Interview with Tim W. Nordberg, Author of “The Adventures of Juliet the Airplane”
We love doing these author interviews. We get inspired by the passion and joy expressed when they talk about their books, why they wrote them, and how much of who they are is reflected in the pages they offer to the world. It’s like getting a birthday present the opens one sentence at a time.
Our interview with Tim W. Nordberg is not different! His love of aviation, travel, family and serving others left us with a big smile! Here’s what he shared with us:
Juliet the Airplane looks like a lot of fun for kids! What inspired you to create a character out of an airplane?
Honestly, I love aviation. My airplane’s tail number is N9213J, which the “J” in the phonetic alphabet is Juliet…I know, highly creative, right?
The reason as to WHY I wrote the children’s book is because we have lost our sense of wonder. Kids are not looking at aviation as a career, as a means of exploring an incredible future for various reasons. I aim to show that, first of all, it’s not unachievable, and it’s not just for the rich and famous, and I want to instill that sense of adventure.
Each page is really well done. How did you decide on what the pictures would look like?
I had found an illustrator who took a picture of my airplane, and characterized it into a fun and loving airplane. Unfortunately the next couple books may look a bit different as the illustrator closed, so I need to find someone that has the same sense of wonder.
How did you find the right illustrator to work with?
I used the website Fiverr and Sri_Illustrator from Sri Lanka was my go-to for this book and a couple others. He did a wonderful job, but some family issues prevented him from working on more projects.
Fiverr can be hit and miss, and it takes time to research styles and looking at previous works. Once I like the style, we talk and work on a sample. If all looks well, then we will move forward with the order.
We noticed this isn’t your first children’s book. In what way(s) is writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books getting easier?
That is correct. My first book is The Adventures of Pixie and Ella, which is a children’s book about my wife’s two dogs. They’re little 4-pound Yorkshire Terriers, and they are adventurous. So I wanted to make a book series that my daughter would love (She’s 18 months old and LOVES dogs)…So when she gets older, I want her to have something that she can enjoy as well.
As far as getting easier, I would have to say, that in some ways the writing gets harder, because you don’t want to write the same thing over and over again. That being said, the adventures and inspiration comes from watching what I’m writing about. Illustrating has been a challenge because not only is there price points involved, but it’s the fun part because you can see your writing come to life through someone else’s eyes.
I love talking about my children’s books, I’ve got 4 more in the works right now, but it’s always a joy to watch kids get excited when they see the pictures, and they learn concepts.
It looks like you also write novels for adults about a wide variety of topics. What inspires your ideas?
Currently, I have 4 novellas (which are currently being re-written to expand to novels), I have 3 novels (1 is for sale, and two of which are being edited right now). They conform to 2 series, the Robert Jensen series, One-Three Juliet, and the Legend of Maryna. Both are mystery/thriller based on several different areas of interest.
I wrote Six Miles Above the Earth and released it during quarantine, which is where a lot of creativity came in a short period of time. I wanted to write an aviation novel that had a ton of twists and turns, and the feedback I received from Six Miles Above the Earth was overwhelming that I hit a home-run with this book!
As far as what inspires me, it really changes depending on what I’m writing, what setting I’m in, and more importantly, what sort of creative “spark” I have at a given time. A great example is Six Miles Above the Earth, lots of people who read my book before it was released said they were shocked at the ending. It had every twist and turn, and then emotional aspects that I was able to tie into it.
When I wrote Six Miles Above the Earth, I wanted to tie in some experiences that I had in my life. I’m a veteran of the US Air Force. I’ve had multiple deployments, some great, and others, not so much. I wanted to encompass the emotional aspect of what some vets felt during and post deployment, in hopes that it brings more awareness to those who resort to self-destruction. When we are overseas, life is simple, you get up in the “morning” and you do your job, then you go to bed. You have a sense of accomplishment and a sense of a mission. When lots of veterans come home, expectation verses reality is vastly different in that you expect life to pick up where you left off before you left…but you quickly realize that life moved on when you were gone. And in addition to that, there is a sense that the basic things that we take for granted here is so trivial when compared to those who live in more austere conditions.
I write slowly, but that gives me an opportunity to take the bursts of creativity based on several aspects of interests, and then mold them into something that someone else would really enjoy.
Several of your books appear to be part of a series. Do you know when you start the first one that there will be more, or do new ideas for adventures with the characters come later? What’s it like for you?
Honestly, I don’t know where I’m going when I start a book. It’s like I’ll start writing, then my mind goes off on a tangent, and boom, another idea. Sometimes those ideas will flow easily into the current book, and others will flow into a follow-on. I love telling stories, and when a book is done, I tend to release it…after a while I tend to go back, re-read my book and then say “darn, I should have added this idea to that”.
I don’t always have an outline…When I do, it’s very basic as kind of a bookmark as to what I was thinking at a given point. I want to allow myself the flexibility to write in a fluid sense, and not be tied down into something I don’t enjoy.
What’s similar or different between writing children’s book versus writing novels? Is one harder than the other in some way? Or do they each have their own unique process?
I would have to say that writing between novels and children’s books does require a bit of flip-flopping of mental processes. For example, in novels, minor details are hugely important in terms of leading the plot on. There are some major and complex concepts in writing for adults that children simply are not able to understand. So, naturally, there is a completely different frame of writing that needs to take place.
When I write for children, it’s awesome because I would think back at what excited me…However, when writing for adults, I have to take away my personal feelings about a subject and expand it to reality, which may or may not make me question my own beliefs of a given situation.
