"For example, what does it smell like on the Mekong River at 4 o'clock in the afternoon?" he continued. "It smells really strong. It smells like a charcoal smoke, but the charcoal smoke is not like what you smell at a barbecue it's more acrid. And I never would have known that unless I chugged up the Mekong River on a riverboat.

"What does the food taste like at a back alley cafe in Cartagena, Columbia? Pretty good," Macomber said. "But different from what I thought. What does it sound like at sunset on the western edge of the Sahara Desert at that magical place called Marrakesh and you're on a rooftop and hear the Musanine calling the faithful to prayer? That's why I do the eyeball recon. My last book took place in the South Pacific so for seven years I had to go back to do research... It's all work.

"I always write while I'm coming back," Macomber said. "The book has to be at my editor at least a year to 14 months before it goes to print. Then the book goes through three different editors. The executive editor, copy editor and line editor. And no matter how many editors look at the book there will always be typos. Once that's done the computer people format the book. On my last book somehow the computer people printed the same paragraph twice and four hours after the book was released I started getting emails and calls. So I told everybody that makes this book more valuable."

Macomber travels extensively throughout the world doing his "eyeball recon" and occasionally finds places that were not part of the original storyline "that are just so cool, or so bizarre, or so incredibly stupid" that he puts them in his book."

"I had an experience in Portofino, Italy, where there is a castle," Macomber said. "I wanted to write about this 15th century castle where a husband and wife planted these two trees in the courtyard back in the 1800s. I thought that was just so romantic I had to put it in the book. When we docked I spotted the castle at the top of a mountain. But I was walking back and forth trying to find the way up to the castle. Then a young woman with her mother, who was walking with a cane because she had knee surgery, came along and the young woman disappears into the mountainside. She pops up maybe half way up the mountain and says, 'Are you coming?' Then I found these ancient steps that she climbed that were very narrow and very steep. About half way up I'm gasping for air and I finally get to the top. My knees are wobbly, I'm gasping for air, and I'm at the entrance to the castle and off to my right here comes the mother. And I looked at her and asked, 'How did you get here?' She said, 'Oh, there's a very nice paved road right over there,' so I just had to write that into the book for Peter Wake."

Macomber told stories about an experience in Marrakesh where he took the "African test of manhood." This is where he came face to face with a cobra, a "notoriously venomous snake."

"Once I passed the test I decided on two things. First, I needed a really strong drink and two, Peter Wake would have to go through this.

"When these type of things come up I make notes and save them to be included in a future book. Those are some of the things that have happened to me. Not all of them turn up in my books but I keep things on post-it notes and file them for future use.

"I try to do my creative writing in the morning when my mind is fresh," he added. "I do research in the afternoon and occasionally will do some creative writing in the evening. At this time I have concluded the promotion of my 11th book. I am in the final edit of my 12th book, "Assassins Honor," which will be out in October. I am finishing up the writing of my 13th book which is the first of a trilogy. I will start the second book of the trilogy, my 14th book soon and I am finishing up the research for the third book of the trilogy, my 15th book now."



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