Welcome to JoeBuff.Com, the Cyberspace Home of
national bestselling author Joe Buff.
So Exactly Who Am I?
Greetings! Thank you for visiting my website and reading my books. Please contact me at
(or click on the
CONTACT button on this web site) and let me know what you think. I welcome all questions, comments, and feedback!
by Joe Buff
Greetings! Thank you for visiting my website and reading my books. Please contact me at readermail@JoeBuff.com (or click on the CONTACT button on this web site) and let me know what you think. I welcome all questions, comments, and feedback!
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Here I am at the periscope of the USS MIAMI, SSN-755, a Los Angeles-class nuclear powered fast-attack sub -- at periscope depth, “somewhere in the North Atlantic.”
I was at sea on the MIAMI for four days, got to steer at
flank speed at operating depth (DATA CLASSIFIED) and everything, and the
food was great!
Here is a personal "brain dump" in case you're curious about who I am, what my life is like, and how/why I came to be writing novels about military suspense.
I was born and grew up in New York City and now I've just turned age 50.
My wife is Sheila Buff, a full-time professional writer of books and magazine articles on wellness and nutrition, and nature and hiking, gardening, and birdwatching. Sheila's recent credits include co-authoring with Dr. Robert Atkins his bestseller DR. ATKINS' AGE-DEFYING DIET. We have no children and one dog named Dina. You can see photos of Sheila and Dina below, here.
People sometimes ask if I write full-time, or have a "day job." The answer is YES! I am a full-time professional writer -- writing IS my day job. And a delightful day job indeed, as you'll read more below. I have an office in my house, and have a daily "commute" of about 75' from making coffee in the kitchen to sitting down at my laptop in my office.
In case you're curious, here is data on my high school, college, and grad school attended (all my major awards, scholarships, and fellowships are mentioned further below):
Far Rockaway High School, Far Rockaway, Queens, NYC -- my home town.
NYU, 1973, bachelor of arts in math, with official minor in philosophy.
MIT, 1977, master of science in mathematics.
The summer between college and grad school, 1973, I was a paid intern at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. This historic facility helped work on the Manhattan Project, and during the 1970s' "middle Cold War" era was continuing important efforts in nuclear physics and other science. I got to enter the containments of the lab's two research nuclear reactors, and learned a lot about nuclear physics and nuclear energy. I also learned about nuclear safety and nuclear decontamination procedures. This included a detailed briefing and analysis about an accident at an Army research reactor in which three men were killed and some radiation was released. While at Argonne I also got to see what was at the time the world's biggest particle-detector bubble chamber, and the world's first device built to try to detect gravity waves, and toured the nearby Fermi Accelerator Lab, which at that time (as I recall) had the largest particle accelerator in the world -- an engineering and scientific marvel! All this proved invaluable years later when I began to write about nuclear submarines and tactical atomic war.
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Here is my wife Sheila, and our dog Dina (with Dina's summer haircut), in the driveway of our house. Sheila is a professional writer, on health and wellness, birdwatching, etc.
Sheila and I first met in college thirty years ago!
Before I became a writer, I spent twenty years as an actuary (financial risk analyst), working mainly on investment risk control and strategic planning for insurance companies. Employers included Guardian Life, Morgan Stanley, Towers Perrin (a top 10 global management consulting firm where I made partner) and Merrill Lynch. I changed careers to break in as a full-time writer beginning in 1997.
I belong to these Navy-related (and other) organizations:
Life Member, Naval Submarine League Life Member, Navy League of the United States Life Member, Naval War College Foundation, and Member of NWC Heritage Society Life Member, U.S. Naval Institute Member, Society for Risk Analysis (a non-partisan international scholarly body) Life Member, Civil Engineer Corp/Seabees Historical Foundation Honorary Life Associate Member, Navy Seabee Veterans of America Life Associate Member, United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI or SubVets for short) Life Companion of the Naval Order of the United States Military Writers Society of America
At various times in my life, I won these awards and prizes:
Two non-fiction papers written for a professional military journal, THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, have each received Annual Literary Awards from the Naval Submarine League. These articles, and more, can be seen posted elsewhere on my web site. (These non-fiction articles cover some of my creative technical and tactical concepts, based on extensive research and disciplined scientific principles, that form part of the story lines of SEAS OF CRISIS, STRAITS OF POWER, TIDAL RIP and my previous novels: CRUSH DEPTH, THUNDER IN THE DEEP, and DEEP SOUND CHANNEL.)
