"A fascinating inside look at families in the military and the courage, strength, heartbreak, and determination it takes to make it through. An inspiring read!" --Rebekah Kennedy, TV and film actress, appearing in Law and Order SVU, Criminal Minds, Season of the Witch, among others
Getting away from her abusive, soon-to-be-ex-husband, Susi Jury accepts the invitation of her lifelong best friend, Tracy, to attend the Navy Boot Camp graduation of her younger brother at Naval Station Great Lakes near Chicago. At a celebration for the graduates at a local bar, she accidentally spills red wine on a young, handsome sailor—Lance Wells. Love at first sight? Absolutely.
The next morning, as they lay in bed confessing their love for one another, she realizes that her life has just changed forever—and so far, for the better. Lance returns to the base and Susi to her home in Arizona. Soon comes the first hurdle in their relationship: Susi is pregnant.
What follows is a romance for the ages that spans more than twenty years. From a long distance courtship, followed by the birth of a daughter, then through marriage, overseas deployment, loss, loneliness, and eventually coming to terms with the effect that PTSD can have on a relationship.
As the years pass, Susi witnesses how Lance’s Navy experience as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman changes him. A short deployment during Desert Storm, a horrific plane crash on Guam, the horrors of 9/11, and the Battle of Fallujah—all seem to drain the spirit out of a once vibrant and devoted husband, leading to an act of desperation that finds Susi in a situation she could never have imagined.
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Tell us about your book?
The Corpsman’s Wife is a piece of me, a piece of my history and my life. While I talked to many military wives, as well as Veterans and active-duty Navy members it became more and more clear how tight knit our community is. The general public really does not understand the bond that exists in the military. You life somewhere for a few years, make friends and then you leave, most likely to not see each other again. Your children make friends in new places over and over, and you expect them to be ok with that. In a normal civilian marriage, you most likely do not experience stuff like that. What I’ve been told, by those who have read the book, is that it gets right to the core of military married life. The hardships, witnessing how your loved one changes through the events they have to deal with. In the case of Lance, one of the two main characters, he goes from a vibrant, fun-loving young man to a broken version of himself who no longer knows what point there is to life. The book takes us from how Lance and Susi meet and how their live changes as new parents, Lance’s deployments, the Korean airliner crash on Guam, and 9/11. The reader can literally feel Susi’s struggles to always be strong for her husband and the eventual battle she has to fight for him. While Susi and Lance are fictional characters all of the events in their story are very real. Few of us know what happened on Guam in 1997 but there is not one of us who cannot recall the moment the towers fell on 9/11/2001.
What is the PRIMARY benefit, above all others, that your potential reader will gain from reading this book?
(Be very specific. Please do not answer with 'good read' or 'page turner' or some other worn-out, overused phrase. Be concise and avoid generalization.)
It will give the reader an insight into a military spouse having to keep life running at home while her/his spouse is deployed. The duration of the book takes place from just before Desert Storm and then Iraqi Freedom. While writing the book I often wondered if there was anyone left in the country who had not crossed paths with someone who was in the military having served in the desert, had been there themselves, or who had not followed the news and stories. There are so many stories in film and books about Veterans and the military, but I thought it was time to show what happens at the other end of the spectrum. When your husband is deployed you can’t wait for him to come home to take the trash out or fix that leak under the sink, you can’t wait for him to accompany you to a parent teacher conference cause your son acted up at school again, you can’t wait for him to get the oil changed in the car or figure out while the fridge is freezing all the vegetables. It is all up to you, and you have to keep it together, for him thousands of miles away and for your family.
If you had to compare this book to any other book out there, which book would it be?
(Remember: The audience does not yet know you. It is very important that you reference something they might be familiar with to communicate effectively and powerfully what your work is about. You are NOT saying you are 'better than' or 'just like' this comparative, but are somewhat the same in a very general sense, to give the listener a point of reference.)
I honestly don’t know if there is a fair comparison. I read a lot and have read a lot of military books. The focus seems to always be a specific Veteran or active-duty person and their experience. There seems to be little focus on the family. Oh, wait there is one book I could compare it to: Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini. That is one book which also showed the struggles of the military family. The Great Santini focused on the life of an officer and his family while The Corpsman’s Wife focuses on the life of an enlisted sailor and his family.
Hundreds of thousands of books come out every year. Why should someone buy THIS book?
(What is it that sets THIS book apart from ALL those other books in the same genre or category? What will the buyer get from you and ONLY you that simply cannot be found elsewhere?)
During and immediately following Iraqi Freedom we were inundated with military stories. Stories of death, hardship, loss, and giving up but also stories of happy homecomings, families being reunited and fathers getting to meet a child for the first time. I’ve wondered over the years if we as a society became numb to those who protect our freedom. How many of us sat at dinner during the evening news idly chatting about our day while the latest death reports flickered across the TV screen. Out of all of the hundreds of thousands of books that are released every year there certainly is something for everyone but if you want something that takes you into a hospital hallway, standing feet away from a wife being told her husband is gone; if you want to feel the cold chill when one hears the numb, deafening sound of a heart monitor announcing the moment of death; if you want to experience the racing heart when you see that car pull up in front of your house and you wonder are they coming to tell you that your husband, the father of you children, the love of your life, has been killed in combat; the guilt you feel when you breathe a sigh of relieve that it is not your door they are going to knock on; then this is your book.
