When I decided to first start writing novels, I realized one simple, undeniable fact about myself: I never finished anything I started. I quit Karate just before getting my black belt. I quit Boy Scouts one badge short of my Eagle Scout (one effing badge!). I enjoyed the chase, but hardly enjoyed the reward at the end.
For a long time, I assumed that my lack of ambition was a shortcoming. And from my family and teachers, they thought the same thing. I was a "big ideas" guy. I came up with great concepts, but often failed to follow through. What chance did I have to finish a 400-500 page novel?
It wasn't until much later in my life (I'm now in my 30's) that I realized I hadn't been a failure. I was fickle, no denying that. But my pursuit of so many different ideals was because I constantly loved to challenge myself. When I became comfortable, I simply chose a new path and reinvented myself. I was an athlete in high school, a surprisingly well-spoken public relations major in college, an alcoholic while serving in Korea. Finally, I found my true calling. No, not as a writer. As a leader of US Army Soldiers.
Twice now I've found myself deployed to Iraq, both times serving in the heart of Baghdad. I served as a personnel officer once and, the second time, a Commander of over 450 Soldiers and officers. It was exhilarating. I watched young troops grow and develop under the tutelage of me and my First Sergeant. It was what I was meant to do with my life.
Now, as a Commander once again with the prospect of going to Afghanistan in the near future, I once again feel that yearning to lead Soldiers into combat. My friends call me insane. Then again, so does my wife. And I can't blame them. Looking at it from the outside, it seems crazy that I would go out of my way to put myself into harm's way. I once tried to explain it to someone, and this is the best I could come up with:
I know hundreds of people who feel that they've contributed to society. I don't just mean the police and firefighters of the world. Even the day-to-day factory worker knows that his little slice of the factory contributes something vital, like a small cog in an incredibly complex watch. Despite its insignificant size, the watch simply can't run without it. But the contributions they feel every day just can't compare with what you feel in combat. As a medical officer, I've held someone's hand while they died. But I've also loaded a patient onto a helicopter and said with pride, "You're going to be fine; have a beer for me when you get home". I've looked into someone's eyes and known that I've made a difference in their life, even if they only get to see me as their life is coming to an end.
That feeling of accomplishment is what drove me to write during my last deployment. I had a story to tell, and the emotions that I felt every day - fear, joy, deep sadness, loss - poured into the words that I typed into my computer. It was science fiction, but I kept it "Approachable Science Fiction". What does that mean? It means that nothing happens in the books that can't be explained using modern science. Never do I introduce a topic so complex that I lose the reader due to technical mumbo-jumbo (hell, I just used "mumbo-jumbo", so you can tell my level of scientific expertise).
Instead, you have an amalgamation of war and science fiction, with a realistic take on how battles end: often badly. Main characters die. Characters you like still die. Characters that do everything right still manage to die. I like to think that my books are a strange combination of Saving Private Ryan and Starship Troopers. Mash them together, let the dog eat them, and whatever it vomits up is close to the literary masterpieces I create.
Try my books out. They're available on Kindle for only $2.99 each, so you can skip McDonald's tonight and read a book instead. See, I'm looking after your health and educating your mind.
Burden of Sisyphus can be found here:
Fall of Icarus can be found here: