Today I share the next author interview in the Backdoor Survival Winter Book Festival. Ron Brown, the author of Lanterns, Lamps & Candles shares his answers to my questions and is also providing one of my readers with a free copy of his Book on CD.
Before we begin, I would like to announce the winner of last week’s giveaway. “John S” has won a copy of Where There Is No Doctor. Congratulations! I have contacted you by email with instructions for claiming your prize.
Here was John’s answer to the question “What do you feel with be the toughest health or medical challenge following a disaster, collapse or breakdown of society as we know it?”
I think the biggest challenge in a crisis will be finding clean drinking water. The second problem will be the lack of medical help. Of coarse, there will be many obstacles in a disaster but it seems these two are usually on the top of the list.
Be sure to check out the details of this week’s giveaway below.
AN INTERVIEW WITH RON BROWN
Why did you write Lanterns, Lamps & Candles? What motivated you?
In 2003, I took a job in Canada. Began work on August 1. Three weeks later the lights went out all over the Northeast. For several days.
Talk about prepping. We had almost no food in the fridge. No local currency. And the cash registers didn’t work anyway. We had no lights of any kind. Not even a candle. Not enough gas in the car to get back to the border. When the sun went down it was bedtime.
So here we were in this fancy-schmancy townhouse where the company had parked us. It was furnished . . . right down to silverware in the drawers and towels in the bathroom. Pool. Maid service. Chandeliers. And all we could do was sit in the dark and hold hands. My wife was scared to death. I made up my mind that this was never going to happen again. It really was a wake-up call.
So tell me about your book. What does it cover? Who’s your intended audience?
Lanterns pretty well covers the gamut of non-electric lighting, from candle-making to pressure lanterns. Rayo, Coleman, Aladdin, Petromax . . . they’re all in there.
I made a YouTube video (my only one so far) that I think provides the flavor of the book better than what I can describe here. This particular video shows how to convert a Coleman gas lantern to kerosene. You can see it at //www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifpvKE-2Uxk.
When I began writing Lanterns, I thought it would be a simple matter of documenting the technology of grandpa’s era. Stuff everybody knew back then but that has been forgotten. It turned out to be much more complicated than I ever imagined. Plus, nobody agrees with nobody on nuttin’.
I wanted a book that would help people shelter in place (where supplies could be stockpiled) but would be equally useful for people who got caught away from home, as we did in 2003. Life would have been a lot easier had I known then what I know today.
So my intended audience is anybody who wants to know how to cope when the grid goes down – whether for a day or a year or for life.
How long did it take to write?
Four years. I’m retired, so it wasn’t just sandwiched in between my day job and the kids’ dance recitals. I worked at it full time. There were always more questions. More and more questions. I bought three or four thousand dollars-worth of lamps, mostly secondhand, on eBay. (My wife isn’t going to see this, is she?)
It took so long because of all the bad information I had to sort through. Recently, for example, on eBay, I saw a Rayo flame spreader jammed on top of a Duplex burner. The two parts had nothing to do with each other. It was being peddled as a “vintage rare rayo brass double mantle lamp wick adjuster.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was akin to taping a light bulb to a candlestick and promoting it as a vintage laser pointer.
What type of research did you do for Lanterns, Lamps & Candles?
When I decided to actually write a book, I went out and bought everything I could find on the topic that had already been written. I wanted to evaluate the competition. And I discovered that the books already on the market contradicted each other . . . and contained information I knew to be bogus . . . and really didn’t address my questions anyway.
So I searched the Internet. Found tons of information and tons of contradictions. That’s when I started buying lanterns and testing them myself. I have spreadsheets full of test results; binders full, as they say in politics. For several years, the dialogue with my wife has gone like this:
From the top of the stairs she calls down to the basement. “Are you burning something?”
I answer. “It’s just a science experiment, honey. Everything’s fine.”
“Do I need to call the fire department?”
Then we laugh.
Are you previously published?
Back in the 80’s I flirted with the idea of becoming a writer. I did publish a bunch of magazine articles, mostly on shop tips and small-scale farming, and placed one book with a royalty publisher. Translation: I can write saleable English prose. Hemingway? No. I’m not Hemingway.
Do you have plans for future books?
Sure. A logical sequel to Lanterns would be a book on off-grid electrical lighting for the home. Generators, batteries, inverters, solar panels, explaining Ohm’s law, etc., etc.
But, on a completely different topic, I may tackle a book on poultry. Breeds, natural hatching, home-blended feeds, backyard DIY stuff. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading Lanterns, Lamps & Candles?
The big message is this: The best way to prepare for an uncertain future is with knowledge. Knowledge is something you can carry across international borders without fear of its being confiscated.