Who is your target audience?
(Be very specific. Gender? Age range? Geographic area? Primary interests? What benefits does the reader hope to gain from buying a book like this book?)
Anyone who has ever wondered what a truly dedicated military family experiences, anyone who is not old enough to have read or seen The Great Santini, anyone who has a deep appreciation for what our military members and their families go through should read this book. I can’t say it is simply aimed at specific men or women, anyone between the age of 19 and 91 could benefit from this in some way or another. Young men and women who have considered joining the military, those who are in love with someone in the military and hope they get proposed to or will propose, this is your book. When you are asked to share your life with someone in the military you have to be more than aware that life as you have known it will never be the same, even long after that person has retired or has left the military. In the course of interviewing young women during my research I was stunned at how many of them said “I had no idea he would be gone so much.” This book will give you an understanding of military life that you may not get anywhere else.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing, and did you use it to your advantage?
Absolutely, both. I have loved writing for as long as I can remember. We used to get projects in German class consisting of open-ended stories. It was generally required to finish the story in no more than one page. I usually wrote 10 or more, much to the dismay of my teacher. I think my German teacher actually had my mom come in once to talk about my excessive story writing. I remember in 10th grade we were offered to write a play; it was a contest of sorts and I won. I got to direct the actual play for a school performance. I think that was my highlight of my writing career at that point.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?
There have been many. Reading all of the reviews; people saying how deeply the book touched them. Being told that a reader got so deeply into the book that they couldn’t put it down. I was pretty proud of the fact that Wounded Warrior Project chose the book for one of their book-club reads. It was beyond amazing for me that Ed Darack, a National Geographic War Correspondent and Rebecca Kennedy, actress; both wrote blurbs for the book. I am super proud of that.
How would you describe your writing style?
In a word: Heartfelt. I do what I can to pull on the readers heartstrings. Quite a few people have attempted to label the book as a romance novel, it is not. Sure, there is a great love story, but don’t most stories have that? Even Die Hard has a love story in it. Every great story has romance in it, think Mission Impossible. I write life, the way it happens, the way it is seen, heard, and felt. There is nothing sugar coated. It’s the military, the language is harsh the humor harsher, it is life in the military. I don’t use that writing style for all of my books but for those based on military life I do. One of my friends said I could leave the language out and I told her that if I do, I am no longer representing reality.
Are your characters pure fiction, or did you draw from people you know?
I drew them from people I know. Lance and Susi are in essence my husband Lance and I; they are the base characters fluffed up by all those Corpsmen and spouses, active duty men and women and girlfriends I talked to. There are some who are very real and I was beyond honored that they were willing to share horrific experiences. I know they did that cause they served with my husband, but I honestly felt like I was allowed a glimpse into their brotherhood. Those who shared experiences with me know how much I honor their brotherhood and bond.
Are you more of a character artist or a plot-driven writer?
Interesting question, I honestly never thought about that until now. I’d have to say plot driven. I know what I want the story to focus on and then I create the characters around it. In the book I’m currently working on, Moral Injury – The Consequences of War, I address Veteran suicide. I had the plot and I had to build the characters around it. For every book I start I have a notebook where I create the characters. There is stuff there that makes them people; they are no longer just characters but become people with thoughts, fears and hopes. I write stuff there that might never make it to the book, but I can look at that stuff and know who they are and how they would respond to life situations.
What do you hope to accomplish with your book other than selling it?
I want to reach people: Women who are tired of their husband being gone and that young sailor who smiled at them might just be the ticket to get out of life’s ruts and boredoms – it’s not. Parents, and spouses, who just don’t understand why life can’t just go back to what it was before the deployment to an active war zone – look deeper. They don’t understand that night after night you dream about your best friend stepping on that IED, and you don’t have a clue where to get help. The young mother who is alone in the delivery room because the Navy didn’t feel it necessary to send her husband home. The list could go on and on. I want to touch those people and I want to know there are those who care, those who understand, and those who will listen without pressure.
After I had written my children’s book, I was asked to visit a class in Sacramento, CA. For some reason the kids in this class really related to the characters in the book. Several months after my visit I got an email from the school principal. He wrote to tell me that two of the students who had read the book and met me had decided to further their education simply on what I said to them during our meet. Honestly that is what writing is about, reaching someone that deeply that it changes the course of their life, or has such an impact on their life that they’ll never forget it. I told my husband if I never sell another book I changed the life’s of two teens at that meant the world.
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About the author:
Sabine Chennault (1961), born in Ewersbach, Germany, came to America in 1981. She worked as a waitress and later as an Optician before becoming the office manager and later a licensed Optician. From 2002 until 2003 she attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute where she graduated with honors; several years later she obtained a Bachelors’s degree in English literature and went on to pursue her MA in family counseling. She quit school to dedicate herself full time to writing. She lives with her husband Lance and their three dogs in Daaden Germany.