Interview with Dennis Blanchard

What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on two books. One, A Few More Zeroes: Lost With The Wind And The Stars, is inspired by the success of my first book, Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons Of The Heart On The Appalachian Trail. It tells the story of my hike across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

This hike is very different from the Appalachian Trail (AT); there are no bears, rattlesnake or banjo players. Everything about the Camino is steeped in history; the scenery, infrastructure, the food, even the people. After the AT it was a culture shock. Staying in hostels most nights, eating and drinking in cafés along the way, and seeing dramatically more hikers takes a little getting used to. The multi-cultural atmosphere and the multi-lingual aspects of the hike make for numerous humorous situations and encounters. This book is nearing completion.

The other book, Where Dad Dropped In: A WW II 82nd Airborne Paratrooper's Adventures, is about my father's exploits in WW II. In all, he parachuted into four combat jumps, and also fought in North Africa, The Battle of the Bulge, and in Germany. My father had a wonderful sense of humor, and even though the topic is certainly serious, there are plenty of light moments to enjoy.

This book is far from finished. I've been working on it for several years now and the research has proven a daunting task.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like to read authors that have a sense of humor. One of my favorites is Bill Bryson. Of course, his most famous work is A Walk In The Woods, about his attempted thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He brings careful research and very good writing to the reader. He can be very funny, and sometimes acerbic in his humor, but he really hits the funny bone. All of his books are loaded with great historic and educational information, but you never realize that your being educated. I love his style.

Another humorous writer that I love is Dave Barry. He has a witty style and can be very irreverent, especially when it comes to politics. My family is actually annoyed when I'm reading his stuff because I laugh out loud so often, it distracts their reading. I recommend not reading his stuff in a library, you could be thrown out!

Other authors I favor are: Stephen Ambrose, General Gavin, Cornelius Ryan, James Burke, Bill "Skywalker" Walker and Alistair Cooke. Of course my bias shows if I mention my wife, Jane V. Blanchard.

Most of my favorite authors write non-fiction, but there are a few exceptions. One of my favorite fiction writers is Carl Hiaasen. I live in southern Florida and Carl's books evolve around the corruption, rednecks and wackiness that makes Florida a crazy place to live. Every now-and-then I will read a classic, such as Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, The Sun Also Rises or The Great Gatsby. One needs to read a breadth of topics to hone their writing skills.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Usually, I have to go to the bathroom. Once awake, hunger sets in and I'm driven to find breakfast. Seriously, I love facing a new day and it seems something always comes up that makes things interesting.
How do you approach cover design?
My first published book cover was done with the tools at Createspace.com. I like the look of the cover, but many others are now using that same "look," so I may update it to something else in the future. The "stock" cover has worked well so far and I do like the look of it. I'm considering a graphic designer for future work, if I do decide to change.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Only five? That is a tough one. Lets begin with:

A Walk In The Woods, by Bill Bryson: Bill's book was the inspiration for my book. It is humorous, informative and takes the reader along for his hike on the Appalachian Trail. I couldn't put it down (that is a quote that every author loves to hear!).

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain: Yeah, I know, that's two books, but one can't be read without the other. When I was about 11 years old, my folks, who didn't have much money, managed to get me an entire set of books for Christmas. It was a set that they collected over time from a supermarket promotion, one where they collected a new book each week for $0.50 if they purchased some minimum amount of groceries. That was easy with three growing boys in the family.
The collection included: Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Two Years Before The Mast and many other classics, something like 12 books. I loved them all, but Tom and Huck were to influence me in ways I didn't realize at the time. They were explorers and wanderers and that was exactly what I ended up being. To this day, the call of long walk is just too difficult to resist.

Cosmos, by Carl Sagan: My interest in things involving nature, the universe and astronomy are pretty well summed up in Mr. Sagan's work.

The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan: This book is about the D-Day invasion of Normandy in WW II. My father was a paratrooper in that invasion and Mr. Ryan came out to our house when I was a kid and spent two days interviewing my father for the book. The book describes my father's adventures on that day 70 years ago. How could a kid not like reading about his father helping to liberate Europe in WW II?

The Radio Amateurs Handbook: by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL): I'm sure many eyes just glazed over. This is a very technical book about how radios and electronics work. That said, I spent many, many hours of my youthful years pouring over the material in that book and eventually it led to my lifelong interest in radio, electronics and electrical engineering.
Published 2015-10-09.
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Books by This Author

Three Hundred Zeroes
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 93,620. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Trip Journals
(5.00)
A promise to his brother haunted him for over forty years. Finally, Blanchard set out on the Appalachian Trail with his brother's Purple Heart Medal to fulfill that promise. He learned that the wilderness and solitude can reconnect one with a Norman Rockwell America that at times seems long lost and forgotten. This humorous story demonstrates that adventure truly begins in the heart.