Winter Park High School graduate and Spokane, Washington resident Irv Broughton can’t help it — he loves to tell stories before they’re lost in time.
Over the years, Broughton has written more than 18 books that he’s compiled through interviewing historical people of interest — from distinguished writers and producers to old-time Floridans and World War II pilots.
One of Broughton’s most recent books, “Where the Wings Grow: Conversations with Pioneering Women Fliers,” includes 29 in-depth interviews with women who dared to touch the sky, going back to Dorothy Hester Stenzel, who was flying in 1926. The book also includes WASP and WAF pilots, along with one of the first female commercial pilots in the U.S.
“Who doesn’t like a good story?” Broughton said. “You’re sitting in the presence of somebody (who has) lived a life and done some incredible things. ... I’m kind of in awe of people who put it on the line.”
With a special passion for interviewing fliers, Broughton meets and hears about pilots through various air shows — he’s spoken to more than 100 aviators, publishing his interviews in books such as “Forever Remembered: The Fliers of World War II” and “Hangar Talk: Conversations with American Fliers.” For his female pilot book, Broughton met with interviewees about once a year to hear their amazing stories, with sometimes a couple years in-between.
“It’s been a labor of love,” he said. “The crazy thing about it is it’s like a 40-year project. I was interviewing women pilots back before it was widely known or publicized. … They were real pioneers.”
The wheels are always turning for Broughton; he’ll often work on three or four books or projects at a time. The author and interviewer does several kinds of writing beyond capturing those pilot stories, as well. He has used interviews to write novels such as “The Levees that Break in the Heart” — a love story that’s based on the levee builders in the 1950s.
His book, “Producers on Producing: The Making of Film and Television” — which offers opinions from different experts on a producer’s role and how to be successful in the industry — even includes an interview with Fred Rogers.
“Interviewing him was interesting — he’s just exactly like you’d think he’d be,” Broughton said.
The author has also ventured off into other media. He has worked in film and has been working on some musicals, with about 58 songs finished.
“If you like to write and you have a little ability, it’s fun to try a lot of different things,” Broughton said. “I get an idea and I sort of go with it. It hasn’t made me a best-selling, famous person or anything, but I work away. If I think it’s a good idea and I feel like there might be something to be said in that, I just work along and do it.”
For now, Broughton plans to continue chasing those hidden stories — meeting those influential people in history with tales that deserve to be put on a page.
“I hate to see history and stories lost — it seems tragic,” Broughton said.