HOW/WHY DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
In the eighth grade I had an idea for a movie, I wrote it down, and by the end of high school I’d written two other films and one book–all of them horrendous of course, but I’ve been writing ever since.
IS IT TRUE THAT YOU GOT YOUR FIRST BOOK DEAL WHEN YOU WERE ONLY 22?
I wish I could say that it was because of some Bret Easton Ellis level of early talent, but, really, it was due to blind luck. A friend-of-a-friend worked in publishing and read an early draft of Mass Casualties, the timing was right for such a story, and shortly thereafter they made me an offer.
HOW LONG WERE YOU IN THE MILITARY?
I was in the Army Reserves for six years, with a little over two years on active duty (a year of which I was deployed to Iraq).
DO YOU STILL TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS FROM THE MILITARY?
Yes, but not often enough.
WHAT CAN I DO TO BECOME A WRITER?
Write every day. Surround yourself by other writers. Read every day. Maybe get an MFA, too, if you’re inclined for such a route.
WHICH SHOULD I READ FIRST, MASS CASUALTIES, OR CIVILIANIZED?
I would start with Civilianized, it’s my second book, written after I received my BA and MFA, and it’s a better written than my first, which was based on my journals in Iraq. I would then suggest reading Mass Casualties to further understand what led to the events/circumstances in Civilianized.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS ABOUT WRITING MASS CASUALTIES? LOOKING BACK WOULD YOU WRITE THE SAME BOOK?
Mass Casualties was written/taken directly from journal entries when I was 21/22 years old and serving in Iraq. I then pieced it together into a memoir when I was 21/22. It’s been almost ten years since the book came out and I don’t think any writer (or sane person) would write the same book in their 30’s that they wrote in their 20’s.
I am glad, though, that Mass Casualties was published when it was. At the time, I was young, pissed-off, freshly back from war, and it provided a perspective that isn’t often seen in war memoirs. A lot of war memoirs are written by men and women who were older while at war (at publication, I was the youngest guy to have his war memoirs traditionally published), or they’re written years after the fact when the men and women are simply recounting the days of their youth.
Writing it when I did, in the way that I did, offered a front row seat to the thoughts/emotions of a 20/21 year old soldier in war. If I were to write it now, the stories would obviously still be the same, but there’d be a different tone, different perspective.
WILL YOU READ MY MANUSCRIPT?
I’m always happy to help a fellow writer–and feel free to ask any questions–but manuscript editing takes A LOT of time. I’ve done it in the past though, and you can always check the “Work Together-Editing” tab to see if I’m open for editing jobs.
If you’re a military veteran who needs help on your manuscript and/or writing advice, for the past few years I’ve been a mentor for the Veterans Writing Project, and I suggest you reach out to them. It’s totally free and you can either be paired with me or one of the other volunteer mentors (all mentors are traditionally published authors).
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes! Check back in periodically for updates and/or follow me on social media and sign up for my Newsletter for upcoming projects and book releases.