Veterans and my novel, Brindle 24

J.J.Brown father photo

On Veterans Day I always think of my father and our veterans. I think of their families and how far the ripples of shock spread out, too. My father was a veteran of WWII; he joined up underage after his older brother, Gerald, was killed in the war. Those wartime experiences had a huge influence on his life – and on ours. As kids, we heard so many stories, so many memories, and confusing discussions between out parents about war. These always ended with the eternal hope for peace – my father, like some of the other veterans I’ve known, had become a pacifist.

J.J.Brown father photo
Veteran Norman Brown, the author’s father

Two fictional characters in my third novel, Brindle 24, are veterans I based on memories of my father, who had already passed away from lung cancer at the time I was writing. The characters Officer Joe, and David, a father, are both veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. Their friendship grows from a shared past in the service, and both were drawn from my father’s personality.

In Brindle 24, which takes place over 24 hours, the veterans are dealing with an environmental emergency in a remote rural town, Brindle. The area is a lot like where I grew up, Freehold, New York, and the struggles there are very personal to me. David’s teenage daughter is trying to make sense of the changes on their property and the surrounding hills after fracking (gas drilling with hydraulic fracturing).

David is a tragic character, and an anchor in the story. Officer Joe is a main character who witnesses changes fracking brings, and crimes that occur as reactions. His main role is to protect families in Brindle from devastation the gas drilling brings.

In Brindle 24, the veteran characters work through some of their residual trauma from Iraq. In real life, my father’s time in Japan’s targetted cities at the end of the war shaped him in many ways. He remembered walking through the destroyed areas and just keep going after the atom bombing, and talked about bringing food to people who survived. He sometimes told us stories about his experiences when he took a break from working out in his garage beside the house, and his tales became a part of my childhood imagination.

The PTSD was hard for me to understand then, but now it all makes sense. Sudden noises or loud sounds would startle him, and he had no tolerance for fireworks, no interest in parades. His wartime memories filtered the remainder of his life through the perspective and the scars of being a survivor of WWII, where his brother and so many men he know had died.

You can find Brindle 24 in most places books are sold, Amazon, in print and on kindle and other e-readers. Leave me a review and let me know what you think – maybe a veteran in your life shaped your childhood too. So many of us were children of soldiers.


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