BookLife Talks with Christopher Irons
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Reclaiming Our Own'
You wrote the first chapter of Reclaiming Our Own in 1997. What caused you to pick it back up and finish two decades later?
I grew up around books. My mom was a public librarian. I remember her bringing sacks of books home from the library. She always had a book close by. My love of reading and writing comes from her. I started the book while on a one-year tour of duty in Korea. I remember calling my mom and telling her I was bored and lonely. She mentioned that those were great reasons to get lost in writing a novel. I spent a few months plotting and building characters. Before I left Korea, I had put the first chapter on paper. As with many of our goals, life got in the way. Twenty years later, my employer was downsized and I had some unexpected free time. I was cleaning out old boxes of my military records and discovered the original chapter. I had an immediate connection to it and felt an overwhelming need to finish what I had started. It took me two more years to complete it. It’s not perfect, it may not sell many copies, but it is something I am proud to have accomplished.
How did your writing evolve during that time?
All writers aspire to get better. When I look back at my early writing, I see that I have become better at the craft. Evolving as a writer means moving into finding your voice and your emotional connection to your writing. I think of myself as a character writer. I love a good plot, but complex characters move the needle for me. Over the years, I have found that I embed a piece of myself in all of my characters. It’s a bit cathartic to release your fears and regrets through writing.
If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be and why?I would give the book to veterans’ friends and families. Several of the characters are combat veterans and are based on some of my dearest friends. One of my goals was to raise awareness of PTSD through those characters. Many people associate PTSD with combat experience only. In reality, PTSD can show up for many other reasons. Parts of the book offer a deeper understanding of how PTSD affects a person and how she or he deals with it.
What is the one thing you most want to tell readers, other writers, or booksellers about you or your book?
The readers are the most important. Whether you are giving the work away for free or trying to sell it, the readers give you an audience. I would first thank the readers for taking the time to read my work, and then I would ask them for patience as I get better at my craft. For the writers out there, keep plugging along and get the work done. It’s not going to write itself. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to be finished. Booksellers, give us indie authors a chance.
What are you working on now?
Reclaiming Our Own will be a trilogy. I have already started book two and have ideas for book three. I plan to take on a female main character next. That will be quite the challenge, but I am up for it.