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Interview with author C.G. Carey

Please welcome Chris Carey, author of Temporary Problems, to today’s author spotlight on Britbear’s Book Reviews.

Temporary Problems full coverFrom Goodreads:

John Fox has succeeded in a achieving a mundane life, the suburban house, the silver car, and the steady white-collar job. He doesn’t know anything is lacking, until he meets the woman who will be the love of his life, Sheri. Events conspire to separate the lovers, and in an attempt to avoid returning to the humdrum, John immerses himself in military life and ultimately the war in Afghanistan.

In Operation Herrick, John’s journey takes him from flying on secret Royal Navy helicopter missions, to eventually participating in ground combat operations with American Marines. He finds that war has its own allure of passion, terror, and humor, but at what cost?
Set in contemporary Britain and Afghanistan, Temporary Problems draws parallels between love and war, each having the power to heal and destroy.

Buy Temporary Problems at Black Rose Writing.

Hi, Chris. Wecome back to Britbear’s Book Reviews. Tell the readers–what was your inspiration behind Temporary Problems?

Do you know the saying that there is a book in all of us?  Temporary Problems was the story inside of me.  It’s a cliché answer, but it’s the truth.  The book mirrors my relationships with love and war and how they have both affected me.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read Temporary Problems?

I had written this for broad-spectrum appeal, and I think I came close to achieving that.  Most of the feedback from men and women has been positive but many agree it leans more towards a male audience.  It is written from a man’s perspective.

The story is entertaining enough for light reading, but it also supports the deeper messages.  There is coming of age, love, war, and even a bit of travel around Scotland.  On the military side, it is written from an unusual standpoint.

How much of Temporary Problems is based in reality?

That is very difficult to quantify, it ranges from total fabrication to near word-for-word diary entries. Some of the experiences were not my own, and almost everything in the book has been fictionalised to a greater or lesser degree.

The messages and feelings in the book are real.  Most of the events are based in reality.

There you go, a long and a short answer!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It was in first grade, my father inspired me.

If you had to choose, which writer(s) would you consider a mentor? What is the most important lesson(s) you learned from reading his/her writing?

I usually read non-fiction and am not fixated on any particular author in that genre.  Of the fiction that I have read though, Tom Clancy is whom I have read most and so he must have influenced me a bit.  On this project, Bing West did provide some sage advice that I embraced.

I was fortunate to recently read a manuscript by Rodney Page.  That manuscript reminded me of some basic techniques for writing fiction, in particular methods to prevent over narration.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes!  Writing from the female perspective is particularly challenging for me.  I cannot count the number of times my wife laughed out loud at my attempts to write women’s thoughts and dialogue.  Seemingly, I don’t understand women too well.  Luckily I had a lot of much needed assistance with those parts.

How would you describe your writing style?

My wife strained to say, “contemporary, lively, and insightful.”  She’s the smart one.  I would call it rough, ready, and direct.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I have read all of my reviews and have thus far been able to reply to most of them. I am grateful to anybody who has taken the time to read my work and then taken even more time to review it.

At this stage, if somebody asks me a question, I’ll try and answer it, and then thank him or her.  If somebody is positive, I like to thank them.

[With regards to] advice for handling negative reviews?  I try to remember that peoples’ tastes in books are a lot like tastes in food and drink – they are all highly subjective.  Although I want everybody to like my book, some people will not.  Some suggestions I take on board, others I do not.  And then I thank them.

If the reviews are in a forum like Amazon or Goodreads, etc., I look forward to reading them, but unless asked directly by the reviewer to provide a comment, I plan to leave those forums to the readers.  The audience deserves to have their say without me chiming-in.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

I can’t think of anything I would never write about, but I would have to find some aspect of it interesting.  I can laugh at most things and that opens up a lot of topics, although the end product may not be what people expect.

What’s your next writing project? Can you tell us a bit about it?

I’ve got a few ideas for my next book project, with two front runners.  I’m either going to write of my great-grandmother’s experiences around the time of the Russian Revolution, or a fast-paced military fiction piece set in the Middle East.

My great-grandma lived a very interesting life, especially early on, and my parents interviewed her in the early 1980s.  It might be my first attempt at a creative-nonfiction/memoir, as her story is incredible.  I may fictionalise it into a novel.  Either way it would also be an incredible challenge for me.  I mean, write a whole book from the female perspective?  Daunting.

I learned from this book where some of my strengths are as a writer.  Writing about the war, although emotionally difficult in places, was creatively easy for me.  The words almost wrote themselves.  I may write to my strengths and blow up Iran, ISIS, or maybe Detroit.

