A Little Gallows Humor

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So there was a discussion of World War II on a friend’s FB page.  Specifically, we were discussing the Red Army’s rampage through Eastern Germany in mid-1945.  This, of course, got me thinking about how history has…evolved when discussing certain events.  Perhaps a sliding scale is in order:

Young’s Ascending Levels of War Crime Severity

  1. “My opponents can’t cry to the refs, so they’re crying to the Hague. Thank goodness we mailed in our funding check last week.”
  2. “Mildly uncomfortable discussing in polite company, but still good cricket, ol’ boy.”
  3. “They did it first, we’re doing it last, and by God we’re going to be running the damn tribunals when this is over…”
  4. “Okay, so one more time: Our story when the JAG interviews us is…”
  5. “Thank God for the modern chemical industry, flammable evidence, and CNN budget cuts.”
  6. “Well yeah we took scalps, but it’s not like we took their ears. Okay, fine, we didn’t take the ears of anyone under 15.”
  7. “Action Jackson?  No, I’m Andrew Jackson…”
  8. “Bad news, Honey:  Your Hague appointed attorney is not sure if they will have more luck arguing you did not receive enough mandatory training, were born 5 centuries too late, or are experiencing a persistent spiritual possession by Simon De Montfort…”
  9. “We’re going to spend the next “x” years shrugging our shoulders and going, ‘Meh, it was a different era…’ when asked about this.”
  10. *somber narrator voice* “Genghis Khan looked down upon their acts from Valhalla.  He proceeded to giggle like a blushing school girl.”

A Bit of A Miscue

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So one problem about the blog tour that I exacerbated by doing two books at once is that it’s easy to get the wires crossed if careful.  The Avid Reader was promoting On Seas So Crimson, and I managed to think it was doing An Unproven Concept.  Didn’t catch the mistake until the post was up.  In any case, here’s the interview:

 

1. What inspired you to write An Unproven Concept?

When I sell the book in person, I tell people it’s a mix of Battlestar Galactica, Robotech, and Halo.  These are several of the influences and inspirations for my sci-fi works.  Mainly I also wanted a military sci-fi series without “hero shields,” i.e., true peril for all characters involved.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about the next books in the Vergassy Series or what you have planned for the future?

The next book out will be Though Our Hulls Burn…, which is chronologically a prequel.  One of the criticisms that I got the most from readers in response to An Unproven Concept was that a lot of “big picture” things were referenced by not fully explained.  So going to go back 15 years to 3035 and explain what happened.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in An Unproven Concept?

Without giving away spoilers, I take a “large cast so I can whack some of them” approach to casting decisions.  I also believe that characters, like real people, should come into a story with a past.  For instance, Mr. Marcus Martin is a former Confederation Marine officer who lost his entire platoon in an incident prior to the start of An Unproven Concept.  This has led to him having mental trauma and feelings of worthlessness that play a role in his decisions as the starliner Titanic’s chief security officer.

4. You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

My favorite author of all time is Jack McKinney (pseudonym), the author of the Robotech series. The two men who actually wrote under the singular name did an excellent job of taking the rather thin background of the anime series and expanding it into something deeper.

As to actual singular authors versus collaborations—I’m a fan of early Harold Coyle and David Drake.  In both cases, it’s how visceral they make their combat scenes and characters.

5. If you could time-travel would you travel to the future or the past? Where would you like to go and why would you like to visit this particular time period?

I always think this one is a loaded question.  I mean, the last thing someone wants to do is time travel to, say, “Up Then” in the Terminator universe.  With regards to going backwards—well, let’s just say if I show up on an Antebellum Plantation things are not going to end well.

But…if I had a choice where I could just observe without being scene or interacted with?  I’d like to go backwards to the Titanic, as I’ve always been a student of the wreck.  Forward?  I’d go forward 100 years to see if we actually get our flying cars.

6. Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

Yes.  My wife, fellow author Anita C. Young, and I have five pets.  Our two dogs are a Newfoundland-Labrador mix and a Blue Heeler / Shepherd of some sort.  As to the three cats-we have one senior cat and two kittens.  The kittens were what happened when we went to “pick up an older cat that was familiar with dogs.”  Whoops!

Random Confessions: 25 Things

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S0 on FB there’s always these “lists” that are bouncing around.  Given I did one of them, I thought it’d be funny to go back and see how the answers changed and provide a little commentary.

1.) I was a German citizen for over 17 years.

Still true.  I was born in what was then West Germany just north of Frankfurt.  My father used to threaten he was going to report me to the German draft board if I kept making a nuisance of myself.


2.) I have finished three books.

Uh, yeah, this has changed just a little bit.  At the time there was the book that is The Vladivostok Thing on here, Returns and Cataclysms (where we first meet Will Colfax), and An Unproven Concept.  Think just maybe we’ve added a few things, no?


3.) Of the three, one was deleted by my sister / lost by a friend and two are in the process of being fixed.

Obviously also not true.  R & C will eventually become at least two books.  I mean, it’s still technically done, but there’s a lot of surgery to do there, plus I have to bridge from After the Scythe to where R&C begins.  Why yes, I to can hear Anita C. Young screaming “FINISH A BLOODY SERIES!”

4.) I am scared of snakes–and I’m not talking a little bit.

No really.  Not a fan of the legless lizard clan.


5.) I have been bitten by a brown recluse spider.

Still have the hole in my back, yes.


6.) When I was young I used to have a stuffed tiger that I took everywhere.

Seriously.  As in, when my sister and I went on a cross country trip with my Uncle Bruce and Aunt Delores, I was once inconsolable when I thought we’d left “Tiger” at a rest stop.  Mysteriously, Tiger showed up about the point we were about to turn around because I was staging a one child mutiny.

