PilotPhotog Podcast

Future War Series: An Interview with FX Holden

September 27, 2021 PilotPhotog with FX Holden Season 1 Episode 32
PilotPhotog Podcast
Future War Series: An Interview with FX Holden
Show Notes Transcript

Listen to the interview with Future War series author FX Holden.  We discuss modern military tactics, 5th generation stealth fighters, and how he works with a beta team of experts to help source material for his books.

Click here to get the first book in the series on Amazon. (affiliate link)


If you enjoy this episode, subscribe to this podcast, you can find links to many podcast streaming services here:

PilotPhotog Podcast (buzzsprout.com)


You can check out my YouTube channel for many videos on fighter planes here:

https://youtube.com/c/PilotPhotog


And finally you can follow me on Twitter here:

https://twitter.com/pilotphotog

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/PilotPhotog)

Pilotphotog (0s):
This is the pilot photog podcast. Let's listen to the interview with future war series, author FX, Holden. Hi everyone. Today, my guest is author Tim Slee, who writes under the pen name, FX Holden, and writes some excellent military thrillers that I've actually been reading and highly recommend. How are you, Tim? Good. Thank you. So yeah, the future war series, I'm actually in a third book, it starts with Kobani then go on then the Bering Strait. That's right. You've got some excellent, excellent character development, some vivid portrayals of fifth generation fighter crafts, such as the F 35 and the core CSU 57. Where do you get your sources to support these technical details that you elaborate on and expand?

 
FX Holden (46s):
I don't have any secret sources. That's the first thing to say up front. So they know nobody's spilling manufacturer details. To me, it's all open-sourced information. The research I do is, is what I prefer actually is firsthand accounts from pilots who have flown the machines that I'm, that I'm writing about. And so I'll go all over the place to try and get this detail. Just as an example, there was a Norwegian pilot recently who's into fighter, a school in the U S he was one of the people who qualified the F 35 for, for the region and air force. And he had a firsthand account of his experiences with the <inaudible> in various training scenarios that he'd been involved in.

FX Holden (1m 33s):
It was in the region, but I live in Denmark so I can understand Norwegian. And I got in touch with him over the internet and just fleshed out a few more details of his experience, nothing at all, that you can't find in open source information, but, but just adding to the flavor of what he was saying in an article that he published openly on, on in the Norwegian press. Excellent.

Pilotphotog (1m 56s):
As I said, you, you portray these, these very vivid encounters, very realistic. I think encounters, if you had to explain your book series to someone who didn't know about or hadn't heard of it, what would you say that the future of war series is about

FX Holden (2m 10s):
Series started? As an idea I had always wanted to write about, which was what if you took the, the prototypes, the weapons that exist on the drawing board today and projected them into scenarios 10 years into the future and explored how they might be used and how they might influence the way was, are fought. And there are some really, really interesting lessons to be had when you play that mind experiment, because what we're more and more doing is taking the human out of the loop in warfare. And, and when we do that, we depersonalize warfare and that can have big consequences in terms of strategy.

FX Holden (2m 50s):
And so those are the types of things that I try and explore is if we have a future with a lot more autonomous weapons, if we have a future with weapons and AI, that can do a lot of the decision-making for themselves. If you have politicians who might be more willing to, I don't know, engaging more or, or engaging conflict in a scenario where they weren't losing human lives by doing it, will they do that? And if they do, what would that look?

Pilotphotog (3m 22s):
Yeah. That does present a very interesting dilemma. Almost. There is no danger of a human casualty on the offensive side. You do spend a lot of time, as you mentioned, you know, talking about drone technology and how fighters can be used to control drones and deploy drones has Ford reconnaissance and actually offensive platforms. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, how those tactics, as you mentioned, evolve, and kind of change the role of air combat,

FX Holden (3m 48s):
One of the big challenges that, that we will have in the future, when you see stealth fighters going up against still fighters is how are they going to engage each other when they can't see each other, unless, you know, you're lucky to get a hit off of ground radar. Then, then it's going to be very difficult for these two air forces to, to air platforms, to match up against each other until they get within a radar range where they can pick each other up. So how are they going to detect each other and fight each other when their strength actually lies in being able to attack each other at a huge distance, the, the loyal wingman concept that Boeing is working on. And there's also one by credos involves putting good avionics and great sensors in low-cost drone platforms so that you can send them out and use them as sacrificial lambs to, to try and detect other aircraft or other targets on the ground.

