Today, when a wife or loved one cares for a wounded warrior, whether he’s damaged in body or spirit, they are called angels. But that wasn’t always the case. In 1983 when I was researching for my upcoming novel, Beyond the Moon, all I saw portrayed was wives who filed for divorce, women were shown as harridans who did nothing but shout, scream and cry, then eventually leave their husband who came home from the war and was no longer the same person. Movies, books, plays, were the same. Women, they all proclaimed, did not try to understand their husband when he came home from war.
This was especially prevalent in those returning from the Vietnam War. This was the first time any of us heard the term, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, now known as a disorder. Many doctors simply did not know how to treat this disease developed by so many men involved in such an unpopular war. These men returned to crowds at airports spitting on them and calling them baby killers. Then they had to go home to face a nagging wife?
I could not believe that all women would react that way. I just knew that there were those who would struggle to continue to love and support this “injured” man. That was the reason I began the research that led to creating my protagonist Katherine Kelly for Beyond the Moon. I wanted a woman in circumstances that would mean she had the backbone, the fortitude, the desire to help a man so damaged by torture he’d endured for nine years in a POW camp in Vietnam that he could not function in society.
Yet, I knew in creating this man I would have to spend a lot of time immersed in veterans’ experiences. Robert Garwood inspired my story, though it is not his in any way. Read Conversations With The Enemy if you’re curious about Bobby Garwood. The book is available used on Amazon. When my story begins Glen Tanner has been hospitalized after his sister claims he tried to kill her. He’s been home less than a year. And he’s not doing well at all.
Right away I decided that I could not go into his POV, but rather should remain in Katherine’s. His dialogue and actions must tell his story. I became so buried in this research, spending days, weeks and even months in the library, (remember there was no Internet available to the common person at that time) that I actually felt as if I had been transported back to the years of that unpopular war. I lived with it day and night, could not let it go. Vietnam was the first war America watched unfold on television.
I must have rewritten the book eight or ten times. I don’t mean edited, I rewrote great chunks of it. It was my first novel, but an agent was interested right away and shopped it around New York. No one would touch it because of the subject matter. Some of the things I revealed from my research hadn’t been released to the general public.
Since I announced my plans to publish this book to Kindle back in February, I have acquired a publisher, and the book with its lovely haunting cover will be out in August of this year from Oghma Creative Media.
I’m pleased to say, though it baffles me why it’s taken so long, people are finally interested in the Vietnam war, the dreadful toll it has taken on the men who fought in a country no one had ever heard of until then, and the angels who have supported and loved them all these years. I know some of them myself and I assure you, they are indeed angels Soon I will tell you all about Katherine, Glen calls her Katie, and you will see why she qualifies as an angel with horns.