Steve Snyder on the true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth

SHOT DOWN received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Steve Snyder.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth. It was published on August 15, 2014

What’s the book’s first line? 

“The bursting of the Focke-Wulf’s 20 mm cannons around our ship was the first indication that we had been singled out.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

An Amazon Best Seller and winner of 20 national book awards, SHOT DOWN is set within the framework of World War II and the air war over Europe. It recounts the dramatic experiences of each member of a ten man B-17 bomber crew after their plane, piloted by my father, was knocked out of the sky by German fighters over Belgium in 1944.  Some men died. Some were captured and became prisoners of war.  Some evaded capture and were missing in action for months before making it back to England. Their individual stories and those of the courageous Belgian people who risked their lives to help members of the crew are all different and all remarkable. Enhancing the feeling of “being there” are more than 200 time period photographs interspersed throughout the hardcover book.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

After I retired from VSP (Vision Service Plan) in 2009, I had the time to go through all the material my parents had kept from the war years with the most significant being the many letters that my father had written to my mother while he was stationed in England. Reading them was absolutely fascinating, and the story of my dad and his B-17 “Susan Ruth” crew became my passion.

I started reading book after book about the air war in Europe, and I spent countless hours doing research on the internet. I joined several WW II organizations and went to their reunions where I listened to veterans tell their stories. I made trips to Belgium to see firsthand the locations where events took place and even found and interviewed the German Luftwaffe pilot who shot down my dad’s plane. Finally in 2012, I decided to write a book. Based on that all I had learned over the previous three years, I felt that the story of my father and his crew was so unique and so compelling that it had to be told and people needed to read about it.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

The reason people should read SHOT DOWN is to understand the courage and bravery of the young men who fought and died for the freedom we enjoy today. Readers will gain knowledge about the air war over Europe during World War II and receive an appreciation of the extreme dangers of flying combat missions They also will learn about the courageous Belgian people who risked their lives to help downed airmen.

No other event in history affected more people than World War II. No one alive was untouched by it, and no nation was spared the cost and horror. The greatest conflict the world has ever known changed the course of the United States and the world forever. When the war ended, there were 16 million veterans of which 95% are gone. Soon they will all be gone, and we will no longer have the honor and opportunity to show them our appreciation.  We must never forget their sacrifice. It is our duty to remember.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

My youngest son, Clayton, is an actor and about the same age as my father when he was shot down so I would naturally like to see him be in it.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I really didn’t decide to become an author so much as I decided to write a book which was in September 2012 while attending a reunion of the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association in Savannah, Georgia.

Is this the first book you’ve written?


What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

In August 2009, I retired from Vision Service Plan (VSP) after a 36 year career working in sales and sales management. Now I’m back working full-time promoting my book on social media, making presentations to all different types of organizations, and attending air shows around the country signing copies of my book.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

The best part is being in total control. The hardest part is working so hard to gain exposure so that people become aware that my book exists.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

Probably, so that my book would get national exposure and attention.

Is there something in particular that motivates you?

I am very competitive and have always wanted to do my best and try to be the best at everything I do.  My goal is for SHOT DOWN to become nationally known.  However not for fame or fortune, but so the public becomes better informed about World War II; in particular about the 8th Air Force and the air war over Europe. The brave young men who served, fought, and died for our freedoms must be remembered and honored.