While a student, when younger, I also received these academic achievement awards:
Westinghouse Science Contest, shared Third Place among top awardees, 1970, at age 15. (Now this is called the Intel Science Contest, by the way.)
During college: Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with Pi Mu Epsilon & NYU Honors in mathematics
National Science Foundation Fellowship, 1973, provided full tuition and living stipend for attending graduate school. (Thank you, NSF!!!)
Do I have any hobbies? The answer again is YES:
I'm an avid reader on non-fiction naval history, military biography, and science and technology, and naval suspense novels since I was a child. Now to relax I'm particularly interested in reading non-fiction and novels about the Age of Fighting Sail (i.e., Napoleonic War era such as Aubrey-Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian), as a form of "busman's holiday" from my work on modern and future naval warfare. I actively attend luncheons and conferences of the naval organizations to which I belong, and am constantly interested in the development of science and technology in general and of military strategy and world affairs in particular.
My other hobbies include hiking, nature, and reading historical mysteries, as well as getting together with friends, and fine dining.
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
This is our dog Dina, age 4. She is mostly German shepherd, with maybe some husky too.
She likes to sleep upside down on an old couch in my office while I'm writing, but she opened her eyes just as my wife took this picture.
Here is an attempt at "the story of my life" written in the third-person voice:
Joe grew up in New York City. His father was an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy before Joe was born, during the late 1940s and the Korean War, and his uncle was a merchant mariner on World War II convoys in the North Atlantic. From this childhood nurturing by family seafaring role models, Joe developed a lifelong interest in naval history and military affairs. Over the years, as a hobby, Joe read literally hundreds of fiction and non-fiction books on war and national defense. Then, once done with school and out in the real world, Joe spent twenty years as a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries -- he worked for several leading firms, mostly on the subject of investment risk control and strategic planning for insurance companies. (Joe is no longer involved in actuarial work, but his training from that as a Risk Analyst is directly relevant to his fiction and non-fiction writings today, about national defense, homeland security, and foreign relations.) At last, in his early forties, Joe's decades-old devotion to reading about naval warfare, biography, and history culminated in him deciding to try his hand at writing -- he had some ideas for stories and they just grew and grew inside him until something simply had to be done!!! He set about learning the writer's craft and the business of publishing as much as he could, every way he could. This quickly taught Joe that to break in professionally requires tremendous amounts of commitment and heart, and tons of time and effort and hard work too. He wrote several papers that were accepted by a professional military journal, about submarine technology and tactics and the future of undersea warfare. Joe quickly gained agent representation (John Talbot Agency), and now SEAS OF CRISIS is his sixth novel.
I also should say that several people on my wife's side of the family served as important role models for me -- as national defense workers and/or Armed Forces veterans, and as sources of encouragement at key points in my writing career. My wife's father was an electrical engineer, who was in the U.S. Army Signals Corps during the Korean War era (but based in the States). He then went on to get a high security clearance and among other things he worked on the avionics for the B-1 Bomber, and on the missile-launch navigation systems for the Ohio-class "boomer" strategic-deterrent subs. Some while after he passed away, my wife's mother remarried: another engineer! My step-father-in-law is a W.W.II Navy veteran who also worked as a civilian during the early Cold War at the Navy Underwater Weapons Laboratory. A very close family friend is a former Navy submariner senior chief, in fast-attacks and boomers. After retiring from the Navy he went into the civilian nuclear power industry -- and I've learned a heck of a lot from him. Additionally, let me mention here that although I was never interviewed by the famous and intimidating Admiral Hyman Rickover, I can truly say I was interviewed (and made the cut successfully) by "the man who interviewed Rickover." Who am I talking about? Glenn T. Seaborg, winner of the Nobel Prize for discovering plutonium, who was chairman of the Westinghouse Science Contest judges committee my year, 1970. What was that interview like? Scary and high-pressure, but in an exciting and stimulating way. I guess you could say I "test and interview well," and I'm a bit of an adrenaline-jockey. (And no, Dr. Seaborg didn't have the front legs of my chair cut short and didn't make me stand in a closet! All you Navy "nucs" out there will know what I mean!)