Thanks for the informative interview, Chris. Where can readers learn more about you and your writing?

Webpage | Facebook |

About Christopher Carey:

cgcarey-author-photoC.G. Carey grew up in California and is a lifelong Oakland As fan. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines at 17 as an Infantrymen and later attended university in Scotland. He commissioned into the U.S. Navy where he went on to fly in E-25 off of the Eisenhower, Royal Navy H-35 over Afghanistan, and serve with the U.S. Army in Iraq. His awards include some Air Medals and a Combat Action Badge. He retired to Virginia.

Book Excerpt from Long Time Passing by Ed Levesko

Please welcome author Ed Levesko to Britbear’s Book Reviews with an excerpt from his novel, Long Time Passing.

ed levesco cover 2In Long Time Passing:

Long Time Passing is set in the 60s, a time of turmoil in America. Jonathan, the main character, was drafted into an army he did not believe in, and thrust into a part of the country he did not understand. Despite all of this, he finds unwavering friendship among his fellow soldiers, and tries to deal with being exposed to bigotry and prejudice so prevalent in the south. And although an immense personal tragedy shatters his idea of who is—throwing him into years of desolation–in the end, he comes to terms with his life, and discovers love and his own humanity in a way he least expected it.

Excerpt from Long Time Passing

I stood outside the auditorium. For an instant, I felt like maybe I should just turn around, get in my car, and hit the road. It really was tempting to do that. I started to laugh to myself and decided that, what the hell, I was here, and I might as well go in. It would not hurt me to say hello. Slowly, I walked in. The place was a pretty good size. The stage was brightly lit, but where I sat in the back, it was dark and I saw Julie in the middle of the group of girls while she was showing them how to do some dance movements.

I must say that seeing her on the stage gave me a bit of a jolt. I was not sure what I was expecting to find. Julie had turned into a very attractive and lovely young woman. Slender, with very long, light, brown hair now in a ponytail. She moved with the elegance of a dancer and her svelte figure was also a surprising element. Her movements, as she was showing her students what she wanted from them, were graceful and precise. I had a tough time seeing her now mixing the images and memories of a sixteen-year old that I remembered. No doubt about it. The change was a wonderful surprise.

But I felt apprehension, too. I must admit that I thought maybe I should get out of there and just keep on going and not meet her. Her presence on that stage made me think of Leggs, again. I watched Julie conduct her class. I was impressed by the command she had of what she was doing. I have always admired the beauty and elegance of women dancers. I sat in the darkness, quietly enjoying what I saw. The class ended and her students all said good-bye to her and left the stage. She was the last one and as she started gathering her belongings, I got up and said to myself: it is now or never. So I walked down toward the stage.

As I approached, she saw me but did not recognize me and started to walk toward the back. Then, she stopped! I knew she knew it was me. At that moment, everything came to a halt. She stood still and did not turn around immediately. I could sense she was trying to get over the shock, so I did not say anything or move toward her.

Slowly, she turned around and I could see her dark eyes were glistening and she gave me one of the loveliest smiles. She was shy and seemed unable to move. I finally took the steps up and walked toward her. She kept looking at me and I could clearly see not the young girl of my past. I was now in front of a very attractive young woman who no longer seemed afraid of her own shortcomings.

I was seeing someone who had instantly changed in front of my very own eyes. It was like some kind of time machine that in one fleeting moment had transformed Julie from the shy girl that I remembered into this strange beauty. That transformation in front of me was unique, mysterious, and magical. It was how nature works. Julie had filled in the right places. I could also sense that, as she was looking at me, she was challenging me in the way that only females know how to challenge men. She had become a lovely and beautiful butterfly!

“Remember me—?” I foolishly did not know what else to say.

Time stopped. I felt a bit lost, which surprised me. I did not know why. She did not answer. She just walked toward me and embraced me. She held me close to her for what seemed a very long time. I could smell her perspiration along with her perfume and for some reason this added a very attractive and almost animallike effect to the situation. She then pulled herself away from me, looked at me, and was shaking her head.

You almost gave me a heart attack. It felt like I had to pick my heart up off the floor—how could you ever ask that question,” she said, and broke up in big smile that lit up her face with more wattage than the stage lights could ever have.

“You’re right. It is a stupid question. But how are you? You’ve changed?”

“Not that much.”

“Oh, yes. Much, so much. I’m floored by what I see. All I remember is this young, shy, girl who once acted in a play that I directed and who wrote me a poem and—”

“Do you still have it?”

“Yes! One of my few possessions that I have always treasured.”

