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Readers like this are why I keep writing

Every now and then, I get a reader email that makes my entire month.

I’ve talked before about where I get the motivation to write.

For me, it’s about serving readers as well as possible, by creating the most detailed sci-fi worlds I can.

By creating a fun escape from reality, with characters as believable and as relatable as I can make them.

Well, recently, I got an email from Robby, a retired flight engineer who served with the Royal Australian Air Force for 14 years.

“Hi Scott

I have been reading your books for a long time. I am a slow reader, and a busy retired flight engineer. I live in country South Australia about an hours drive each way to anywhere. While listening to your books I sometimes need the GPS to work out where I am. As I regularly get lost in the story imagining I am there with whoever the crew is at the time.

I can’t express how proud reading that me feel.

It’s because I’ve had that exact same experience.

I love audiobooks, and I know what it’s like to get this lost in a sci-fi story.

In our day-to-day grind, it’s easy for writers to forget why we do what we do.

But the reminder that my work is about creating experiences like this for readers put a HUGE smile on my face.

“I usually buy your books and the audio book at the same time if can. I physically read when I need to be quiet, ie in public places or when in the car with others driving. When I am driving on my own I listen to Mark Boyett reading your books his character voices come back when I am reading on my own.

I started my apprenticeship as an electronics technician the day they landed on the moon. I have always dreamed about space travel. But we seem to have stopped after we went to the moon. I did however spend a wonderful 14 years flying as a flight engineer for the RAAF.

After reading Robby’s email, I couldn’t stop talking about it.

I shared it with family and friends, and now I’m sharing it with you.

The reason it resonated so much with me is because Robby is exactly the sort of person I write about.

The sort of person who sacrifices to serve and protect others.

The sort of person who dreams big, and who places no limits on what is possible.

The idea that my books speak to someone like Robby will keep me writing for many years to come.

I’m honored to have him as my reader, and to have the opportunity to share his story with you.

Above is one of the planes Robby flew in as a flight engineer with the Royal Australian Air Force. It’s a DHC4 Caribou, capable of transporting 6600 pounds of cargo for 100 miles.

As flight engineer, Robby was mainly responsible for its two Pratt and Whitney R2000s – twin-row, 14-cylinder, supercharged radial engines.

The DHC4 Caribou has the ability to land and take off from a runway not much bigger than a football field. It saw duty in Vietnam.

Below is a photo of Robby and his wife, Carol, on vacation in Rarotonga.

Even in retirement, Robby is busy, and he’s still improving the lives of those in his community.

Currently he’s President of the Owen Lawn Bowls Club and Secretary/Treasurer of the Owen Men’s Shed.

Thank you, Robby, for supporting my writing and for sharing your experiences with me.

It means more than I can say.

Note from the future: I received Robby’s email and wrote this before the coronavirus hit. Since then, I’ve checked in with Robby and am glad to report he’s doing well, hunkering down and staying safe with his wife in South Australia.


  1. Joe Wilson says:

    I understand Robby’s comments. I became entranced with science fiction about the age of 10 and have been an avid reader ever since now that I am in my 70’s. When I was an Army helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam, I always had softback scifi books in my helmet bag to read whenever we were between missions, I did not have a hiatus even after becoming a federal Special Agent, getting married and having four children with all their activities and many times working around the clock. Scifi allowed me to relax and wonder if we humans would ever be able to have peace and tranquility while at the same time seeing that even 500-1000 years in the future humans will have similar problems, although with greater tecnology, than today.

    1. scottplots says:

      Hey Joe, thank you for sharing this. It seems a lot of my readers have similar stories. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from readers talking about how much books have gotten them through, civilian and veteran alike. As an author it’s pretty incredible to hear all these stories. It gives my work a lot of meaning to know I might be contributing to them in some small way.

      I think you’re spot on about our future. We’ll have problems, they’ll just be different problems, and we’ll have to come up with new ways to contend with them. I have a lot of faith in our ability to continue innovating and overcoming.

  2. Meenaz says:

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful person‘a story with us. An example to follow for many of us.
    Stay well, stay safe, Scott.

    From Barcelona, Spain.

    1. Scott Bartlett says:

      Hey Meenaz, I couldn’t agree more. I hope you’re staying safe as well. I didn’t realize you’re in Spain. Wishing you all my best.

  3. Patti DeLang says:

    Thanks for telling us about Robby! I can relate. I found SF in It High, say at age 13 or 14 (ca 1968) and have been reading it ever since. And, like Robby, I generally carried a paperback in my purse in case of boredom. I retired 10 years ago from the Vermont Air National Guard (US), but as enlisted. Stay safe, and keep writing, please!

    1. Scott Bartlett says:

      Hey Patti, thank you for your comment. Same to you – all my best. 🙂

  4. Pat says:

    Thanks for telling us about Robby! I can relate. I found SF in It High, say at age 13 or 14 (ca 1968) and have been reading it ever since. And, like Robby, I generally carried a paperback in my purse in case of boredom. I retired 10 years ago from the Vermont Air National Guard (US), but as enlisted. Stay safe, and keep writing, please!

    1. Scott Bartlett says:

      Very cool, Pat! It was my pleasure to share Robby’s story. I hope you’re staying safe as well. I am holed up and writing away!

  5. Luke Lofgren says:

    Thanks for sharing this; I think the range is more like 1600 miles on that plane, not 100. 🙂

  6. Scott Bartlett says:

    Hey Luke, thank you for your comment! I hope you’re keeping safe.

    Robby read your comment too and sent this along to share with you:

    “6600 pounds of cargo for 100miles is the max payload bit only for a short distance. The aircraft can carry 4800 pound of fuel.

    Max distance is 1400 miles with 1800 pounds of cargo. approximately 7 hours. no hostie, no toilets basic air conditioning no pressurisation. you might get a cup of coffee if the Flight Engineer has a thermos. The rag seats are less comfortable than sitting on the floor. Plenty of time to read though.


  7. Chris Henderson says:

    Wow, I think I have everyone beat! I began reading well before my peers, and was complaining about having nothing left to read when I was about 5 1/2 years old. I was reading at the 2nd to 3rd grade level then. My Nana wanted me to quit kvetching, so she handed me an Ace Double. I was hooked. Still am, 62 years later. Thank you for keeping my habit happy, Scott.

    1. Scott Bartlett says:

      Hey Chris, three cheers for your Nana! That’s impressive that you were out of things to read at 5!

      1. Chris Henderson says:

        Sadly, the biggest problem was the public library. They had a very small children’s section, and refused to check out books from any other section to a little kid. I even dragged the biggest encyclopedia volume I could find over to the librarian, read to her, and noted some incorrect punctuation, but she still refused. Ever since, I have done my best to addict more children and adults to reading, especially science fiction. Science fiction told us decades ago pandemics would happen, and why, and how we would respond (poorly).

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