7.) At age three I was nearly killed by a drunk driver, with the only thing saving me being my knee catching the dashboard.

Ever want to know why I lack remorse on drunk driving?  This would be part of the reason.


8.) Around age seven I drove a truck through an apple tree, nearly hit a shed, then ran over a barbwire fence.

It’s not important how the truck got into drive or neutral.  What is important is that the only reason I am typing this for you today is I went full octopus on my mother when she ran down the hill and got the truck door open.  “You were so pitiful and scared that I just didn’t have it in me to get an arm free and beat your behind…” I believe is the exact quote.  Also note that I did all of this without the truck being left on.  Gravity, thou art a heartless wench.

9.) Two years later, I saw a tornado about a half mile away. As I was known to think every cloud was a tornado, no one believed me until after the neighbors told my parents it had taken out their shed.

“Well, I don’t care what you people do, I’m going to the basement.”  Note that this refrain was repeated at least one more time in my life.

10.) I am allergic to shell fish–and found out about the allergy the hard way.

Pro tip–when your child tells you he’s not going to get sick, he’s lying.  Trust your instincts, and make him stand on the side of the road another five minutes.  It’ll change your life…and prevent you having to clean the van.

11.) I had to take Chinese for a year in college.

What’s worse?  I tried to use it to woo a young lady from Taiwan at an all girls college.  Yeaaahhh, that wasn’t the plan I should have gone with… (to paraphrase a certain musical). All’s well that ends well.

12.) I have shaken a President’s hand.

Bill Clinton was holding my diploma in his other one.  Funny story–several years later, a classmate was my brother-in-law’s superior.  Said BIL never mentioned he was related to me.  Classmate is coming over for his farewell dinner, sees the 8.5 by 11 picture of me shaking President Clinton’s hand, and asks, “Why do you have a picture of JY on your mantle?!” 


13.) People have a crazy habit of giving me nicknames.

None of which I’m putting on this blog.  Nor will other individuals.  *displays delete button*


14.) For my 21st birthday unsavory individuals, aided and abetted by my classmates, ambushed me, covered me in shaving cream, and tied me to a laundry rack.  There are photos.

15.) I have lived outside of the United States for 3+ years of my life.

First nine months of my life in Germany, one year in Korea, then two years in Germany (the second time).


16.) Went to Hawaii twice. Wasn’t impressed.

Glad I crossed that off the bucket list on someone else’s dime.  Expensive, with atrocious traffic.  Pass!

17.) Sometimes when I travel bad things happen at the places I visit. You know, like floods, heat waves, etc.

True story.  It’s not as bad as it was, but there was serious discussion about taking me off the traveling team at work.

18.) I have been the manager for a women’s basketball team.

Army Women’s basketball, 1993-1994.  There are pictures.  Friends have put them on FB.


19.) I once crossed the New Jersey turnpike on foot.

Because everything’s legal in New Jersey.

20.) I watched the movie The Crow three times when it was in theaters–and only the first time was planned.

Yeah, I’m a bit of a fan of The Crow.  I wish they’d make a sequel.  (“But James, they made a…” “SILENCE!  Like Highlander, there are no sequels!”)

21.) Malt balls are a guilty pleasure.

Not Whoppers.  Malt balls.  I can live with Whoppers in a pinch, but I love malt balls.


22.) I used to have an overdeveloped competitive streak.

“How cute you say this in the past ten…”  “SILENCE! When I run into a brick wall trying to beat you in something, we can talk about how it’s still overdeveloped.”

23.) When I was young I thought my father was Japanese.

No really.  Convinced he was going to get in trouble for World War II and interned.  Whee bit of trouble placing things historically as a young lad.

24.) In my defense, the man was fluent and did nothing disabuse me of this notion.  That is, until one of my teachers commented on how brave he and my mom were as an interracial couple.

“I just think it’s really brave what you two are doing.  You know, being of different countries and all.”

“Still think it’s funny now, Jim?!”–Mama Shark

25.) I laugh inappropriately (i.e., when really mad or really upset).

“I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral…”<–Song lyric I nodded sympathetically to.  I blame my gallows humor.

Random Confession

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So, every so often I will reveal something about myself my readers may not otherwise know.  Today’s confession:  I like ABBA.  I mean, not like “Commander Lewis, OMG the only thing I have on Mars is disco!”-level, but I am an unabashed fan.

 

 

The better half, fellow author Anita C. Young surprised me with tickets to Mama Mia! for my birthday a few years back.  Somehow that was the first time I ever heard this song despite having the “Greatest Hits” album since the 1990s.  Ever since then, it’s been my favorite.

Having seen the play then the movie, I’m much more partial to the stage production. I’m not saying Meryl Streep doesn’t hit the the targets, but I think there’s was way too much “Oh look what we can do with all this scenery and background!” Meh. The energy just wasn’t there.

If pressed, however, I will admit that my favorite ABBA song of all time…

(“Wait, stop. You’re a military sci-fi author. Saying you have a favorite ABBA song hurts your street cred like Jay-Z saying he has his favorite llama.”

 

“Tell me what is more terrifying than having your entire fleet die before your eyes to ‘Dancing Queen?’ I mean, it’s not Minmei-level horror but it’s gotta be up there, right?”

“Shit. Nightmare fuel, man, nightmare fuel.”)

…is “The Winner Takes It All.” Yeah, if “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is the amicable divorce, “Winner Takes It All” is the “I’ve got the house, the kids, and the car…and I’m still taking a bath with the toaster as soon as he drives off with her”-parting. Just ugh. I’m not saying it’s the most gut punchy song of all time (that list will be coming later), but it’s a “Songs to Slit Yout Wrist By” staple.