FX Holden (4m 41s):
And then if they get knocked down, it doesn't matter because behind them is the stealth fighter. That's controlling them or the ground pilot, who's controlling them and sending data to the still fighter. And in that way, they're lifting that veil of, of stealth from their opponents before the pilot controlling them has even seen.

Pilotphotog (5m 1s):
Yeah. And that raises another interesting question. I think the F 35, just as a, as an example, has gotten a lot of flack and a lot of negative press for number one, how expensive it's been, how long it's taken to develop. And a lot of aviation enthusiasts let's say, do not think it's a good dog fighter. It's not as maneuverable as maybe an a 15 or an F 16 or, or an F 22 and, and many fields that it's therefore not an effective fighter. Can you talk about how being a drone controller makes the <inaudible> that much more effective and it doesn't necessarily need to be the most maneuverable airplane to be successful?

FX Holden (5m 37s):
Yeah. Although I'd like to come back to that particular point a little bit later, but in, but upfront, I mean, if you, if you have an <inaudible> or an RAF Tempest or an SU 57 Russian aircraft performing the role of an, an airborne warning controller almost, or an airborne control aircraft, where they have two or three wing men with a good radar, maybe even armed slaved to their aircraft, then they're more like a, a platoon in the sky than they are a single aircraft. And they can send those drones out to explore contacts.

FX Holden (6m 18s):
They can send them out to prosecute targets on the ground or in the air. And the, the pilot in that F 35 or 3 57 is actually more like a quarterback than they are a, a single pilot. It's a very big force magnifier for them. So again, as I said before, the idea that, that they would never actually come within a basic fighter maneuver range so that they would be dog fighting with anybody is an attractive one. One of the things about the <inaudible>, there are a lot of detractors and I have no special insights, but again, when I am writing, I rely on secondary source information from people who have actually flown the aircraft.

FX Holden (7m 0s):
And of course, there's the limit to what they can say. But for example, I was recently reading a research by a conservative think tank. Now, of course they have their own agenda, and you always have to think about the motivations of the source that you're, that you're reading, but this conservative think tank had interviewed 31 different pilots who have flown the F 35, and they did a summary of it. And you'll see this reflected in the books when I'm describing dogfights that the F 35 is in, but also the F 30 fives ability to avoid missiles. When it's, when it's targeted itself, they speak very much about the ability of the F 35 to use rudder assisted turns.

FX Holden (7m 41s):
And so, yes, it can't yank and bank like an F 16, but it does have ability to maneuver that a, that an F 16 doesn't and the Norwegian pilot, for example, that I recently had contact with was saying that when he went up against an F 16, he also went up against Euro fighters. He was able to stay on their six, to stay behind them using the stability of the F 35 in a, in a rudder assisted turn. It can very much, it can turn very flat and, and stay in, in control. The other thing that that he said was that it has an angle of attack advantage that he can't, that he's never seen in any other aircraft he's fluent.

FX Holden (8m 25s):
And that means that he can keep his nose pointed at the enemy in, in situations where he wouldn't be able to do that in an F 16 or a Euro fighter.

Pilotphotog (8m 34s):
That's interesting. I'd never heard that about the rudder system turns and basically the high alpha maneuvers, right? I mean, it's sounds like it's optimized for that. Very interesting. Just quickly off topic. I do videos about the, of 35 and you see all these comments about, it's a terrible airplane and we need more, you know, fifteens and F sixteens, and those aircraft absolutely have a use, but it's very telling to that you see more and more nations adopting or choosing the F 35. I think the most recent one is Switzerland, who is at least signed an agreement or a deal. It looks like to procure F 30 fives as their next fighter. So they know something that we don't right.

