What’s Taking You So Long Kuiken?
By Jim Kuiken
“It’s the [genre], dummy!”
Well…ok…there are other factors, but the genre is a major reason it’s taking so long.
Second question. What the heck are you talking about, Kuiken? Geez…I guess I should’ve started with that.
Several of you have read some excerpts from ‘The Making of a Warrior’, the first book in the 10 book series about Bekker (see a brief description of the first five books, and the second five books here). Just a few of the comments I’ve gotten are:
“What a gripping account of a courageous soldier under fire. The stresses that [Bekker] endured where most of us would consider it unimaginable. It’s a riveting story with humor. I want to read more.”
“Dam, Jim I just finished the chapters and I am clamoring for more. It is a good read, I can’t wait for the book. Great job!”
“The chapters were unbelievable. I cried and laughed, then cried again. It’s like you’re living in the book when you read it…it just draws you in.”
“I have read [two of the chapters]… already got teary-eyed. I like the tone of the book too, and I feel like I am putting myself in [Bekker’s] shoes as I read it.”
“Your writing is so powerful. You warned me, but I was still blown away by how raw and powerful these chapters are. What you've experienced and lived through is unreal, and those experiences really show through in the way you write, making it feel so real and impactful. Thank you for the chance to get a sneak peek into what will clearly be an amazing series - I'm already looking forward to reading it.”
I’m extremely flattered and grateful that those who have read some of the excerpts feel so strongly about the book, and that I’ve been getting a lot of pokes and prods to get it out on the market so people can read the whole thing. That’s always a great feeling for a writer…but back to the question – what’s taking you so long, Kuiken?
When I decided to write this series of books, I based the general storyline on events, people, and places that I had personally experienced, been exposed to or knew of…and to make the storyline realistic, decided to write “Historical Fiction”. The only problem with this particular genre is that in order to be credible, the historical facts must be accurate, and from the period of time that the story takes place. Unlike many other genres, this takes a LOT of research.
One of my fellow writers, who is very prolific and successful (his books have sold more than three quarters of a million English language copies, been translated into 12 foreign languages, and appeared on more than 100 best-of or most-anticipated lists) writes Fantasy / Science Fiction adventure books. At one of his book launch parties that I attended, he said he’d written one of his most successful books in just 68 days…
With many genres, like Fantasy/Science Fiction, Romance, Crime, Horror, Western, etc., etc., the writer can fit their storyline into a completely fabricated world or set of events, or place it into a loose interpretation of periods of time, without having to ensure that the world or circumstances they insert the storyline into are accurate, or even exist at all.
Factual books, like History or Science and Technology, etc., have to be completely correct in the details of the book, time, place, persons and events, etc.
With Historical Fiction, it is a blend of those two types of genres. The storyline can be completely fictional, completely factual, or like mine, fiction mixed with fictionalized events and persons, inserted into a factual world, event(s), places, times, military units, etc.
That’s all a very dry way of saying that it takes me a lot longer to write my books because I not only have to research all the facts to make sure they are historically correct, but I actually have to research facts before writing some events, and craft parts of the storyline around those facts to conform with history.
I’ll give you a couple of examples.
The action portion of the story is based in Thailand, on military bases shared by U.S. Forces, conducting operations into Laos and Cambodia. Each one of the bases mentioned in my story was/is real, the units talked about in the story were actual units stationed on those very bases at the specific time of the story, and doing the very types of missions the story describes them doing…at that time!
I mention a formerly highly classified unit (Task Force Alpha) on one base (Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base) in 1974. In the back of the book, I not only have the research cites and links to both Task Force Alpha and Nakhon Phanom, I additionally have a link to a military video…in 1974…on Nakhon Phanom…which shows Task Force Alpha in that film! Just for fun, click here to see that short film.
The historical details are so accurate (yes, I am more than slightly OCD…), that even the dessert in the specific “C-rats” meal that I talk about – Beans and Franks – is one of the three actual desserts specified – Pound Cake – for that meal, as issued in 1974…(yup, spent almost two hours finding all that out…).
Even the specific model of the bullet (M118) used in the specific weapon (M40A1), and all the weapons, helicopters, and other military gear listed in the story are the historically correct ones for that time in that place – and have the cites and links to back them up.
All told, there are about 2 - 3 hours (minimum…sometimes longer) researching for every hour of writing. I wish it wasn’t so, because believe me, I’d love to already have the first two books published and be on the third one by now.
But these are the books I’m writing, in this genre, because they fit the storyline of the series. And according to the reviews I’m already getting…it’s worth it!