I didn’t set out to write military romantic suspense. I was a fantasy and thriller writer, though always with “strong romantic elements.” After all, what’s more fun that a love story? Right, my point exactly.
Bottom line, there I am learning about helicopters on the side of my foodie thriller. And in my research, I learned about a great deal of truly intriguing technology. Then I stumbled on the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, who call themselves the Night Stalkers. These are the dudes who fly secret missions for much of the U.S. Special Operations Forces, including the raid on bin Laden’s compound among hundreds of much less publicized events.
And here I think is where one of the great joys of being a writer pays off, and one of the great secrets of writing as well: I went down the rabbit hole. I was intrigued and I followed that curiosity I followed it all the way down to the transfer application (because you can’t even apply to fly for SOAR without at least five years helicopter experience in the Armed Forces.)
On the transfer application, there used to be a little box that said, “Men only.” (That only changed recently.) I had been wanting to write a true romance for some time and I’d actively been hunting for a story to tell. And in that instant, I had the key to all of my military romantic suspense writing:
The first women to fly for the Night Stalkers,
and the men they deserve.
With that as my motto, I launched into writing and was an overnight success.
Not really, just kidding.
What I launched into was two years of research into every aspect of SOAR, helicopters, and most importantly the stories told by the men of Special Operations Forces. For in a romance, the most important thing is getting the character right and that constituted the bulk of my research reading and interviews.
I have come to love my women who fly to battle in "The Night Stalkers" series and fly to fight forest fires and worse in my "Firehawks" series. Perhaps the most surprising lesson for me in all of this has been learning a deep, deep respect for the men and women who choose to serve in the U.S. military, especially those who serve at the tip of the spear in our Special Operations Forces.
To this day, I research nearly as many hours as I write, always seeking authenticity while still honoring both the military I have discovered, balanced with the demands of the love story that is what I set out to tell in the first place.
|coming Sept 2, 2012|