Frequently Asked Questions

We have collected the questions most often asked by Joe Weber’s readers. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, e-mail Joe at

I received a copy of Defcon-One for Christmas, 2002, (I understand it was published in 1989).  On February 1, 2003, I watched the space shuttle Columbia disaster unfold exactly as you had written it in chapter 12 of Defcon-One.  The parallel was astonishing.  How did you write about something in 1989 that actually happened in 2003?
COINCIDENCE!  The challenge for any good techno-thriller author is to attempt to predict future events. Of course, I always hope the events I write about don’t become reality.  When they do, it is as unnerving for me as it is for my readers.  In this case, unfortunately, my “what-if” scenario became a real tragedy.

How did you get started in your writing career?
After leaving the Marine Corps in 1975, I resumed my career as a commercial pilot. I had always been interested in writing, so I started carrying a yellow legal pad and a few pencils in my flight bag. In 1987, I started my first novel (on a yellow legal pad) with a self-imposed deadline of one year to finish the project. I was fortunate to find an agent, and Presidio Press published Defcon-One in 1989.

Are the characters in your books people you have actually known?
To some degree they are. Most of my characters are a composite of a number of people I have known. A few of them are totally fictitious.

Do you network with other techno-thriller authors?
Yes. When I was starting my writing career, Tom Clancy gave me some sage advice. Tom, as well as W.E.B. Griffin and others have been kind enough to endorse my books.

Two of your books were about Vietnam. Isn’t this a deviation from your usual genre?
Yes, it is. As a Naval Aviator, Rules of Engagement and Targets of Opportunity were my way of venting about the politics of the Vietnam War.

How do you research your books?
I spend at least two hours a day reading research material from a number of sources. In addition, I network with people who are currently in the military or intelligence communities.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes about nine months to a year before I am ready for the publisher to look at the manuscript. Once the publisher gets involved, it’s another nine months to a year before the readers see it in the stores.

How can I get my copies of your books autographed?
You can e-mail me at and request an autograph. I will be happy to send you a bookplate for your book.

Do you answer your fan mail?
Absolutely! One of the most rewarding things about writing is getting feedback from my readers. I take the time to answer e-mail and letters personally.

What is your typical day like?
As I said earlier, I spend about two hours each morning on research and administrative responsibilities. I break for lunch, then spend about four to five hours writing.

How has your military background influenced your writing?
I don’t think I could adequately bring the visceral feeling of flying off an aircraft carrier or air-to-air combat to the reader if I hadn’t done it. If you’ve never yanked and banked in a high performance military jet, it’s hard to describe how it really feels. I hope my military background allows me to put my readers inside the cockpit with my characters.

What’s the scariest moment you ever had while flying?
There have been several "character building" incidents in my flying career. Most pilots will tell you that flying is many hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. Some of my most terrifying moments happened while flying from the deck of an aircraft carrier. During my initial carrier qualification on the USS Lexington, my twin-engine T-2C Buckeye jet suffered an engine fire. A year later, while completing a touch-and-go landing aboard Lexington, my TA-4J Skyhawk blew a tire that twisted the lower section of the landing gear. As I added full power and rotated off the flight deck, the Air Boss in Pri-Fly (the control tower on a carrier) warned me not to raise my landing gear. If the damaged gear jammed in the up position, bad things could happen. I was instructed to return to Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. Flying lower than normal while dragging the landing gear in the breeze burned tons of fuel. I arrived over the air station with six to seven minutes of fuel left. Needless to say, I was happy that I didn’t have to eject.

How do you react to critical reviews of your work?
I love all the good reviews! When I get a bad review, I try to learn something from it.

I was amazed at how closely the plot in Primary Target paralleled the events of September 11. How did you so accurately predict that?
I have received many e-mails from readers asking the same question. Primary Target was published in 1999, long before the events of September 11. When I developed the plot I asked myself - if I were a terrorist, how would I attack the 'infidels?'

It's unusual for a techno-thriller author to include strong female characters. Can you explain?
I suppose it comes from being around strong women. I think it's very appropriate for women to play a strong role in military fiction, just as they do in the real world.


"Joe Weber writes sensational books. The pace never slows, and, as his readers well know, Weber never guarantees a happy ending."
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