Having spent his career in Sales and Marketing for national tea and coffee companies, MacDowell traveled widely throughout the United States. It was during one such trip that he got the idea for a story about a college football player who finds romance during a summer job. “I started the story on hotel stationery, writing ‘A Short Story’ at the top,” he recalls. About 370 pages later, the story became a novel he titled Not Just Another Love Story. While MacDowell had no formal training as a writer, he had on-the-job experience writing marketing and sales plans, and he published Not Just Another Love Story in 2000.
MacDowell’s next book, Not Just Another War Story, would be nine years in the making. Because of a football injury sustained while he was a college student, MacDowell was unable to pass the physical to become an Air Force pilot. Instead, he channeled his energies into a 40-year involvement with the 305th Bomb Group Memorial Association as a tribute to his uncle and godfather, 1st Lt. Wright E. Gerke, a B-17 “Flying Fortress” pilot. “The idea of what could become a story came through my attendance at the 305th annual reunions where I spoke with those heroes of long ago and listened to their stories,” MacDowell says. “In the book, I wanted the story to be absolutely genuine – right down to the weather and each plane’s serial number.”
MacDowell describes Not Just Another War Story as “the story of the hopes, dreams and loves of a B-17 crew.” It is the tale of young Steve Carmichael, a University of Florida graduate who loves to fly. Having learned to pilot a plane at the age of 12, Steve decides to join the Army Air Corps. He eventually realizes his dream of piloting a four-engine B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber into battle. While stationed in Britain, Steve meets an attractive British nurse at a USO dance, and sparks fly. “The book doesn’t center on just the fighting war,” MacDowell points out. “It also shows the human interaction and feelings, plus a beautiful romance in a war-torn world.” For MacDowell, the best part of writing the novel was “watching my characters come to life and become people.”
While promoting Not Just Another War Story, MacDowell travelled to England's Isle of Wight where some of the book takes place. Sandown, a family resort town on the Isle of Wight is the St Pete Beach International Sister-City. He then went on to London where he hosted a book-signing at Harrrod's Department Store. He also visited Margroten, Holland where the Netherlands-American Military Cemetery is located. “I did a book signing there, giving the proceeds to a local charity,” he says. “Not Just Another War Story is dedicated to 1st LT Wright E. Gerke, a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot who was killed on a mission to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. This visit was my 23rd to place flowers and visit with my Uncle-Godfather. I know the number only because there is a sign-in family book. Like all of the overseas military cemeteries it is well worth the visit to these hallowed grounds which are beautifully maintained. They are American soil. While there, take a stroll out past the reflecting pond, past the memorial tower/chapel and into the cemetery where 8301 American ‘kids’ are buried. Walk out toward the American flag pole and over on your right in Plot 0 Row 6 Grave 6, stop by for a moment to visit Lt Wright E. Gerke.” MacDowell plans on returning to England and The Netherlands in the fall of 2018.
Another memorable experience for MacDowell was an invitation to do a book signing with the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA). “They flew their B-17 Flying Fortress into the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in June for a couple of days as a flying exhibit,” he recalls. “We worked out that some of the proceeds would go the EA. We sold out, and they asked if I would come the following week to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for an additional signing. Again, we sold out and, at the end of the day, they invited me to fly as copilot on their 1928 Ford Tri-Motor former TWA plane. It certainly was fun! The old girl flew at just under 100 MPH and with the huge wings, was as steady as can be.”
MacDowell hopes readers will enjoy Not Just Another War Story and come away with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made by WWII veterans. “I hope the book will give the younger generation – those who had a father or grandfather who served – an understanding of what they went through during that time,” he says. “I try to bring out the toughness of that group of people who certainly had to grow up way too soon, and the joy of lifelong friendships made with individuals from all walks of life. To have the reader come along on the story-adventure and give them a front row seat was most important to me.”
For more information, visit the author’s website at www.waynemacdowell.com.