“How long?”

“Ten years.”

“Ten years!” she said, softly. She shook her head and hugged me once again. It felt funny, for it occurred to me that there might be people who saw us and I started to laugh at my own idiocy.

“Why are you laughing?”

“I was just remembering that once you and I sat on an empty stage much like this one, and we talked about many things. Remember?”

“Of course I do. It was also when I first told you that I was writing a poem for you.”

“Yes, I remember that.”

“But you, how are you?” She kept looking at me not completely sure of what was happening.

“Well, I’m OK.”

“Only OK?”

“Well, once I’m over the shock of seeing you again I will be—I don’t know, better, happier, less fearful.”

“Fearful? Of what?” She seemed surprised.

“Of your reaction about seeing me, again. I thought that perhaps you might have forgotten me, or something—I mean it’s been so long.”

“Fear not. I will always remember you. But, what are you doing here?”

Yes, what was I doing here? It was the simplest of questions. And I found myself tongue tied with no clear answer. None of the answers would make sense. None. I was there, that was all. She was looking at me and seeing I was having a tough time clarifying within myself the reasons why I was now standing in front of her, she gave me a reassuring smile as if to say: now, that is a silly question of me to be asking you. So the truth would have to do even if it was insufficient and banal.

“I drove into town so I decided to visit the old theater. When I saw the poster of Anne Frank, I asked the GI there if he knew anything about you. He called his boss, and that led to finding out you were a teacher here. It was a wonderful surprise! I really was not looking for you. I was just curious. And, here you are. It is fantastic to see you again!”

“Jonathan, oh, Jonathan. If you only knew how many times I thought about you and—”

She stopped. I detected a doubt in her eyes. And tears came to them. She did not try to hide them and I pulled out my handkerchief and gave it to her. She took it and dabbed her eyes a bit. And she laughed.

“I’m messing up your handkerchief with my mascara and I’m also making a fool of myself. I had promised that if I ever ran into you again—a totally unattainable and insane hope just a few moments ago—that I would not act this foolishly.”

“Come on. You’re not acting foolishly.” I took the handkerchief from her and softly touched her eyes.

“There, as good as before.”

She laughed. And took the handkerchief back from me.

“I will wash it.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you going to stay for a while? I mean . . .”

“Actually, I haven’t thought much about that. I really have no plans of any kind.”

“We have much to talk about.”

“Yes, I think we do. Are you still singing, playing your guitar?”

“Less now. I’m so busy with other things. I think that in many ways, I prefer dancing to singing or playing the guitar.”

“I didn’t know you were into dancing.”

“I was doing it back then, but for some reason the subject never came up when I talked to you. So I never said anything. Can I tell you a secret?”

“Sure.”

“When I tried out for Anne Frank, I was afraid to tell you I was also interested in dancing. I was afraid you wouldn’t cast me because I wasn’t sure if for the part of Anne Frank, you’d prefer not to have a dancer. And I wanted the part in the worst possible way.”

“Really? You know, thinking about it now, I’d probably not have cast you. Dancers can be, well, how can I put it?”

She made a face. I started to laugh. And she understood that I was joking.

“I’m just kidding. I would have cast you whether you were a dancer or a chimney sweeper. You were perfect for the part.”

She started to laugh. I could well imagine then, the sixteen-year old fearful of making a big mistake for something that she wanted to do very badly.

“Anyway, from what I saw a while ago, I’d say that I loved seeing you doing it. It gave me another view of you. I discovered something I didn’t know before. I was impressed.”

“Thank you. I love dancing. It sort of allows me to express myself in a different way than through singing or playing the guitar or even acting. It also allows me to help others. I have also been back in the old theater at Fort Bragg. Some kids at school did a dance recital there once, and—”

And her voice suddenly got very soft, it sort of faded into a whisper.

“Listen, I don’t know how busy you are but if we can get together tonight, that is if you are free, maybe have some dinner before I hit the road . . . that would be fantastic.”

“Is this a date?”

She was now making fun of me. We both laughed. But there was a slight hesitation on her part. Perhaps I should have been more careful about asking her to join me for dinner. After all, I had no idea what she was doing, how she was living. Did she have a boyfriend, a husband, somewhere? Her left hand had no ring of any kind. She could have taken it off for the class.

“Well, yeah, it is a date. I mean—”

I was suddenly tongue-tied. I realized that I might be imposing on her and I did not want to do that. She waited a few moments, as if thinking, and finally coming to a decision.

“It would be great. I have other things to do but they can wait. This is such a special occasion that everything else now seems less important.”

“And your parents, your sister?”

