Jonathan Raab is the author of Flight of the Blue Falcon, a military novel about the Afghanistan War, based on his time in the United States Army. He is also the author of the upcoming The Hillbilly Moonshine Massacre, a novel about UFOs, conspiracy theories, militarized police, and what it means to come home. He is also the editor in chief of Muzzleland Press, a horror and weird fiction small press. He lives in Golden, Colorado with his wife Jess and their dog Egon.
What’s inside the mind of a military fiction author?
That depends on what type of book it is. This is a novel, and my intention was to write something that was funny, tragic, true, and accessible for people who hadn’t been in the military. I had to be careful not to be too cynical—but I also wanted to tell a true war story, as impossible as that may be.
What is so great about being an author?
Um, you get to spend long hours alone, you’re wracked with self-doubt and anxiety, and then people criticize the work you’ve poured your heart and soul into. But sometimes there’s a small royalty check which helps buy beer, so I got that going for me.
When do you hate it?
When people learn I’m a writer and then tell me they don’t have time to read, or that reading is boring. Great. Thanks for sharing, guys.
What is a regular writing day like for you? Be honest!
Coffee + butt in seat + turning off social media and avoiding distractions. And more coffee.
Do you think authors have big egos? Do you? How do you know?
All authors have to have some sort of ego—otherwise, why would we think anyone cared about what we have to say? I try to avoid the “misunderstood genius” line of thinking. I do think I’m pretty good, but I try to stay humble and hungry, so that my writing improves, and I’m not colossally disappointed when I don’t sell a million books. Although, maybe someday…
If my book’s not for you, it’s not for you. I shrug it off and drive on.
What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?
I don’t bring it up first thing. If the conversation goes in that direction, sure. Otherwise it seems like I’m begging for attention. Most people say “neat” and that’s the end of it.
What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?
When I’m working on a project, I keep a regular writing schedule (five days a week). Right now, I’m pretty exhausted from writing back-to-back novels and constantly editing other people’s work, so I’ve allowed myself a couple of weeks off.
Any writing quirks?
Yes. My first drafts tend to be somewhat stream-of-consciousness. I’m not a perfectionist the first round. It helps me get through that all-important first draft.
Have you worked on your novel intoxicated? What was the result?
I’ve… imbibed a few while writing, sure. One or two drinks loosens you up. Any more than that and the quality suffers. The idea of the tortured artist or writer being an alcoholic because it helps their work is a total myth, and I get angry when people claim otherwise. Imagine how much better your favorite drunk writer could have been if they kept clean during the writing process.
What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?
Writing is somewhat of a selfish pursuit. It’s about working out your own issues, telling your own stories. If people don’t take me seriously and I never published again, I’d still keep writing. I’d still keep plugging away. Someone will appreciate it, somewhere. I hope.
Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?
I hear that. It’s a compulsion. It’s fun, sure, but it can also be excruciating. You write because you have to write, otherwise you can get depressed.
Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?
Clearly not. Although money helps!
Leave us with some words of wisdom.
Don’t let the blue falcons get you down.
Title: Flight of the Blue Falcon
Genre: Fiction – Adult
Author: Jonathan Raab
Publisher: War Writers’ Campaign, Inc.
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About the Book:
FLIGHT OF THE BLUE FALCON
“Jonathan Raab is not only a genuine advocate for veteran causes, he is a preacher of their tales; both fiction and nonfiction. His writing will immerse you into a combat environment that parallels the imagination of those who have never had the pleasure.”
—Derek J. Porter, author of Conquering Mental Fatigues: PTSD & Hypervigilance Disorder
“Jonathan Raab uses his experience to illustrate the raw world of the common soldier. His masterful use of edgy humor and intellectual commentary creates a space for discussing the military culture.”
—Nate Brookshire, co-author, Hidden Wounds: A Soldiers Burden
In FLIGHT OF THE BLUE FALCON (War Writers’ Campaign; July 2015; PRICE), a chewed-up Army National Guard unit heads to a forgotten war in Afghanistan where three men find themselves thrust into the heart of absurdity: the post-modern American war machine. The inexperienced Private Rench, the jaded veteran Staff Sergeant Halderman, and the idealistic Lieutenant Gracie join a platoon of misfit citizen-soldiers and experience a series of alienating and bizarre events.
Private Rench is young, inexperienced, and from a poor, rural, broken home. He’s adrift in life. The early signs of alcoholism and potential substance abuse are beginning to rear their ugly heads. He wants to do right by the Army, but doesn’t quite know who he is yet.
Staff Sergeant Halderman has one previous combat tour under his belt. He got out, realized his life was going nowhere, so re-enlisted to serve with the men he knew, and to lead the inexperienced guys into combat. He is manifesting the early signs of post traumatic stress, but is too focused on the upcoming mission to deal with it. He sees the Army for what it is—a big, screwed up machine that doesn’t always do the right thing—but he doesn’t think all that highly of himself, either.
Second Lieutenant Gracie is fresh, young, excited to be in the Army, and trying to adjust to the new to the military and his life as an officer. Although he faces a steep learning curve, he is adaptable and has a good, upbeat attitude. As he tries to forge his own path, he nonetheless turns to the experienced NCOs in his unit for guidance and support. He must continually make tough decisions that have no “right” or textbook answers. Yet these decisions are catalysts enabling him to grow in maturity, experience, and wisdom.
Preparation for combat is surreal: Rench is force-fed cookies by his drill sergeants. Halderman’s “training” is to pick up garbage in the blistering heat of the California desert for four days straight. Gracie contends with a battalion commander obsessed with latrine graffiti.
Once they reach Afghanistan, things really get weird.
FLIGHT OF THE BLUE FALCON is the story of three men who volunteer to serve their country. It’s about what it means to be a soldier, to fight, to know true camaraderie—and to return home.
This is a war story. This is their story.
Only the most unbelievable parts are true.