When I published my first novel, Where’s The Ivy?, I had several other books in progress. One draft is complete, awaiting a rewrite. I call it The Inheritance. It is a story about a troubled young boy who has disappeared about the same time as his alcoholic step-father from a small town in Oklahoma. The locals have been perplexed for the three years the two have been missing. The discovery of a skeleton in the woods near the town upsets old memories and brings to light rumors of a large inheritance that might have befallen the boy’s grandmother and mother, who are found murdered.
I love that story, but after reading a book about the Vietnam War, I forgot about what I was writing and was inspired to read more about the war. As a Vietnam veteran, I identified with the pain, the sorrow, the fear, and the confusion of the author and the characters. I was determined to read more books about Vietnam.
The more I read, the more I saw of the violence and inhumane lives that our soldiers lived. But, something was missing. I felt everything the authors tried to put into their books. But, still, something was missing. Something that had nagged at me for forty years since I had been there. Something I couldn’t quite identify, like a glimpse of someone that you know, but you don’t recognize. It bugged the hell out of me.
Then, I thought, why don’t I write my own story about Vietnam. As a helicopter pilot, I was thrust into a strange and inhospitable environment, at least inhospitable to me. As I struggled with the memories, some of them grated against the courage to write about them. I slowly became aware of what it was I had tried to understand but didn’t want to remember. Before long it all came pouring out faster than I could write it. I am nearly finished with the draft and, with the help of my writer’s group, I am making sense of what I have written.
I call the book, The Other Vietnam War. For every soldier who fought there, the Vietnam war wasn’t the only battle he had to face. There was another war, more disturbing and more deadly than the one everyone thinks about. It was the war the soldier fought with himself while trying to make sense of the war he fought against the enemy. I hope to have the book ready to publish before the end of the year. Check my website, mcullison.com, for updates.