Today’s veteran/author interview is with a fellow I met years ago in 2003, while we were serving together in Ft. Riley, Kansas. We were captains then, he in charge of a training team and me running the operations shop of a logistics battalion that supported his efforts. We learned a lot about doing more with less, and shared a few beers and good times. I’m pleased to connect with him again, and even more pleased to learn that he is the author of not one, but two suspense novels.
YC: Robert, could you tell us about your military service?
RM: Sure. I have served in the Army Reserve since gaining my commission via the Army ROTC program at Creighton University in 1993. I have served in various US and International locations, including mobilization to Balad, Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am now a Lieutenant Colonel with over 22 years of service.
YC: What were you doing when not serving in the Army Reserve?
RM: I have maintained a civilian/corporate career while serving in the Reserves.
I even went back to Iraq to work as a civilian contractor in support of the US State Department. I have completed two Master’s degrees during my career, one in business and one in information engineering.
YC: Tell me more about your current novel, Far From The Tree.
RM: It is based loosely on the story of David and Bathsheba in the bible. Here is the preview from the back cover:
“Who would’ve ever thought a kid like Tanner would get mixed up in a sexual assault trial and a King David-style attempted murder? The Middle Eastern desert is a long way from Western Louisiana, in more ways than one. Will an unlikely ally save him from an unknown enemy’s sinister plan?”
YC: So, is Far From The Tree a military book?
RM: No. The settings for some parts of the novel are military, but this is not intended to be a military book. It is a suspense novel centered on the interactions and motives between people, some good, some bad, and some questionable.
YC: Is that a different subject matter from your first novel?
RM: Yes. My first novel, NanoFears, was also a suspense novel, but a different setting and different storyline. The main characters develop technology to secretly eliminate terrorists from US soil, but sinister motives of betrayal and sabotage collide with the potential for genocide.
YC: So, how did you come up with the idea for those stories?
RM: They were both the result of an “a-ha” moment, and both concepts were conceived while performing Army service. The idea for NanoFears came while standing in line for vaccinations during pre-deployment activities for Iraq. As we were waiting for the vaccinations, someone asked what shots we were getting. Someone said they thought we were getting an Anthrax vaccine. I responded, “That is what you THINK you are getting. That sarcastic comment led me to think about substances that could be put into someone’s body without their knowledge and the sinister chain of events that could follow. The idea for Far From The Tree came from a dream I had one night while performing Reserve duty at Fort Hood, TX.
YC: Tell us more about you and your writing process. How did you go from having an idea for a book to writing one?
RM: Writing the first novel was a bit sporadic, and I learned a lot along the way (I released an updated edition in 2015). The current novel (Far From The Tree) was a lot smoother writing process. The funny thing is that I started writing both books before I knew how either would end. It was an evolutionary process in that I let the story develop as I was writing. I start with a general concept and outline, and then let the story and characters develop along the way.
YC: Is there a message in there, something you’d like readers to take away beyond being simply entertained?
RM: Both novels have a bit of a redemptive aspect to them. The reader gets to witness people’s character evolve through the course of the story.
Readers can find out more about Robert McKean and his books Nanofears and Far From The Tree at his Amazon page.