FX Holden (9m 11s):
Well, I guess they're speaking to the, these pilots, but the other thing, I mean, Switzerland is a good case. The other thing you hear about the F 35 is that the lifetime maintenance costs are prohibitive and that the purchase cost is prohibitive. And so on Switzerland, the deciding factor in it choosing the F 35 in that deal was it's its cost advantage. And I don't think the Swiss or the kind to throw money around.

Pilotphotog (9m 33s):
And I think the more 30 friends are produced the lower the unit cost becomes over time. I think now they're down to 78 million. The last I looked a copy and the Euro fighter thing, it's 120 million or 115 million somewhere around there.

FX Holden (9m 47s):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's interesting, isn't it? How many experts there are on the F 35 amongst the aviation community. And, and, and it's not to say anyone is, is more correct or less correct. And the other, I wouldn't know, but, but if you think back to aircraft in history, you look at something like the MIG 21, when that came out, the, the us got ahold of it and make 21 that was sent to them by a defector or, or stolen for them by a defector when they evaluated it against the <inaudible>, they, they wrote it off as a, as an inferior aircraft.

FX Holden (10m 28s):
And actually in the early days of the Vietnam war, the, their mic to anyone shut down a lot more air force. And <inaudible> until they learned how to fight against it. The same thing happened with the Spitfire. Actually, if you go back to world war II, the Germans got ahold of a Spitfire and did an analysis of it. And they decided that, that it was a piece of garbage because the engine cut out when it went into a positive chain and what kind of fighter aircraft could fight. If the engine kept cutting out, the thing is, and this is, this will be the case for the <inaudible> pilots, learn to fly the aircraft. And they become able to overcome the disadvantages and take advantage of the, of the positives with the, the way the aircraft flies.

FX Holden (11m 13s):
The Spitfire ended up being one of the best fighters in world war two, because the pilot didn't ever put it into a, a nose down positive G dive, they would roll it on its back and then pull this stick back. And then they would dive that way. They never got into the situation where their engine was cutting out the same with the F 35. This Norwegian pilot was saying that he looks forward to learning, to fly better. And he learns every day, every time he goes up and he says, he's flying it better. And I think that's the case. Yeah,

Pilotphotog (11m 43s):
We're definitely in a generational shift because you have a lot of older pilots or generals or commanders that grew up or flew or learn how to fly fourth generation fighters. So their tactics are suited to that, those platforms. But now with this whole entire new generation, like, as you said, pilots have to learn how to fly better and also update or adapt to new tactics. You actually do discuss this in, in one of your books. I believe the, the Russian <inaudible> pilot who is dealing with his commanding officers, sending in the SU 50 sevens as if they were, as if they were a fourth-generation fighters and he's trying to adopt fifth generation tactics. So can you talk a little bit about that as it pertains to your book series?

FX Holden (12m 24s):
One of the characters in the book is a, is a young pilot. I gave them the name felon babies, and it was because I was talking to a colleague. What I do when I do my write, my books is that I put together a, a, a better reading team. This is not unusual, but a team of experts, preferably people with various backgrounds, whether it's military or non-military, but with specialization in electronics or radar, or people who have been pilots, people who worked in the Marines or served in the Marines, people who've served in the Navy. And one of these guys were saying that, that when he was trained on the F 16, they put together a group of pilots who had qualified, obviously as, as fighter pilots, jet pilots, but I'd never flown the F 16 before hadn't flown any other comparable fighter, because they wanted them to learn how to fly the F 16 as the F 16, not to transfer any bad habits they might've had from previous training or previous aircraft, which I thought was an interesting idea.

FX Holden (13m 30s):
So the idea in the book is that this pilot comes up as a <inaudible> felon baby who's only ever been trained or only have a flown on the SU 57. So he doesn't have the bad habits of the past and the way he wants to. And I put myself in his shoes, the way he wants to fly the aircraft is not information with other aircraft providing support for each other. But in that quarterback role that I was discussing earlier, where, because he is never alone in the sky, he can actually roam far and wide. And if you have a four plane unit, you can roam far and wide, you can cover a hundred mile front instead of a 20 or 30 mile front, because your four aircraft, even though they're not in contact with, or not in visual contact with each other in are always in contact with each other, through the data that they're sending to each other and the radio communication.

