As I was writing the first book in what will eventually be a series, I think I channeled Joe in designing my primary hero. Scanning the boxes of pictures onto various disks and flash drives, I found almost a dozen of him with various ladies. Mom and Dad bought him his own tuxedo in 1963, because he'd been invited to like six different proms in the area. Mom said about her oldest, beloved son, "I don't think Joe was a very nice young man." She never told me what she meant by that. I just got an email from a family friend who mentioned Joe begged her to send letters to him at the Academy, because they were competing who would get the longest, the most, etc. All these things I've blended into my stories. You can say it sounds weird, but it is like I'm hearing Joe feeding me lines of dialog, trying to win over his heroine. Of course, the letters became emails and he redeems himself in the end, though we all love the bad boy.
Will, my hero, is a medically retired Marine sharpshooter, who was injured in Afghanistan. We meet three others from his unit in this book and upcoming ones. I've done a great deal of research on veterans, current military officers and their family members. Through it all (I started writing again in August of 2006), I heard Joe egging me on, giving me some of his best pick up lines and bringing people to me who wanted to talk about their experiences.
So, when President Obama announced the Navy Seal team had captured and killed Osama bin Laden, I literally felt it through his eyes and the eyes of my characters. Will knew something was up from a vague comment he'd gotten from a buddy, but felt he was the one who should have been there pulling the trigger. Harry (who's a petite redhead and fiercer than any of the guys) felt a flash of resentment at all those brothers and sisters they'd lost and @#$% they'd had to endure while bin Laden was enjoying a cool beverage by the pool. Tristan remembered sitting with his parents, watching the news stories on 9/11 and sheds a tear his dad died a couple of months before and his mama's in an Alzheimer's unit. Dessie smashes an entire set of glasses into a fireplace, welcoming the blood as a piece of shrapnel cut her leg.
Will I put this into what will become chronologically the third novel in my series? Maybe not, as I've always been told it's wrong to time stamp, unless it's a historical. But, I know it's there. I know we'll have to deal with our mentally and physically injured veterans and the social and financial problems left behind with their military families. And if I can give a voice to them and to Joe, I'll have done my job.
While I've shared some of my characters' blood lust the past twenty-four hours (as Lizzy says to Will, "The only thing you should have felt when you killed an insurgent was your rifle's recoil."), I'd like to share two things I found on Facebook today.
· "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."--Martin Luther King, Jr.