Thursday, October 31, 2019

Interview with writer Beth Ruggiero York

Writer Beth Ruggiero York joins me today to chat about her memoir Flying Alone.

Beth is a former airline pilot for Trans World Airlines. She entered the world of civil aviation in 1984 shortly after graduating from college and, for the next five years, climbed the ladder to her ultimate goal of flying for a major airline. Beth originally wrote Flying Alone in the early 1990s, shortly after her career as a pilot ended and the memories were fresh. She is now a Chinese translator and a professional photography instructor for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes. She has published a popular instructional book on night photography, Fun in the Dark: A Guide to Successful Night Photography, which has worldwide sales, and she has co-written a book entitled, Everglades National Park: A Photographic Destination. Beth and her husband live in Fountain Hills, AZ.

Welcome, Beth. Please tell us about your current release.
Flying Alone is a memoir of my years after college learning to fly with the ultimate goal of flying for a major airline in the 1980s. It was a rough-and-tumble man’s world, but I was determined to make through, no matter what. A dysfunctional love affair with my flight instructor, dangerous risks in the sky, and flying broken airplanes for shady companies all played roles on my road to the airlines. It reads like a novel and moves at a fast pace. Readers and reviewers are consistently saying they couldn’t put it down and read it all the way through in one or two days.

What inspired you to write this book?
After my turbulent career in aviation ended abruptly when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I had time to reflect on the events of those years. It was so plain to see that I needed to write it all down, both for myself and to show others that they, too, can surmount difficult times.

Excerpt from Flying Alone:
“Three more rows of airplanes, eight per row, needed to be checked along with the ones behind the maintenance hangar. When I finished with that, I had to scrub the bellies of Rod’s own airplanes. I swung the truck around, fighting as always with the manual steering, and began the next row with another Cessna.
These were my first impressions of the world of aviation: Rod, bottles of Canadian whiskey, working the line…and my flight instructor, Steve. “I had started as the official lineperson at New England Flyers on April 27, 1985, my twenty-third birthday, four months into flight lessons with Steve for my private license. Aviation had already swallowed me whole.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m considering several ideas but haven’t decided yet. Because of my history traveling to and study China, it will probably be about the changes I have witnessed over the past almost 40 years.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was about 11 years old, I remember looking out of my bedroom window and making three life commitments to myself. One was to write a book.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time. Because I have what you could call a ‘multi-faceted’ career, each work day (and night) is a combination of marketing my book, writing blog posts for my author website, translating Chinese documents (I’m a freelance Chinese translator), and organizing and preparing for upcoming photography workshops that I will be teaching. It all keeps me very busy, and I need to remind myself to stop and smell the roses.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My greatest creative inspirations come to me when I am half asleep waking up in the morning.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Before the notion of becoming a pilot came into my head at the age of 13, I wanted to be an archaeologist.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Never give up, even when it just doesn’t seem worth the effort anymore. Don’t ever plant the seeds for later regrets.


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