It’s 2 p.m. on a rainy Saturday in 2019. Dr. Brandon Wild settles into a cozy cubicle in the Grand Forks Public Library for the next four hours, pops in some earbuds playing his favorite rock music, and gets to work writing his next book.
“I didn’t plan to be an author,” Brandon reflects. “I saw a need, and I filled it.”
An Associate Professor in the Aviation Department at the University of North Dakota, Brandon realized the need for an easy-to-read introduction book to aviation safety for his sophomore-level students. After many weekend afternoons spent at the library, Brandon and two UND Aerospace colleagues, Gary M. Ullrich and Ryan Guthridge, published “Introduction to Aviation Safety” in the spring of 2021.
“My co-authors and I wrote this to be a more concise book for a basic, entry level, aviation safety course,” Brandon explains. “Our goal was to keep the book to around 200 pages so that it could be covered in a one-semester course.”
This is actually Brandon’s second book—a fully updated, simplified version of his first ebook that was published in 2015. The first one has been translated into other languages, including Japanese and Persian.
Brandon is working on his third book right now, with future plans to visit the Smithsonian for additional research, which was paused in 2020 due to COVID. This will be his first “solo flight” as an author. Brandon likes to first write the book, then connect with the publisher. This allows him to set his own pace and deadlines.
“My wife, Elizabeth, who doesn’t work in the aviation field, will often review my writing,” explains Brandon. “She helps me identify technical jargon and write more simply. Anyone who’s curious about aviation could read this book—student or not.”
In addition to writing, Brandon is an avid reader. Instead of watching television at night, Brandon opens a book. He’s also a big fan of audiobooks through the Libby app (free through the library), which he listens to during his long-distance runs.
“I read anything and everything,” smiles Brandon, as he flips through his 2021 book list which he tracks in a note saved on his phone. (Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir and Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate were two of his favorites so far this year.) “My goal is to read 40 books in 2021. Reading, running, and listening to Chicago Cubs and Bears games is my stress relief.”
While Brandon enjoys his quiet weekends writing at the library, Brandon, Elizabeth, and their two boys, Isaac (14), and Caleb (10), also enjoy spending family time at the library.
“We’re very glad to have the library back to normal hours. Our boys have done many of the programs like First LEGO League, the NASA space programs during the school year, and various reading programs. In fact, the whole family is currently enrolled in the Summer Reading Program.”
Chapter by Chapter, Mile by Mile
When Brandon sets aside time to write, he doesn’t have a particular word count in mind. “I know what topic I’d like to cover, and I take it chapter by chapter. Like running, writing is a mental game—you break it into small chunks to stay focused.”
Brandon continues to visit the library regularly, while he researches and writes his next book. He shares, “It’s close to home and easy parking. I find the atmosphere to be conducive for writing, plus the library staff is very helpful with research or general questions!”