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Member Spotlight: Tom Dunkel

author Tom Dunkel and an image of his book White Knights in the Black Orchestra

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Reading may be fundamental, but writing is fundamental-er, the brick-and-mortar of communication across different media, different cultures, across space and time. As a nonfiction author, writing is the perfect vehicle to both indulge one’s curiosity and exercise creativity.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Whenever the engine sputters on a piece of writing, a dashboard warning light goes on: Pull over and do more research. The additional raw material almost always lights my way out of the box canyon of writer’s block.

What is your favorite time to write? Don’t know if it’s my peculiar biorhythms or the absence of distractions, but I tend to crank best late at night – even through the night. I’ve watched more suns come up than a dairy farmer.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? I didn’t receive this personally, but a line attributed to Dorothy Parker (and others) has stuck with me: “Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat of a chair.” Or as baseball exec Branch Rickey once said, “Luck is the residue of design.” Writing (and re-writing) is more perspiration than inspiration. It’s not an express bus you can wait for and hop on. More like a bike you’ve gotta keep pedaling; day in, day out.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Not sure “excites” is the right word, but because of the explosion of alternative media and disinformation the need has never been greater for writers to produce quality fiction and nonfiction. I don’t believe in an endless onward-and-upward, forward march of mankind and technology. The Metaverse creeps me out. Heaven help us if books and the printed word become passe.

Tom Dunkel’s White Knights in the Black Orchestra: The Extraordinary Story of the Germans Who Resisted Hitler is out now with Hachette Books.