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The Ghosts of My Lai
JC Braswell
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Magothy Publishing
Date of Publication: April 20, 2017
ISBN: 0-9979909-3-5 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-9979909-2-9 (eBook)
 ASIN: B06XNVPB2P
Number of pages: 264
Word Count: 89,700
Cover Artist: Marcy Arnold
Book Description:
Lieutenant Chris Williams and his platoon flee My Lai—the site of an unfathomable massacre during the Vietnam War—only to have their helicopter shot down over unchartered jungle. Disoriented and separated from the outside world, Williams faces the unenviable task of navigating the waylaid band of survivors to safety. But Vietnam has other plans…
Fear begins to trump logic. Specters of the assault call for them during the jungle nights. The escape mission descends in to mutiny as they discover an unknown threat unlike the Viet Cong hunts them from within the primitive environment.
Williams soon realizes that survival is not possible without first confronting the ghosts of My Lai…and the sins of their past.
Interview with the Author

What initially got you interested in writing?

An overactive imagination. I’ve been writing short stories since I was in elementary school, sometimes to the detriment of my grades.  I can’t tell you how often my teachers caught me daydreaming. Then I started drafting novels back in law school. It wasn’t until ten years ago when I started taking it seriously.  Seventeen novels later and I don’t intend to look back.

Then there’s also the power of the written word. With writing you can convey a message without beating someone over the head with it. There’s a reason why the classics stick out.

How did you decide to make the move into being a published author?

If I’m being honest, I don’t consider myself an author. Am I published? To a point, but I don’t have the “street creds” yet to consider myself an author. My reader base is extremely small, and I only have three full-length novels and a short story out there. I think I’m more like writer, you know?

It has nothing to do with being validated by big publishers. The publishing industry is in such a state of flux with e-books, self-pubbed authors, and the, well, we’ll call it the mentality of the decision makers. You have a flood of liberal arts majors acting as barriers to writers. Most come across as political zealots who can’t see the forest through the trees they want to plant. I’ve read several interviews by agents, etc. The whole “need diverse writers/books” is a joke.

At some point I hope I’m validated as an author, but I don’t know when that is. I would hate for 2 million words to go to waste.

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

I’m not that important to think that I can influence a reader into taking away a certain message, but I hope at some point I do. Most of my novels are about self-discovery, the gray areas of human nature, faith, and redemption. I make no bones about my subtle messages in my books.

My Lai is a perfect example of my writing. You have a protagonist who battles his internal guilt while trying to hold a small band of soldiers together. Most of us deal with stressful on a daily basis. We try to hold our families together while dealing with internal strife. It also makes us grow as individuals, at least those of us who don’t take the easy way out.

Unfortunately, modern society says a pill can solve everything. Our culture has climbed mountains of adversity without the help of pills in the past. I also find it quite troubling that media romanticizes terrible outcomes, including suicide. Terrible, just terrible.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

It certainly isn’t the money.

Readers who ask questions about the characters I write, especially those characters whose fate remain uncertain. It’s pretty cool to see someone really like my books. It really is.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

Loneliness until the characters take over. Sometimes it’s difficult. I’m not going to lie, sometimes the minute details of grammar is a pain.

What advice would you give to people want to enter the field?

Be prepared for rejection. Be prepared for disappointment. Be prepared for questioning whether you’re wasting your time.  Be prepared to quit a million times.

Also, don’t get into it for the fame or the money.  Go into computer programming for that.

What ways can readers connect with you?

Email me at jc@jcbrasewell. That’s the easiest way. My website is www.jcbraswell.com. All of my other contact information is there.

