As I have mentioned in previous emails, book 3 in the Hometown Heroes series, Special Assignment, is releasing August 3. I wanted to give you a few behind-the-scenes glimpses of what went into writing this book.
First, meet our hero, Scott Blake. He’s a naval aviator flying a EA-18 Growler, which is an electronic warfare plane. Since this is book 3, he has made a few brief appearances in the previous books, Protective Custody and Flash Point. But because he hadn’t appeared too much, I had some freedom. Which is a good thing and a bad thing!
At the end of Flash Point, we hear that Scott has been in a training accident. And at the beginning of Special Assignment we learn pretty quickly that during the accident—which killed his electronic warfare officer—he got a traumatic brain injury.
I always like to give my characters big challenges to overcome, especially if they are quite personal. For Scott, since he’s used to always being strong and capable and powering through, a brain injury was a huge challenge for him. The brain heals at its own pace. You can’t force it, and you can’t power through it. It’s become a big point of concern in the military and in sports.
Plus, I’ve had some up close and personal experience with concussions myself. When I was about eight, I was hiking in the mountains with my dad and brothers. We were following a river up through a mountain canyon. Out in Southern California, there are a lot more big boulders and rocks than water in our rivers. So we were jumping from rock to rock.
And of course, my brothers were throwing rocks. They kept picking up bigger and bigger rocks, trying to see who could lift the biggest one and which ones made the biggest splash. I was staying out of splash distance and checking out the creek farther away. I bent down to touch the water, icy from melting snow.
My middle brother yelled something, and I looked up. He was holding a huge rock over his head.
I remember a thunk. And then the world went black.
When I opened my eyes, I was laying on my back on the rocks, and my dad and brothers were standing over me. Apparently, my brother’s rock had missed the river and hit my head, knocking me out cold.
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that story. Every time I wanted sympathy or to get my brother to do something, I’d just say, “Remember that time you knocked me out with a rock?”
Of course, back then, we didn’t know much about head injuries. If you could get up and walk around, you were fine. I have no idea if I have any lasting effects from that, but it makes for good sibling teasing!
If only Scott was so lucky!
Stay tuned for Melissa’s story.