35 Miles From Shore – author interviews – Emilio Corsetti

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Paperback Writer is pleased to introduce Emilio Corsetti, author of 35 Miles From Shore. A gripping tale of life and death on board a DC-9 jet that ended in shark infested waters.



35 Miles From Shore Synopsis:


On May 2, 1970, a DC-9 jet with fifty-seven passengers and a crew of six departed New York’s JFK international airport en route to the tropical island of St. Maarten. The flight ended four hours and thirty-four minutes later in the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean. It was at the time, and remains, the only open-water ditching of a commercial jet. The subsequent rescue of survivors took nearly three hours and involved the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines. In this gripping account of that fateful day, author Emilio Corsetti puts the reader inside the cabin, the cockpit, and the rescue helicopters as the crews struggle against the weather and dwindling daylight to rescue the survivors who have only their life vests and a lone escape chute to keep them afloat.



Hi Emilio.


Welcome to Paperback Writer.


Would you share with us how you came up with the idea for your book? 


I first learned of the story as a new hire pilot with TWA. The accident was covered as part of the emergency training that all airline crews receive. I was amazed to learn that no book had been written about the accident. It’s rare to find untold stories, especially ones with this much drama. The further I dug the more fascinating the story became.


Was it a light bulb moment or something that you thought about for a very long time?


Anyone who has written a book can tell you that it requires a great deal of time and effort. It’s not something you jump into without giving it a lot of thought. But once I started the research for the book it was impossible to walk away.


How did you come up with the title?


The working title I used during the first year or so was Flight 980. No subtitle. I liked it but it didn’t really say much about the book’s content. I then changed the title to Heaven and Sea: A True Story. I liked it but I was a minority. I changed the subtitle to The Rescue of ALM Flight 980. When I submitted the book for consideration into the small press program at IPG, it was accepted under the condition that I change the cover and title. Once I started communicating with IPG there were about a half dozen people offering title suggestions. One that I remember was In Case of a Water Landing. I rejected that title because it had a humorous slant which was not indicative of the book. I was the one who came up with 35 Miles From Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980. The title is a winner for a number of reasons: you get a sense of the book’s content just from the title, the title has several keywords that could come up in an internet search (ditching, ALM, flight 980, rescue), the title also makes for an easily remembered domain name www.35milesfromshore.com.


How did you find an agent and publisher?


I had two agents represent the book at different stages in the development process. Nonfiction books such as this are most always sold on the basis of a proposal. But the chances of an unknown/unproven writer being successful with just a proposal, is zero to none. I did, however, attract the attention of a New York agent. He suggested that I write the first 75 pages and then he would submit both the proposal and those first 75 pages. So I did just that. Problem was that it was too early in the process. I hadn’t fully developed the story. I hadn’t interviewed enough people. The end result was a weak first 75 pages. The proposal was quickly shot down by every major publisher and I was dropped by the agent, whom I never spoke to or communicated with directly during the entire six months or so that he represented me.


I still felt that I had a good story. So I decided to finish the book and try my luck with a finished manuscript. I submitted the proposal to a few publishers and received an offer from a European publisher. But I felt that they were asking for too much and offering too little. They basically wanted me to give them all of the rights to the book – hard cover, soft cover, world, foreign translation, electronic media – all for 1,500 pounds, which was worth about $2,800 at the time. They were unwilling to negotiate, so I turned down the offer.


Shortly after this I found another agent. Within two weeks he had an editor at a major publisher interested in the manuscript. Four months later the book was turned down by the editorial board. No reason was given. The agent dropped me. I wasted another two years submitting the manuscript to over a dozen publishers. During this time I wrote a screenplay adaptation of the book. I signed with the very first agency that I sent the screenplay to. Around that time the book was accepted into the small press program at IPG. I decided that the only way the book would get published was if I did it myself. I have not regretted that decision.


Who reads your work in progress?


I used several readers. Some who knew me and some who didn’t. It’s part of the process and should not be overlooked.


Who made a difference in the book’s quality?


The quality of this book is due to the expert work of the people at 1106 Design. I’m sure their work played a large role in the book being accepted by IPG.


How long did it take you to complete the first draft?


I spent a year-and-a-half researching the book and another year-and-a-half writing. I spent an additional year or so rewriting.


How long did it take from start to publication?


It was seven years from start to publication. At least three years of that time was wasted searching for a publisher.


Do you have any advice for new authors?


If you believe in your work, don’t give up on it because of rejection by agents and major publishers. There are other options. But do take the time to reflect on the work itself. Don’t go forward with something that is subpar. I have a novel that I spent five years writing. But even though I have a publishing company and could publish the book myself, it’s not good enough and no amount of rewriting can make it publishable in my mind.


Thank you, Emilio for stopping by Paperback Writer on your virtual book tour. I wish you continued success through the rest of your tour.




35 MILES FROM SHORE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 officially began on May 1, 2008 and will continue all month. If you would like to follow Emilio’s tour in progress, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in May. Leave a comment on his blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of his tour! One lucky winner will be announced on his tour page at the end of May.

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2 thoughts on “35 Miles From Shore – author interviews – Emilio Corsetti”

  1. This sounds like a fascinating story. I can’t wait to read it! Good luck with the last leg of your tour.


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