What: Author of the novel, BEACHHEAD, and the story collection, COLD WAR CANOE CLUB, as well as the editor of the award-winning HOME OF THE BRAVE anthologies. He served six years aboard the Navy’s oldest and newest ships and holds writing degrees from the University of South Florida and Queens University of Charlotte. He leads the DD-214 Writers’ Workshop for military veterans.
Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.
Congrats on the release of COLD WAR CANOE CLUB. Can you tell us a little about how this short story collection came together?
It was nothing I planned. In fact, I spent my twenties and thirties writing about everything but the Navy. Then, in 2007, I formed a writing workshop for military veterans. In advance of the first meeting, I sent a press release to the (now-defunct) Tampa Tribune hoping they’d list the workshop with my phone number on their calendar of events. Instead, a reporter called with interest in writing a piece about me and the workshop. During the twenty-minute interview, it came up that I didn’t require participants to write their military experiences, but they were welcome to. The reporter asked if I wrote about my own military experiences. When I said “no,” she asked why. That question made me recall the moment more than ten years earlier, when I assumed Tom Clancy had written everything about the Navy that anyone could want. But in the breath or two it took me to reply, I realized my stories would be different.
Needless to say, I wrote dozens of Navy stories in the years that followed. I’m beyond thrilled that sixteen of them made this book almost a decade later. More than half of the stories in the book have been published by journals and magazines like Noir Nation, Plots with Guns, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, O-Dark-Thirty.