And if you'd like to understand more on how and why SEAS OF CRISIS, STRAITS OF POWER, TIDAL RIP and CRUSH DEPTH and my previous novels -- and my non-fiction articles and op-ed commentaries -- all came to be written, here it comes:
The "story behind the story" really involves two overlapping "subplots." One was the guidance provided by my literary agent, John Talbot, and by the editors of my books, Katie Hall, Jennifer Sawyer-Fisher, and Mike Shohl. The other involved focused, active research on submarines and Navy SEALs. These activities have been going on concurrently over the last seven-plus years.
Mr. Talbot had the foresight to represent me based on some early fiction writing efforts, plus my first professional credit -- for a non-fiction article about submarines published by a prestigious military journal, THE SUBMARINE REVIEW. So I had an agent before I even had a marketable novel manuscript!!! John and I brainstormed how to come up with a premise for a continuing character series that would be fresh and impactful, expanding the envelope of submarine fiction without duplicating the sorts of things that had already been done. This lead to me developing a story line involving several free-standing full-length novels that each cover one mission or combat patrol of a submarine and its commander during an ongoing all-out war in the foreseeable future.
The enemy was to be an "Axis" -- an alliance of powers with strong industrial and financial resources, possessing prior experience in nuclear weapon research, and benefiting from strong geographic positioning -- who could really give America and our Allies a run for the money. (This became the "Berlin-Boer Axis.") The submarines involved at the heart of the saga were to have realistic weaponry, advanced sensors, and super-strong hull materials that are all carefully researched to be based on true U.S. Navy designs and planning. All the science and nature, oceanography facts and sonar acoustics, weather phenomenon and geography and seafloor terrain, as depicted in my novels, were researched and studied in detail to be as accurate as possible.
Perhaps most important of all, the war was to be "limited tactical nuclear war at sea," a type of combat specifically recognized by the Pentagon -- and from my storyteller's perspective the most scary and violent form of armed conflict that might arise in which submarines and Navy SEALs would be central, and civilization as we know it might have a chance to survive, if the "good guys" prevail.
My research also involved networking with active duty and retired submarine officers and enlisted men in the U.S. Navy, the German Navy (W.W.II era and modern) and the Royal Navy. I spent four days at sea on a Los Angeles-class nuclear powered fast-attack submarine, the USS MIAMI, SSN 755, including manning the helm controls for a total of several hours, submerged at maximum speed and on the surface at night in dense fog. This was an unforgettable experience! I also visited several other submarines, and other Navy ships including the carrier USS CONSTELLATION, for guided tours while in home ports ranging from New London, CT, to San Diego, Ca. I was privileged to tour the fabled Navy SEAL training compound in Coronado, CA, and also visited the Navy Amphibious Warfare Base in Norfolk, VA, where I spoke with many SEALs and observed demonstrations of their weapons, their small boat tactics, and their combat aircraft and helicopters. Also unforgettable! I am a regular attendee at conferences of the Naval Submarine League, the Naval War College, the Navy League of the U.S., and the U.S. Naval Institute, and I read their publications avidly. I have made a number of dear friends the last few years through these activities. Several current or former submariners serve as formal critiquers of each manuscript as I write my novels, so as to assure the maximum authenticity and realism. Constant interaction with real-world members of the military also allows me to avoid stereotypes and create fictional characters which are original yet true to form to the behaviors, personalities, and values found among our serving armed forces.
I felt especially honored to be invited to fly out by Navy helicopter to the amphibious warfare helicopter carrier USS IWO JIMA during New York City's Fleet Week 2002. This was the first Fleet Week in NYC since the 9/11/01 attack. Standing on the IWO JIMA's flight deck with her Sailors and Marines, rendering honors to Ground Zero (where a huge American flag was displayed on the side of a still-damaged building) was one of the most powerful emotional experiences of my life!
I can think of no better way to honor our men and women in uniform, and to help our country and our allies to be best prepared -- now and in the future -- for a strong national defense and a secure homeland, than to continue writing the kind of stories I write. I hope that you enjoy reading them, and that you come away with some things to really think about!
.......Yours truly, Joe Buff
JoeBuff.Com / Joe Buff Inc.
Joe Buff, President
Dutchess County, New York