What kind of knowledge? Virtually anything that interests you. How to grade rare coins. How to speak a foreign language. How to can tomatoes from the garden. Morse code. How to change the oil in your car. How to improvise a lamp that burns vegetable oil. The more you learn, the more confident of the future you become. And that’s a good feeling.
The smaller message: Lanterns, Lamps & Candles will extend your knowledge in one important area. It will better equip you to face a hostile world. It will contribute to your peace of mind.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Sure. I started out to be an Industrial Arts teacher. Which means I’m a hands-on, wrenches-and-screwdrivers kind of guy. My home workshop, in fact, rather looks like a Technology class with pegboard on the walls lined with tools, all that stuff.
But I never taught school. I went into industry instead (because the starting salary was nearly double). I started out as an Industrial Engineering trainee. Then became a full-fledged Industrial Engineer. Then a Senior Industrial Engineer. Then an Industrial Engineering Supervisor.
Plus a Certified Quality Engineer (which means a lot of heavy-duty statistics). And a Planning Supervisor. Blah, blah, blah.
Lanterns are a hobby. If, in some branch of writing this lantern book, I got in over my head, I turned to the experts.
The chapters on petroleum and fuel substitutions, for example, were reviewed by a university physics professor, a Chemical Engineer working in the oil industry, and two Petrochemical Engineers. Thus, while those chapters might not be perfect – nothing in life is perfect – they’re pretty darn good.
Admittedly, this last bit isn’t about me but I suspect people want to be reassured about the technical credentials of the folks who put this book together.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
Yes. From a prepping point of view, I’d urge everybody to compile a library for themselves. Medical books. Cookbooks. Gardening books. Farming. Camp craft. There are free PDF’s on-line. Book sales at your local library. Amazon.
Prepping-wise, knowledge is your biggest bang for the buck. But no one individual can know EVERYTHING. That’s why you need a stack of “how-to” books to fall back on.
And that’s where Lanterns, Lamps & Candles comes in. There are thousands of medical books. Thousands of cookbooks. Thousands of gardening books. Not so with non-electric lighting.
As I mentioned earlier, I bought everything on the topic I could find. Turns out, it’s a very small stack. Your choices are limited. As one reader put it, “On a scale of one-to-ten, Lanterns, Lamps & Candles is a 10+. Nothing else comes close.”
It’s available through my website at //www.rc-publishing.com/.
THE BOOK GIVEAWAY
A copy of Ron’s book, Lanterns, Lamps and Candles has been reserved for one lucky reader. To enter this giveaway, reply in the comments area below with a DIY tip or skill that you would like see addressed here on Backdoor Survival.
The deadline is 6:00 AM Pacific next Friday. A winner will be selected next Friday at random using tools on the random.org website.
THE FINAL WORD
For the past six months or so, Ron has become a valued source of information on topics that I have wanted to write about but perhaps do not have sufficient information at hand to do so. Over this time, he has given of this knowledge freely and for that I am grateful.
His book on CD holds a wealth of information on off-grid lighting with lots of DIY projects that will insure that you will “see the light” so to speak when the power is out. I know you will like it!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Spotlight Item: LANTERNS, LAMPS & CANDLES – A User’s Guide
Lanterns, Lamps & Candles is a comprehensive handbook of non-electric lighting. Because it is in PDF format, you can read it on your computer without being connected to the Internet. There are 442 color photos and you can print it out; there are no restrictions. Highly recommended.
Bargain Bin: Listed below are all of the books in the Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and a bit of something for everyone. Also, some of these books are Kindle e-books but you do not need a Kindle to read Kindle e-books. Simply download the free Kindle app from the Amazon site and you are good to go.
The Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List – Non-Fiction
The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning (Author Charlie Palmer)
Rapid Fire!: Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations (Author Max Velocity)
Lanterns, Lamps and Candles (Author Ron Brown)
An Operations Manual For Humankind – The Complete Compendium Of Natural Health: (Author: Paul Patrick Robinson)
Understanding the Use of Handguns for Self-Defense (Author David Nash)
Where There Is No Doctor (Authors David Werner, Jane Maxwell, Carol Thuman)
Making the Best of Basics – Family Preparedness Handbook: (Author James Talmadge Stevens)
How to Live on $10,000 a Year – Or Less – Newly Revised for 2013 (Author George Ure)
The Prepper’s Pantry: Building and Thriving with Food Storage (Author Anne Lang)
The Truth About Simple Unhooked Living (Author Estar Holmes)
The Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List – Fiction
Preppers Road March (Author Ron Foster)
BUG OUT! Preppers on the move! (Author Ron Foster)
The Light In The Lake: The Survival Lake Retreat (Author Ron Foster)
Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises: (Author Max Velocity)
Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival (Author Joe Nobody)
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