Excerpt:
“So what’s the
plan now, LT?” Simmons moved his arms in a repetitive semicircle manner like he
was making a snow angel in the leaves. “We just going to sit here and wait for
the jungle to take us? Or do you think we’ll just die from boredom and
exhaustion?”
“Quiet,
Simmons,” Garcia said.
“We keep going.”
He didn’t want to let them know that they might be stalked by a tiger, which
would only cause more panic in the group.
“I guess there’s
only one answer right now,” Donovan said, resting back on his elbows.
“What’s that?”
Harris asked.
“We’re screwed.”
Donovan could summon a smile even in the direst of situations, thrusting his
hips in the air. “We’re completely and totally screwed. No chance at all.”
“Please don’t
say that,” Harris’s voice cracked.
“Donovan,
seriously? Why do you have to go on and say something stupid like that?”
Jackson nudged Donovan’s thigh. “You’re gonna scare the kid.”
“’Cause it’s
true. He’s right.” McEvoy smacked the back of his neck, smashing some insect
guts into his skin. “Look at us. Nobody wants to say it, but we’re lost. No
map. A useless compass. Not much food. Lost. And don’t get me started on these
bugs.” McEvoy slapped the back of his head again, this time catching the bug
and causing it to pop like a balloon. McEvoy gagged as he looked at his palm
before wiping it across his thigh.
“They sure seem
to like you,” Simmons said. “Must have some of that sweet boy blood.”
“Why do you have
to start when I’m worrying over here? And I don’t have any sweet boy blood.”
“Enough. No more
talk of death,” Williams said, tossing one of the river pebbles he kept in his
pocket at McEvoy. “No more talk of anything. We take a short sleep and get
going.”
“If you say so,
boss.” McEvoy squirmed as the rock plunked him on the shoulder.
“What I wouldn’t
give to listen to a little Doors right now. Just fade away with it all.”
Donovan looked up at the stars. “Seems appropriate to die while listening to
some good music
“How’s the
injury?” Garcia dropped to one knee and went to untie Williams’s makeshift
compression bandage. “I’m not sure how many we of these left. Maybe one.”
“Shouldn’t I ask
how your shoulder is doing?”
“No need to
worry about something small like that,” Garcia responded. “I’m not the one with
a rotting leg.”
“Since you put
it so gently.”
“You said it
yourself. Might as well be honest. We’re just a sideshow.”
“Touché.”
Williams knew there was reason to be concerned. He could smell the infection
from three feet away: rotting eggs. Based on Garcia’s tempered reaction, it
could only be getting worse.
“Hey, what about
the radio? We’re on higher ground. Might be worth giving it another shot.”
Harris, with his naïve youthfulness, held on to a simple hope.
“Go for it. Not
like it’s going to hurt,” Williams answered, drifting back to the memories in
his mind. Seagulls cawed from around Annapolis harbor, the zip of a fishing
line pulled as a fish splashed on the surface. It was only a pipedream.
“It ain’t even
turning on,” McEvoy said. He clicked the switch a few times, relying on a
miracle that would not happen.
“Oh, come on,”
Harris whined. He slapped the radio a few times—the old magic trick never quite
worked out for anyone with experience in electronics.
“Relax, guys.
That things as useless as both of you.” Donovan said, drumming his fingers
along the ground to the beat of whatever Doors song played in his head.
“Wait. Think I
got something.” McEvoy’s words called their attention. The radio whined as
McEvoy adjusted the knob until a muffled song broke through the static.
“What’s that?”
Jackson asked, leaning in as if he could listen better.
“I don’t…I don’t
know.” McEvoy honed in on the signal until a distinct muffled chant emerged.
The small troupe stared at each other, a mixture of confusion and disbelief as
the unknown words captivated them.
“It can’t be,”
Donovan said.
“Maybe some
local station?” Harris asked.
The chanting
grew more distinct with little melody to the deliberate words.
“A local
station…out here? No damned way.” Williams said, noticing the VC perking his
head up with a glaze covering his face. It was as if the chanting signaled the
VC to wake.
“These people
have some weird tastes,” Jackson said.
The troupe
gathered closer, exchanging glances between each other and the radio. The
lights flickered with the strength of the foreign words, the dials shifting
back and forth.
“You recognize
any of this?” Williams looked at McEvoy.
“I…no. It’s…too
old. An older dialect.” McEvoy shrugged.
The chanting
intensified, the chorus of foreign words almost shouting. The treetops around
them rustled as a stiff breeze suddenly rolled across their makeshift camp.
Williams looked back at their VC prisoner, who remained silent, transfixed by
the radio’s signal.
“This ain’t
right. None of this is right.” Harris withdrew from the contraption.
“Hold on to
yourself,” Donovan said. “Nothing we can do.”
Louder. Faster.
The radio shuddered with the strength of the signal.
“Turn if off.
Turn it off,” Garcia demanded.
The VC’s lips
started to move, almost in unison with the chanting, but he did not make a
sound.
“I’m trying.”
McEvoy twisted the dials, but the radio refused to obey.
Its housing
crackled then sparked, causing McEvoy’s arm to snap back. The sharp smell of
burnt rubber and metal poured out of the case. Then, with a pop and brilliant
flash, the radio went silent, its light fading to black. The VC then dropped
his head in concert with the chanting as it came to an abrupt halt.
“Jesus,” McEvoy
said, blowing on his finger.

 

“El Diablo,”
Garcia muttered in a voice low enough for only Williams to hear.
 
About the Author:
A fan of Lewis, Hemingway and Tolkien, author JC Braswell writes in a few different genres including Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Young Adult.
In addition to writing JC is a practicing attorney specializing in estate planning and corporate law, he is the recipient of the American Health Lawyers Association award for his legal writing.
JC makes his home along the Chesapeake Bay with his wife and two children.
You can visit his website at www.jcbraswell.com  and check out his podcasts at www.freestateradio.com
Author website: http://www.jcbraswell.com

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