Do you do a lot of research before writing your books?
With my book How to Win a Gunfight, I took my experiences as a firearms instructor, added what I had learned over the years from people I've known in Special Forces, police officers, and personal experience, and wrote the book.
When writing the John Pilgrim books, I did a lot of research into Nazi militaria and history.
For Pilgrim's Banner, I spent a lot of time in the Imperial War Museum in London, finding out about the Blood Banner, the Blutfahne, that was carried at Hitler's side by his standard bearer, Jakob Grimminger, who makes a couple of fleeting appearances in the book.
You can see Grimminger standing on the right with the Blood Banner in the picture below.
Why does Sally use a .45? Isn't this too big a gun for a woman to handle?
She's an experienced shooter, and she can handle the recoil of a .45 easily. In fact, there's less felt recoil from a .45 than there is from a .40 caliber.
She also has a custom Browning Hi-Power in 9mm, made for her by Mickey Boniface, the resident gunsmith at the Pilgrim shooting school (see Pilgrim's Banner).
Are there any more books planned?
Yes there are. Right now, I'm working on several John and Sally Pilgrim stories, and one of them, Pilgrim's Luger, will have Pilgrim buying an old Luger pistol in a yard sale in Las Vegas, that turns out to be one of the long-lost .45 caliber pistols used in the 1907 US Army tests.
Another story, still in the planning stages, will have Pilgrim and Sally involved in a siege at their shooting school with a gang of Mexican drug smugglers.
Sally Pilgrim seems to be much more of a real-life character than many other fictional heroines. Did you do this on purpose?
Very much so. In today's world, women in fiction deserve better than just being 'arm candy' for the hero, or helpless blonde bimbos. That's why I wrote Sally as a real woman, who can shoot as well as (and sometimes better than) her husband, John.
How did you start your writing career?
In the 1970s, in London, I was running a market stall selling military collectibles. As I was recognized as somewhat of an expert on US Army uniforms and insignia, I was asked to contribute an article on WW2 divisional shoulder patches to a collector magazine. This was printed, and shortly afterwards, I was asked to write for a British shooting magazine. The rest is history ...
Is your fictional character, John Pilgrim, based on a real person?
John Pilgrim is certainly not based on me! For a start, he's younger, better looking, and he sees more action in a week than I could handle in a lifetime!
On the other hand, his experiences as a militaria dealer and a shooting instructor do mirror my experience in these fields, but as for the rest, he came from my imagination.
Your wife is also a shooter - is Sally Pilgrim based on her?
When she was a little girl, her older brother used to call her 'Long Tall Sally', so that gave me the idea for the character's name.
I've also used her as a role model for Sally's shooting exploits. The big gunfight scene in Pilgrim's Banner was very carefully choreographed between us, and Vannessa's input on the women's shooting class that takes place in the book was invaluable.
Pilgrim has a cat, Jinks, in 'Snides'. Did she go to Arizona too?
No, Jinks stayed in London with Pilgrim's dad, Arthur. She'll probably make a reappearance sometime. In real life, Jinks is the tabby who shares (and seems to rule) our home in Scottsdale. Jinks really does believe in the old saying that "Dogs have masters, but cats have staff."
In 'Snides' you tell about the British Free Corps. Did they really wear German uniforms?
Yes, and I've attached a photo of the sleeve of a BFC uniform below.
The uniform was borrowed from a group who reenact as members of the British Free Corps in military shows here in the USA.
The BFC was recruited from British POWs in German prison camps. They were part of the Waffen-SS, although their true value was really only as propaganda tools.
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