FX Holden (14m 29s):
So, yeah, the idea explored in the book is, is if you throw away the old strategies and adopt new strategies where you're actually playing to the advantages of these units, which are platforms, which are just as powerful because of the data that they can assimilate as they are because of the weapons they can carry, it'll be a different war. Yeah, most

Pilotphotog (14m 51s):
Definitely. I mean, they're

FX Holden (14m 52s):
The modern fighters. They're morphed into super computers right than they are to just, you know, flying platforms and information and sensor data is a huge, huge component of fifth generation aircraft with sensor fusion. The philosophy behind the <inaudible> I feel is a little bit different than behind the SU 57. Can you discuss a little bit about what you see as the doctrine differences between the U S and NATO aircraft versus maybe Russian aircraft when it comes to the fifth generation platforms? Well, the main one is that the Russian SU 57, as far as I can see, we don't know anything about how stealthy it really is, but the main difference there as far as I could see is that they haven't dropped the Russian emphasis on, on their aircraft being super maneuverable with thrust vectoring engines and, and the control surfaces.

FX Holden (15m 43s):
That mean that they can perform absolutely amazing maneuvers. I don't know if you've ever seen it, but if you've seen the S F U S U 57 video that was done at the max 19 air show about two years ago,

Pilotphotog (15m 58s):
No, I have it, I I've seen some of the <inaudible> footage, which that can do amazing maneuvers, but I'll definitely check out the 57 at max 19.

FX Holden (16m 7s):
Yes. You 57 that flown by one of the 2 57 pilots test pilots at max 19. There's a video there from the video at, in Russia, at the max 19, the maneuvers that plane can, can pull off absolutely insane. Everything that the SU 27 could do and better. And, and this one point there where it actually looks like it's flying backwards, it's an optical illusion, but it is insane. And that's the, the, the main difference that the Russia hasn't given that up. And, and it was interesting. I was reading. So what, what is the advantage of, of super maneuverable aircraft, if you're engaging each other at beyond visual range, you're not near a dog fight, so why do you need a super maneuverable aircraft?

FX Holden (16m 49s):
That's a, a question. A lot of people ask, because what good is it when you're firing missiles at each other from 50 miles away, there was actually a, a Chinese engineer flight avionics engineer from the Shen yang Shinya incorporation. And of course, again, you need to look at your source of your information that is not necessarily particularly disposed towards a world disposed towards us aircraft. And so he was talking up the SU 57, but what he said was that there's Superman, maneuverability is going to be a huge advantage in evading enemy missiles. So yes, you're not dog fighting with, with an, an F 35 or even a, a, any other American aircraft.

FX Holden (17m 36s):
You're not dogfighting them within visual range, but you still have to be able to Dodge the missiles that firing at you and being super maneuverable is not going to be a disadvantage in that respect, the moment honorable you are greater, the chances you're going to be able to Dodge a miss off.

Pilotphotog (17m 53s):
Yeah. And that's, that's an excellent point for the, you know, defensive countermeasures, which we think of, you know, flair, chaff, electronic, jamming, but maneuvers are most definitely a part of that. And I think that gets kind of overlooked by many people. What are the characters that you have in your book books, excuse me, that I've, I've really, you know, enjoyed reading is, is Karen bunny O'Hare, I believe she's the Australian F 35 pilot. Can you talk a little bit about her maybe trajectory arc or her the inspiration you had for creating that character? Yeah.

FX Holden (18m 27s):
And we have a tradition in the Australian air force of, of female pilots, no different to any other air force in the world these days, but female fighter pilots, our tradition only goes back probably 10 years. The Russians obviously goes back to the second world war. I thought it'd be really interesting to, to write a character as a, as a key protagonist in these novels who was a female fighter pilot, incredibly inspiring stories from the, the Russian female fighter pilots of the second world war. And then when you think about the type of struggle that it must be for any pilot to become a fighter pilot, let alone a female fighter pilot, I thought it would be good to explore the, the character here is actually one that starts the books as a, as a junior pilot in her first conflict.