“Only my mother—my father was killed in Vietnam.”

She stopped and looked at me in a way that seemed distant, and painful. I knew her father had been a military man all of his adult life.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

She shrugged her shoulders in that unmistakable way we all have of not wanting to deal with unpleasant things, without wanting to wallow in our painful memories.

“My sister is fine. She turned out to be a nice person, after all.”

“Come on she wasn’t that bad, was she?”

“I love my sister. Well, only when she‘s not borrowing my clothes and I have to go after her to get them back.” She smiled at the vagaries of sisterhood.

“Yeah, I hear that can be a problem.”

“OK, I have to go home and get out of these clothes.”

“Do you want me to wait for you somewhere?”

“No, you can come with me. I have my own place.”

“Boy, you are a grown up.”

“What did you expect to find after all of these years, still that silly young girl filled with crazy dreams?”

“To tell you the truth I didn’t expect to find you. I wasn’t looking for you. I saw the Anne Frank poster with your name at the theater in Fort Bragg. It was an amazing surprise to discover you still lived here. I’m so happy that it has turned out this way.”

“Are you, really?”

“What kind of question is that? Of course I am. It’s fantastic.”

“Just checking,” she said, and she laughed. “Anyway, I went away to school, but after I graduated I decided to come back and live near my mother and sister. I thought it would be good to be near them. I thought my mother would need me. It turns out that she is very independent and is quite busy with all kinds of activities and projects that she doesn’t have time for me. Which is a good thing, really.”

She laughed a great uninhibited laugh, which made her look fresh and so young. She seemed to be free with no hang ups. I had forgotten that people can still enjoy life.

“Come, just follow me and I’ll show you where I live.”

She took my hand and I followed her. I thought, boy this is turning into something that I had never expected. When I started reflecting on things, my life was always turning, twisting, up and down. Never in a nice and straight road. We walked out of the auditorium to the parking lot where I had left my car.

“You still have your convertible.”

“Yeah.”

“You never let me ride in it.”

“Come on it’s not true. We just never had the occasion, that’s all.”

“Will you let me drive it one day?”

“Never.”

We both laughed. She stood watching the car for a moment in silence.

“OK, follow me.”

About the author:

logo ed levesko SmEd Levesko Served in far-east while in the army during the Vietnam War. Went to the Sorbonne, in Paris. Was a freelance journalist while living in Europe. Has traveled around the world. Speaks several languages. He’s working on another book. Lives in Los Angeles.

Learn more about Ed and his books at http://edlevesko.com/.

The OIF/OEF Diner’s Guide

Britbear’s Book Reviews welcomes fellow Black Rose Writing author CG Carey, and his book, Temporary Problems, for today’s guest post, The OIF/OEF Diner’s Guide.

Temporary Problems full cover

From the back cover:

John Fox has succeeded in achieving a mundane life, the suburban house, the silver car, and the steady white-collar job. He doesn’t know anything is lacking, until he meets the love of his life. Events conspire to separate the lovers, and in an attempt to avoid returning to the humdrum John immerses himself in military life and ultimately the war in Afghanistan.

In OPERATION HERRICK, John’s journey takes him from flying on secret Navy helicopter missions, to eventually participating in ground combat missions with American Marines. He finds that war has its own allure of passion, terror, and humor, but at what cost?

Set in contemporary Britain and Afghanistan, Temporary Problems draws parallels between love and war, each having the power to heal and destroy.

Buy Temporary Problems on Amazon and Black Rose Writing.

The OIF/OEF Diner’s Guide

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down and then up again, I felt obliged to put together a diner’s guide to reminisce.  Who knows, maybe those who feed the troops in the future will incorporate some of the highpoints?

I’ve not included anything smaller than the Forward Operating Base level, as the food supplied anywhere smaller would likely have been delivered from a F.O.B., or would have been field rations/MREs.  Not to mention that the ambience at such locations was often marked by burning feces, near constant automatic weapons fire, and various forms of fireworks provided by the local population and their foreign visitors.  In other words, they sucked too bad to be mentioned.

Worst to Best

Camp Buehring, Kuwait

There were up to three dining facilities (DFACs) on Buehring and they all sucked.  The largest and fanciest of the three was the worst.  This was a small training base, and the only location on the list to give me food poisoning.  If you find yourself at Buehring, stick to Subway.  No stars.

