Today we welcome Emilio Corsetti III.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Emilio Corsetti: I’m a pilot by profession. I’m an avid reader, mostly nonfiction narratives. I normally purchase both the eBook and the audio download of the titles I’m interested in. It allows me to squeeze in more books, making use of downtime like commuting to work.
In between writing projects, I review nonfiction books, films, and documentaries at everythingnonfiction.com.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Emilio Corsetti: I’m always surprised when I hear people talk about not reading nonfiction because they want to be entertained. I find true stories to be more compelling than the best fiction. In fiction, I know that the entire story, plot, and characters are made up. In nonfiction, I know that everting I’m reading is based on real people and real events.
I have written two nonfiction books. Both involve aviation. My first book 35 Miles From Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980 tells the true story of the first and only open-water ditching of a commercial jet and the efforts to rescue those who survived. It’s like the Perfect Storm but with an airplane instead of a fishing boat.
My most recent book is Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption. Scapegoat tells the true story of an airline crew that was wrongly blamed for causing a near-fatal accident and the captain’s decades-long battle to clear his name. Readers who like a good mystery might find this book of interest. The entire book concerns a search for the truth into what caused the most popular aircraft in the world to suddenly roll over and plummet some 39,000 feet.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Emilio Corsetti: I have written screenplay adaptations for both of my books. I am currently working on a screenplay for a fictional story that involves the discovery of an elixir from the 1900’s that is thought to have curative powers.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Emilio Corsetti: Writing books is hard work. Writing nonfiction is harder. When you are writing about real people and events, you must do it in a way that is both accurate and compelling. Truman Capote was the first author to write what is now known as a nonfiction narrative with his book In Cold Blood. I want readers to be as engaged as if they were reading a novel.
As for the most difficult piece of writing I have encountered, that would definitely be the first 100 pages of 35 Miles From Shore. Almost every nonfiction narrative is comprised of three elements: the plot or story, the characters, and the background information of the characters. How and when those three elements are handled varies. There are three choices: Provide the background information for characters as the story evolves and characters are introduced; provide the background information before the main story kicks in; lastly, tell the story and don’t provide any background information. I know of only one book that has been successful with the third choice – Mark Bowden’s Blackhawk Down.
At the center of 35 Miles From Shore is a very dramatic ditching and rescue. As you might imagine, it is a big story involving a lot of people: the flight crew, the cabin crew, the passengers, flight controllers, the rescuers, airline personnel, and lastly the investigators. I didn’t want to break up this very dramatic ditching and rescue to give the reader background information. So, I decided to provide the background information up front. The truth is that the background information is needed to fully grasp all that follows. Once the plane gets to the Caribbean the drama and conflict are nonstop. But before you get there, you must spend some time learning about the airlines and the people who will ultimately be thrust into a life and death struggle. That decision may have cost me a few readers who want things to happen faster, but those who stick it out are well rewarded.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Emilio Corsetti: Once I decide on a topic, my research involves the following/reading all that I can find on the topic, interview as many people as possible, and include any ancillary information such as documentaries and films. I spent nearly three years conducting research for my first book. My second book involved about a year and a half of research. Since I’m a pilot working for a major airline, I have free travel. I recorded all my interviews for the first book. I videotaped all the interviews for my second book. I posted video clips of the interviews throughout the writing process. Those video clips are still on my website.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Emilio Corsetti: One thing about nonfiction is that you’re not tied down to any specific genre. I read all kinds of nonfiction: true crime, stories about the broken criminal justice system, stories about culture, stories about the opioid epidemic, adventure stories, mysteries, biographies, memoirs, etc.
I’m a fan of authors who have written books that are not always in the same genre: Laura Hillenbrand, Michael Lewis, and Doug Stanton.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Emilio Corsetti: I don’t have anyone who turned me on to writing, but I do have someone who turned me on to reading – my wife.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Emilio Corsetti: I think I’m pretty good at taking a collection of facts and anecdotes and somehow weaving those pieces into a compelling story.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Emilio Corsetti: Writing is a solitary endeavor. Evenings, when it is quiet and with less distractions, works best for me.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Emilio Corsetti: I do see a third book in my future. But to be honest, I would really like to see a film made from either of my two books. The fiftieth anniversary of the ditching of ALM Flight 980 is May 2020. The book is written. The screenplay is written. There are two plus years to get this done. I am pitching the story every chance I get.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Emilio Corsetti: Get feedback. Don’t think that you’re first draft is going to be the best thing ever written.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Emilio Corsetti: This book reads like a novel. I never get tired of hearing that. I did have one listener of the audiobook for Scapegoat write that she couldn’t wait to get back to the audiobook to find out what happened next.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Emilio Corsetti: I think I’ve droned on longer than necessary already. So, I won’t force readers to read any excerpts. I will encourage readers, however, to visit the links provided below if they would like to learn more.
www.EmilioCorsetti.com – Author website
www.35milesfromshore.com – dedicated website for the book 35 Miles From Shore
www.everythingnonfiction.com – My blog where I review nonfiction books, films, and documentaries.
http://emiliocorsetti.com/connect-with-author-emilio-corsetti-iii/ – A one stop web page containing all my social media connections.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3_R8j378eY&t=2s – The official book trailer for 35 Miles From Shore
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SrDyU0_lDg – A short segment of an MSNBC documentary that I participated in. The segment shows an animation of the ALM ditching.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDBxUq1rElo – The official book trailer for Scapegoat.