previous post next post  

Re: Author Seeks U.S. Army Resources for Story

That was the subject line of an e-gram I got from John back in ’08.

Buried in the body was this paragraph:

I bcc'd this to my co-blogger who is currently incountry in Iraq. He was just at Benning … and can probably help with some of this, too, if he feels he has the time (hence why I bcc'd him). He'd also have an idea as to what mess halls in the sandbox smell like.

This, thought I, will be a simple request to honor. Just describe the aromas wafting through an Iraqi DFAC.

I was grossly over-optimistic. I had no clue of the strength of the hold the author’s idea had on her, or the lengths she was willing to travel in order to get things *right*, but after another fifty or so asked and answered questions, I kinda got an inkling that this was going to be much more than just a Fobbit's Tale.

Meet Sarah Bates.





She wanted to tell the story of an 18-year-old whose greatest wish was to follow in his father’s footsteps -- literally.

He wanted to be a sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

But first, he had to become a Ranger…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In order to trace his journey and get it *right*, Sarah went to Washington and spoke with present and former members of the Old Guard, the sentinels – and then visited Walter Reed to interview surgeons, nurses, therapists, chaplains, prosthetics techs, and the wounded they worked to heal. She went to the NTC and talked with grunts and aggressors, clerks, vehicle drivers and training cadre who'd been deployed. She tracked down Rangers and picked their brains for both memories and techniques. She quizzed milbloggers on barracks life, language, weapons, terrain, tactics, and most of all, personal impressions – from “What does an Iraqi DFAC smell like?” to “Would a dog-handler carry an M-16 or an M-4 on a patrol?”

She got it *right*. The characters are true-to-life – a lot of you will recognize some of them as people you grew up with, or worked with, or served with. The characters' interactions and language during barracks bull sessions (and arguments) ring true. The narrative of the events leading to and culminating in the Afghan night-fight can hold its own with the best that any of the techno-thriller authors have to offer.

Anyone who has spent any time at Walter Reed will have flashbacks, although if you were there, you probably didn't meet the wise-cracking helicopter pilot who smuggles cheeseburgers into the wards...

This isn't a "book for Young Adults" -- it's the story of a young man who becomes an adult while walking the tough road.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I'd proofed individual chapters between '08 and '10, but when I read the final draft, I read it three times. I was supposed to be looking for typos and inconsistencies in those parts of the story requiring helicopter and terrain analysis expertise, but I got so absorbed in it, I kinda forgot. And then, halfway through the second reading, I forgot again…

And now it’s been publshed -- available in print *and* on electrons.





Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper shill unless I told you where to find it, right?

Booklocker-dot-com  -- and you can download a free .pdf excerpt here --  Amazon *should* have it by now, but I didn’t see it listed, and (of course) Barnes & Noble has it .

Oooops -- almost forgot -- booksigning information!

I won't give away the ending, but after you've read Twenty-One Steps, visit Mizz SKK's again and renew your acquaintance with Corporal Todd Love...

8 Comments

Sounds like a really good read! Well researched and authentic, too - kudos to  Sarah Bates!
 
Amazon has it in paperback, but it's not available for Kindle as of yet.
 
 You seem to know a bit too much about that Chopper Pilot Bill. So, what's the story you gonna stick to?

The tale sounds engrossing if a certain hard nosed 'Nam Chopper pilot gets too engrossed to recall the mission. I'll hafta check it out.
 

  I agree with QM.   I really hate reviews by people whose opinions I value, as it almost always results in my adding another book to the pile awaiting my attention.  Sigh.

  But yeah, if Bill likes it, then it must be a good read.
 
You seem to know a bit too much about that Chopper Pilot Bill. So, what's the story you gonna stick to?

His larcenous streak needs work. He only smuggles cheeseburgers to the guys on the ward -- I smuggled Jim Beam.
 
What? No J.D? I'm scandalized!

Not that I would know anything about such matters. 
 
Well, geez, they were gonna mix it with Pepsi®, of all things. Hazarding JD to that would have been tantamount to sacrilege...
 
Ah, Jim Beam!  The last time I bought some was when I found a bunch of Piper novels, cheap, at the Library surplus sale.

Jim Beam and H. Beam; two great tastes that taste great together!