FX Holden (19m 21s):
And it very quickly becomes apparent. She's really not cut out for the air force, basic ability to follow orders. I had a, one of the beta readers on the team said, look, she wouldn't even have got to the stage where she was at deploying for combat. She would have been found out and thrown out before then, but that's not fun to write about. So she is found out during the first book, I don't want to spoil anything, but she doesn't come out of that first novel particularly well. But then that spirit that she has of constantly questioning authority, constantly questioning accepted doctrine, constantly questioning technology was one that I, I is very useful in these books because that's what I'm doing.

FX Holden (20m 9s):
So she's doing it for me. And she never takes anything at face value and she doesn't take any one at face value. She has to prove the technology for herself and chip peop people around her have to prove themselves to her in order to be accepted. So that's the, the, the premise behind that character.

Pilotphotog (20m 28s):
Yeah. That's a, that's a wonderful concept to explore. And I think you've done it brilliantly with the character and it's, it's a very fun read. I'm three books in, I believe right now there are five books that have been released. Is that correct?

FX Holden (20m 43s):
Five and the six line will be out this Christmas. The beta team has been put together and we've got some pilots, some Navy officers, we've got some us Marines. We've got a German radar technician. We have a Ukrainian take driver on our beat a team for the next one.

Pilotphotog (21m 0s):
Awesome. And will that be the last in the series or is this going to be an ongoing series

FX Holden (21m 4s):
When I run out of ideas for future conflicts? I think it'll be, it'll be the last in the series. This one, the next one is about a conflict in the south China sea. And after that, it'll be Korea.

Pilotphotog (21m 16s):
Those are both very charged areas right now. I think there's a lot of, a lot of good reading to be had there.

FX Holden (21m 24s):
Absolutely. The, the idea is that I'm not writing third world war novels. So these are as based in reality as I can get them strategic scenarios that, that people frequently comment are realistic. They're not overblown. It's not, it's not the end of the world. It's, it's usually explore explored through the eyes of several minor characters rather than major characters in a minor conflict rather than a major conflict.

Pilotphotog (21m 52s):
Yeah. And again, they, they make for, they make for great reading when it comes to having become a writer. What authors have inspired you?

FX Holden (22m 1s):
This, this series actually was inspired by a particular author. No one would have heard of you. And his name was Brian Callison. He was a British author. And the fantastic thing about, especially this one book that he grew up, which was called Dawn attack, it's about the story of the British attack, British commander, right on Norway. And then in the second world war up in the low forties Ireland. And what he did was he wrote the story from multiple perspectives on both sides, the German and the British, and that fascinated me. He wrote a book about, I suppose, 20 years ago, this was a book my father had on his bookshelf.

FX Holden (22m 41s):
And I loved it because it was just about ordinary soldiers, sailors and airmen on both sides of the conflict. And it didn't actually take sides. So yes, obviously history and, and, and your own moral codecs are going to tell you which side you want to be on. If it's the Germans and the Nazis versus the, the British. But, but when it's about the ordinary soldiers, sailors, and airmen, who, who were fighting in the conflict, it's less about the ideology. And it's much more about the personality of the, of the individuals involved in, and basically that none of them are evil. There is no real good guy, no real bad guy.

FX Holden (23m 22s):
They are soldiers, sailors, and airmen who were just doing what their country has put them there to do and making their best, trying to get out of it alive. That was the author. That was the inspiration for these books. And so every one of these books takes a similar sort of starting point. It takes a starting point in the individuals involved in a conflict on both sides, or even sometimes three sides of, of the, of the battle. And it looks at the world through their eyes without trying to draw too many big moral boats.

Pilotphotog (23m 53s):
So you could say it's ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events or circumstances, and how do they perform or what happens in those conditions, right?

FX Holden (24m 2s):
Yeah, exactly. And they don't, I mean, it's not, it's not game of Thrones, but they don't all make it through, which is, which is really,

Pilotphotog (24m 9s):
Yeah. I think that's one of the things I've enjoyed most about reading these books is first of all, they're all very plausible scenarios. These, these could happen in 10 years or maybe less than some cases, but the way people respond, the way people react, there are no, you know, superhuman characters or characters with what they call plot armor that nothing can happen to them. You really feel a sense of danger and, and tension for these characters and, and the outcome is not obvious and it's not clear. And I think that makes for a very good story and a very good page Turner.

FX Holden (24m 38s):
Yeah. And of course I've learned from all the, the masters. I I'm a fan of Clancy. I'm a fan of Cussler, I'm a fan of Dale brown. The reason I mentioned that other author was because the structure of these books is very different to the ones that they write topics are the same. They write much better than I ever will, but the, the, the structure is a little bit,

Pilotphotog (24m 57s):
Yeah. I do like seeing the perspective from, from both sides or not at the super high level, like commander or general leadership, it's the soldiers that are tasks with prosecuting. These orders are these, these missions that they have to do and how they respond to it. And so where can people find your books? What's the best place to go to, to get copies of these? What do you recommend?

FX Holden (25m 18s):
It's unfortunately, it's Amazon, because if you're, if you're a person who believes that Amazon is an evil empire, I can't, I can't help you because I only publish on Amazon and you can get paperback or, or ebook there. The reason I only published on Amazon is because Amazon unfortunately, or unfortunately is a, almost a monopoly on eBooks. Yes. I know you can get them on it, apple books. And, and there are other sources, but they have more than 80% of the market. And I put my energy into, into that 80%. Yeah. You have

Pilotphotog (25m 51s):
To get them the most exposure possible.

FX Holden (25m 53s):
I haven't tried to get a traditional publisher. I have a traditional publisher for my contemporary fiction. I haven't tried to get a traditional publisher for, for this series. It's not that I wouldn't entertain it, but, but to be absolutely honest, if you're able to make a, a go of it as a independent author on Amazon, the, the royalties are just so much

Pilotphotog (26m 14s):
Interesting. I didn't know that. So it's more beneficial as an author to be on Amazon then, correct.

FX Holden (26m 19s):
Incredibly more beneficial, as long as you can navigate that Amazon environment. If you have basic marketing skills and you're able to navigate the platform, it's so much better that my royalties, as to although with a publishing house, 10% of sales, my royalties with Amazon has 70. Wow.

Pilotphotog (26m 39s):
That's an incredibly large difference. What advice can you give to people who are thinking about becoming writers or are interested in the craft of writing?

FX Holden (26m 48s):
I have just the two words to say, and that's called that's, it's just write, just start, just write, write as much as you can write as often as you can, don't panic about whether it's perfect, send it to as many people as you want. Your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your friends who, who, you're not afraid to lose, send it out there, get as much advice as you can just keep writing. If it doesn't work, write something else. And that was basically my secret, the whole way through is that anytime I was writing, I would have two or three projects that I was working on. If one people didn't like it, I could go with the other. If they didn't like that, I would go with the other until eventually something hit the wall and stuck.

Pilotphotog (27m 31s):
That is fantastic advice. And really it is just a matter of sitting down and writing and writing every day, if possible, correct.

FX Holden (27m 37s):
A lot of different ways to do it. So a lot of people take it, especially if you've got a day job, take some time out and, and lock yourself away for two weeks and see how much you can get done. But I'm a fan of the Leonard Elmo Leonard school of, of riding Elmo. Leonard was a, a crime writer or an American crime fiction writer. He wrote to at least one book a year, sometimes two books a year, even while he was working full-time as an advertising executive. And the way he did it was that he wrote two hours a day, every day. So he would get up at 5:00 AM and write till 7:00 AM four. He would come home at 6:00 PM and write till the late PM. He wrote two hours every day, within a half a year, he had a book.

FX Holden (28m 18s):
Then he would edit it, throw away half of what he'd written. And that's what he ended up publishing. Again, it was, the principle is just right. You can't, you're going to get published unless you do that. And, and he was the perfect example of that. I didn't think he wrote 111 books in his lifetime. Wow. If you like a crime fiction, crime noir, he has a hundred or so titles. He also wrote westerns, but his, a lot of his books have been turned into films.

