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November 22, 2021

Apricot Marmalade and the Edmondson Transmittal follows a group of intelligence operatives completing special assignments in Thailand in 1968. The BookLife Review highlighted the “comic timing and crack dialogue” and said the book “will appeal to fans of military fiction, whether serious, pulpy, or satiric.” We spoke to Orey about his writing process and how his own intelligence experiences factored into his debut book.

How did your experience in the Army influence your writing?

I served for three years in military intelligence for the Army in the late 1960s. I spent much of that time in Bangkok, Thailand, with the battlefields of Vietnam just a short distance away. It occurred to me later that there might be a story there.

So, is this a true story?

Actually, no. Although it touches on a number of real events occurring within that time frame, it is fiction and very much tongue-in-cheek. But the framework within which the story is told reflects my real-world observations of the country and the various intelligence services operating there at the time. Those services included not only U.S. military intelligence but also the CIA, the Soviet Union’s KGB and GRU, and Thailand’s own intelligence service, known as the Armed Forces Security Center. And, in the book, all of those agencies come into play in one way or another.

As a first-time author, can you describe your writing process?

I created a set of fictional characters and then made detailed notes about them—their physical features, their family and geographical backgrounds, their likes and dislikes, and their idiosyncrasies. Then I referred to those notes often as the writing process unfolded. Naturally, some of these elements were modified a bit over time to meet the needs of the story. Also, I should share that I was working full-time throughout this process, so for me, writing was very much an evening and weekend activity, requiring patience and persistence.

Your book has been described as humorous and satirical. What are some challenges you found in creating those aspects of Apricot Marmalade and the Edmondson Transmittal?

There is, of course, the challenge, faced by every writer from time to time, of staring at a blank computer screen with inspiration nowhere in sight. Interestingly—to me, at least—my most amusing and creative insights usually have come before falling asleep at night or after waking up in the morning while still lying in bed. For that reason, I’ve always kept a pen and paper on the nightstand.

Who is your ideal reader and why?

The ideal reader for this book is someone who relishes historical fiction, especially historical fiction with a lighter touch. People who liked the books Catch-22 or MASH, or even former viewers of the M*A*S*H television series, are likely to enjoy Apricot Marmalade and the Edmondson Transmittal.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

As a matter of fact, I’ve been working on a sequel to this book for more than a year now—the same characters in the same setting dealing with new challenges. It’s tentatively titled Apricot Marmalade and the Sangsuwan Equation. I’m sure I’m not the first person to realize that writing is an excellent pandemic activity. It’s been fun! I’m now on my fourth rewrite and expect to be finished in the next couple of months.