I didn’t grow up as an Army brat, but my family has a long tradition of military service. My father enlisted in the Army after high school and was stationed in West Germany for two years before coming home to marry my mother. (Remember West Germany and the Cold War? That world is starting to seem almost as distant as the eras I choose for my stories!) One of my older brothers is a former Marine, and another started West Point the same year I started kindergarten. (Believe it or not, he’s my youngest older brother. I was my parents’ surprise unexpected bonus child when they thought they were done!)
Going back through the generations, my ancestors fought in the Civil War, the American Revolution, and who knows what conflicts before that–since I’m part Scottish, English, and French, it’s entirely possible I had ancestors on both sides of many of the battles I read about in history class.
So I come by my interest in military history honestly, but the soldier who was most on my mind and heart during the creation of The Sergeant’s Lady was my oldest nephew. He’s an officer in the National Guard, and when I wrote my first draft, he was stationed in Iraq. When I decided to submit to Carina, he was serving in Afghanistan, arriving home a month to the day before the book sold. Writing a soldier hero was a way to honor him and men like him. Tactics, technology, and uniforms change, but courage and honor are constants.
Incidentally, when I say that technology changes, I don’t just mean the obvious things like weaponry. While Nathan was in Afghanistan, every time I heard about something horrible happening there, I’d rush to Facebook to check how recently he’d updated his status. Two centuries ago I would’ve had to wait weeks or months.
Back when I was first writing The Sergeant’s Lady, I decided that if it ever sold, I would donate a portion of my royalties to a group providing help to soldiers or veterans in need. At the risk of drifting into political territory, I think as a society we’re all too often better at flag-waving than at any kind of tangible show of gratitude to the men and women who sacrifice so much for their country.
I’ve decided to donate to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, an organization that provides services, lodging, and activities for injured service members and their families at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital. I hope some of my readers will consider supporting them or a similar organization as well. Because wars change, but warriors don’t.