Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jeremy, a fellow WW2 writer. Hello Jeremt, please tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.
Why did you choose to write historical fiction?
I’ve always loved history, with an intense passion for military history. Throughout my life I’ve gravitated toward wanting to teach, but came under the impression I had a different mission in my early adult years. Reading personal stories from sources like Studs Terkel and others, I came to appreciate that history is a fabric of the personal experiences of each person living in that period. Since there are no remaining World War I veterans to interview, and the World War II folks are declining in number by the day, I focus on transforming stories already told into lessons for everyone to enjoy learning history. What I write is all based on true stories. What I produce is all fiction, because it’s my interpretation of what’s going through the minds of the people experiencing that event. I did not set out to write historical fiction, but rather to teach history. This is the best method I could come up with that allows this teaching to occur.
What in particular fascinates you about the era(s) you write about?
I write mainly about what I call The 20th Century’s War
. What this means is a combination of World War I, II, Korea, Vietnam, etc. all of which are built upon those which preceded them. In my view World War I and II were simply a single war interrupted so a new generation could be produced to fight. What fascinated me initially about this period is the incredible technological transformation from pre-industrial warfare through to atomic weapons in just 30 years. Considering all of the changes in tactics, doctrine, policies, industrial capacity, and the like that went into this dramatic redesign of warfare, I was hooked. What keeps me writing about it now is the personal stories of all those going through this period of transformation. Each person has a perspective of a unique moment in time during this great upheaval. Each individual life began, flourished, was hit by, and ends touching on a world utterly different than any known before. How does a person going through this see it? What makes sense to them? What doesn’t? What can we learn from looking through their eyes?
Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
My books stem from multiple inputs melded together. The first is my love for history. Add to that an affinity talking with people to understand what they think, how they think what they think, and where those emotions come from. Building on that, I’m incredibly lazy, which means I want to get a story quickly. I love to read a single story in the time it takes to sit on the toilet, which is why I write them to fit that timeline. Finally, so much of history is lost, yet so relevant to us today. I write in the format of personal narrative followed y short history lesson to allow an emotional connection to the event because I sincerely believe that is the best way to learn history.
Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?
I’ve always been a writer, although that was not always clear to my parents. When I was in early high school my parents didn’t actually believe I knew how to read. I was a very good reader, but they never saw it. So, one day I challenged them. I said, “Fine, if you don’t believe I know how to read, I’ll write you a story!” They took me up on that. A few hours later I came out of my room with a seedy film-noire type murder mystery thriller they loved. They were totally blown away. I shut them up about not knowing how to read. I loved to write in high school, but got away from it in college. It was only around the time of my son’s birth that I reconnected with writing. I felt that I could not be a true guide to my son to live the life he wanted to live if I was not living my own. Therefore, I picked up the keyboard and started producing again. It came so easily, just flowing out. There was a relearning process, as well as trial and error about scheduling and publishing, but the writing part was so smooth, as if it had just been waiting to come back out whenever I was ready. Looking back I realize I’ve always been a writer, just making a living doing other things.
Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?
My wife and her mom have been great influences on my picking up my writing again, but the true inspiration was the birth of my son. As I mention above, I could not sincerely teach him to be the man he wants to be if I am not the man I want to be. Therefore, I picked up my writing again after a long break because I wanted to be true to myself so he could be himself. My wife strongly encourages me, as although she is not a military history person, she loves personal stories. Her mother, a retired English teacher, was a great help initially, and has been a strong supporter ever since I restarted. Having this support system, as well as motivational member of my family, is what enabled me to do all of the work I’ve done so far. Finally, the mission of my writing is to help reduce the likelihood of war because I never want to see my children experience one.
How did you come up with your stories?
I am so lucky that my stories all come to me. There were billions of people who lived through The 20th Century’s War
, and many of their experiences have been captured all over the place. I simply read, listen to podcasts, and join discussion groups where stories are shared. Every news item, every non-fiction account, every personal narrative is a story waiting to be told in my way. I can stop all of my other activities, devote myself to writing 10 stories a day for the rest of my life, which would be exhausting, and never get through even a small fraction of the stories available to write. I love it, although it’s a bit overwhelming at times to choose what to focus on today.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
The best part of writing is the ability to play in the sandbox in my head. I love putting ideas up there, letting them stew, and then realizing at some future point the perspective, plot-line, or narrative I want to tell. Sometimes I come across a story, stick it in my head, and it takes a day, a month, or even years to formulate into something coherent to put down. My absolute favorite part of this process is when that idea gels, popping back out, forcing me to capture it.
The worst part of writing for me is the marketing. I do wish I could just target the people who would both most enjoy and most benefit from my work.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
Yeah, that’s a struggle. To be honest, I don’t. I focus most of my energy on writing. I’m learning marketing, but would not claim to have any expertise to offer here. I’m looking for advice in this space!
What is your life like outside of writing?
Outside of my historical flash-fiction writing, I contribute to my wife’s blog www.lifeiscomfy.com
. We’re working toward Financial Independence, Early Retirement (FIRE), raising an awesome 4 year old boy, and adopting a child from China in the near future. We talk about all of these things, and how we work them out together. Beyond that, I teach for Carnegie Mellon University, and assist organizations in strategically thinking through their challenges.
What do you do when you don’t write?
On occasion work, or some other obligation gets in the way of writing. This is very difficult for me. Not because I feel like I have to publish or perish, but rather because I know I have unlimited stories to tell, but very limited time to tell them (I’ll only live for so long.) Therefore, each day I don’t get to write is that many fewer stories I can share with the world, that many fewer lessons available to teach those who may one day be in the position to make a decision about the lives and deaths of countless people.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on publishing the third book in my Threads of The War series, as well as writing stories for book four. I’m also attempting to license some kitchen products, assist with my wife’s blog, raise my kid(s), and not get fired from my day job.
Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?
I find marketing, talking about myself, and selling my books challenging. I simply wish to share what I’ve written, and hopefully people either find value in it, or not. Ideally, though, my true intent is to touch one person. One future decision maker who when it comes time to decide on whether or not to start a war remembers that wars are fought by people. Not only that, but innocent people are involved in many ways as well. It’s not about strategy, game theory, grand designs. Each and every war is about some man, woman, or child in a place that is scary, attempting to live in an environment meant to snuff that life out. My target audience is everyone attracted to power because I want them to know what having power means.
I write first-person emotional history in order to teach people to avoid the wanton waste of war. Fascinated by ideas and personal stories, I am able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena. By enjoying thinking and learning about the past I understand the present through creating its context. I have faith in the links between all things; believing there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason. I am also inspired by the future and what could be; thereby inspiring others with my visions of what occurred and what is possible.
My inspiration comes from years of improvisational acting education; the actions and writing of Gene Sharp, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Woody Guthrie, Studs Terkel, and Henry David Thoreau; as well as an affinity for history. I believe all stories are best told from the perspective of the individual experiencing the event and that learning about history should be an emotionally driven experience. Therefore, I push the conviction that all history is simply a personal story, compounded and woven with the personal story of everyone else, throughout time.
Raised in California, I moved to the D. C. area at the age of 18 to attend university. Through education and luck, I’ve been able to travel across vast swaths of the world, seeing and feeling things I never would have realized otherwise. I helped remove unexploded ordnance from war ravaged countries, stem the flow of the world’s most dangerous weapons, and potentially reduce the likelihood of war between some of the world’s most powerful countries.
Now, I simply seek to warn the world of the human cost of violence.
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