Friday, July 29, 2011

Guest blogger Gwenna Sebastian and her book: VN2

Writing about the Military and Vietnam.

I like writing military romances about men. It's a bit of a niche market right now but thanks to recent current events, military romances of all sorts are becoming very popular. I especially enjoy writing my stories based in the military culture of the Vietnam War.

The military of the sixties and early seventies was vastly different from the military we know today. The majority of those young men who did their one year tour in Vietnam were Army draftees—there because they had to be. Unlike today's military which is entirely voluntary.

I love weaving in bits and pieces of Vietnam into my stories. It's more than just the history, it's a slice of how life was then. The GI slang and lingo was colorful, rarely PC and made up of a combination of military, Vietnamese and French. It was also dangerous, where so many died in just the first month alone of serving their tour.

The research is not just a hobby for me, but a passion. I not only read and collect books (both fiction and non-fiction), but I've met and talked with many veterans. And up until a couple years ago. I enjoyed the services and support of a military advisor who had worked on both movies and television series. Regrettably, he passed away unexpectedly. But from him and some of his contacts, I learned a great deal about the Army and the Vietnam War.

I enjoy weaving bits and pieces of that knowledge in my stories because I feel it adds depth, color and interest. Without it, it could be about any war but that's not what I want to write about or you as a reader to see. I want you, as my reader, to feel, see, and hear the Vietnam the same as my characters.

It's not always nice and neat and clean- my character Mark Connor from Lost and Found is a great example of that. Drafted at the age of eighteen in 1968, Mark left the only home he knew to become an infantry soldier or "boonie rat". He lost his lover, Ryan, in an ambush and in many ways died there himself. Forty years later, when he meets former Marine, Josh Myers, he still thinks in the same way he did back then and there. He's hard edged and bitter, swearing and smoking and speaking his mind, whether it's PC to say it or not. He doesn't remember the enemy as Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army in his nightmares—he remembers them by the names he and his buddies used, such as VC, Charlie and other less polite terms. He doesn't remember riding in a helicopter or Huey, but rather a "slick" and he didn't walk through the jungle, he "humped through the bush."

Mark served near the Demilitarized Zone, north of a real base called Chu-lai and south of Da Nang. But the firebase he, Ryan and his buddies were stationed is my fiction. Although Josh didn't serve in Vietnam, he was in Beirut at the time of the bombing of the Marine barracks- another actual event in our military history. Mark and Josh are essentially of two different times and certainly two different branches of the military and that's another source of color I enjoy using. Josh refers to Mark as Dog Face—a very popular insult Marines used during the Vietnam War to refer to Army soldiers. Mark calls him Jarhead and Door Breaker, again, commonly used insults. It's part of the military culture and very much a part of who these men are.

VN2, my upcoming release (July 29th from Breathless Press), is a futuristic story, but it's still all based on Vietnam and the military culture of that time. My editor once noted my guys "talk like guys" and I'm proud of that. That means they swear, (a lot), use the lord's name in vain, (a lot), do things that guys do that aren't always polite or correct or nice. They are soldiers, grunts and ground pounders serving in a thankless war on distant worlds on back water posts.

I also wanted the planet, VN2, to be reminiscent of the real Vietnam: hot and sticky and wet with constant rain during the monsoon season. The Viet Cong and NVA often entrenched themselves in tunnels and I've used the same concept here on the planet. I continued to use the lingo as well. For example, living quarters are still called "hootches" and the lieutenant is referred to as "L-T" (Pronounced El-Tee), a common nickname.

I want to thank Cynthia for having me as her guest and letting me rattle on about my obsession of the Vietnam War. She knows first hand about all of it as she was my editor for both Lost and Found and VN2. She has been a God send in understanding and supporting my quest to keep my authenticity in my racy military romances.

Doc spoke to him, trying to get his attention, but Nathan ignored him. He had more important things to worry about and they centered around the young Truebred. The officer still shifted, keeping the wall at his back, trying to keep an eye on everyone even as he shook his head.

Something that had died with Ben six months ago woke anew in Nathan. The Bond whispered at him, insistent, nudging him with the realization that the young officer would be his new mate.

And that made Nathan pause as he realized what was happening. It had been more than eighteen years but he could still remember when the Bond had recognized him and Ben for each other.

Now it recognized two incomplete souls that were meant to be a whole, the Bond singing along Nathan's nerves. In the blink of an eye, everything changed, and he would no longer be alone.

This could not be happening—he couldn't, shouldn't be Bonding—again.

But the Bond continued to urge him to go to the Truebred who would be his new mate. For a long moment, the room disappeared around him and Nathan found himself standing on a different plane, the young officer there with him. They looked at each other, the other man in confusion as the newly forming Bond shimmered around them. Nate reached for him…

Nate! Listen to me!

Doc grabbed his arm, trying to pull him around but Nathan yanked free with a growl. Back off, medic!

The remaining Regulars who had backed the officer into a corner must have sensed the guy was near the end of his rope. With nods to each other, they started to advance on the Truebred. The lieutenant raised his head, eyes brilliant and shifted his weight forward. It was apparent to everyone he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

"Damn brat, you're gonna know respect when we get done with ya'." The one with the broken nose motioned his two buddies to close in.

The room hazed red in front of Nathan's eyes. There was no way he was going to let these bastards get hold of that officer. The Bond called him, pulling at him, reminding him that the officer belonged to him. He felt like he was on fire.

The Bond recognized him as Nathan's and that was all Nathan could understand.

The Regulars closed in, the lieutenant backing up against the wall, head still held high. In the part of his mind that was still sane, Nathan could hear Doc relaying Sean's orders to the rest of the team to help out.

Broken Nose made a grab for the Truebred even as the Flannigan twins grabbed his two buddies from behind. Nathan lunged between the Regular and the lieutenant, shouldering the bastard back. "Back the hell off, now!"

"You got no claim here, Bonded!" Broken Nose's eyes were filled with fury. He came at Nathan, fist raised.

His vision still hazed in red, Nathan grabbed the man by the arm and slammed him hard against the wall. Dazed, Broken Nose slid to the floor. The Flannigans had the other two well in hand when Nathan turned to the young officer.

Forgetting about Broken Nose, Nathan faced the Truebred. They needed to get the hell out of there. Nathan needed to get the Truebred someplace safe. He reached out, grabbing him by the arm even as the other man looked up with large, dark eyes.

It was like coming into contact with a live, electrical current.

White-hot pain knifed through Nathan’s mind, stabbing behind his eyes and driving him to his knees, gasping for breath. He was besieged by the roar of hundreds of voices, overwhelmed with alternating waves of fury and terror that tore into his thoughts. Lost in an instant in a sea of confusion, he caught a disjointed vision from eyes not his own, looking back at all of them, himself included as he lay on the floor. All of it was hazed in red, like his mind was on fire and being pulled apart at the same time.

Someone was screaming and Nathan couldn't be sure it wasn't him. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting Gwenna today.
    Breathless Press Marketing Director