U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Pasta without sauce, and sauce without pasta; who cares as long as the suckers keep paying their mess bills, right? Ham sandwiches every day – yes, every day for aviators.  My squadron saved the sandwiches up and used them for an eating competition. There were no winners.  Adding insult to injury was that we had to pay for that crap they called food.  Once on that tub, you are screwed as there are no other options.  Your best bet is to steal cereal at breakfast, and eat it every meal day, every day.  If you’re flying, pray to divert someplace – any place.  Walk on fat because you’re going to get skinny.  No stars.

Camp Bastion Cookhouses – All, Afghanistan

From the island that gave the world haggis, Britain felt obliged to again display its culinary ineptitude to its former colonials.  At no point should roast turkey breast have air bubbles running through it.  Bizarrely, they managed to do just that and it tasted as strange as it looked.  Whoever was running the place also had a sense of humor, as there was signs posted everywhere reminding people not to sneak out any food.  Don’t worry mate, it was everything in me just to get through the door – your chow’s safe.  It was often loud and never failed to disappoint.  One star.

Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

This was one of the fancier DFACs.  It was also over crowded and the food tasted like crap.  If you could get a seat, you would regret having waited in line to eat a marginally better meal than you received at Bastion.  Still, it was better than Bastion, and was pretty flash with neon signs and flat screens.  One and a half stars.

Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan

Maybe I had set my hopes too high?  Maybe I had consistently selected the wrong options?  Maybe it was just shit?  It was always quiet when I visited though and the contractors all wore white shirts with black bowties.  Although the food sucked, the quiet and absurdity of seeing those bowties in Helmand scores Dwyer a solid two stars.

Victory Base Complex – All, Iraq

I don’t remember all the names of all the DFACs on Liberty, Slayer, and Victory, etc. but as a rule, the food was mediocre and the atmosphere loud.  Sometimes they served wings, and some clown thought it was appropriate to shout, literally shout, about those wings non-stop.  I still fanaticize about his violent demise.  Two and a half stars.

Ali Al Salem, Kuwait

This DFAC was run by the Air Force, and you could tell.  The food was much better than Buehring, but it still sucked.  It was so flash inside though, wow!  Lights, neon, flat-screens, tiles, plates and silverware! Three stars.

C.O.B. Speicher, Iraq

This place was nice, big, clean, and reasonably quiet.  It showed the signs of quality suffering from too many mouths to feed.  The food was notably better than anything in Kuwait and VBC, and it was quieter too.  Nowhere near as flash as Ali Al Salem or Arifjan, but much flasher than the top three on this list.  Three and a half stars for only being mildly disappointing.

Flight Line DFAC Camp Bastion, Afghanistan

This was like your local dive.  It was not particularly clean, it could get busy, and the air-conditioning struggled to cope a lot of the time.  All that being said, it was pretty quiet, and was far superior to its closest competition, the Bastion cookhouses.  They also often had Gatorade and fake beers.  I usually liked what these guys fed me, and that they were open when other DFACs were closed.  Four stars for good food, staying open, and being quiet.

Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

Maybe this rank has been inflated because the Brit cookhouses sucked so badly, but when looked at objectively, it has to score highly.  It had identical quality food as the Flight Line DFAC.  Although housed in giant tents, it still gave the illusion of cleanliness and space.  It was often very busy, but usually quiet when I went.  It also was a bit more flash with better air-conditioning than the Flight Line DFAC.  Four and a half stars.

F.O.B. Summerall, Iraq

This place was not flash, but had the benefit of being in a permanent-ish building.  There were a few flat screen T.V.s.  This place was always quiet.  If guys spoke, it was at a near whisper.  The food was the best I’ve had on deployment.  The quality was helped by the fact that there were not very many people on the F.O.B.  It’s just as well the food was decent, as there were no other options except MREs or braving something from the locals out in Bayji.  Every Friday was stir-fry night, and you could count your stir-fry nights until leaving.  Five stars.

Summary

As a rule, the food we received in a combat zone was vastly superior to what we normally were/are subjected to back at home by our respective militaries, this is certainly the case for U.S. and U.K. forces.  I wonder what ISIS thinks of all the DFACs we left behind?

Did [I] miss your favorite DFAC?  Did you run into one worse than at Camp Buering?  Maybe you were poisoned at multiple locations?  Please feel free to add your stories and rankings in the comments below.

cgcarey-author-photo

About Christopher Carey:

C.G. Carey grew up in California and is a lifelong Oakland As fan. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines at 17 as an Infantrymen and later attended university in Scotland. He commissioned into the U.S. Navy where he went on to fly in E-25 off of the Eisenhower, Royal Navy H-35 over Afghanistan, and serve with the U.S. Army in Iraq. His awards include some Air Medals and a Combat Action Badge. He retired to Virginia.

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