First allow me to say thank you Mr. Dye for participating in this series of Author Interviews for my Local Voices segment on the Patch.com. It is a great honor! Most of my readers will know you from your acting career with such credits under your belt as “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers.”
What many of them may not know is that you are also a prolific writer with several published titles to your name. That is what I am most interested in, learning about you as not only an actor but also as a writer.
1. What is your full name and please tell us a little about yourself. I know you are a veteran, a combat veteran? What books you’ve written?
DALE ADAM DYE was born October 8, 1944 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He graduated as a cadet officer from Missouri Military Academy but there was no money for college so he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January 1964. He served in Vietnam in 1965 and 1967 through 1970 surviving 31 major combat operations. He emerged from Southeast Asia highly decorated including the Bronze Star with V for Valor and three Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in combat. He spent 13 years as an enlisted Marine, rising to the rank of Master Sergeant before he was chosen to attend Officer Candidate School. Appointed a Warrant Officer in 1976, he later converted his commission and was a Captain when he was sent to Beirut, Lebanon with the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in 1982-83. He served in a variety of assignments around the world and along the way managed to graduate with a BA degree in English Literature from the University of Maryland.
DYE worked for a year at “Soldier of Fortune” Magazine when he finally decided to retire in 1984. He spent time in Central America, reporting and training troops in guerrilla warfare techniques in El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica before leaving the magazine in 1985 and heading for Hollywood. He founded the leading military consultancy to motion pictures and television shortly thereafter and his WARRIORS, INC. firm has worked on more than fifty movies and TV shows including several Academy Award and Emmy winning productions. DYE is a published novelist, screenwriter and director. He is also a consummate character actor with appearances in many films and television productions.
His published novels include “Run Between The Raindrops,” “Platoon” (novelization of Oliver Stone’s film script), “Outrage,” “Conduct Unbecoming,” “Duty and Dishonor,” “Code Word: Geronimo” (a graphic novel), “Laos File,” (Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal winner), and “Peleliu File.”
2. Please tell us about the body of your work and how does that relate to your writing? Has being an actor helped you in your writing?
We’ve just listed my books. If by “body of work” you mean my film and TV work as a screenwriter, director, consultant and actor, there’s just too much at this point to mention here. Interested folks can look it all up on IMDb.com or go to my website at www.warriorsinc.com for a full run-down.
I’m not sure if being an actor has helped my writing or the other way around. As an actor, I’ve certainly gained some valuable insights about things like dramatic structure; pacing, character development and voice that have all improved my writing. As a writer I’ve been blessed with a vivid imagination, a glib hand with language and an eye for detail. In the end it’s all about being a good, enticing and captivating story-teller. Whether you’re doing that through the written word or performance on screen, the business of telling or interpreting an interesting, engaging story is the same.
3. What is one thing you would like your readers to know about you?
Well, two things, I guess. My stories are mostly military-oriented and they are based on real-world experiences of one kind or another. Secondly, I have an agenda in my work whether it’s writing, filmmaking or acting and that’s to shine some long overdue positive light on our men and women in uniform. I’m out to correct some misconceptions about professional military people and destroy some of the negative stereotypes that have hung around in popular media since Vietnam.
4. When did you know that you wanted to become a writer, or that you had become a writer?
I come from a family of great story-tellers and the first fascinating things I can remember hearing as a kid were bawdy jokes or booze-fueled war stories from World War II and Korea vets. There was something about listening to those guys swap lies and compare experiences that just fired some sort of genetic trigger in me. I knew I wanted to tell stories. I didn’t know how to do that but I was convinced I should and would one day. I’ve also always been an avid reader; one of those guys who can easily and willingly completely immerse himself in a good book by a captivating author. I love language and get a real kick out of playing with it, so writing was a natural creative pursuit for me.
5. In your writing style and methods, what is your greatest strength?
I have a genuine, no-nonsense work ethic when it comes to writing. Once I decide to write, whether it’s a screenplay, a book, an article or anything else in that vein, I look at it as a mission and I work at it regularly without fail. Even if it’s only a sentence or two or a single paragraph, I write on the project religiously at least once a day. I’m told one of my greatest strengths as a writer is dialogue. I know my character’s voice and I write in that voice using appropriate grammar and vocabulary which makes my dialogue ring true to readers or listeners.
6. How would you describe your creative process? Do you approach it like a 9 to 5 job or does it just come naturally to you?
My response to the previous question will give you some insight to this one in terms of creative process. That said, I think it does come naturally to me. Only very rarely does writing seem like work and that’s usually when I’m writing something for pay that I really don’t want to do or working on something that doesn’t hold my interest. I’ve always found – particularly in writing fiction – that the story and characters take over from me at some stage of the process. I can’t describe it accurately because I really don’t understand it but I find that at a certain point in writing a novel, there’s very little cognitive thinking going on and the story just seems to unfold in front of me as I pound on the keyboard. It’s as if the character just jumps up off the page and says “OK, here’s what happens next. Now describe it.” Might be some kind of voodoo or weird literary mojo but it works for me.
7. What are the biggest obstacles you find to creativity, in writing?
The biggest obstacle in writing is failing to do so. If you’re motivated to write, learn to use language creatively and practice at it. Don’t be afraid to copy your favorite writer’s style as a starting point until your own voice develops. On the other hand, if it turns out to be an agonizing labor for you, drop the idea. Life is too short to suffer like that. I believe we are all born with a certain creative bent that provides enormous satisfaction in our lives. Sometimes that comes from writing; sometimes it comes from hobbies or handicrafts. There’s nothing sacred about writing. Some people can do it and others can’t.
8. What is your next project? Is it a novel?
I’m working on a new Shake Davis/File novel to continue the very popular series that began with “Laos File” and “Peleliu File.” As an actor, I’m getting ready to reprise my role in the TNT sci-fi series “Falling Skies” where I play a leader of human resistance to an alien invasion of earth. We’re shooting right now in Vancouver. As a writer/director, I’m preparing a new feature film that I’ll be shooting in Belgium this spring. It’s a World War II/82nd Airborne Division story called “No Better Place To Die.”
9. Tell us more about the work you do with (Veterans or other groups or charities?) and how can our readers find out more about your efforts and ways we can help out?
I’m a big supporter of our active military and I spend a lot of time each year as an invited guest and speaker at bases around the country. Naturally, many of those are Marine bases but the Army and Navy also keep me fairly high on their lists. I do a lot of work for the Wounded Warriors Project and lend what time I can afford to organizations such as the VFW and American Legion. In fact, the American Legion is honoring me with the 2012 National Commander’s Public Relations Award this February in Washington, DC.
10. How can our readers find out more about your writing? Are your books available as eBooks? Is it possible to order a signed copy? How do we do that?
All of my current work is available through Amazon.com or through www.warriorspublishing.com. The books are available for e-readers of most kinds. If you order a book through Warriors Publishing Group, I’ll be glad to personalize it and add my signature. Lots more information and links to other features can be found at www.warriorsinc.com.
Well, we all appreciate your time Dale! Thank you so much for all that you have done to help me in my efforts to learn about screenwriting and the industry in general. I am a big fan of your work, which I know for a fact is very well respected throughout the military community. It is my hope that perhaps we can get another chance to hear from you after you finish with your current projects. I for one am very excited to see both the television series and the new movie!
Again, thank you Dale!
And thank you to our readers.
Everybody, please feel free to join me on facebook!
Steve Newman, Author - "The Night Eagles Soared"