HITTING SHELVES #21: The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

The Last Pilot

The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock comes out today!

It’s a deceptive novel: a book about flying that is actually about fatherhood; a book about the Space Race whose protagonist is a dropout from the program; a book about an iconic period in American history by an author born in England; a book about technological triumph that hides a family tragedy. More than any other account of our first adventures in space, The Last Pilot puts a sympathetic face on the domestic hardships behind the scenes.

We asked the author one question.

How are you celebrating the publication of The Last Pilot?

Benjamin Johncock
Benjamin Johncock

I wasn’t expecting today to be so emotional. My wife and I celebrated when we got the book deal, over a year ago, and then she threw a surprise party for me at the beginning of the summer. But, but, well; there it is. It crept up on me over coffee and Novel 2 this morning. It’s been a long way, but we’re here, to quote Al Shepard. What an extraordinary privilege it is to be published. My wife has just messaged me to say she’s bought champagne, steaks, and she’s lighting a fire in the garden where we’ll eat later, when the kids are asleep. We’re going to raise a glass to a few people tonight, because I’d rather give thanks than celebrate. The list is large for the road was long. Someone once told me that thanksgiving gives buoyancy for the inevitable tough times—of which I’m sure there will be plenty. If you ask me, self-celebration leads to self-elevation, which leads to becoming an a-hole. And here’s the thing: as soon as you start to think you’re great, the needle on future prose goes down. Self-doubt is your friend. No writer should ever lose the fear of being crap. I certainly don’t intend to. But tonight, we’ll take a moment, in the quiet, under the stars, together.

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