The Effects of Being a Military Brat on Writing, by Steve Stroble
Please welcome Steve Stroble, author of numerous dystopian, sci-fi, adventure, and short stories anthologies. I met Steve on the Books by Brats group at Facebook, run by fellow author Patty Tracy Perrin. I have no doubt my own upbringing in the military has impacted my writing, as I lived in Europe until I was almost 6, surrounded by castles and medieval towns, and spent later years on the East Coast, visiting numerous historical sites.
Today, Steve writes about his own experiences and how they've impacted his writing.
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Such rootless childhoods have produced many artists, actors, musicians, photographers, and writers. Maybe that happens because such children often use imaginations to create their own worlds or universes, different from their childhoods of packing up and saying “goodbye,” moving to a strange place, making new friends, saying “goodbye” to them, and moving again, over and over and over.
Mom’s introduction to military life as a wife waiting, praying, and wondering at home set the stage for what was to come during the next 3 decades when Dad decided to remain on active duty for the USAF. Because her husband was a navigator, he was away a lot flying in whatever and wherever the USAF told him to. Sometimes, the 2 or 3-day flights stretched into TDYs (temporary duties), longer periods of him being assigned elsewhere. A military spouse has to have a strong soul to endure. Maybe that’s why strong female characters show up in my stories.
In Southern California, Dad worked as a USAF liaison to the aerospace industry during the space race to put an astronaut on the moon. He would bring home black and white photos of aircraft used during preliminary testing to simulate what astronauts would encounter in outer space, such as the X-15. One of his Christmas presents to me was a colorful map of our solar system’s sun and nine planets (this was long before some of the lesser, most distant ones were called into question). He also favored taking the family to double features at the drive-in when at least one of the movies was a science fiction thriller about human beings meeting strange aliens from some distant planet. All of that fed an imagination that I have tapped for several science fiction and dystopian novels and short stories.
Serving in the military for 29 years gave my dad a lot of stories, which he loved to tell his children. One of them: “One time on a flight, the navigator told the pilot that if he continued on his present course, the plane would crash into the side of a mountain. The pilot ignored the navigator. So the navigator had the captain sign his log book’s entry that he had permission to bail out of the plane by using his parachute.” (Long pause.)
“The navigator bailed out and the plane crashed into the mountain and the rest of the crew were all killed. The navigator survived.”
“If the sun hadn’t come out when it did, the Russians would have either shot us down and killed all of us who were on that plane or we would have been forced to land in Russia and probably ended up in some prisoner camp in Siberia and none of you kids would ever have been born because this all happened before I met your mother.”
Such storytelling, passed down from military career father to military brat, birthed in me a desire to write stories. But most of all, being a military brat teaches one the following: The world owes you nothing If you are going to survive, you need to learn to adapt Life is one long compromise because you don’t always get what you want, such as growing up in one place If this is Tuesday, then it must be…(fill in the blanks: any one of the 50 states of America or some foreign country that I’ve never even heard of or read about)
Others have written in greater detail about the life of military families, books, both fiction and nonfiction. Here are a couple of them you may want to read:
- Eat, Drink & Be Mary: A Glimpse Into a Life Well Lived by Michelle Mras and Tony Mras
- MacArthur’s Children by Dary Matera
Both books are available from Amazon. Happy reading.
Steve Stroble writes novels, novellas, and his favorite, short stories. "I know I have a lot of nerve asking you to spend time with my imaginary characters instead of with your family, friends, neighbors, even acquaintances or strangers, because truth and real people are stranger than fiction," he says. "But to keep your investment of time to a minimum, you can read some of my short stories. A sample of them is available by visiting his blog, https://shortstorystop.wordpress.com/."
- February 26: I'll be reading on the Vehicle of Expression, part of the Art Shanty Project
- February 25, 2017: I will co-host Food Freedom on AM 950 with Laura Hedlund and Karen Olson Johnson. Guests: Michael Agnew, craft beer expert and Ross Fishman on Russian literature. We'll taste Russian beer: listen to the whole program from last month.
To learn more about my books, click on the images below.
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