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!
Rats In A Cage
By Jim Kuiken
I was commenting on a Facebook post that I didn’t particularly agree with one day, and one of my nephews replied with a comment that both pleased me, and made me sad all at the same time. I was pleased because he appreciated the civility, but sad because he said that I always responded to things I disagreed with civilly, never using foul or disrespectful language, anger or vindictiveness…which he said was so unusual to see nowadays.
Right after that, I noticed a post by an individual that I felt very sorry for. He was so obviously filled with hate and anger towards the world, and felt that it was appropriate to spew his vile and filthy language and complete disrespect towards someone who had never done him any harm, and to my knowledge, is a person who shows genuine love and care for his fellow man. Pope Francis. His comment (filthy expletives deleted) was basically about ‘who did the Pope think he was, he’s not Jesus, he’s never done anything for us, why is he here in America’, etc… This young man seemed to think that the way to get attention was to make his denouncement of the Pope as hateful and personal as possible, either as a means of ‘trolling’ for fun, or out of genuine lack of any civility at all. Unfortunately, this seems to be more and more prevalent all the time.
I don’t have a problem with what someone else thinks, or even says, as long as it is civil and respectful of others, does not interfere with other’s freedoms, and does not deliberately harm others (like the Westboro Baptist Church, who I find absolutely disgusting).
Society is changing rapidly. Some changes are good, some are not. I was at a restaurant bar with my family some time ago, and there were three young men sitting at the corner of the bar next to us, using foul language in a place where there were families and children. I leaned over and addressed the one who didn’t seem capable of speaking quietly, or in a sentence where every other word wasn’t the ‘F-bomb’, and asked them to tone it down and stop using those words in a public place. He told me this was America, and he could say whatever he wanted. I replied that there were families including children present, and he said “so what”?
My reply was not as nice as the first one, and I basically told him that if he could not control his mouth, we could go outside and I would help him control it…or we could have that discussion right there, right then. Then he comes out with “I’m a veteran, you don’t want to be hitting a veteran”. After I explained that I was a multi-war combat wounded 30-year veteran, and I was still willing to have that ‘conversation’, his friends finally told him to shut up and they left.
Where has all the civility gone? Here are two thoughts.
First, we’re all Rats in a Cage, and it’s inevitable. This is the logical conclusion from the studies of Dr. John B. Calhoun, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., and his study of overpopulation of rats and mice in ‘Utopian environments’ in cages. Summarized, it says that:
The death of Civility is inevitable. Or...here's a thought...do humans have a higher intellect than mice and rats? Are they capable of basing their social behaviors on either a Higher Being and the morals of love and caring for each other, or, for those who don't believe that, at least behaviors and courtesies that help nurture and preserve civil behaviors towards each other in a civilized society? (yes, the redundancy of "civil" behaviors and "civilized" society is deliberate here)
In today’s society with all the strident and opposing political opinions, different belief systems, racial and ethnic strife, electronic substitutes for real interaction and friends, and all the other differences, we seem to be fracturing into more antagonistic and uncivil groups, or just becoming more anti-social in general. Like the rats in the cage.
Nature or nurture – the unsolved question. I continue to believe that nurture can overcome nature if we choose it, and the continued existence of civil society does require civil behavior. Disagree with others all you want, believe what you want, and act like you want…but please, do so civilly and with respect for others.
Image Copyright: pacoayala / 123RF Stock Photo