Interview with Al Chemy

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Experimenting. Trying to find what combinations of available or improvised ingredients will produce the results you were never taught in school. I am also a very accomplished photographer with a ton of equipment. Photography is the true window to history. No matter how much one writes about history, photographs can say more. I also buy a basket case classic car every year or so and try to restore it to its former glory as much as possible.
What is your writing process?
Very methodical. I am not a story teller or novelist. That is a true talent and art in its own right. Instructional writing is a documented step by step process. Using video to document everything and every step affords the opportunity to write the procedures as the video is reviewed. This ensures that procedures, ingredients or needed items are not omitted.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Wow, tough question. I truly do not have favorite books just a favorite type. Growing up I was always building something cool or modifying something to do more. Engineering or "do-it-yourself" books are the ones that truly keep my attention. In the 1800's and up to the 1950's, engineering was at its height. Books from this era show the human intelligence at its height. With pencil, paper, experimentation, slide rule, and the desire to succeed, the greatest accomplishments ever were achieved. Just think about it. From ocean going wooden boats to landing on the moon in just 300 years. No other time in the history of man has that ever occurred. Finding and obtaining these old books is a passion of mine. I have amassed over 400 books on mechanical, chemistry, aeronautical, electrical, railroad, steam, and automotive engineering. I can truly build anything I want with these books.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything concerning old or forgotten technology. Especially if it can be recreated by hand with the average tools or machine shop. Technology from the Chinese Dynasty (any of them), Roman Empire, Egyptians, ancient Greeks, and the inventions of the Industrial Revolution really intrigue me. Absolutely fantastic feats of engineering. Reading about what humans can accomplish with just basic tools captivates me for hours.
Describe your desk
Old blueprints in tubes beside it. Two computers, a laser printer. assortment of old books for reference on the current project being completed. Notebooks with any field notes from research and experiments. Basically its the proverbial "Einstein Desk". To the layman it looks like it needs a weeks worth of work to find anything, to me its is very organized. The "organized clutter" changes with the current project. Move anything around on my desk and one will here about it.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Wont tell you where but I will tell you how I grew up. Born and raised in a military family, then joined the military for 24 years myself. My Dad and I were both involved with special operations in one form or another. With four combat zones under my belt, I have seen the horrors of war and the carnage humans can do to each other. I am proud to have worked with and instructed the resistance fighters of the countries to overthrow their dictators and oppressors. Humans are resilient. The knowledge in my books is the knowledge that keeps governments from totalitarian rule. There is a great line from a movie I will always remember and stand by; "People should not be afraid of the government, the government should be afraid of the people".
What motivated you to become an indie author?
So many people have something they want to say or should say. Mainstream publication and media outlets will not give a beginner a chance. These places decide what is best for the reading audience. Who are they to decide what is best for everyone? I have no allusions about becoming a New York Times best selling author. Lets face it, books I write are controversial, especially in this era. The red-tape, corporate run-around, and generic rejections just aren't there as an indie author. I have full control over what I write, when I write, how I write, and when I publish. I don't worry about being placed in a certain publication time because of what season it is or whats popular. I can publish how many I want and with who I want. Peace of mind, less stress, and full control are the main reasons everyone should be an indie author.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Way more than I expected. Follow the guides that are provided as free PDF files and books are published in many different e-book formats at once. This has saved many, many hours of formatting in a particular style and increased the reader base dramatically. So many different formats ensures more readers the luxury of not being limited in their choice of e-reader format or device. All this put together means Smashwords has provided more availability to the reader, hours of time saved for the author, and expenses kept to an absolute minimum for the reader and the author. How many times does a situation present a wining end for everyone?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Freedom to be me and make a living at it. It truly is nice not punching a time clock and providing something that others enjoy. Much more time spent enjoying life. I can now enjoy the things I want to do instead of just doing the things I'm told to do.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! Without them, who am I? One sees an opposite of this attitude everyday. Pick any Hollywood celebrity. People hear that they donated ten to fifteen thousand dollars to a charity. Really?? After making 20 to 80 million a year? Truly they have all forgotten just who made them famous. Their fans. This does not happen in my realm of the world. I am an absolute nobody without the readers of my books. Should the readers of my books ever feel, in the slightest, that I am not up to their expectations, I want to hear from them. Suggestions, comments, and anything on their mind is all accepted and read. Fans mean feast or starvation, so treat them right!
What are you working on next?
Well at least two more books of this nature. I have so much information on explosives and munitions, it could easily have been a 600 page book. So another volume is in the works. Also, a book dedicated entirely to homemade fireworks. From the little "lady fingers" and "Black Cats", to the ground shaking aerial burst at 1000 feet in the air. Oh yeah, good times for all. I am also in collaboration with another indie author. His books will be on home made weapons and armament. Everything from zip guns to complete blueprints on Gatling guns. Special improvised and homemade ammo and body armor too. All of these weapons will be able to be made by an industrious person in his garage workshop and a few parts machined locally. When governments know people have this information, they are less likely to oppress the people through Marshall-Law and Eminent-Domain.
Published 2014-09-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.