This is long overdue, as I've been meaning to do it for a very long time. And as a break from revisions, I decided there's no time like the present to do a little blog on behind the scenes of The Soldier's Homecoming.
I'm a bit of a military fanatic. My favourite tv shows centre around army life...The Unit, NCIS, Battlestar Galactica...and I think it's a fundamental attraction of acting under pressure, doing the hard jobs while maintaining a core of integrity, and the sexiness of being extremely capable that does it for me. There is something very attractive about the discipline and conviction that speaks to me, combined with a very real respect, even dare I say, a patriotism that just has me hooked.
It probably started even back as far as when I started my writing journey after 9/11. And a seed of an idea from an earlier book - Almost a Family which was published by Samhain Publishing - kept niggling at me. I kept thinking of a heroine, with a young daughter, and how she would have felt abandoned. And then The Soldier's Homecoming came to me, because this book started with the hero, Jonas. I knew I had a hero coming home, wounded, feeling guilty and broken. And the pieces came together...SHE was the one he'd left behind. And HE didn't know the daughter existed. I did my casting, aren't these lovely pictures of my characters? (Ok, so it's really Sienna Miller and Scott Foley, but you get the idea.)
Well, then I had a problem. And again, perhaps it was that very basic respect within me but I knew I had to do this book RIGHT. So, I got some books on Canadian Peacekeepers, and I read a book called Friendly Fire which documented the case where four Canadian soldiers were killed in a friendly fire incident. It wasn't so much the facts of the case that touched me...it was the reactions of the men in the company. The things they had to live with EVERY DAY. That was what my Jonas was living with, and I felt it very deeply as I started the story.
Of course, I never experienced being a sniper in a far away land, or getting my butt blown off by an IED, so I put out the call for help on e-harlequin. No word of a lie...before the end of the day I was put in contact with Jane and Doug Eaton...if you've read the book, you'll see them in the acknowledgements. Nicola Marsh (Romance author) also helped with the physio info, and the setting, well, that's my home town. It was fun to visit it finally in a book...though with all the changes, I ended up exchanging e-mails with my BFF a good deal, making sure the landmarks I remembered were all still there.
Well, my other problem is that I fell quite a bit in love with Jonas. He was a character that really dominated and well, keeping focus was difficult. I had pretty substantial revisions, and I think the hard work was worth it. When I got the author copies, and I read it, I was, and am, very proud of the book it became.
Did I have a soundtrack? I get asked that a lot, and yeah, I did, in a way. I definitely had a song...Far Away by Nickelback. The first time I heard it I started crying because it was just JONAS to me....see? I get so invested in my characters! But I try to tap into those feelings and then translate them on to the page. After the book was finished, I discovered RyanDan singing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, and I wished I'd thought of that song sooner, because it just wrecked me.
So, there you have it...a little bit of how The Soldier's Homecoming was born.