BookLife Talks to Melia Meichelbock
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Diary of a Woman's Misadventures in Iraq'
Meichelbock’s debut, Diary of a Woman's Misadventures in Iraq, is, quite literally, the diary she kept while deployed in Iraq in the mid-2000s. The BookLife Review stated that “What sets Meichelbock's story apart is her remarkable authenticity in capturing the mundane amid the perilous…she explores the lighter side of an emotionally charged experience. This is a compelling perspective of a female soldier.”
What made you want to publish your writing?
I was not sure what to expect from a combat deployment as a woman. I was a U.S. Army Reservist, one weekend a month, so I had little experience with active duty and zero experience with combat. I looked for something to read to research what to expect from the experience and there was nothing out there. I went into the deployment blind. I thought keeping a journal would be a good outlet for any fear and frustration, but also in the back of my head was the idea of eventually sharing the experience to help others.
How do you make sure you are telling “the truth” about events that happened decades ago?
I logged events in the journal daily from my 2004-2005 Iraq deployment, each entry is a fresh account of what happened as it happened. They are true and authentic accounts of what I felt at the time. I did not add anything new to the book beyond my introduction and closing remarks. Some journal entries are so detailed that they are a bit embarrassing. The many bathroom challenges immediately come to mind. I left the entries in despite the cringe of having others know these awkward details about me. I wanted to keep it real.
Was there anything, anecdotes or photos, that you wanted to include but couldn’t?
If I could go back in time, I would include more about my relationship with a character in the book I call “All American”. There are details about the relationship turmoil in the book, but I don’t think I expressed enough about how I felt. I didn’t want to go back and try to fill that in because it wouldn’t be authentic. Truth be told I’m not sure I realized at the time how strongly I felt.
As a current marketing executive, are people surprised to learn that you’ve served time in Iraq?
Absolutely. It is rare that I meet someone with military experience, and if I do, they are typically men. When I tell people I come from a military family, everyone assumes it’s my spouse, or someone else, but certainly not me. When I initially joined the Army, most friends and family were shocked. I had a recent college degree, and some friends expressed that they thought the military was for individuals that don’t have options. It makes me sad that people perceive serving your country as something to do when you have no options. When I told the drill sergeants in my initial training that I joined to serve my country, they laughed at me and said I was full of s@#$!
How do you imagine readers at this moment will connect to it?
Anyone who has experienced not fitting in, whether its within their career, education, or other groups, will relate to the book. That is what it is about at its core, the ups and downs of a fish out of water trying to find their place and connect with others. I think the book is also a great way to learn about war and history in an engaging first-hand way. Military books can be a bit intimidating if you are not already a genre buff. I have received feedback from individuals who say they are not typically readers and that they enjoyed reading the book and found it engaging. It gives me a sense of pride that the book has captured the attention of people who do not typically read and may turn them on to more reading in the future.