In looking through your published titles, it looks like “Juliet” might have a special significance since it comes up more than once. How did you decide on “Juliet” as the name of the Airplane?
Honestly, Juliet is merely a lack of creativity in terms of something being tangible, Juliet has two meanings for me. The phonetic alphabet, which in the olden days allowed for less misunderstandings over the radio because V, B, and D sound similar, but Victor, Bravo and Delta sound vastly different.
The second meaning is more personal, my wife and I bought an old 1960’s 4-seat airplane that we use for personal travel and exposing aviation to more people. The tail number is N9213J, where the J is Juliet in phonetics. Aviation has been predominantly a male industry, loud engines, going fast through the air, risk…these were historically male traits, but some of the BEST pilots I know and respect are females. In Minnesota, we have an event every year that features Women In Aviation, which appeals to all potential pilots, no just males and not just females, but it’s goal is to bring wonder and awe back to aviation. I love talking aviation and opening aviation to everyone who desires to fly for fun or professionally.
It’s obvious that flying is a big part of your life. What do you love most about it?
Oh wow, this is a tough one. For me, aviation has been something exclusive and private. There was always an allure of taking a ¼ mile of pavement, and 2 hours later, you land in Chicago, or a small remote island. All these feelings are wonderful, but nothing can beat the sense of joy in just flying along a river valley watching the leaves change colors in the fall, the white snow blanketing the ground in the winter, the feeling of watching thunderstorms grow and develop.
Of course, everything that I mentioned above is somewhat self-serving…and it is, but I would not be doing my mission in life any justice if I didn’t bring up the charity work that we do within the aviation community. For example I am a senior member of an organization called AERObridge, and we respond to disasters and provide disaster relief using small private and larger corporate jets. Last year after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, my organization, and a couple others, coordinated our list of pilots, and we flew supplies to the Bahamian people while their government was trying to figure out what to do with all the displaced people. Without the help in our community, the death toll would have been significantly higher as starvation and other basic needs would have contributed. Aviation plays a critical role in helping those who need it the most.
When you think about all the flights you’ve piloted, is there one that you’ll never forget? Why does that one stand out to you?
There are so many…But, if I had to pick just one, it would have been my first date with my wife. She didn’t believe me that we could “just go flying” on our first date…I proved that wrong!
In all seriousness, as the sun was beginning to set, I took my girlfriend, now wife, up in my first airplane, a small 2-seat Cessna 150. She and I flew over Prince’s estate, this was around the time he passed away in Minnesota (she was a huge fan), and showed her the magical orange glow of the setting sun over Lake Minnetonka. I knew it was special when she said, “just so you know, if this doesn’t work out…Nobody will ever be able to measure up to this.”
In your bio you mention travel as one of your hobbies. Where’s your favorite place to visit and why?
Ah yes. I do enjoy traveling. A lot of my traveling has been from military travels. I’ve been to numerous countries, Japan, Germany, Qatar, to name a few…But I’ve had the inspiring opportunity to visit Russia in 2005 after high school. It was eye-opening to really see what poverty really was. It was eye-opening to see other cultures, and to see how great we really do have “it” in our country. Afghanistan was the same way. It is such a beautiful country in terms of landscape.
Do the places you visit influence your writing in some way? If so, how?
Absolutely! I think that when I wrote The Legend of Maryna, I took examples of my travels to Russia and applied them to the book. I lived in New York, and I’ve taken some of the feelings of traveling and living in New York and applied those feelings to Six Miles Above the Earth…I’ve taken a lot of experiences that I’ve had, morphed them into something that makes it interesting for others to read and think about.
What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about writing or publishing their own children’s book?
Honestly, anyone can write a book. Writing isn’t the hard part…It’s where do you go after you had written it that people struggle with.
If I’m going to be transparent, I’m my own worst critic, I tend to think of my writing as sub-par when compared to big-name authors. Realizing that, and embracing that I can always improve, that’s what drives me to continue writing. If you’re thinking about writing a book, take ten or fifteen minutes each night before bed, or before getting up for work and just write something down. Before too long, you’ll have a great foundation that you can build from.
Norman Peale once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” I try to keep this in mind.
If you could sit down with your 5 year old self and read “Juliet the Airplane” together, what do you most hope he’d experience?
I’ll change it to my daughter in 3 years…I would want to instill into her that she can be anything she wants. She can be an astronaut, a chef, a pilot, a police officer, or follow in her father’s footsteps in being in the military. I want my kids and all kids to have the sense of wonder. Eyes skyward sparks imagination, and it allows for great things to come!
I noticed a sneak-peak at an upcoming children’s book as well on your Facebook page. What can you tell us about it?
Ah yes, The Adventures of Pixie and Ella, Visiting the Big Apple is going to have Pixie and Ella visit New York City, along with some adventures along the way. This is book 2 in the Pixie and Ella series, and will definitely grow more to include famous places around the world, like France or Egypt. The book is in it’s final stages of editing, and hopefully within the month it’ll be available for sale.
In addition to that, my wife also wrote a 3rd book about Pixie and Ella, baking cookies, and the fun joys of baking and cooking.
I also have a second Juliet the Airplane coming out, exploring the ocean!
OK... Now we're really curious how a plane explores the ocean and what kind of fun and adventure she'll find! Look for these books and follow Tim’s work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also find his growing library of books on Amazon.