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.

Distracted by Death: New York Stories


I used to have an obsession with death. Lately, I have come to think of it as more of a distraction but it still definitely sparks my imagination. I’ve just published a new collection that contains all of my novellas and short stories in one place, titled Distracted by Death: New York Stories on the Smashwords independent author site. Smashwords is great. One of the reasons I choose Smashwords is to have book files transformed into different types of ebook formats easily. Then you can choose which version to download based on what type of device you’ll use for reading.

Distracted by Death: New York Stories is a horror fiction collection. A few of the novellas were published alone previously, and many of the stories come from my first book Death and the Dream. The price of the collection (1.99) is lower than if the others were individually purchased.

From the Catskill Mountains of my childhood to New York City and its science research labs, the tales uncover psychological horror in ordinary people’s lives. The characters, young and old, explore the fine line drawn between life and death. I bring my biomedical science background to some of my stories, many of which feature a female scientist character. Working in Genetics and Molecular Biology for many years, I found science had some horror to it.

Here’s a glimpse of what’s included in the collection, Distracted by Death:

Mouse Chimera: A letter from a young city scientist written to her Mom as a lab notebook entry the night she is accidentally locked inside an experimental mouse colony.

Lab After Dark: A researcher who is isolating DNA finds her activities may be linked to the custodian Leon’s health.

The Doctor’s Dreams: On New Year’s Eve, a doctor has mysteriously gone missing. Looking for clues, her brother discovers her secret dream diary and types up her nightmares.

Mosquito Song: A New York City scientist, Antonia, flies to Puerto Rico to investigate genes linked to an unborn baby’s death.

After the Layoff: Mom and workaholic chemist, Eve feels like a decapitated, single head of household after a surprise layoff at work.

The Finest Mask: A gene hunter travels from London to New York City in search of an illusive gene for perfect skin to prevent the ravages of infections and disfiguring scars.

Underground: A detailed account of an unfortunate event underground in the New York City subway system.

Summer off: A young city girl, Sandy, visits her Aunt in Horseman’s Valley and cooks up trouble when left to her own devices.

Brooklyn Song: A Mom juggles responsibilities of a toddler and a baby at the Brooklyn Income Maintainance Center.

Mother’s Love: In an old farmhouse upstate, teen Greta does unthinkable things trying to regain her Mother’s love.

Before the Funeral: A New York loner carries on a monologue in a city park, practicing what to say to her family when they arrive for a funeral.

Rabbit Nightmare: A university student dreams of rabbits, a boy, and her German professor in a nightmarish journey.

Way to Heaven: A three year old, Luna, tries to reach heaven while hiding in an old shed.

Shepherd’s Night: A young couple come upon a German Shepherd unexpectedly while driving in a snow storm.

Good Neighbors: An older woman living in New York City takes her niece on a walk in the Village to show her the “good neighbors” at Christmas.

Spring Awakenings: Noticing city plants just awakening in the spring soil, a hitman on his day off experiences sudden, unexpected forgiveness.

Rain Dream: After a long rainy day of outside work, a city scientist becomes obsessed with watching live lobsters displayed in a tank where she has dinner.

Rose Death: Old Viola, a music teacher reaches the end of her days in a garden awaiting a child’s visit.

I hope you will come have a look at the new collection and like some of the stories. And please leave a review to share your impressions.