Hearts of Courage – author interview – John Tippets

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Paperback Writers has a special author today, one that tells a tale of surviving a plane crash in extreme winter weather in of all places the cold Alaska frontier. Author, John Tippets share with us how he came up with the idea for this book and talks about the road to publication.

About the Book
On January 5, 1943, an airplane with six onboard goes missing in remote Southeast Alaska with the pilot’s only radio message of “one engine has conked out, expect trouble.” The winter weather is extreme, searchers find no signs of the Lockheed-Electra aircraft, and all are presumed lost. One of those passengers was Joseph Tippets, age 29, of Anchorage, Alaska, an employee of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and the first branch president of the small Latter-day Saint Anchorage congregation. Joseph’s wife, Alta, with her two-year-old son in Anchorage does not give up hope and is a source of strength and encouragement to others. On February 3, the crew of a small coast guard vessel on a routine patrol in Boca de Quadra was stunned to discover two starved and freezing survivors of the missing plane. One of those was Joseph Tippets.

Hearts of Courage is the story of Joseph Tippets’ experiences over those twenty-nine days and his subsequent efforts to help rescue the two injured passengers still stranded in their wilderness camp. Told largely in Joseph’s own words, this is a story of courage, determination, faith, and prayers answered. It is an aviation history story, a survival story, and a love story.

“We all remember the almost incredulous joy and amazement we experienced on February 3 upon hearing that two survivors had been found, including our good friend and coworker, Joseph H. Tippets. After a month of privation and suffering, the fact that even four of the six on board the ill-fated plane survived the long, miserable month almost taxes our imagination, and proves indeed that faith and hope and courage and endurance have tangible rewards.

“The age of miracles is not past!”

Marshall C. Hoppin, Alaska Regional Manager
Civil Aeronautics Administration
Mukluk Telegraph, March 1943

Hi John.

Welcome to Paperback Writer.

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

A: Over several years I have been writing chapters of my parents’ life histories for the benefit of their descendents….Dad’s and Mother’s years growing up, Dad’s years in the U.S. Navy, Dad’s service as a Mormon Bishop in the Washington D.C. area in the 50s, etc.. But, I always knew that writing about Dad’s Jan/Feb. survival of the 1943 crash in Alaska was going to be much more than the other pieces of the project, and I wanted to do it really very well.

I looked for all possible sources, and wanted original illustrations, pictures etc. to really help tell the story right. As the process proceeded over about 4 years, and as I kept making improvements/finding new info etc. it became increasingly clear it was going to be a quality book and not just a chapter of the history project for the family.

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

A: I realized at some point that the book would be both a wonderful legacy for my parents but that it would also be a special and popular story for many audiences; those who love Alaska, aviation or survival stories and for those who appreciate a story of determination, faith and prayers answered.

Q: How did you come up with the title?

A: We had considered several (one, Cheating an Icy Death) but Hearts of Courage was my wife’s choice and it seemed a title that was more inclusive of my Mother’s part of the story and of many others who were participants.

Q: How did you find an agent and publisher?

A: I was in Alaska and a friend suggested that I meet Evan Swensen (PublicationConsultants) who was LDS (and would understand that element of the story) and who might help me pull together some of the final pieces I needed there in Alaska. After going over the options with Evan, I finally decided to self publish but with Evan’s professional design and initial printing, etc. consulting services, He was a great help.

Q: Who reads your work in progress?

A: In truth, at various stages several different people read drafts of Hearts of Courage and each provided valuable suggestions, editing, etc but as I got closer and closer to a final product the really critical proofing, editing, smoothing, etc. was by my wife, Bonnie. With each draft of each chapter (and there were lots) it keep getting better.

Q: Who made a difference in the book’s quality?

A) Bonnie’s input made a big difference, B) the art by Terry Pyles is an exceptional help, as was that by David Draper and David Rubin and C) the photography both the historical and especially the recent work of Chip Porter really helped to tell the story.

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

A: I don’t think there was ever a definitive first draft, just a continuously evolving draft over about four years (note: this was a part time project).

Q: Do you have any advice for new authors?

A: For nonfiction the research and finding the right illustrations is a long and tedious effort and then the writing, proofing and rewriting is further long and hard work. That said, an end product of which you (In my case, me and my wife) can be proud….and one which is such a wonderful legacy for my parents, Joseph and Alta Tippets….makes it all worth while.

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

About the Author: John Tippets was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1941. In 1947, the family moved to the Washington, D.C. area where John graduated from Northwestern High School (Hyattsville, MD) in 1959. He attended Brigham Young University, then served two years (1960-62) as a Mormon missionary in Eastern Canada.
John earned his B.A. and M.B.A degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles. While still in college, he started a career in aviation, checking bags for United Airlines, then working summer jobs with the FAA in Alaska and with the CAB in Washington, D.C. In 1966, he joined American Airlines as a part-timer in air freight and, subsequently, worked forty-two years associated with AMR in a variety of management and executive roles. For the final seventeen years prior to his retirement in 2008, he was the President & CEO of the American Airlines Federal Credit Union.
Publishing “Hearts of Courage” in 2008, John now does PowerPoint presentations of the story for interested groups, book signings, and other events. You can visit John Tippets’ website at www.JohnTippets.com.

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This article was written by Rebecca

Rebecca is a book coach and editor. She guides aspiring writers, coaches, entrepreneurs and speakers to become self-published authors so they share their expertise, knowledge and passion. Thinking about writing a book? Contact her today to start writing your book.

One thought on “Hearts of Courage – author interview – John Tippets”

  1. Candace,
    Could you email this to me….I would like to forward it to my wife and my kids.
    Thanks for doing this for Hearts of Courage.

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