Lt Col Mark E. Berent, USAF (Ret), was born in Minneapolis, graduated from Cretin High School in St. Paul, and Arizona State University with a BSME.
Berent began his Air Force career as an enlisted man then pilot training at Columbus and Laredo. He served three combat tours, completing 452 combat sorties, first in the F-100 at Bien Hoa then the F-4 at Ubon. He spent two years in Cambodia flying things with propellers and, through a fluke, ran the air war for a few weeks.
He has logged over 4300 hours of flying time, 1084 of those in combat missions in the F-100, F-4, C-47 and U-10 over South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He has flown 30 different aircraft.
His decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with twenty-four oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Cambodian Divisional Medal, and numerous Vietnam Campaign ribbons. He also earned US Special Forces and Cambodian jump wings.
Since retirement, he established international operations for the sale of spares for combat aircraft; flew foreign aircraft such as the Swedish Viggen and RAF Jaguar and Hawk; wrote numerous articles for the Air Force Magazine; and was a pilot/reporter for the Asian Defense Journal. He wrote five Vietnam airwar novels (Rolling Thunder, see www.markberent.com). Recently flew his T-6 in airshows.
What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write is my desire to let readers know what really went on during the Vietnam war. Combat was not only in the trenches and in the air, it went on in both the Pentagon and the White House as to how the war should be conducted.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am a mixture of quote seat-of-the-pants writer, “and an outliner. I sometimes create character sketches both before and during my writing. It is amazing though, that sometimes a character takes on a life of its own once I start writing. Then I just follow that character as he or she develops. Sometimes it is as if I am seeing a movie just behind my eyes.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I certainly do listen to my characters. But, no, I do not talk to them.
What advice would you give other writers?
Never, never give up. You’ve got to let the grass grow. In other words, don’t in the event all sorts of excuses to not sit down and write. Mow the lawn some other time, clean out the garage some other time, arrange your closet some other time, etc.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
It was decided for me. Years back an agent from New York, Ethan Ellenberg, called me and said I should write a novel about the Vietnam air war. My name had been given to him by a mediced-out Special Forces man who had read many of my articles about the war in various magazines.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As I understand it, e-books are taking a huge bite out of paper printed books.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Non-fiction combat articles, Historical fiction about war and politics.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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