When I first decided to write the two books which I have since called books of my heart, I wanted to illustrate in fiction the strength and courage of women who love men damaged by war. That was in the 1980s, and once the two books were written there was no place for them. People did not want to hear about Vietnam veterans. Just put them in the shadows and don’t talk about them, maybe they’ll just fade away.
That was the general opinion of many people. After all, who ever heard of a disease called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome? Yes, that’s what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was called in the 1980s. Furthermore it didn’t really exist. Ask anyone on the street. They were no longer the men who left home, most at the age of 18-21, babies for goodness sake. It was
just a man’s excuse for doing wild and crazy things. The book First Blood (Rambo) while exciting and well written, and later made into a popular movie, set an attitude for most people. These men were coming home and committing murder right and left. I guess you could say I became obsessed with finding out more about this PTSS and what it was doing to our no longer young but battle weary, battle stressed men struggling to make their way back into a society that shunned them, spit on them, called them unbelievable names. I watched it happen, so I know. And I knew that not every woman was walking away from the man she loved because he was damaged.
In 1973, the so called Vietnam conflict was said to have ended, but it didn’t really end till 1975 when those choppers took off from Saigon with the last of our people on board, but we won’t argue that small detail.
What I learned digging through old Newsweek and Time magazines, newspapers from around the country, and articles in other magazines, was heart breaking. Some of it never made public enough so that only a very few walking around Americans were aware that 2100 plus men were left behind in prison camps, tiny squalid holes where they were kept in cages or paraded around in villages so people could throw rocks at them. Tortured in dozens of inhumane ways. Why?
Because the North Vietnamese wanted some leverage to hold over our government to get the Accords signed. Then they would return those men. They never did. Some came back because a few Laotian mercenaries working out of California were willing to go in country for a big enough paycheck and pull one or two out. So a few families with money got their boys back. What was left of them. Their brains badly washed, their bodies scarred and maimed.
The fact of their experiences hidden by the military.
Did I dare write a novel about a woman who meets one of these men, who takes it upon herself to see that he is kept safe, cared for and hopefully can learn to function in a society he no longer remembers. She is an artist and teacher, a strong woman grieving over the death of her beloved husband when her psychologist asks her as a favor to meet this man and guide him with his artistic talent. The psychologist hopes to help them both recover from their traumas, and has no idea what he has put in motion.
Katie and Glen bond from their second meeting. The first is so shocking for both that it ends badly. Katie is so determined to see that Glen is healed from his physical and psychological wounds that from that second meeting nothing can stand in her way. Not an abusive sister or ex-wife, not Glen’s severe flashbacks, not even the psychologist himself.
Their love story is my first novel, Beyond the Moon, and it is in the hands of an editor. I plan to publish it directly to Kindle by spring. It is written totally in Katie’s viewpoint, with a prologue and epilogue in Glen’s viewpoint. It will be dedicated to the Angels who love and care for men wounded by war.
My second novel along this same theme, but very much different in content, is Once There Were Sad Songs, recently published by The Wild Rose Press. You can find it on Amazon as both a print book and an Ebook.
I have written a lot of novels and books since I wrote these two, and I’m proud of all of them, but today, with the Wounded Warrior Project and so much talk about helping our wounded warriors, these two books are in their element. They will appeal to all those who remember the days of sad songs like Puff the Magic Dragon and Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Blowing in the Wind, who still remember the Vietnam and Korean conflicts, but most especially the women who want their side of this story told.