Pilotphotog (28m 47s):
Yeah. With that many titles, I can imagine that it's just a prolific amount of writing and saying, I'd like to circle back to your, your beta team that you were mentioning earlier and just kind of discuss that process. So you mentioned earlier your beta team, and it's kind of a group of experts that help you produce or validate some of the technology that you're writing about. Can you talk a little bit about how you met or became friends with the people in the beta team and what that process is like?

FX Holden (29m 13s):
Well, the first time I, I was putting together a beta team was actually for the novel bearing straight, which you, which I think you said you just started reading Bering Strait was, was the first one I wrote, but it's the third one in the series in terms of time frame. But with Bering Strait, I had an idea of what I wanted to write about. And I wanted me to write about technology, military technology and its application in the future. I don't have a military background. I'm a have an intelligence background so I can write, I can easily set myself in the strategy side of things, technology side of things, I needed help. And I had no idea where to get that help. So what I did was there are various forums on the internet for people who are soldiers of fortune, most scenarios, contract security people.

FX Holden (29m 58s):
I thought to myself, okay, how am I going to attract some of them to help me? I got not going to pay them. I can't pay them. So what I did was I went on there and I said, look, I'm going to give 20% of the proceeds of this book to charity. I need people to give me advice on aircraft technology, radar, Naval technology, land warfare technology. If you're interested in helping, like I said, you'll be helping with a project where people where money goes to charity. I didn't think anybody would be interested straight away. I got 10 people. Wow. And, and they were from all walks of life. There were Germans. There were Russians. There were people from Australia, two Brits, a female pilot from New Zealand who actually is a pilot instructor.

FX Holden (30m 43s):
I got a Texas SWAT team instructor. So in bearing straight, there's a, a, a scene where Russian commandos attack at U S a U S base and try and, and take it over. He actually wrote that scene, not in practical terms, but in a, in general terms, he described to me exactly how that scenario would take place. And, and if it was an aircraft, if it was an air base take down, then this is what would happen. And that's basically why a lot of people think they're so authentic. They're authentic if they are authentic. It's because the, the meat of it comes from these leader advisors.

Pilotphotog (31m 25s):
It's interesting. I actually did read Bering Strait first and then realize Kobani was the first book in the timeline, went back and read Kobani and I'm reading goal. And now as you've written, more books has that beta team grown, has it say the same amount of members?

FX Holden (31m 39s):
Oh, it's different. Every time it takes. Yeah. It's different. Every time. The good, the it's usually six months, sometimes even longer between a book. And so people come and go, there are a couple who've been there from the start and they extremely valued, but they're also, they're a little bit invested in the series, right? So they're not going to be as, as easy as good at seeing when there are floors. It's great to have a whole lot of new people on the group who are also bringing new ideas, but they're also looking at the series with new eyes and they may not be so kind,

Pilotphotog (32m 9s):
I guess they're more objective, right? They don't have a bias towards

FX Holden (32m 12s):
It. Yeah, that's right. They are more objective. They very quickly get invested. So it's funny how people, we had two in the first group with Bering Strait, we had a Ukrainian and a Russian in the, in the, in the beta team. And we ended up having to say goodbye to the RO, to the Ukrainian colleague, because he simply couldn't be unemotional about, about things. He, he was very emotional about anything to do with the Russian element of the book. And, and in the end he admitted himself, this is good

Pilotphotog (32m 40s):
For my mental health. So I'm going to quit. Some of it is in a way it's hard to read because, you know, we all have our, our, I guess, political motivations or affiliations or identity identities, let's say. And so, you know, you don't want to see quote, unquote your side losing or anything like that, but it makes for, it makes for a good story. And it really makes you think about the direction that we're headed as far as our tactics or strategies and everything else. It's I find it it's really good food for thought. Thanks for listening to the interview. If you're looking for a good series to read, I highly recommend FX Holden's future war titles. I'll leave a link in the show notes.