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Member Spotlight: John Bluck

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Feb. 1, 2015

Member Spotlight: John Bluck
By Lani Longshore Bluck has a communications degree and experience as a journalist, cameraman and documentary maker. His entire career has been about stories. So what's it like being a novelist? "Fiction is hard. I'm more attuned to presenting facts."

The facts about John's career are worthy of a novel. Drafted during the Vietnam War, he became an Army journalist. He covered Watergate and its aftermath as a cameraman for ABC affiliate WMAL-TV (John was part of the camera pool that filmed Nixon's letter of resignation being delivered). After working at ABC network radio station WMAL-AM as an engineer playing records and making commercials, NASA hired him following a job interview in a Washington, D.C. tavern.

He worked at NASA's Lewis Research Center (now Glenn) in Cleveland. He produced weekly half-hour TV shows aired by 50-60 PBS stations, some during prime time, others for daytime educational time slots. Several of his 13-week series were translated into many languages by the United States Information Agency (USIA) and broadcast worldwide. John transferred to NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA, where he ran the imaging technology branch. Then he became a NASA public affairs officer.

John retired in 2008 but continued writing. He had stories to tell and the confidence to put the words on paper. "I knew how to write scripts, and since I was a cameraman I had a good sense of images." His time in radio also helped him create a world on paper. "Your imagination is so powerful, but it needs to be triggered."

John said he methodically plotted his first novel, The Ship Finder, a science fiction adventure. "I'm more of a formula writer, because that's what you do with press releases." He self-published The Ship Finder but plans to look for an agent and a traditional publisher for the sequel.

Mysteries also appeal to John, both as an exercise in a different writing formula and because he covered crime as a cameraman. If he ever finds extra time, he will write a memoir about his experiences at NASA.

John shared the writing advice that works for him: "I like to get a good structure down first, then fine tune - or do major surgery - later." He uses his experience creating documentaries when he edits. "Everything always points back to the theme. You have to have a clear vision."


This article was first published in Write Around The Valley, the newsletter of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch and is used with the permission of the club and Lani Longshore.

Photo of John Bluck is by Lani Longshore, and is used here with her permission.



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